Big-wave contest in New Zealand may be inflated by cyclone-generated monsters! Maybe Laird too!
I remember a Sunday afternoon long ago out west. It was bathed in the golden light of May, the water was a comparatively warm (for that time of year) 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees F for the metrically challenged) and the waves were overhead beachbreak barrels… such fun.
I came in happy and was wandering with my friend back to my car when we heard a tortured cry. It was a young seal on death’s door among the driftwood. All along its body were lacerations right down to the bone. It was pretty ugly with the festering yellow pus of infection creeping throughout the doe-eyed animal’s gaping wounds.
A discussion ensued and I was told that I couldn’t walk away from the seal without doing the right thing. This advice, which came from my friend, did not apply to him, and he walked off. It was just the seal and me, and so, with reluctance, I helped “end the pain”, as they say.
And so it was today with the Quik Pro. Finally, the suffering is over.
What struck me the most in these two instances was the sudden flourish of life exhibited by both in those last moments. These flourishes of futile resistance to fate served to make each event an immeasurably sadder affair.
While I was pondering the sad similarities of the Quik Pro and the doomed seal, I remembered that The Ultimate Waterman starts tomorrow/today (depending on when this appears and where you live in the world).
I perked up. We will soon know who the ultimate waterman is. What perked me up the most though is that they may get cyclone swell. Cyclone Pam is on her way and doesn’t she have NZ in a spin.
NZ, like our much better sibling Australia, loves an existential threat and Pam fits the bill: she’s smashed the Solomons, is threatening to destroy Vanuatu and is heading to thrash Barry and Sharon’s vege garden in Whakatane.
Surfers in north-facing and eastern parts of the country are in a flutter with cyclone fever (my pick is the north-facing spots on the west and north-west of the South Island on Monday). None more so, apparently, than the contestants in The Ultimate Waterman, according to the NZ Herald.
And why not? They are big-wave surfers, the weather system is unusually large and it could fire. There are murmurings that they will surf somewhere near East Cape, but the projected path of the system means that they can surf further south later in the week, if the cyclone’s opening gambit is undercooked.
All this led me to some deep questioning: will they score giant cyclonic conditions? Will Laird as ambassador for the event turn up with his hydrofoil board to surf giant, well-groomed cyclone swell and show me the future?
There’s a high chance that the answer will be no. Pam will probably hit the cooler waters of the southern Pacific, lose her energy, and be downgraded to a moderately intense ex-tropical low. If so, my bold prediction of two-metres of north-west swell at 19 seconds on the West Coast will not eventuate.
The East Coast of both islands will be big, onshore and ugly for two days before being four-to-six foot and perfect for another two days. The brave watermen will score this perfection, but it won’t be the giants they want and nor will I see Laird show me the future of surfing.
It should end there, but it doesn’t. More questions keep arising. Will they take them down to the Foveaux Strait where large numbers of Great Whites are currently breeding in a bid to find even mildly large waves? Will Kai Lenny bash one with his SUP paddle, then be prosecuted for attacking protected wildlife? Will they come after me for my act of compassion years ago?
Will anyone even watch? Moreover, will it benefit the NZ economy?
All these questions will haunt me tonight as they should you.