It might leave purists longing for the motion of the ocean, but for now, we’ll take it, given the Rumble at the Ranch Sunday in Lemoore, California was the first competitive surfing at the CT level we’ve seen this year. World Surf League officials have to be cautiously ecstatic with the results – and with nary a case of COVID reported (at least at press time).
Coco Ho and Filipe Toledo celebrated victory in the mixed-doubles format the WSL used to run the Rumble, Ho showing off her technical savvy and Toledo his unearthly understanding of the predictable playing field that is the Surf Ranch.
Despite playing for only charity (the winning .org, Surfrider, took home $10 grand thanks to Ho and Toledo), most of the athletes came out focused, seemingly happy to be in a jersey again. Kanoa Igarashi and Tatiana Weston-Webb took down Lakey Peterson and Griffin Colapinto, and then Adriano de Souza and Caroline Marks on their way to face Ho and Toledo in the final. On the other side Ho and Toledo took out the formidable Sage Erickson and Kelly Slater in the semis after sending Kolohe Andino and Alyssa Spencer packing in the quarters.
Toledo captured the camera in the final heat (as he often does in Lemoore), throwing two alley-oops on his last right, both in the steep section as he exited the barrel, for the highest score of the day ( 9.67). Tatiana kept Kanoa within striking distance (he needed a formidable 8.82, not impossible) but a risky rooftop floater on his final left didn’t go his way and that was it.
“Gotta thank Coco for the performance,” Toledo said after, pointing to Ho who celebrated her legendary uncle before the event. Derek Ho passed in July at 55. “I was glad I was teamed up with her.”
If this is what the League is looking for in a compact event for its WSL Final – the championship super contest that the 2020-2021 schedule will work toward – then it was easy to see how the four-hour display will work. And while most surf fans and pundits alike (raising my hand) will pine for an ocean-based locale, the compact contest will certainly set up the drama – and the League will be able to guarantee it crowns a champion in the final heat of the year.