Has the surfing world gone mad?
With a week’s accommodation still booked it would have been remiss not to stay on the Gold Coast and explore its infinite possibilities in the wake of the Quik Pro, D’Bah. Unfortunately, while Bells booms, there has been very little in the way of waves here; certainly nothing to suggest the WSL had been near-sighted and should have stalled till the end of the waiting period.
However, with a trickle of south swell hitting the point at Snapper and the sand finally plugging some of the hole, it was at least worth a paddle to see what was going on ‘Behind the Rock’ yesterday. Maybe I’d even come across the mythical ‘Grower’ – the wave that gets bigger and better as it winds down the line.
Not surprisingly the Point had been taken over by a tribe of micro-grommets, their frenetic dicing and slashing obscured from view by the still-standing scaffolding. The most competent or adventurous groms ventured behind the rock where fierce current, backwash and cross-chop combined to produce a gurgling, hissing, mini-slab that dared the juvenile crowd to joust with its jaws – most were happy to get a few sliders off the rock rather than behind it. There were even cameos from the elusive grower.
Just when I thought I had the measure of the micro crowd a blonde figure with a tangle of ropey dreadlocks and a jutting jaw appeared on my inside. It couldn’t be? Yep, it was Occy, happily flapping against the sweep on a bodyboard.
“Are you carrying an injury Mark?” I couldn’t help but ask. “Na, I’m just having some fun and getting some exercise,” he responded with typical Occ enthusiasm.
“Probably having more fun than anyone,” I responded as Occ snuck around the corner and tucked into one of the no-entry mini-tubes that were unmakeable on a board. It was unclear if the gaggle of grommets were aware that they were in the presence of one of the greatest surfers of all time, albeit on a bodyboard.
“Did you watch the contest? I probed between waves.
“Yeah, I watched it all.” Responded Occ.
I must admit that when he said this I was somewhat relieved that he didn’t say he was over at Fingal competing in the national bodyboard titles, which had been cancelled at D’Bah so that the WCT could run their event.
“There was a lot of talk. Did you think Italo deserved to win? I asked.
“Yeah, I reckon Italo deserved to win,” Occ said, before kicking into another runner. Needless to say I didn’t witness Occy attempt any Italo inspired El Rollo or back-flip attempts on his bodyboard.
The last thing I saw was Occy being mercilessly burnt by a grommet. The grommet looked a little pissed off, like all he wanted to do was bury a rail and do a giant cutback over the big head that was sitting in the pocket. For his part Occy looked happy to share the ride.
Heading in through Greenmount, via a parliament of longboarders, I looked up to see two foilers chasing down lumps of unbroken swell, carving turns and then pumping hard off the back to maintain momentum and pick up the next ride.
It soon became apparent that it was Josh Kerr and Caio Ibelli, embracing surfing’s latest trend. There had even been a Kai Lenny foil exhibition at Snapper Rocks on WSL Black Sunday when the comp could have run in good waves at D’bah.
As Caio paddled past I asked if he had the foil dialled, to which he replied, “Yep, it’s so much fun.” I then watched the Brazilian natural-footer paddle into a one-foot lump and do a twenty-yard cut-back, wearing that cat ate the canary smile he is famous for. Further outside Josh Kerr was hooting his own ride in high spirited fashion.
What’s the point to all this? Has the surfing world gone completely mad? I guess it’s acknowledging the value in being open-minded about using different craft in different contexts and never forgetting the oft-repeated but undeniably wise maxim that, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”
Post Script: Fans of Occy might feel reassured to know that he was out at D’bah, ripping it up on his regular shortboard this morning.