Archive for April, 2008
The drive-thru series continues on with the world premiere of drive-thru New Zeland! Crowds of groms and surfstoked frothers gathered at La Paloma theater in Encinitas to check out the flick! You can see the trailor HERE
One of the films stars and my hero Alex Gray
Benji and Occy gettin’ psycheddd!
Drive Thru brainchild Greg Browning, Occy, and weirdo Chris Cote
Addressing the crowd all profo
Shaka mahalos thanks for comin’
9 April, 2008 : - - I’m into the next phase of planning for the Dream Tour – and for me that means honing my backhand attack. If Superbank and Bells light up the eyes of natural footers, it’s fair to say that the goofy footers start frothing about now with the prospect of the next two WCT events being held in primo left-handers.
The Billabong Pro at Teahupoo next month and the return of the Globe Pro at Cloudbreak means a quality opportunity for the right foot forward brigade to make their mark on the rankings. Currently, the top 10 has eight natural footers in it but you only have to look at the records of goofy-footers like the Hopgood brothers, Bobby Martinez and past winners like Mark Occhilupo at Teahupoo and Cloudbreak to know they are going to be contending.
The Globe Pro didn’t happen in 2007 due to all the government unrest going on in Fiji this time last year. It’s good to see the contest back. It was voted the surfers’ favourite event on the 2006 Dream Tour. We all love the event’s vibe plus you’re guaranteed great waves at Cloudbreak.
With Fiji returning to the tour and Rip Curl’s mobile Search event tipped for Indonesia this year, getting our act down in quality lefts is high on the minds of the leading pros. Frankly, it’s a challenge for we Aussies.
So many of our quality waves are rights. On the Gold Coast, it’s almost exclusively so. As a result, the backhand attack of Australian natural footers doesn’t get a huge amount of attention early in the season. In fact, it can be a like that for a long part of the year – including the contest season. Maybe that’s why Aussie natural footers haven’t fired as many shots in those contests as we would have liked.
There’s exceptions, of course. Dean Morrison is a huge force in qualify lefts. “Dingo’s” surfing at Pipeline has created new respect for Aussie natural footers in big lefts. But it’s fair to say that it’s been the American guys who have led the way in ensuring a backhand attack can be just as competitive at Teahupoo and Cloudbreak.
I’m mainly talking about Kelly Slater and the Irons brothers, Andy and Bruce, who all have great records in those events. I’ve been really impressed with Andy’s performances on his backhand, especially at Teahupoo where I believe he clearly leads the way. Andy is perhaps also an example of what I mean by a surfer often being a product of his own environment.
He and Bruce grew up on Kauai in Hawaii. When I was there for Andy’s wedding, I surfed Canyons which is one of the local breaks they know like the back of their hand. I found it to be a challenging slabby left that in many respects is a bit of a mini-training ground for Teahupoo (if you can ever say that about any wave compared to the amazing Tahitian break!)
I could see how time in the water at Canyons would have benefitted Andy and Bruce whereas in Australia, especially Queensland, we struggle to find those sorts of lefts.
So what do you do? Well, you’ve gotta go looking for them – and that’s exactly what I’m planning to do. I’m keeping an eye on the swell maps around Sydney and the NSW South Coast and in New Zealand over the next fortnight in search of quality lefts. Ideally, they’ll be reef breaks. I want to get used to the feel of reef waves again as quickly as possible so some good sessions in at places like Aussie Pipeline near Ulladulla would be ideal.
New Zealand has also been getting bombarded with swell this summer and autumn. They’re not reefs but breaks like Raglan, Shipwrecks and Whangamata Bar offer long, winding lefts that could be helpful for preparation for the Globe Pro in particular.
I’ve also got a fortnight-long session in Bali where I am doing some work for one of my sponsors, Mada. The chance to get into some nice clean lefts there will be a further part of my preparation. I think Mick Fanning has shown that dedicated and detailed preparation can lead to good results for an Aussie natural footer in this leg of the tour.
Mick made no secret of the fact he felt he needed to lift his act in hard-charging lefts. So he put in the time at Teahupoo last year. He’s now at the level where he and Dingo worry the hell out of anybody they draw there. The other bonus I have is my shaper is working with me on my backhand tube-riding.
