It’s the first event of the season, it’s usually stifling hot, and the wave machine seems to always turn off on cue as the pro surfers fly in. At the Quik Pro for every dry barrel and for every fully inverted rotation, there are other moments that don’t really make the surf headlines. Here are a few:

The Gabby and Micro Battle

It was a typical paddle battle in 2015, with a whole lot of serious intent. Gabby wanted that wave badly, but Micro was having none of it and went, with priority. It turned into a bit of an altercation, an over the falls of sorts and Medina was marked with an interference situation and lost the heat. In his post-heat interview, Gabby dropped the F-bomb with WSL interviewer Peter Mel who diffused the situation, and although it wasn't close to the Bobby Martinez blast off, it was a very entertaining moment.

2. Rocksliding Away.

In 2015 Freddy Patacchia was having a shocker in his heat and in utter frustration caught a little foamie as his last wave with a minute to go. He furiously bounced the board all the way through to the inside and just bounced it straight into a rock in abject frustration. Freddy P, who has retired from professional surfing, then discarded his damaged board and ran away from the contest site, not to be seen again that day. Check that famous boardslide here:

3. Fanning’s Meditation Moments

Mick Fanning used to have a strange tradition that involved going down to sand next to the gully, sitting there in a yoga style lotus position, and going into a deep kind of focused trance just prior to his heats. He would close his eyes, find his trance place, and find positive things to grab onto and whatever one does when one goes into a trance before a heat. The strange thing was that while finding his quiet spot of extreme focus, Fanning would be surrounded by surf photographers, mainstream photographers and hordes of fans with iPhones who would gather around him and snap away while he was in trance. Sometimes that aboriginal guy would rasp on his didge as well, adding to the noise. You would think that if he wanted a few still moments before his heat, Fanning would just walk around the corner towards Froggies and find a quiet spot, like Joel does.

Not exactly a forest of tranquility for Fanning. Photo: WSL

4. Gabby beating Parko with Floaters.

Talking of Joel, the 2014 final was a crazy affair, with solid belters coming across the Snapper section, but a side shore wind and a whole lot of wash and chop making it fairly challenging. It was the first year of the new ASP deal, and the contest infrastructure was giant and dominant. In that final, Parko chose to sit by, in and behind the rock, as you do at Snapper, and look for the barrels. He found a few, but nothing that screamed ‘ten’ or ‘heat winner.’

In the meantime Gabby picked up a few wider ones and rode them around the Little Marley section, right under the noses of the judges. He cracked some big turns, and did a multitude of turns, but in an event that had been dominated by some solid tube rides it was an underwhelming approach and a strange tactic. Either way, the tactic paid off and gabby was awarded the victory in his world title year, and a world title that begun right there at Snapper Rocks. Hundred of Brazilian fans who chaired Gabby of the beach that day would undoubtedly tell you that gabby was a deserving winner, but there were many people, be they fans writers and others present, who looked at each other and went ‘huh?’

Kelly Accosted By A Fan.

Kelly had surfed his heat, and won it obviously, and while returning to the WSL control tower and accompanied by security he was accosted on the beach by a wild lady. Now we all know that Kelly is kind of used to being accosted by wild ladies. It’s one of the crosses he has to bear as an 11 times world champ and inventor of the best wave pool machine in the universe and Purps and Outerknown. Actually not so much Outerknown, but he has done many amazing things are there are more to come.

Either way, this situation rattled him, and it turned out that the wild lady had a mental illness, and needed some looking after, and Kelly actually felt sorry for her and sympathetic for her situation.  

The woman is escorted away by authorities.

6. Joel Flicks Kelly the Bird.

In 2013 the finals were moved down the beach to pumping Kirra and it was Kelly and Joel in the final. Kelly had priority; Joel took off deep on one of the waves of the event. Kelly stared him down and then dropped in on him. Parko pulled a sign at him and cut out the wave, while Kelly went on to make the barrel, get the score, win the contest and exact revenge for a similar situation that happened many years prior during the Pipeline Masters.

All's fair in love, war and surf contests right? Photo: WSL/Carey