All roads point towards Shitsville this year with the gloomy Gold Coast forecast, and the condition of the sandbanks, but then this could happen.
It was quite a few years ago, and I was on the Gold Coast to cover the Quiksilver Pro. A magazine had sent me, and a refreshing energy drink had helped me along the way. It was my first time back to the Gold Coast in many a year, and I had as of then never set eyes on the Superbank. I didn't know what to expect, but I packed two high performance barrel boards with a bit of extra rocker and a little bit of extra foam under the chest. They were also just a little bit stronger, with an extra layer of something.
Back then I probably visualized myself air-dropping into freighting barrels. I can’t remember, but on the short flight from Sydney to Coolangatta I do remember that I was absolutely frothing.
I woke up on my first of twenty days on the Goldie, and looking over the Superbank from behind the surf club I couldn't quite comprehend what I was looking at, first thing in the morning.
Granted, jet lag, whiskey and dehydration can play havoc with the old eyes, but all I could see was a bunch of long, roping 6-foot lefts peeling from way outside back towards the edge of Little Marley, with a bunch of skilled longboarders doing cutbacks all the way to the inside.
What dark magic was this?’ I asked myself. There were no stand-up pits, there were no endless barrels racing across to Greenmount. There weren’t even any right-handers! Still, it was nice to be on the Goldie again.
Down at the contest site, as I signed my life away to the media center, everyone was forlorn. The waves were terrible, the forecast was one of utter gloom, and the surf industry was in turmoil. Brands were reconsidering their positions with regards to the tour, and Paul Speaker was just a rumour. Dane Reynolds was in town, but with utter shit on the horizon, he wasn’t going to solve anything.
Then someone whispered a little secret, and told me to go and look for the sand coming from the river. I had no idea what he was talking about, but with the surf so bad, and with sour people everywhere, I remember grabbing some beers and going over to watch from the cliff path between Froggies and DBah.
There was nothing to see at first. It must have taken me two beers before I noticed it – a thin brown snake of sand heading across the back of DBah and creeping across the backline, kind of en route for Froggies. It was brown and it was small, and it was obviously moving so slowly it was imperceptible, but it was a thing.
The next day I went back to the lookout, and the sand movement was clear. The sand could be seen approaching the rocks. It was soon going to make landfall.
The following day was the opening of the waiting period. We had a media session, and we sipped on beers overlooking the waves. It was tiny, no sand, nothing to ride.
On day four of my vigil, the sand had reached Froggies. It was the coolest thing to see the beach had filled up and the sand was continuing along the shoreline with the prevailing south swell direction, heading for the corner.
By the time the contest began, on whatever day it was, there was plenty of sand, and there were peeling right-hand waves to surf whereas previously it was totally unrideable. The sand filled up the area fast, and over the first day of competition the waves improved considerably, with the sand spilling on to Little Marley. We had a sand bank. It stayed around for the rest of the event, slowly improving, getting more defined, moving a bit further down, and filling up the holes.
It’s hard to tell if there was anyone else watching the phenomenon of the moving sand, or if it is such a common phenomenon that it is totally boring to locals, but it was a wild thing to watch. It was crazily exciting to watch the sand move, having seen how ridiculous the wave gets when the sand line fills in.
On day 5 the sand had already moved across to Little Marley, and we had a bank. The waves were small throughout, but they peeled perfectly across the sand bar and there was enough power for the contestants to get adequate speed for airs. On the odd bigger sets we could see glimpses of what could happen.
It was a great contest, and Kelly probably won. But the highlight for me was watching a wave being made.