International Surfing Day

21 06 2010

International Surfing Day came and went like a dream that is forgotten after a second cup of coffee. The day proceeding the first day of summer was not exactly memorable, although the water was warm. Warm like a lightly toasted hot dog bun on Independence Day. Or a sweaty pair of September thighs. The June gloom hung around like a hobo smoking a hand-rolled cigarette, waiting for a train going Anywhere But Here.

Ah, International Surfing Day. Don’t get me wrong. The DVS Internet Beach Challenge is a fantastic idea. Who doesn’t want to make a video of themselves riding “the most unique piece of trash or object on a wave?” Apparently participants must send in a video of themselves riding the most unique object on a wave for prizes. Splendid.

I was up unusually early. A small, west northwest wind swell struggled too make it across the sandbar. High tide. The kind of day made for surfboards with absurd names like the Fartknocker or the Dumpster Diver. I borrowed a longboard from a friend. I have always held the firm belief that any “shortboarder” that does not ride a longboard a few times a year is doing an injustice to himself. Today I did my part.

It was also Father’s Day. Perhaps it was no cosmic coincidence International Surfing Day fell on Father’s Day. My father introduced me to the ocean and surfing at a young age. Before I could even walk. I will always be grateful for it. Like the saying goes, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

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A Surfer’s Guide to the World Cup and Beyond

15 06 2010

Jeffreys Bay. Queen of the South African coastline and home to the World Cup

The online surfing world has been stagnant lately. Well, that’s not completely true. Surfline posted its 47th “How Good Was California This Week?” photo gallery this month. I did enjoy that. Kurungabaa posted the complete works of Dostoyevsky (in Russian). Transworld, (God bless them) ran a Vimeo video of something. And Boardistan (perhaps my personal favorite) kept a tidy tally on its Google news alert with the keywords “Surf, Skate and Snow.” Copy and paste carpel tunnel is no laughing matter gentlemen.

…and so it goes.

The FIFA World Cup kicked off this week in South Africa. I know what you’re thinking. What does surfing and World Cup soccer have in common? Quite a bit actually. The waiting period for the Jeffereys Bay event begins just after the World Cup culminates on July 11. And the World Cup is played every four years, which is roughly the same amount of time between ASP World Tour events. If Nugable had a marketing director he would probably moonlight for the ASP. Or a midget wrestling tour.

Despite all of man’s flaws there are but two types of people on this Earth. Those who enjoy soccer, and those who do not. The same divide or separation criterion exists elsewhere of course. For instance, people who don’t enjoy Frank Zappa or Thenolious Monk. Or Salvador Dali. And of course The Surfer and Non Surfer—heathens who have never ridden a single fin or never enjoyed an evening session waiting for one last wave before the sun lazily slumbers into the pillowy horizon.

Then there’s the soccer fan. Although the soccer fan is batshit crazy. He is not completely batshit crazy. That distinction is reserved for Los Angeles Lakers’ fans who attach purple and gold flags to their cars.

The World Cup is an international affair with teams from every single continent including Antarctica AND Arizona. Okay, I was kidding. I’m not sure if Alabama  Arizona is really a continent or a country or what it is. Don’t get me wrong. I did the research. Arizona’s chamber of commerce website, although impressive in its own right, had nothing but advertisements for a talking Jesus doll and piñata crucifixes.

OK, back to the Soccer or the Surfing. The ASP will cut its premier product down to 32 surfers in two months. The same number of teams in the 2010 World Cup. Let’s look at some of the teams and how they correspond with the surfers we love and even some we hate.

Spain
Surfer the team resembles: Jordy Smith
Key Players: Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas
History: Semifinals (1950), Quarterfinals (1934, 1994, 2002), Knockout Round (1982, 1990, 2006).
Odds to Win: 4-1
España is one of the favorites to take home the gold trophy. They are the second ranked team in the world. Let’s just say Liverpool forward Torres and Jordy enjoy the finer things in life and leave it at that.

Brazil
Surfer the team resembles: Tom Curren or Kelly Slater
Key Players: Every single goddamn one of them.
History: Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) Finals (1950, 1998) Semifinals (1938, 1974, 1978) Quarterfinals (1954, 1986, 2002)
Odds to Win: 4.5-1
The play a beautiful brand of futbol. They have the pedigree and back it up. They don’t just win, they win with style. And if they don’t, they stab themselves and feed off their own blood.

England
Surfer the team resembles: Dane Reynolds
Dane is a media darling. When he is on he is on. When he is not he is not. Like a fickle New York apartment furnace with Beethoven or Bach providing the background music on an old record player, popping vinyl and sizzling lows. The Three Lions aren’t as cool but like Dane they don’t always show their best stuff.
Key Players: Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard
History: Winners 1966, Semifinals 1990, Quarterfinals (1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002, 2006).
Odds to Win: 6-1

Italy
Surfer the team resembles: Occy
Mr. Occhilupo is an Australian Italian. Perhaps the best combination on genetics possible. Like a rhinoceros and a koala bear with athletic ability and cooking skills.
Key Players: Daniele De Rossi and Gigi Buffon.
History: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) Finalists (1970, 1994) Semifinalists (1978, 1990)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Germany
Surfer the team resembles: Mick Fanning
Key Players: All of them. Tall Arians who score and expect nothing but ze best. Precision. Like A Mercedes running on beer and nuclear ethanol.
History: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990) Finals (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002) Semifinals (1934, 1958, 1970, 2006)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Netherlands
Surfer the team resembles: Bede Durbidge
The Clockwork Orange is a formidable squad, seemingly always in the hunt. Durbidge is a formidable surfer. They shall be formidable together. Expect a quarterfinals appearance for the Orange.
Key Players: Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie
History: Finals (1974, 1978) Semifinals (1998)
Odds to Win: 12-1

France
Surfer the team resembles: Jamie O’Brien
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Les Bleus has had plenty of success on the international stage. The Frogs are abhorred by some and adorned by others. They both show up when it counts. Like Pipeline or the premier sporting tournament in existence.
History: Winner (1998) Finalist (2006) Semifinalist (1958, 1982, 1986)
Odds to Win: 16-1

USA
Surfer the team resembles: Gabe Kling
I vaguely remember Kling winning an ASP Prime event at Trestles. It was like the Bizzaro Seinfeld episode when there was an alternative Kramer, Jerry and Costanza. In this bizzaro universe the Yanks might actually have a shot.
Key Players: Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard.
History: Semifinals (1930) Quarterfinals (2002) Qualified (1934, 1950, 1990-1998, 2006)
Odds to Win: 80-1

Mexico
Surfer the team resembles: Bobby Martinez
Who else, right? El Tri is scrappy. They get good results. They aren’t afraid to get dirty.
Key Players: Giovanni Dos Santos and Andres Guardado
History: Quarterfinalists (1970, 1986)
Odds to Win: 80-1

South Africa
Surfer the team resembles: Travis Logie
The host nation is soccer’s equivalent to a wasted ASP wildcard from the event sponsor. They are ranked 88th in the world by FIFA. They may become the first host nation to not make it out of the knockout round.
History: Qualified 1998, 2002 (banned from 1966 to 1992 because of Apartheid)             
Odds to Win: 125-1

North Korea
Surfer the team resembles: Marco Polo
Is he still on tour? Did North Korea really qualify for the Cup? Is Kim Jong-il on the team? Hell, I don’t know? If Marco Polo launched torpedoes at opponents this season would he make it out of a heat? Who knows?
History: Quarterfinals (1966)
Odds to Win: 2 Million-1