Bells Preview

26 03 2010

Joel Parkinson rang the Bell in 2009. Look for Parko to have a strong showing in 2010. Photo by ASP/Scholtz

First, I need to rant about something. Josh Kerr should be given a special wildcard in every event this year. Period. Take a wildcard away from the event sponsor at each stop. From what I understand ASP doctors misdiagnosed the severity of his ankle injury last season and he lost his spot because of it. He belongs on the Dream Tour. End of story.    

Next, the following is my Fantasy Surfer team. If you want to join the Official Nugable Clubhouse, all are welcome.*    

Jordy Smith
His punts are like spring rainbows. His rails rain oceanic blood like Samurai swords murdering the Easter Bunny.    

Kelly Slater
The Lumpy Gravy at Bells might just kick-start his quest for 10.      

Kai Otton
His curly locks are so shaggy even Pottz is envious. His backside is lethal.  The way he was surfing at Snapper leads me to believe he’ll make the quarters at the very least.    

Dane Reynolds
When rookie roadkill lies lifeless near the Great Ocean Road, the Venturian Candidate** will need an alibi.    

Owen Wright
Everyone has Owen on their team. He’s like the lone black kid at an all-Asian school when they pick sides for the basketball team.    

Kekoa Bacalso
Bam makes my team just because he likes to drink, buries the rail and rides for Rip Curl. It’s not fucking astrophysics.    

Andy Irons
I really have two Hawaiians known for hatred of cold water on my team? Yeah, I do. ***   

Gabriel Medina
He is green. He is Brazilian. He can huck. It will be interesting if he draws Mick Fanning**** or Parko early.  

Lastly, Shea Lopez graciously agreed to give his thoughts and experiences on Bells.  

Shea On Bells
“Rip Curl does know it’s 2010? In the midst of all the changes to the tour, this year is the perfect time to reinvent this comp. What constitutes a good wave in the now is a far cry from what my dad and his friends searched for in the ’60s. I understand and fully respect the history behind this event, but Bells is a hoo-haw of a wave. The wave is mushy when small, and even mushier if it actually gets big. At size, it’s only barely double overhead, breaks wide of the bowl and closes out across to Winkipop — where the real wave begins. A masters, retro fish, or longboard event would be much more suited for the wave.    

My disgust for surfing heats at Bells was unequaled anywhere on the WT, or even the WQS. My preparation consisted of surfing Winki and praying the event moved there or Joanna. My best result being a fifth at Joanna, while my brother got a third at Phillip Island. The most memorable heat I surfed at Bells was after a long night of partying with some childhood friends of mine. They were just along for the ride and I never minded showing them a good time. Long story, short version. I puked numerous times in the line-up and then blacked out momentarily in the shorebreak. As I stumbled up the beach I had no idea I’d just beaten one of my childhood heroes…until the video crew came rushing up to interview me. A similar experience unfolded that very night, except the next morning Dorian put me in a severe combo situation. 

That’s it. That’s all I can remember of relevance from 10 years at Bells. With numerous quality waves in the area, it’s a shame to waste so much talent on the bunny slopes of Bells.”   

———
*Even if Fantasy Surfer is a colossal failure so far this year and it might make you a little gay by playing.
**Venturian Candidate is a registered trademark borrowed from Enoch Ward. 
*** Mark’s Mom loves this pick.
**** I thought I was hallucinating when Mick’s name was not mentioned in the pre-event release. This is still a Rip Curl event right? He’s world champ? I can’t imagine why he was left out.
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Taj Wins, The Dane Abides

5 03 2010

Taj Burrow is on a roll. Photo: ASP/Scholtz

Maybe it’s the White Russian I’m drinking or the little round peanuts I’m eating. They’re looking at me like I have all the answers, but I can’t focus. And I have no answers. The peanuts are wrong. Those bastards are seldom right. I can’t focus on the choppy walls at Snapper Rock on my computer screen. I’m seeing double. Or am I? I can’t determine if it’s the vodka or the chop on the ocean or if Mother Nature got fed up with Dane testing her authority. She is an unruly bitch, that Mother Nature, and not even Ike Turner is big enough or bad enough to smack her down when she acts up.

