Pushing this stubborn mule of a contest over the hump into a manageable finals day…
Four heats of round four completed in a somnolent South Pacific. Pushing this stubborn mule of a contest over the hump into a manageable Finals Day.
Anything to learn? Maybe an upgrade of the finals call from Kennedy/Wilkinson to Bourez/Wilkinson. Wilko looks sharp, looks tight. If it’s barrelling he can go in low and slow, like he did against JJF last year and come out with drama. I’s a Tommy Carroll line.
Horrible day here, flood rain and a howling wind from the south-east courtesy of an ill-tempered storm just to seaward, but I had to wash the computer grime off me so I went for a surf at the Pass. Someone I knew (a BeachGrit commenter?) yelled at me:,“Oi Longbong, no more fucking littry talk, stick to the facts”.
Nick Dee was that you? Memories of the time one of the honchos from the (then) ASP, accompanied by security (the now departed Woody, bless his soul), pulled me out of the press room at Bells to inform me that people in high places had taken exception to the tone of my coverage.
I gave him the Rosie Hodge defence.
“I was just trying to offer a ‘point of difference’, your honour.”
Aren’t her and Ronnie are making a beautiful team, even if her Californian inspired high self-esteem therapy speak becomes a little cloying at times. I pine for her to take the advice Kevin Spacey’s character President Frank offered his wife in House of Cards: “Put some steel back into your game.”
Yesterday’s comments led me to my daily focus of five minutes on insider/access journalism, usually performed by the good soldiers and true believers of pro surfing whose instincts, inasmuch as we can divine them, are to protect rather than reveal to hinder our understanding if it contrasts too sharply from the official narrative.
As Nick Carroll constantly reminded us in his biography of Tom Carroll when referencing the drug culture on Tour, “ I didn’t write about the drugs.”
Who can blame him? Who would? Who would destroy relationships and the cosy, clubby atmosphere of being amongst friends and equals – of being accepted – by lifting the carpet and counting the scuttling cockroaches that fled from the light? Better to look away and be a myth-maker.
It’s why the best writing about surfing always comes from outside the inner circle. Our beloved Fred Pawle got a Pulitzer for his expose on Sarge or was it a Walkley for his story about gay tour surfer Matt Branson? Same difference.
Goddamm it, I just wasted a half hour on this tight deadline thumbing my paperback copy of Hunter Thompson’s greatest book, The Great Shark Hunt, looking for the quote where Hunter describes just this clubby band of insider journalists and how they end up becoming good Germans and useful idiots.
Ah, here it is! Take it away Hunter.
“The most consistent and ultimately damaging failure of surf* journalism in America has it’s roots in the clubby/cocktail personal relationships that inevitably develop between politicians and journalists… When professional antagonists become after hours drinking buddies they are not likely to turn each other in… especially not for minor infractions of rules that neither side takes seriously; and on the rare occasions when minor infractions suddenly become major there is panic at both ends”.
Surf journalists as PR agents for pro surfers. Coaches as commentators. A sport that was handed over without a cent to an opaque organisation financed by a reclusive billionaire to be bleached and whitewashed to within an inch of its life, a blind eye turned to human catastrophes like Sarge’s sexual predation and AI. This is a sport that has had conflict of interest baked into it for so long it’s forgotten it’s there.
Thing is though, as Chas Smith showed in Welcome to Paradise now Go to Hell (shamefully, I’ve only read the free excerpts), we can all stomach the truth better than a handful of lies.
Enough? No Nick Dee, the joos aren’t to blame. Great times, the greatest to be a surf journalist!
We can write the truth and we only have libel laws to fear.
And being unable to visit Hawaii. And being coward punched by someone we pissed off.
And, ah, our own cowardice. And stuff. Miaow.
Tune in tomorrow for the Finals Wrap sports fans.
*He said political.
Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.27, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.40
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.73, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 10.77, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 8.50
Heat 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.66, Joan Duru (FRA) 13.50, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.10, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 5.54, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.67
Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 3: Joan Duru (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 4: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)