It feels like yesterday that everyone living outside of Durban or J-Bay had to wait three months to see footage of the Gunston 500 and Billabong Classic on M-NET. This was normally aired at lunch time on a Tuesday, wedged between Egoli reruns and Verimark infomercials. Unless you had one of those fancy video machines that could do automated recording, you had to bunk school or ask your granny to record it for you. Not that you were missing much at the end of the day. The editing quality was similar to a standard home video, cutting haphazardly from close-ups of the crowd at North Beach or those iconic aloes on the sand dunes, to a series of wide angle shots of someone bogging rail, followed stock footage of a boerewors and koeksuster stand. Darren Scott’s commentary was the best part of the package. Even if someone raced down the line, did a series of critical turns and finished with a floater, he would find a way to describe the ride using only ‘slash back’ and ‘tube’.
For all its flaws and bungles, the current webcasting system is doing wonders for surf fans who work in offices or hold down regular jobs. The fact that the Volcom Fiji Pro is still waiting to run the third round and we’ve been able to watch every heat, highlights and get an update on the new ratings leader is pretty awesome – not to mention counterproductive for said jobs. Sure, the commentary team can be annoying, but at least it’s real surfers who are doing the talking. You’ve also got to give them a break, because close to none of them have had any media-related training or much experience with this sort of thing. In retrospect, asking Darren Scott to do the surfing commentary would be like asking Wok to commentate at Wimbledon.
When competition resumes (hopefully later this evening), watch and enjoy the progress we’re lucky to be around to see. And just think: in another twenty years time, when our kids are wearing virtual reality glasses around the TV, they will be laughing about the Neanderthal-like webcasting system that us plebs in 2013 had to deal with.
Log on to www.volcomfijipro.com at around 9:30pm (SA Time) this evening, when they’ll make the call whether to run the remainder of Round 3.