The Big Lebowski plays in the background.

Jesus Quintana: “You ready to be fucked, man? I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we’re gonna fuck you up.”
The Dude: “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

 

I wanted it all. I really did. I wanted Bobby Martinez to beat Taj Burrow…blindfolded with a stick. After his semifinal loss, Ronnie Blakey asked the Californian if he’s happy with the equal third and his chances at a world title. Bobby says, “whatever.” Exactly. Whatever. Then the roving reporter asked him if he had a sentimental favorite. Bobby said “what” and looked at him like he wanted to shank him in the abdomen or sock him in his perfect jaw. I love Bobby.

Semifinal two begins. The Big Lebowski is still playing. The Dude is meditating to the sound of balls hitting bowling pins on his Walkman. I think of Dane Reynolds. I wonder if he meditates. I wonder if I should start meditating. I can totally picture Dane walking into a grocery store at 10 a.m. wearing a robe and writing a .59 cent check for a quart of half and half. The Dane abides.

I wanted Dane Reynolds to go crazy and win. I wanted him get dramatic, to cut off his ear or go on a Manson-esque killing spree across Queensland goddamnit. I wanted blood in the water. Then that fucking nihilist Jordy Smith pissed on his rug. I am happy for Jordy even though he lives in Newport Beach. If you ever want to lose your soul move to Newport Beach. We are all just one BMW, one Analog hat and one Bluetooth from being an asshole. I think Confucius wrote that. Or Nietzsche.

Like so many contests the best surf and best surfing was not on the final day. Taj won. He deserved it. This is his third in a row. I’ll bet it smells like the ’80s in Coolangatta—when cocaine was on every coffee table and Michael Jackson was in every heart. I am happy for Taj Burrow.

The Big Lebowski continues…

The Stranger: “The Dane abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dane. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.”

Oh well. Maybe next time.





Notes from the Quiksilver Pro Webcast

2 03 2010

Jordy Smith was one of many top seeds regulated to the loser's round. Most of them, including Jordy, made it out alive. Photo: ASP/Cestari

A tsunami warning cancelled the event on Sunday. I fully expected Pat Robertson to claim those damn convicts had it coming. He did not and there was no tsunami. Unless you consider Jamie O’Brien’s impending arrival. 

In nearly every post-heat interview the surfer is asked about the board he is riding. He is never asked about his boardshorts. Think about that for a moment. 

Kelly Slater is nearly 40. He is still the best surfer in the world. 

Progressive surfing is not defined by being airborne. 

The event is being aired live on TV in Australia. I believe it’s on a wakeboarding channel. I can’t recall the name because the announcers never tell us. 

A salty teardrop cascaded down my face when Craig Anderson exited a small barrel and hit the lip during his second-round heat with Bobby Martinez. Bobby won the heat but Mr. Anderson won my heart. 

Dean Morrison is not human. He may be a sea monkey. But sea monkeys are adorable creatures. 

Dane Reynolds proved he is human in round one. In round two he proved humans can sometimes be superhuman. Surfing is Dickensian at times. Dane is both Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities

If a Jehovah’s Witness came to my door over the weekend, I would have invited him in and told him about Damien Hobgood’s backside hacks. “They are glorious,” I would have said. Then he would refuse to drink with me and I would have thrown him out the door head first. They wear helmets for this very purpose I would have reasoned. 

Watching Kekoa and Jay “Bottle” Thompson in round two was like watching two flies hump on the wall for 30 minutes without a climax. 

Luke Stedman’s legs end at his ear lobes. If humans share 98% of the same chromosomes as chimpanzees, Luke Stedman shares 98% of his chromosomes with ostriches. 

I had a bowl cereal this morning. I checked the side of the milk carton just to make sure Andy Irons wasn’t on it. 

Finally, 4 of my top 5 rookies are still alive and there are some intriguing round three match-ups, including two back-to-back scorchers. Owen vs. Taj, followed by Bobby and Andy. Later, we get Fanning vs. Simpson and Parko vs. Dusty Payne. 

