The Long Shadowby Luke Mason, images Jared Aufrichtig and Roy Harley / 21.07.2011
The ocean is dead. Someone has killed it. J-Bay hangs in a deflated stasis, the bite of the event off chewing something else. Day 7 sees the surf shrinking from pathologically tiny to windy puddle.
Supertubes has been difficult, blindingly fast and shallow in the small conditions of Round 1 and the first 6 heats of round 2. With massive gaps between waves, the competition was staunch and tactical, wave selection critical. Exciting stuff to watch as bursts of intense energy and speed punctuate meditatively long waits and surfers stare with twitching eyelids at an ocean stubbornly refusing to produce the wave they need. Still, the level of surfing is nothing less than inspiring.
The highlight of Round 1 was the Jordy, Adam Melling, Sean Holmes encounter when for about 15 minutes, Supers awoke. Holmes and Melling traded amazing waves, both smashing lips, tucking in and carving deep into the car park section. Their respective 14.93 and 14.57 weren’t enough to pip Jordy and his Superman impression, who’s “futuristic” approach scored big with the judges. Jordy had fire is his eyes. He paddled the others hard and deep, his surfing looking ever more precise and powerful. A dominating force. Sitting in the line-up after the end of competition with the faces I know from my surfing childhood: Occy (rocking the natty-dread), Luke Egan and Cory Lopez trade the last tickles of the Friday swell with contest directors, one or two of the young guns, team managers, journalists and a couple Saffas. One of the local guys paddles up to Egan and has that well had conversation: “So who do you think is looking good?” Egan is open and friendly in his reply, “Well Jordy’s looking real good, he doesn’t even need to get the best wave to get the best score”. There was no criticism in the comment, he was just stating the facts. These days a dodgy looking aerial where you hold your surfboard and assume the poo-position gets you through heats. Doing big lofty Ollie-airs gets you through heats. It occasionally tends on the garish, but the surfers do what the judges want.
For Madiba Day, Kelly Slater gave the forgotten South African, Travis Logie, another crack at the WCT. Kelly didn’t make it to South Africa in time to participate, so being the 33rd ranked surfer in the world, Travis steps in as an alternate. I caught up with Travis looking charged after he’d just won his 2nd round heat and asked his thoughts about the Kelly Slater shaped anti-matter sitting on the king’s throne and his lucky spot in the contest.
“I just think he doesn’t really have to these days, he’s done so much already in the sport. He saw a once in a lifetime swell going to Fiji so he decided to hold out, ride it and hopefully make it for the swell at the end of the comp. This little swell (that Round 2 surfed in) came up out of nowhere. He still wished me good luck for my heat and everything, he’s gracious like that, I think he was stoked I got in because he knows how much I need the points.”
And he does need those points. Travis looks hungry, focussed.
“Ja, this is huge for me. If I get through another one or two heats it’ll be massive points. I’m frothing!”
When I asked him about the critical backlash that South African surfers have received for “being in Jordy’s long shadow”, he shared a bit of the wisdom he’d picked up along his journey through professional surfing.
“I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff, if you read too much into that kind of thing you’ll just be miserable the whole time, no matter how good you do there’s always somebody saying you’re doing something wrong.”
Image © Cestari/ASP
Sean Holmes was looking deflated in his 2nd round heat against Taj in the small, inconsistent conditions. Taj picked the waves and smashed them to pieces leaving Holmes dead in the water. Shaun Joubert, stepping into the 2nd round in place of the absent Bobby Martinez, showed his quality and surfed with plenty of class against the on-form Bede Durbidge. He was in it with a legitimate shout until Durbidge hooked a gem and obliterated it for a solid 8 point ride.
Time is running out with a lot of surfing left to finish. We look to the weekend for the arrival of a new swell and some more surfing action. Until then, there’s always another beer to drink.