Rip Curl Pro Final Day Open Thread

8 04 2010


 

The remainder of Round 4:

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)

Predicted quarterfinal match-ups

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Mick Fanning (HAW)
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)

Predicted semifinal match-ups

Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 
Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs Bede Durbidge (AUS)

Final

Taj Over Bede





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 Quik Pro Part III

4 03 2010

Parko Defeats Dane? Wait...that's not right.

There is white smoke rising from the Coolangotta Vatican. A new Pontiff has been selected. His name is John Paul Dane I. But the Pope is not perfect. He is human. He has his faults. Like the time he told Africans not to wear condoms. For the sake of future surfing generations, Dane should never wear a condom.
 
The storyline of the day was upsets. Big, nasty ones. After witnessing favorite sons Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning lose, Australians must feel like Dick Cheney when he found out his daughter was gay.
 
Kai Otton’s disposal of Mick Fanning was impressive indeed. Yesterday I spoke highly of his backhand surfing on the tricky Snapper walls. The day after he threw the bones like a craps shooter on a roll in Vegas, and Ottz beat the house. Then he ran into Pit Boss Bobby Martinez. No person should be able to surf Snapper on his backhand like that. I am convinced Bobby sold his soul to the Devil many moons ago at the crossroads of Bates Road.
 
Speaking of Rincon, It should surprise no one that the only two Americans remaining grew up in close proximity to the California pointbreak.
 
Jordy Smith beat Kelly Slater soundly. He deserved that one, but he has been on the good side of several close calls including his heat with Bede Durbidge. Bede was underscored on the 6.5. That I am sure of.

When Kelly Slater surfs we watch like a dog  sticking his head out of an open window of a moving car. We are happy. Win or lose.
 
Taj Burrow is quietly winning. Everyone is talking about everyone else. What about Taj? “When God? When does he get to see the Goddamn sailboat?”
 
Adriano is the best Brazilian ever. I would not be surprised if they built a statue of him overlooking Rio. Jesus is old news. Yesterday there were approximately 5,000 babies born in Brazil. They were all named Adriano.

The most important ingredient in competitive surfing is quality waves. 2009 was a weak year as far as waves go on the WCT. When the waves are good not much else matters. Even bad decisions can’t screw up a good thing. Which leads me to the comment of the day…
 
“Nice Guys Finish First” summed up the decision to run the women’s draw after round 4. “I just heard that when the Cavs meet the Lakers in the NBA final they are going to halt it after the series is tied 2 to 2 and hold the final game of the WNBA finals. Kind of let Kobe and Lebron rest a little you know.”





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.





The Top Fucking 5 ASP World Title Bridesmaids

2 11 2009

Cheyne OP Pro

You know the old saying—always a bridesmaid, never the bride. Surfing is not immune. The latest installment of Nugable’s Top Fucking 5® chronicles the best second-place finishers in ASP history. All five had stellar professional careers (some are still having them) but none have tasted the championship champagne or held the trophy high. A wise man once said “second place is just the first loser.”

5. Rob Machado (1995)
Ah, the Drifter. Nineteen hundred and ninety-five was Rob’s year. It was his chance to stand on the top of Everest and look down. He dominated, winning nearly half of the first seven events. He was cruising. Laughing. Having fun. Going into Hawaii he had the lead and then Slater snatched the crown from Machado. Two friends battled it out at Pipeline. It was a finish for the ages. He made a triumphant splash at the Trestles event this year. If still on the tour he would probably be a top 10 surfer.

4. Taj Burrow (2007, 1999)
Born to American parents in West Oz, Taj was Jordy Smith before Jordy was Jordy. He came on the tour with his Western Australian guns blazing. He surfed like a skateboarder. Wide stance. Ready to punt over any oncoming section. But as each year passes by his biological clock keeps ticking. He’s about three years from menopause. It may be time to start thinking about adoption.

3. Joel Parkinson (2002, 2004)
Can Parko get the proverbial money off his back? Mick Fanning is a furious little monkey. One that lifts weights and drinks protein shakes. Going into Pipeline he is the favorite despite trailing Fanning by more than 300 points. Will this finally be Parko’s year?

2. Gary “Kong” Elkerton (1993, 1990. 1987)
Gary Elkerton was an Australian man’s man. During his tenure on tour it can be argued no one charged Sunset with greater commitment and power. But his hands were that of a beauty pageant debutante. Face it. He had jazz hands. He looked like he was flipping pizza dough when he careened down the face. His hands were gayer than a cover of Men’s Health magazine. To top it off, 1993 may have been the worst top four in ASP history with Derek Ho, Kong, Dave Macauley, and Damien Hardman.

1. Cheyne Horan (1982, 1981, 1979, 1978)
I first saw Cheyne surf in person at Churches. On the military base side. I was just a grom sitting in the car park waiting for the tide to get low. Cheyne pulled up in a white BMW, parked beside me on the Camp Pendleton jarhead lot and we watched the surf together. He ate grapes. I had a Coke and a Fun Dip. I watched him do yoga. Or stretching. Not sure what to call it. He was with Michael Tomson. They may have passed a joint between them. Bob Marley’s Confrontation played on the Blaupunkt tape deck. Later we shared a few waves and exchanged a smile. Sadly, Cheyne never won that ever-elusive title. He was a gracious second-place finisher though. Perhaps the best ever.—Nug





Hurley Trestles Pro Round 2

15 09 2009
Dane Reynolds punts at Lowers. Rowland/ASP

Dane Reynolds punts to a win at Lowers. Rowland/ASP

Competitive surfing is an awkward yet beautiful ritual. Sometimes, when the moon and stars are perfectly aligned, it is a magical. Yin and yang form a perfect circle of congruence. Think Joel Parkinson and Dane Reynolds at Jeffrey’s Bay two months ago. But more often than not, it resembles a teenage virgin attempting to have sex for the first time. Palms are clammy.  Runaway beads of perspiration glide down foreheads, falling to the floor. Nervousness and confusion.  Legs are spread and kicking wildly. The anticipation is often better than the end result.

Round two of the Hurley Pro, or as I affectionately call Cash for Clunkers, undoubtedly felt like virgin sex. Sure the build up was exciting, but the parents (or worse, ESPN) may walk in at any time and ruin the moment.

There are several ways to spend a Monday afternoon that are less painful than watching round two of a WCT in crappy surf. For instance; a colon exam or catching up on Sunny Garcia’s Twitter updates.

Taj Burrow was the highest seed to lose and first to go home. For those of you who felt Taj got robbed by the judges, go back and watch the heat on demand. Machado surfed better. Simple as that. In fact, he was underscored on a few early waves. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was. If I didn’t know any better I would think he looked inspired. But Rob is seemingly carefree. At times, that is a recipe for success on the WCT.

For Jordy Smith it was over before he could put on a condom or contest jersey. He went down in a squeaker to Portuguese rookie Tiago Pires 13.5 to 13.24. In less than ideal conditions, determination often trumps talent.

Round three continues Tuesday with several key matchups, namely Slater versus wildcard and de facto local Brett Simpson and Machado against Parkinson, or the Hair versus the heir to the throne. Starting with round four, Fuel.tv will be webcasting in true high definition. Fuel’s feed during the Huntington event was the best I’ve seen.–Nug