Here’s one for those of us who have been missing competitive surfing. It has been seven months since the last world tour event when the Pipe Masters finished off the season and Italo Ferreira was crowned world champ. The entire 2020 season was subsequently canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that no one can travel anywhere, which means no pro surfers in jerseys and no contests for fans to watch. But that all changed on Sunday, August 9, when the World Surf League ran an invitational contest at the Surf Ranch called the Rumble At the Ranch.
The event was a tag-team format with eight teams of two surfers (one male and one female), paired up randomly by having their names drawn out of a hat. Each competitor got to surf two waves per round—one right and one left—and the teams’ scores were produced by combining the highest single wave from each member. Four heats were surfed in the quarterfinals, then two heats in the semis. The final two teams met up in the final, where they battled it out for bragging rights and a $10,000 donation to their favorite charity.
Obviously invitations were limited to surfers who were already in the US, or at the very least able to travel here without border restrictions. Still, there was a bit of diversity in the lineup, as Brazilians Adriano De Souza and Felipe Toledo were already in California; Kanoa Igarashi lives in Huntington Beach but is currently representing Japan; Seth Moniz, Coco Ho, Tatiana Weston-Webb, and Carissa Moore came over from Hawaii; and young guns Kirra Pinkerton and Alessa Spencer were keen to test themselves against the world’s best. California talent Kolohe Andino, Conner Coffin, Griffin Colapinto, Lakey Peterson, and Sage Erickson were all in attendance, while East Coast phenom Caroline Marks and the father of the Surf Ranch Kelly Slater rounded out the invites.
In the first round, the Felipe/Coco team took out Andino/Spencer, Adriano/Marks handily beat Coffin/Pinkerton, Kanoa and Tati hammered Griff and Lakey, and Slater posted the highest single-wave score of the round to push him and Erickson past Moniz/Moore.
The semis saw Felipe and Coco annihilate Slater and Sage after Slater failed to complete both of his rides, and Kanoa took himself and Tati to the finals, setting up a final clash between four of the most high-pro surfers in the world. Ultimately it was Felipe and Coco who would go on to win, on the back of an event-high 9.67 from Felipe, who managed to peak at exactly the right moment.
While it didn’t include the entire world tour roster, and it was certainly no replacement for actual championship events in the actual ocean, the Rumble at the Ranch was a breath of fresh air for surf fans everywhere who have been jonesing for some entertainment. And for the crew here at Hawaiian South Shore, it was especially sweet. A number of us have had the opportunity to surf the Ranch, and we enjoyed watching the pros dismantle the same waves we got to ride just last year!