The day the circus came to town…

WCT collage

I’ve not been a huge fan of competition surfing – excessively talented athletes floundering around in crap waves trying to impress a row of slightly tubby ‘used to be’s’ wedged into deckchairs. But things seem to be changing…

The criteria has shifted axis from ‘how many turns we can cram into this wave?’ to ‘how deep?’, ‘how commited?’, ‘how varied, imaginative and even innovative?’. So things can get pretty interesting to watch.

We pitched up at Supertubos for the quarterfinals of the WCT just as the Atlantic started to throw some evil, dredging barrels at the shore. An average man would have thought twice about walking down the beach, let alone getting in the water but the top surfers on the planet didn’t flinch at paddling out to try and tame these beasts. Unpredictable, shifting peaks with thick lips and seemingly impossible drops created the battlefield for the closing stages of the competition – boards were broken, casualties taken and the following morning in slightly less daunting conditions a new Rip Curl Search champion was crowned.

Portugal embraced these travelling celebrities and their media entourage with amazing enthusiasm. Over 18,000 people walked 4km along the sand to get to the earlier weekend rounds at a tiny beach north of town. Even the somewhat surly local surfers seemed happy to kick back and lend their waves to Kelly and Mick for a few hours…

Watching the circus come through town doesn’t make me want to risk my life in monster waves or compete against others for glory and fame but it does make me realise that there are some truly inspirational people involved in this ‘sport’ that I and so many of my friends love. They are pushing the limits of what is possible in surfing and I can’t wait to get in the water and try to push mine too.

Quote of the day from Tango – as Bede Durbridge got eaten by a double overhead monster:

“He’s rubbish.”

I remembered how to surf this week. Better than working for a cranky old hag. Yeah baby yeah…

(You can peruse a few more photos at my flickr page.)

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