By Phil Jarratt
Huey didn’t allow any recovery time for old blokes. Straight out of the excellent Logger weekend and into a week-long dream swell on the points, with a couple of steely-grey and slightly chilly sessions that weren’t even crowded!
I guess there have been better runs of east swell in living memory, but I can’t recall any that I’ve enjoyed as much as last week’s. It just kept on coming, and even when the crowds cottoned on, generally speaking there was a mellow vibe in the water with plenty of waves to share. I seemed to be in sync with Josh and Anna Constable, hitting the water at much the same time every day, and on several occasions we were shaking our heads in disbelief and laughing out loud as set after set hit the point and peeled mechanically down the perfect bank.
The surfing De King family – Fenna, Jason and William – seemed to be there all day every day having a ball, and I’ve borrowed a couple of Fenna’s excellent snaps to give you the feel if you had to work, or were engaged in some other silliness. It’s funny how you travel the world looking for waves and sometimes find the best at your local.
Tyler back in yellow
While Noosa was feasting on waves (as a prelude to feasting on food and wine this weekend), the Oi Rio Pro was benefitting hugely from having moved out of crowded, polluted Rio de Janeiro and into pretty Saquarema, 100 kilometres out of town, where reigning world and event champ Tyler Wright made the most of clean, playful conditions to take out the Women’s Pro and move to the top of the leader board with Stephanie Gilmore.
I’m a huge fan of Tyler, who manages to be a focused, thinking professional athlete and a generous, warm-hearted person at the same time. As I write, the men’s event is still in progress, with a big swell on the way and Tyler’s big brother Owen through to the quarter finals and in contention, while rankings leader John Florence is out, so it’s entirely possible that by the time you read this the Wright siblings might be leaving Brazil in matching yellow jerseys.
Wouldn’t that be cool!
Kelly takes a sickie
Meanwhile, another of my all-time favourite pro surfers, Kelly Slater, unsurprisingly took a sickie from Brazil, claiming a bad back. It’s no secret that Kelly is not a fan of Rio, having skipped the event more often than not in recent years, but this year – perhaps his last at 45 – he had committed to surfing the entire tour, until a “niggling back injury” forced him to take a rain check at the last minute.
Funny then, that while the other pros were dodging the gnarly backwash of Saquarema, Kelly was trading waves at Snapper Rocks with our mate Mark “Mono” Stewart, the two-times world adaptive champion, who innocently posted on social media how much fun he’d had surfing with the other champ, who was very interested in Mono’s adaptive board shapes.
No doubt the 11-times world champion will be back in peak fitness next week when the tour moves to his favourite stop, Tavarua in Fiji, for the inaugural Outerknown Fiji Pro. For those of you on the outer when it comes to OK, this is Kelly’s cutely-named and well-intentioned luxury surf designer brand, which aims to save the world by selling $100 tee shirts.
I shouldn’t be cynical about this, because as the website claims, “part of the proceeds go to the Mexican factory where they were made”. How much actually funnels back to the hombres in the sweatshop is not clear, but it’s worth noting that OK’s parent company is the Kering Group, a Paris-based mega-corporation that owns Gucci, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, as well as slumming it with Volcom and Outerknown.
The $US25 billion company turns over about $US12 billion a year for a $US700 million profit. I guess they can afford to throw a few pesos to the peons, not to mention a million at a WSL event. And if Kelly’s going to have one last blast on tour this year, despite all of the above, I’d love to see him do it at pumping Cloudbreak, a real wave he has made his own.
FOOTNOTE: If you can drag yourself away from the food tents in the Woods this weekend (and that’s a big ask) I’ll be nicking down to the Big Screen Cinemas in Caloundra on Saturday for a 12.15pm matinee screening of our film Men of Wood and Foam, as part of the Sunshine Coast Surf Film Festival. I’ll be introducing it and doing a Q and A afterwards, so if you haven’t caught up with it, love to see you there, the last Sunnie Coast screening for six months. Tickets available at scsff.com.au