3 March, 2012 3 March, 2012

Jarvi in Oz part VI – “WOOOOAAAH! Wilko really went to town on that wave!”

Taj, expression session, etc. © ASP / ROBERTSON

We’re still stuck in Groundhog Day this side, except it has now started raining, and they’ve been drilling at this apartment block for the last few hours. Last night my hamburger arrived with two massive pieces of dripping beetroot in it, and my bun and all the wrapping paper and everything was red. This is fine, except the very sight of beetroot makes me ill (something happened between me and a beetroot when I was very young, my psychiatrist thinks). So it was Vodka and orange juice for supper.

The predicted swell did arrive, and the line-up at Snapper jumped from flat to one-foot. That’s one foot and raining. Around the corner at Duranbah it’s two foot and about 50 guys out hopping and jumping all over the place.

The event organisers and the contest director made a decision to run the Expression Session at Snapper and the boys took to the small line-up with gusto. Switch-foots and reverses were the order of the day, as they tried their hardest to flick their boards around in the tiny slop. On the surfers’ deck the media hacks, surfer coaches (some employed, some unemployed) industry egos and other such tools all sat impassively in the best seats in the house. Someone did a varial thingie and then someone rode switchfoot and someone dropped in on him. Further down, fifty or so surfers waited patiently for the same wave to run down the Superbank and arrive at their section.

The rain fell, and flags fluttered in the breeze.

I looked hard for someone, anyone I knew on the surfer deck. Instead, a sea of seriousness stared back at me. Every seat was taken. You know that scene from the old westerns when the tall dark stranger walks through the swingdoors into the saloon and the man playing the piano stops his honky tonk tune and everyone stops talking and drinking, and just stares at the stranger, as he surveys the crowd and chews on a piece of hay. I was that stranger, except I’m fairly short with golden brown hair, some call it auburn, and I was chewing on my some say undeserving media pass.

The commentators were screaming and shouting, trying to inject some life into the forced action going on in the water. It must have been hard for them, because there is no more blatant a lie in professional surfing than that of forced exuberance when the surfing is far from exuberant. The spectators feel it, the contestants feel it, and all the media hacks and pseudo-journalists, book writers and surf coaches (employed and unemployed) do their best to ignore it, to act as if it isn’t happening, to talk over their embarrassment. Keeping the crowd enthralled when there is nothing whatsoever going on is a hard continuity act, and for the most this event was pulling it off, but when a commentator screams, “WOOOOAAAH! Wilko really went to town on that wave!” and you glance up to see a surfer surfing backwards halfway through a reverse on a tiny little runner it’s hard not to shake your head.

Still, here I am bitching and moaning, when really I am totes thankful and appreciative, and having a whale of a time.

  1. I have in my one hand a VIP ticket that gets me to the bar. The free bar, that is. That’s where I’ll meet all my friends, and if they’re not there I’ll make some new friends. A few brown bottles and we’re all going to be friends anyway. So thanks to the contest directors for that, for keeping my unrest quelled by beer. It’s the way forward, and I am appreciative. Maybe I’ll get into an argument about politics later with a few rowdy expats, but that’s got nothing to do with this story.
  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am a happily married man, but there are an unfeasible number of pretty girls around. This morning there were girls walking around in small bikinis, in the rain. Watching them was a strangely sensual experience, most not displeasing at all.
  3. The crowds. There are so many people who surf here it’s totally crazy. The waves were utter shit and there are surfers as far as the eye can see. D-bah, which the best wave today and is still shit, has a total pack on it. No room to move. Why is this good? It makes one realise how lucky we are back home. It might be a bit colder at some parts of South Africa for most of the year, and there might be a few sharks around, but the sea is almost totally devoid of surfers compared to this. Yes I know Long Beach or Llandudno on a Sunday arvi can get pretty busy, but there are so many waves and so much coastline that we are totally spoiled, and take it for granted. We shouldn’t.
  4. An old friend who I haven’t seen for ages bought me a fine breakfast this morning. It was a breakfast wrap called The Hangover, and it was fine. Shot Baksteen, next one’s on me.

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