It’s hard to think of a more daunting task in your second-ever heat on tour than taking on former Quik Pro winner Filipe Toledo in ruler-edge, head-high Snapper. That was the situation confronting Hawaiian rookie Ezekiel Lau, who this morning pulled off one of the upsets of the event so far, eliminating the Brazilian with superior wave selection and a calm nerves in round two.
“Coming up against guys like him you wanna perform as best you can but at the end of the day I’m competing against myself and the ocean out there,” said Zeke after the win. “I just do my own thing and whatever he does, he does. I just gotta focus on me.”
The decisive wave, a 7.00, opened with a series of hacks before the wave thickened, doubled-up and ran into a dreamy inside tube.
“I was a little nervous getting that good of a wave in a heat like that,” said Zeke. “I would have liked to surf it a little bit more loose but, um, we’ll learn and move forward.”
Filipe struggled for waves despite the pumping conditions. His highest score, a 6.70, was awarded for a single manoeuvre – a big air reverse on a big section – only for the Brazilian to get caught behind the section.
“Jack (Freestone) had paddled out from the heat after us and he said I couldn’t have taken that wave off Filipe,” said Zeke. “He just flung an air. You can’t do anything to stop that. I just gotta make sure I’m on the better wave.”
The Hawaiian also revealed he and the rest of the Quiksilver team had turned out two months ago on the Gold Coast for an intense training camp run by coach and former World Tour surfer, Jake Paterson.
“We just ran heat after heat after heat with Leo (Fioravanti) and Kanoa (Igarashi) and all the boys… you gotta dust off that jersey and get that mindset going,” he said, also promising to build on today’s performance.
“I feel like the level of surfing is so high in these tour events I just hope I’m able to open up more in my surfing on these bigger walls and better waves and it has more to offer. I just wanna stay loose and open up my surfing.”