Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Zigging when you'd expect to be zagging sometimes pay off.

Over the four or so days of this Easter break, venturing to the odd spot instead of the most popular spot paid off with high quality waves with virtually no one in the water three times out of five go outs.

Last Thursday, after getting all things on my list out of the way I did a quick run to a spot I had a suspicion about. A spot that is usually a beginner crowded semi close out that is legendary for occasionally turning on. Inside a bay and rarely above three feet, it is one of those novelty waves that can surprise. The swell was quite large, very south in direction and long period, the tide incoming and massive, being about as high a tide, at 1.8 metres, as we ever get.

Rounding a bend and looking to the point I saw perfect rights reeling off with a flotilla of longboards and kids on the end section.

Once out and in the water I could see up the line that with the sets, sets that were occasionally touching five feet, there was an inside peak with a tapered wall that ran the full length of the 150 yard reef. Scrambling up there and minutes later I found myself flying down a perfect wave, that wave setting up a couple of hours of surprisingly uncrowded, near Indonesian like tapered watery fun.

On the hull and perfectly suited to the down the line speedy thing, well... you couldn't paint a better or more surprising afternoon.

Come Friday afternoon, Sue and I hit it to stay at my good mate Rod's, where, the morning after a fine evening meal and a fair amount of laughter we scored a reef about fifteen minutes away that had very serviceable three to four foot peelers with just two of us for a while, while only one point away a crowd of thirty or so jockeyed for the marginally better but oh so busy pickings on offer there.

That afternoon I opted to give the wonderful but potentially crowded offerings of Winki a miss to try a reef twenty minutes south. Two hours of me and one other guy on a power packed little slab, touching six feet, the odd one slapping me as I adjusted back to the 6'2" MC, before mostly finding my readjusted feet and getting into the turns after all the hullish trimming. The only downside was on my last wave as I straightened into the darkening channel and found it wasn't a channel at all. I ran slap bang into an inch of water , took all fins out and barely got away without losing my head as well as I hammered across the reef.

Old and blind. I wonder if they have bifocals for the surf.

Next morning, Easter Sunday and a dawn patrol with Marky now, at perfect Winki. This time it was busy, four to six foot and rising, the crowd intense but strangely mellow. Derek Hynd was out, and between chatting we shared the odd wave, he blew the odd mind and I discovered the four foot and under hull goes quite well on set waves at six foot plus Winki. The thing goes like a rocket and as long as I set the rail correctly she holds like a beauty, and flies.

After four hours out there and a wonderful final wave all the way to the valley it was time to watch the finals.

Right from the outset it was so clear Parko was on a roll and poor Mick Fanning's dice were rolling the other way. Make no mistake Mick ripped when he had the chance, but Joel was born for Bells, and this day. Swooping perfection on a wave made to carve on. The guy has such a relaxed way of putting himself into and extricating himself from the most extreme situations with flow and balletic elegance. Full of joy.

His last wave was a masterpiece, I doubt he remembers a single turn, it was so in the moment. At the end as he disappeared into the white water his arms flew happily out, and after Mick's congratulatory hug in the shore pound the arms flew up again as he greeted the crowd waiting on the sand.

Chaired high and doing his victory parade down the beach, just as he passed where I stood amongst the thousands Joel looked at the crowd with this big, white smile.

I felt that at that moment one man's life couldn't get more perfect.

Pics: the various offerings I scored over the weekend in after the fact imperfect and quickly snapped moments that don't do the waves justice, plus an Iwo Jima like Joel raising on the sands of Bells.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Almost Easter and almost a quarter of the way through what is already an incredible year albeit for mostly the wrong reasons. Those of an apocalyptic bent will find rich seams to mine or mind bend as they ponder the fateful portents of the past few months, while the rest of us might at best wonder at the horribly impersonal nature of weather and geology.

For me geologic time creeps closer as I look at a 19th birthday for my oldest, and also look at a just turned 16 going on 26 who wants the world to hurry up and work on his time, on his terms.

A big ask, and one to grow wise on. That or grow old.

This past week I've been up looking after Lazarus himself, my Dear Old Dad, who keeps belting out show tunes of vitality as his body fights and his mind rages on. 'Up here for thinking, mate', he might say, and therein lies a lesson as as long as there is a journey going on up top the old body can go jump, which is what it's planning on doing anyway.

Until then we hold on and take in the ride.

No surfing to be done as I watch what has happened this past week in home waters, waters that touched on close to epic last Sunday. I hope the pro boys get a lick of it for the contest this coming week.

Pics; The Devil himself with Pa, Mr 19 looking a little devilish himself, and a favourite reef which I think is the one I used to call beautiful White House until I found someone had named it a little more appropriately poetic. Not 'Thor's Hammer', but you get the drift. That shot is from the mighty Ed Sloane.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A very mixed couple of weeks, with little time or inclination to do much writing.

The Clean Ocean Festival came and went, numbers were more than a little down because of an unfortunate but unavoidable clash with The Melbourne Grand Prix, and the opening game of the Footy (Australian Rules Football) season.

Lessons learned but it had its wonderful moments, be it the films, the great people involved or the walk along a lonely bush track to a large and ruffled ocean that afforded spectacle but nothing to ride.

I didn't manage to catch every session though I'd seen every film, of course. My standout was Ollie Banks, Dan Crockett and John Eldridge's little wonder, Without Thought. On a big screen it is sublime. A small, impressionist delight.

The selfish side of me got a hit too when, at the end of the Musica Surfica showing, Kylie Clark, the photographer commissioned to cover the event, came up to me and made my day.

Then this past week I've been playing host to Korduroy TV's Cyrus Sutton.

Needing a little help in connecting with things of interest in darkest Victoria, Cyrus has had a relentless schedule down here, hooking up with Maurice Cole and Wayne Lynch, all to fuel the beast that is his wonderful web channel. A great guy, thoughtful and reserved, with masses of accumulated wisdom for one so young. We've had the odd surf together, he even filmed old fatboy at it which is a bit groan inducing as it was fun onshore junk but when you are blessed with elephantine grace the vision, however good the cinematographer, is bound to disappoint.

On Sunday, Richard Tognetti and I had a quick surf, and after it introduced Cyrus to him, which prompted an invitation to backstage access and a chance to film the performance of The Glide on Monday night. That evening was without doubt the most transcending combination of live music and film I've ever experienced.

If it ever comes your way, see it. Sydney people.. go. Thursday and Friday this week.

In a couple of hours I'm picking Cy up and he's off to Sydney for perhaps a rest before heading back home to Cali.

Pics: A lonely track, Cy and Maurice, plus a row of shaping history, via Hipstamatic, outside The Chook Shed.