That ordinarily wouldn’t mean much but my shaper is Wayne McKewen who is largely credited with pioneering the “pig-dog” backhand tube-riding style. A goofy footer on the Gold Coast has no choice but to get used to surfing on his backhand but it was Wayne in the 1970s who became the first local to consistently nail time in the barrel at places like Burleigh and Kirra.
That came via his lay-forward, grab-the-rail backhand style that was further popularised by an early Pro Junior winner Stuart Cadden and Hawaiian pros like Marvin Foster. Wayne is going to work with me on sorting out my backhand in terms of maximising time in the barrel at places like Teahupoo and Cloudbreak.
Second in the world after the Australian leg of the Dream Tour – I’ve got to be pretty happy with that! After finishing last year so well, the key for me in 2008 was always going to be holding momentum into the new season and retaining the top five status I’d worked so hard to get. That’s why I trained the house down in the off-season.
My semi-final appearance at Superbank and then the runner-up result to Kelly Slater at Bells have pretty much ensured my goal of hitting the ground running in the two Australian contests has been achieved. Last year, I knew I had it in me to move from 15th in the world to the top five. Now I know I have what it takes to stay here and to contend for the title as well.
It’s flattering to hear others such as Kelly and Rabbit Bartholomew saying the same but that’s not what drives me. My personal goals and getting results that stoke my support crew as well as me are the most important drivers. That’s helped me get into a good space where I am feeling very confident, relaxed but still focussed in every heat. Competing against Kelly in the Rip Curl Pro was a privilege.
People have asked me if I was bummed he turned up at Bells – the inference being I might have won if he wasn’t there. To be honest, if that was the case, it would have been a hollow victory. I meant what I said on the podium when I thanked Kelly for coming to the contest and said I hoped he would compete on the full tour this year.
My pre-Bells blog talked about how I learn so much from competing against him and how he raises the performance bar for all of us – and I think the Rip Curl event showed that. I beat Kelly in the final of the Boost Pro at Trestles in 2006 for my first WCT event win and I’ve got no doubt my development as a competitive surfer was fast-tracked by the experience. Same as our semi last year at the Quiksilver Pro on the Goldie.
So while I obviously would have preferred to “ring the bell” on the bigger trophy at Bells rather than the runner-up’s version, surfing against Kelly in the final was huge and again I learned many things. Would I have done anything different if I could have that final over again? The honest answer is no.
I’ve had lots of people ask why I didn’t paddle after Kelly when I held priority and he took off up to Rincon in the late stages of our final. To follow him and try and attempt to squeeze him through having priority would have meant abandoning chasing a second strong wave to back up my 8 plus score that had put me in the lead early in the final.
My second scoring wave was around 6 and even though the conditions were fickle in the Bowl there still seemed enough time on the clock to find something to improve on that and still hold the lead. I was always confident that if I could find a wall that would stand up and let me make it through to the inside section I could get a high scoring six or seven pointer. Plus there simply weren’t any waves of substance coming through at Rincon at that time.
I could have followed Kelly but it potentially meant forgetting about improving my second wave, and also risking being “sucker-punched” into losing priority by taking a poor wave. I don’t regret that decision. As it turned out, Kelly found one that held up long enough for him to pull that aerial. Good on him.
But even after that I could’ve still won with a 6.8 score. Unfortunately, the surf didn’t co-operate during those last five minutes or so but had it I know I could have got the score I required. That’s surfing though, and that’s what I mean about lessons. I don’t know if there would be many other guys who would have done what Kelly did in the situation. He was behind, I had priority and the waves weren’t really happening.
But a champion doesn’t just sit there and helplessly let the clock wind down. He or she tries to make something happen to force the issue. That’s what Kelly did – and that’s why he is undisputedly the greatest competition surfer we’ve ever seen. I can’t say that I would have done the same if the roles had been reversed because I wasn’t put into that sort of decision -making mode. But I tell you what, it’s something I will think about now if I’m ever in a similar situation.
For now, though, I’m stoked. Second after the opening leg and Kelly saying he will be turning up at Teauhpoo next month. For me, the focus is on surfing as many good qualify lefts as possible over the next few weeks. I’ve got an Indonesian trip planned to help plus my shaper and I are going to head south to surf a few NSW left hand reefs like Aussie Pipeline at Ulladulla. I’ll let you know how training’s going! Till then Keep surfing
- Bede Durbidge