Author: Chris Cary
In the day of the “heat analyzer” we all get to play scientist, sportscaster or critic, watching heats over and over at live speed and in slow motion until our daily lives pull us back to reality. To those fanatics who live and breathe surfing, the accounts below that date back to November of 2012 will be familiar. For the second year in a row, California played host to its second World Tour event with the O’neill Cold Water Classic. Something happened though that was totally unexpected: Michel Bourez DOMINATED the somewhat soft and small conditions with power surfing that had recently taken a backseat to the air game and people kept talking about it long after the festivities wrapped up.
Fast forward to the 2013 World Tour stop in Bali and its annual visit to Lower Trestles and the aggression that snapped people out of their “aerial honeymoon” reared its mean face again. In waves that airs were expected to pave the road to the final, Michel dropped 9-point ride after 9-point ride by keeping his rail in the wave and throwing the lip into the stratosphere. The power display was so gnarly it became difficult to imagine anyone else on tour matching it. To those keeping tabs, it was obvious, Michel had figured something out. His raw aggression had become calculated power.
After Michel’s 6-Star Prime win at Haleiwa in November of 2013, his inaugural World Tour victory got reclassified by the surf gods from “possible” to “inevitabile”. At Margaret River, judges were thirsty for power and Michel gave it to them. The early round saw tricky conditions at the main break, hollow conditions at the box, before finals day brought a deeper swell and the best waves of the event, setting the stage.
Michel cruised through his quarterfinals heat against good friend Nat Young to find himself up against King Kelly in the semis. Slater had a stranglehold on the heat up until the dying minutes, when a multi-wave set marched towards the reef and crossed the wires of the 11x World Champ’s competitive super-furnace. Kelly swooped on the first, which left Michel free to bag the wave of the heat, connecting three big maneuvers and earning a 9.37 to tip the scale. The momentum carried the Spartan past Josh Kerr in the finals and landed him the historic spoils of being the first men’s competitor to lay a World Tour victory on the historic Margaret River.
It was Michel’s day. The day he gathered his first world tour win. And the day that the surfing world collectively realized that there is a new permanent member of the top 10.