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
My picks in are in bold. 

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Heat 6: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 7: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 12: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 13: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)





Best Bets for the Quiksilver Pro

24 02 2010

Will 2010 be Slater's last drink? Photo: ASP/Roberson

The first event of the WCT season is crucial to world title aspirations. A good start on the Gold Coast can slingshot you into world title contention. A bad result can affect your entire year. A perfect example is Kelly Slater’s early exit last year at Snapper. He seemingly never recovered. Since 2005 only 14 surfers have won a WCT event. Just 14. Can you believe that? If that doesn’t prove how difficult winning a ’CT event is, I don’t know what does.

The new One World ASP format will make things even more interesting this year, even if an Asian MIT grad can’t figure out how it works. With the Top 44 being reduced to 32 surfers at the mid-point of the season, a good start in 2010 is more important than ever.  Additionally, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding the “revised” judging criteria for 2010 and the Quiksilver Pro will be its first test at the elite level. And according to recent reports, Snapper is looking prime and ready to fire just in time. But who knows? This is a mobile event and Duranbah might see a little action as well.

Joel Parkinson (2009 Result 1st)
The aftertaste of last year’s debacle may be still haunting him like Macbeth’s demons. Unless his conscience is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness,” Parko will be looking for blood in 2010, and he’ll have more of the crimson liquid on his hands than the aforementioned Shakespearean protagonist. After nursing a bum ankle during the later half of ’09, he appears to be 100 percent healthy and that equals bad news for the rest of the top 44. Because he’ll be surfing in front of a hometown crowd, you know he wants to win this one badly. And I expect him to do just that.

Kelly Slater (2009 Result 17th)
On his death bed whiskey maker Jack Daniel went out in style. His last words were “One last drink, please.” 2010 might be Kelly’s ASP farewell tour and if he truly wants it he will be popping champagne bottles in Hawaii (or before that) in lieu of Tennessee whiskey. Last year, on the Gold Coast, everyone was talking about the kneeboards he was riding. This year they’ll still be talking about his boards, but instead opponents will also be on their knees praying they don’t draw the 9-time champ in a heat. I expect no less than a finals appearance, and if he decides to do the entire tour he’ll win number 10 this year. Book it.

Bede Durbidge (2009 Result 5th)
Bede finished second in the world in 2008. Last year he finished third. How does this guy get virtually no press? Maybe Al Qaeda should recruit the Australian, because he’s so far under the radar he could hop on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with bomb strapped to his belly and no one would notice. Maybe he should start wearing eyeliner or go on a Tiger Woods-esque sex bender. All kidding aside, his local knowledge and ability to beat anyone when he’s on will pay off. Expect him to make the semis.

Mick Fanning (2009 Result 3rd)
If the “revised” judging criteria holds true, which on paper rewards progressive surfing more than ever, Mick might suffer more than any of the other world title contenders. He just doesn’t have the manuevers in his arsenal to match up with like Dane, Jordy, Slater and the up-and-coming young guns. But the ASP Tour is not a Kai Neville or Taylor Steele film and the two-time champ knows how to win. Besides, the judges have suffered from Paris Hilton’s Lazy Eye Syndrome for years. Why should 2010 be any different? You certainly can’t knock Mick’s innate competitive desire and ability to win when it counts. I’m pretty sure he’ll get a good result, but don’t expect them to hand out Micktory T-shirts and trucker hats when it’s over.

Taj Burrow (2009 Result 3rd)
Taj is on a roll. He won the last WCT event of 2009 at Pipeline and the recent 4-star WQS at Burleigh. That might give him the momentum he needs to mount a world title campaign in 2010. Consistency is his strength and weakness. He’s always in the hunt but can’t seem to ever finish the job. His clock his ticking.  It can be argued the Western Australian gave progressive contest surfing its launching pad. If the tour was a Tennessee Williams’ play he’d be Amanda Wingfield, longing for the days when he was the belle of the ball. He still has a few prime years left, and half of the time competitive surfing is just luck. Taj always comes through with good results on the Gold Coast. I can’t see him finishing with less than an equal fifth here. 

