Free surfing action from the Australian leg of the tour.
The Australian leg of the World Tour may have been run and won, but we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at some of the action that took place outside of the singlet while the world’s best surfers visited out fair continent. Photographer Trevor Moran followed the tour to each of its stops, and he didn’t miss a beat. Here he delivers a few insights on some sweet frames he captured of the world’s best guys and girls outside the competitive arena.
1. Dane Reynolds, Snapper Rocks. With all the hype surrounding Dane possibly trying to re-qualify for the CT, it was interesting to see how he would handle his wildcard into the Quik Pro – whether he’d reinvent himself and play it safe or just do what he does, which is go out and surf. This was a warm up session and literally the last wave ridden as jet skis cleared the lineup. He absolutely demolished it.
2. Jordy Smith, Snapper Rocks. This was taken right after the girls wrapped up their day at the Roxy Pro. Snapper turned on and everyone, pros and free surfers alike, were foaming at the mouth to get out there. Jordy certainly knows how to handle crowds and still catch waves, but it was hectic shooting as the lineup was so crowded. I love how he’s throwing fins five feet from the guys in the foreground and 10 feet from the people on the rocks.
3. Kelly Slater, Rainbow Bay. This was later the same evening as the Jordy shot. Kelly got over the crowd up the point, and after I had a few close calls from people nose-diving on me, I decided to follow him down towards Rainbow Bay. There was a little peninsula of sand that was throwing these tiny but super hollow tubes. Its was so dark here that I’d normally go in, but I just stuck around to watch and hoped to get lucky with a speed blur shot, and somehow this worked out. Even though it’s a waist high wave, somehow Kelly’s barrel riding technique is so finely tuned he was turning them into makeable five-second barrels.
4. John John Florence, Margaret River. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how boring the Margaret River event was to watch on the webcast. In person, it was a bit of a different story – it was pretty much head-high or bigger, usually clean and super punchy rights with a crazy end section. When you see how hard guys were laying down turns in dicey sections, or spinning huge airs like Yadin, it’s hard for me to understand how people were bored.
5. Josh Kerr, The Box. This was the first day of the event, and I think one of the first waves anyone caught at The Box. Josh was definitely one of the first few guys to paddle out, well before the shoulder got packed with photographers and skis. After a few waves like this though, it didn’t take long for everyone to get their suits on and join him out there.
6. Mitch Crews, Margaret River. Being the new guy on tour, Mitch has a lot of pressure on him to not fall off at the end of the year. He makes sure he preps for every event with a ton of free surfs. Some of the more seasoned pros that have been coming to these spots for 20 years may have the wave pretty dialed and don’t need as much practice, but I love seeing Mitch get out there as often as he can. On the smaller waves his frontside turn is pretty sharp – a quick gouge and go. But at Margaret’s he was able to show another weapon he has: a methodical and surprisingly powerful wrap.
7. Owen Wright, Cobblestones, WA. After a year off, followed by back-to-back-to-back CT events on right-handers, everyone had Owens backhand slash game engraved into their memories. But not to be forgotten is the fact that he is part of the younger generation on tour and can bust frontside reverses with the best of them. This thing is textbook form, mirroring that of Julian or Kolohe, but when a man standing over 6-feet tall busts one it somehow is even more astonishing.
8. Carissa Moore, Bells. It’s impossible to do a free-surfing gallery without including one of the standout performers of every free surf I shot in the past two months, who just so happens to be a woman. Carissa can play with the boys. She isn’t scared to push herself, especially when not wearing a contest jersey. Rocking a full suit similar in colour to Taj’s, there were a few times where I had to do a full double take when naming my photos. While I wish her all the best, and she certainly deserves to win, I’m actually a bit worried that she’s going to dominate this year so badly that people are going to become even less inclined to follow the Women’s CT race.
9. Jordy Smith, Bells Sunrise. Jordy was one of the favorites to win Bells, and for good reason. With arguably the best frontside wrap of anyone on tour, plus the ability to pull mind-blowing airs on any section of the wave, he was nearly a sure bet. Knowing there is never a good window to free surf during the days, most of the tour is in the lineup well before sunrise every day the bowl is breaking. This makes for a rare opportunity to shoot that caliber of talent during such beautiful time of day. Between the general darkness and silhouette caused by the rising sun, its nearly impossible to tell who was riding on a wave, but after the first turn I always knew when it was Jordy - arm straight and swooping while sending a shower high into the sky.
10. Mick Fanning, Winkipop. This was the night before the final day of competition at Bells. If you were watching the Women’s event earlier that day you would have seen the wind come whipping up and absolutely destroy the conditions to the point of being nearly unrideable. About an hour after the event was called for the day, word started to circle that there was a chance some heats would run at Winki the following day. Wasting no time, and despite the brisk, windy and rainy conditions, Mick raced back to the comp site to get some last minute practice. I figured I’d be wasting my time shooting, but Mick somehow managed to demolish wave after wave while everyone else just struggled to tie any turns together. When the call was made to run the semis and final at Winki, before he even touched the water there was little doubt in my mind that Mick would be ringing the bell again this year.