Folks say things. During the course of a surf contest, folks say all kinds of things.
"So and so is ripping,"
"This guy is way overrated."
"They should have held out for the next swell."
There's always one camp that feels their guy got shafted ... The sponsors pushed the other guy through ... The judges don't understand technical surfing ... yada, yada, yada.
And then there's one heat last season that comes to mind. But it wasn't just a particular camp second-guessing the judges. It was a good part of the surf world. And they had a legit point.
September 20, 2012: Hurley Lowers Pro, quarterfinals, Jordy Smith vs. Joel Parkinson. Smith had just brushed off Josh Kerr in a low scoring round five heat. Parkinson had crushed round four, earning a trip directly to the quarters. That event, Parkinson put everything together for one of the finest events ever surfed (that is until the final when he fell to Superman Slater) and was on his way to his first world title.
But many people in the know opined that Parkinson got the nine-plus scores while Smith pushed out some of the greatest forehand hacks that professional surfing has ever seen for eight-point rides.
"When Jordy connects a wave from start to finish with the level of commitment and execution that he expects of himself, his competitor's shortcomings become glaringly obvious to the astute observer of the sport," says former tour surfer turned top-notch comp analyst, Shea Lopez.
That may be a nice way of saying that Smith was robbed.
Think back. Jordy Smith was heralded to be the heir to Slater greatness. Who can forget his record setting contract with O'Neill, whipping up on the qualifying tour, or all the rookie hype that he and Dane Reynolds received when they first got on the bus?
But that was 2008. His most recent year finish was No. 12. That's disappointing for a guy who is supposed to be world champ. His results were lacking in lefts and heaving reef breaks.
Remember that Smith won the Billabong Pro Jeffrey's Bay twice in his young career. In 2010, he finished the year No. 2 to Superman. Then there was the rib injury sustained at Teahuppo that threw him off his game. But in 2012, at the right-hand pointbreak venues, he was still deadly. Take his semifinal finish on the Gold Coast and the Trestles heat in question. When Smith is on, that frontside blast displaces more water than a Coast Guard Cutter.
"In many circles, Jordy's surfing at Lowers last year set the benchmark for performance power surfing with a purpose. We're still waiting for a committed, consistent, injury-free year out of one of surfing's truly gifted athletes," adds Lopez.
But forehand power gouges aren't just for between the horns. Smith is still someone we all want to see free surf. He can lay it on rail in Mexico or Indo. He's a founding member of the Mod Col fraternity and his film "Bending Colours," -- yes, spelled with a 'u' -- was almost as hot a ticket as "Dear Suburbia" this year, proving that not only is filmmaker Kai Neville a busy little monkey, but Smith is still in an elite group of free surfers.
Smith may have been a little down the past year, but his talent is far from out of contention. Plus, he lights it up when he gets away from the scaffolding, and that's not just people saying things.