Commentary rumbles over the aloe trees; No Nukes at Thyspunt flags blow in an offshore breeze. Waves! Actual rideable waves turn what’s been a great place to tan for the last week, back into a world class surf-break. Huey has arrived, fashionably late to his fashion show. The wetsuit models prepare for their close-ups.
Black is passé in the new world of neoprene. Each surf hero has their personalised surf hero suit: red, green, yellow and white, Adam Melling looking (and surfing) like Superman in his red and blue Oakley, Matt Wilkinson like Pootie Tang in his leopard-skin Rip Curl. From what I saw of the Round the 2 heats, Michel Bourez is the man to watch going forward. He was so fast, surfing with so much style, I couldn’t take it, I did what every self-respecting surfer would do, I ditched work and went surfing.
Racing the sun back to Supers for session 2 of the day, people mill, eat and drink at the contest. A gaunt faced man taps his watch and says “20 minutes left” just in case I hadn’t already realised I’ve missed the boat. Long lulls, the sun already behind the land, the best surfers in the world sit with everyone else. The pros make their living: the rest lost in the surf-porn fantasies inspired by watching these guys ride waves. You forget how hard it actually is. The jerky, monkey-stanced lines of reality stick in the throat for the first wave. The light wains, Dusty Payne’s dad makes the mistake of paddling on Shane Thorne’s inside on the penultimate set of the day. Thorne shouts, turns and drops in, spitting the words “fucking cunt” at the older man before flying down the line and smashing a massive turn.
It’s almost dark now. We wait in a clump. Payne’s ballie admits Thorne had been waiting. A local sits at the top, the words I LIVE HERE written in permanent marker on the nose of his board, he’s heard it all before. Rasool, another local, this one more gladiator shaped calls “LAST ROUNDS!” in his big voice. A couple of people talk about a great white shark jumping into a research boat a little way down the coast. The numbers thin rapidly in the dying light.
Suddenly a shark head the size of a surfboard emerged in the corner of my eye. In a jolt of adrenal focus it transforms back into a human with a surfboard sized surfboard. That was lucky. I turned and paddled for a smaller one, it grinded fast and shallow against the rocks, and I weaved as far as I could down the point. When I ended up perched on Impossibles in Wounded Lotus position with the water run dry and a foamy heading my way, I wasn’t surprised in the least.
*Round 3 of the Billabong Pro J-Bay is live now.
**Images © Jared Aufrichtig.