Dane Reynolds (2009 Result 9th)
There’s so much hype surrounding Dane he’s like a genetically engineered love child of Barack Obama, Miki Dora and Christian Fletcher. Dane is progressive surfing’s perceived savior. Last year at Jeffreys Bay he hit his stride and began to live up to the hype—at least competitively. He has so much talent and is so in tune with the ocean, that if he was female the tides might just ebb and flow with his menstrual cycle. If the revised judging criteria isn’t just PR propaganda, his go-for-broke approach in heats will surely benefit. A good start here may just propel him into the top 5 this year. It’s a sizable gamble to state he’ll be on the winner’s podium. At Snapper, he could lose in the first round or win the whole thing. My prognostication skills are like Dane’s surfing and I’m willing to gamble on this one.

Jordy Smith (2009 Result 9th)
I saw the South African assassin surfing a marginal beachbreak in Orange County about a week ago and he was just lighting it up. He might be the best surfer in the world right now. What amazes me about Jordy is he’s 6’2’’ and nearly 200 pounds. He can throw buckets of water and huck himself six feet in the air on the same wave. He probably won’t win, but I predict he’ll make the trek to Bells with no less than an equal fifth under his belt.

Owen Wright (2009 Result N/A)
Owen is my dark horse pick to win the Quik Pro. The only negative for Owen at Snapper is he’s a goofyfoot, which means he’ll be on his backhand. If some of the comp runs at D-Bah that might help his chances even more because it’s a right or left. When it comes to competing he has balls the size of watermelons. Slater? Parko? Mick? No worries. It doesn’t seem to faze the kid one iota. If he drew Jesus of Nazareth in round three he’d probably shrug and say “looks like I’m going to have to one up this guy’s walk-on-water routine.” And he probably would.





Jordy and Me

19 02 2010

Jordy Smith. Photo: Sherman

The new board had been resting against the wall in the corner of my bedroom for almost a week. A long week. One that involved three days of rain, fierce winds and a nasty bout with the flu. But she was lonely. It was time.

Nothing stokes the soul of a surfer quite like the smell of new, unridden polyurethane in the morning. Like Viagra for the toes. And these phalanges were stiffer than a crucifix. I woke up early but the tide was super high. I decided to let the tide drop a bit, have a cup of Joe and watch a little surfing on the computer beforehand. Modern Collective was the call. I took a long sip of Kona and it chased with a bit of Jordy Smith footage.

I abandoned the wait-for-the-tide-to-get-low theory after about 20 minutes, chugged the last bit of Joe and hopped in the car. As I sped past Magnolia Street on my way to the jetty, I saw a few peaks bubbling on the horizon. A clean, west swell was brewing. It looked promising. I knew the jetty was one of the few spots in the area that wouldn’t be swamped out by the high tide.

I pulled into the lot and parked beside a black pick-up truck with an O’Neill sticker on the rear window. A tall, shaggy silhouette emerged from the truck and began putting on his wetsuit. I did the same. Didn’t even need to do the usual pre-surf look-see. I was going out regardless of the conditions. I grabbed a bar of wax from the trunk and looked to my right. The silhouette was now distinguishable. It was Jordy Smith. Jordy fucking Smith. What are the odds? I gave him a quick nod. He nodded back. I tried to avoid looking directly at his nipples. I focused instead on the pure, white board and the bar of wax in my hands. I paused and pondered the sheer randomness of running into Jordy Smith at the local break.

It was time. I walked down to the end of the key. Jordy was already in the lineup. He hacked a meaty, head-high left. I stretched my hammies.

Paddling out was an adventure of its own. The runoff from the rains of days past made the water dirtier than a Barstow gas station bathroom. Debris of all sorts littered the impact zone. My wetsuit acted as the protective liner provided by management. My hands, feet and face had no such luxury.

It was a good session. The new board worked well. A little squirrely, but after the first turn I knew she was a keeper. I surfed for nearly three hours, caught one last righthander, kicked out and headed back to shore. My arms felt a little like worn Volkswagen fanbelts with more than 100,000 miles on them.

