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.

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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)





The Roundup and Quik Pro Open Thread

26 02 2010

....and so it begins. Snapper Rocks. Photo by Joli

This is an open thread for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. If you wish, comment as you watch online. (http://www.quiksilverpro.com.au/Home.aspx)  

The Roundup is a compilation of recommended clicks and awesomeness this week in the world of surfing and beyond. If you have any suggestions, links or tips email me at nugable@gmail.com.   

ASP Awards Banquet photo gallery. Dane, Kelly, Mick, Joel, Jordy, Fish, Bam, Coco, Gilmore and significant others get all dressed up (almost).
(Transworld)     

Just another clown with a surf blog.
(Surfer Magazine)     

Before Lewis Samuels men lived in caves, had yet to invent the wheel and had to read cumbersome paper magazines with annoying advertisements.
(Coastalwatch)   

Charlie Smith opines on Snapper’s Eve. “The Dane and Jordy know what they must do to win this year. They have cut their teeth. Their horns are no longer green. They will win lots, both of them, and when they win it is exciting because Dane surfs crazy and Jordy parties crazy. And Dane is crazy.”
(Surfing Magazine)    

A fantastic interview with Surfing’s Travis Ferre.
(Runamuk Visuals)    

Mexico, Kelly, Dane, Julian and an HD camera that rolls off 1000 frames per second.
(976 Surf)    

Jed “The Greek” Smith uses the word Negro and then says he’s sorry.
(Stab Magazine)  

The Edsel, the Pinto and now Fantasy Surfer. I think they have Toyota engineers working on a fix now.
(Fantasy Surfer

Bobby being Bobby. Finally. An ESPN Surfing post I read in its entirety without nodding off after the first paragraph. Congratulations fellas.
(The Mickey Mouse Club)   

I have no idea where River Oaks is but I just might move there.
(Craigslist via Major League Jerk)





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.