On the beach, a condom wrapper rested on the sand alongside a pile of debris. I looked back toward the lineup. Jordy boosted a three-foot alley oop. I turned around and walked slowly to the car. I needed a shower.





Q&A with Modern Collective Director Kai Neville

30 11 2009

Years from now we might look back and say Kai Neville is the man who changed surfing. His film, Modern Collective, may be the vehicle that propels a new generation of surfers to heights that seemed unimaginable 10 years ago. After completing a trek across the U.S. two weeks ago, he’s is back in Australia after premiering the film across his home continent. Kai talks to Nugable about the process of making the film, Jordy Smith’s performance, his liver and ASP judges.—Nug

So you are back in Australia after premiering Modern Collective across the States. How did that go?
Couldn’t have gone any better. I organized the L.A. premiere so things were pretty wild right up to the first screening. After the bass dropped and the movie played through we jumped straight on the party program. Me and the boys went to around five premieres over the next week. It was non stop. All the crowds were hooting and that made us psyched so we watched the movie right through around eight times. Good to be home now… the liver needed some rest.

What goals did you have in the process of making this film and did you accomplish them?
I just wanted to showcase how these guys actually surf. What you see is what you get. We would film a session and try keep the continuity from start to finish in the edit. I love making surf films and wanted to make Modern Collective still amping by nature with an enjoyable location feel. No interviews or anything too setup (except the intro titles). Pretty much just cruise with the boys and document this unique group.

Everybody seems to be really enjoying the film. Especially the kids. Is that the true test?
I’m stoked to hear everyone is enjoying it. Youth is the target audience. I want to get them amped. Hopefully the next crop will feed off these guys and just try ridiculous shit. You hear some of the older crew complaining there is too many airs… but they should know that’s what we are about. Rocking up to some beachie and just trying the biggest punts. If you want to see perfect barrels don’t watch this movie. There are a few nice pits but riding the tube isn’t exactly something new in surfing.

When did you become interested in filmmaking?
At around 15 I started taking film class at school and eventually combined film with my love for surfing.

Surfing’s Travis Ferre called you the Guy Ritchie of surfing. I may be way off base but I thought I saw some Coppola influence. What filmmakers do you look up to?
(Laughs) That is pretty rad. I just see myself as a surf filmmaker. If people see some technical aspects that may relate to the likes of Ritchie and Coppola that’s cool. Obviously Lockstock and Snatch have been an influence, the editing especially. I like the films of Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson, Tarantino to name a few.

The opening sequence and the editing were fantastic. The music was eclectic and fitting. Do you consider yourself an auteur?
I filmed, edited, directed the soundtrack basically covered all aspects of the film, so I guess in some ways I could be considered an auteur.

I was amazed by Jordy’s surfing in the film. Some are calling it the best performance in a surf film ever. Thoughts?
Best performance I have seen this year. He is going loony!

How involved in the filmmaking process were the surfers? Did Jordy, Mitch, Dion, Dane, and the boys give you a lot of feedback?
I tried to get them involved as much as I could… locations, angles, music. I would send edits over the web to try get feedback from the boys. Hard to get feedback though as the guys are so busy. Wave selection is key. I don’t want to use something in the movie they aren’t happy with.

I imagine every kid with a surfboard will now be hucking and spinning after seeing MC. Should they send doctor’s bills for broken ankles to you or Jordy?
(laughs) Yeah get out and punt… send bills to Jordy though, not me.

Will Modern Collective change surfing?
I hope so. I really want to paddle out and see groms trying crazy shit.

Can you do surf fans across the world a favor and send a copy of the film to all of the ASP judges?
They can’t tell a reverse from a rodeo. They should really study new moves… also the commentators. I piss my pants with some of the names they throw around on the webcast.

Are you working on a follow up?
Not right now, but something might drop in the distant future.

Modern Collective is available now on iTunes for just $8.99.





Found: Church Sign

8 11 2009

Jordy Smith is your savior