How long has it been since the last World Surf League Championship Tour event? Eight months? Three years? I have no idea and am lost in an endless depressive cycle. Oh I know that BeachGrit is anti-depressive and I do my best to lift my head off the pillow each morning and bring you good cheer but inside I am a dried up prune.
I went to the World Surf League website just this very minute to see if I might have somehow missed J-Bay and was greeted with the above picture of Jordy Smith who appears to be surfing in the Ballito Pro which seems to be in South Africa.
The day’s wrap reads, in part:
“It’s always great to do this event, there’s nothing like the QS guys to keep you on your toes, they’re the hungriest competitors,” Jordy said. “I saw Josh’s last air and told him if he made that it would have been in the nines, but apparently he slipped off his back foot right at the end, so fortunate for me. He’s a great surfer and I’m sure he’s going to have some big results this year.”
But more to the point is that air and the way it looks when photographed. Would you like to know what it looks like to me?
Currently Jordy is number 3 in the world and my money is for him to slide up to number 1 by the Corona Pro J-Bay’s end and for him to stay there for the rest of the year.
How will a Jordy Smith championship make you feel?
Will Jordy v John John be the rivalry that thrills us into the future?
Is someone casting dark spells on BeachGrit writers?
(Ed. note: In my rusty memory Rory Parker was always hurting himself and having surgery. Our Michael Kocher was killed by policemen. Now poor Michael Ciaramella is laid low. Do you believe in the supernatural? Could there possibly be a BeachGrit curse? And if yes, who conjured this dark force?)
The goal was to arrive at Marbella, a surf break forty-five minutes from our Playa Negra domicile, by first light. That meant a 4:45 wake-up and 5:15 departure.
A night of Cacique (a sugar cane liquor) and Snappa (a terrible drinking game) put us slightly behind schedule. Costa Rica will do that to you.
After an hour of waking up, then re-waking up my debilitated pals, the truck was packed and we were off.
To cut time, we took a local shortcut — one that involved weaving through cattle, romping over potholes and crossing a small river. The only obstacle we hadn’t accounted for was a fallen tree blocking our path.
By the time we’d encountered the natural roadblock, we were too far into the shortcut to head back. Fifteen minutes to Marbella through the tree, an hour if we were to turn around.
Our Nissan Navara fit just under the main trunk, but one of the core branches — a solid two feet in diameter and thirty in length — was directly in our path.
After short deliberation, a decision was made. We would move the thousand-pound piece of lumber in order to clear a path for our vehicle.
We got low, counted down from three and, PUUUUUSH!
A new idea; Two of us would lift while the others would drive the trunk forward with all of their body weight.
It worked, if slightly.
Each countdown resulted in an inch, maybe two inches of progress. A couple times when we lifted, the tree would swing back and we’d lose six inches all at once. Twenty minutes later, muddied and scraped from neck to heel, we’d moved the tree just enough to slip our 4×4 through the gap.
We laughed. We cried. We mocked the petty piece of lumber and were swiftly on our way.
As far as I was concerned, the day was already a success. A surf session would be great to wash off the dirt and sweat, but this tree endeavor had already achieved my daily entertainment quota.
With the morning commute behind us, we arrived at Playa Marbella to find clean, chest-high wedges breaking up and down the beach. Mesmerized by the sight, we pointed and squawked like amateur birdwatchers. Within minutes our feet were clean of mud and coated instead with Mr. Zog’s white goo.
The session went how sessions go — some good waves, some bad waves, always clinging to the hope that something bigger or better was looming out the back. Nearly three hours into my surf, about the time you’d start looking for a wave in, I found the lump I’d spent all day searching for.
Head high on take off, with a valley in the center and another hump forming down the line — the wave implored me to soar. If not implored me, then taunted me, in a ‘you won’t hit this, you pussy’ kind of way.
My friends were watching from out the back. I had no choice.
Launching off the lip, I felt my feet disconnect from the board momentarily, before regaining traction a foot closer to the nose. The air wasn’t exceptionally high, but I covered a decent amount ground and was set to land at the point of impact.
The initial landing was soft enough, but with the weight of the explosion from the crashing swell, I figured I’d be engulfed by whitewater and bucked from my board.
Turns out I was half right.
Rather than being overtaken by fluffy clouds and kindly deposited into the abyss, the explosion sent the nose of my board skyward, taking my front foot along with it. This pushed my front knee inward, toward the deck of my surfboard — a maneuver well outside my range of motion. I felt the sensations of a pop, then pain, then despair, in that order.
Still underwater, I knew something bad had happened. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to come up — not in a suicidal way, it’s just that breaching the surface meant facing the reality of a blown surf trip, if not something much worse.
I was able to hobble back to the car, but by the time we’d arrived home, I couldn’t put an ounce of my weight on my left foot. I couldn’t even straighten my leg.
My initial plan was to wait it out, to see if my knee would improve on its own. I spent the next 36 hours laid up in bed, occasionally hopping around the house to piss or get an ice pack. It didn’t help one bit, and I feared my knee could get worse without proper treatment.
The next day I saw an orthopedic surgeon (travel insurance FTW) who put me through X-rays and and MRI. Results showed a bone bruise, a sprained MCL and a nearly-severed ACL.
Might need surgery, he told me, might not. Said I should rehab it for a week then see a specialist in the States.
I’ve learned that surgery would put me out of the water for four months, but I wouldn’t be at 100% for at least seven.
If no surgery, it’s anyone’s guess how long the recovery will take, but it’ll be at least a few months until my knee is strong enough to withstand legitimate athletic activity.
So, that’s my current reality. No more surfing, no more traveling, no more bees, and definitely no Namibia for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and to top it all off, I have to move all my shit into a new house by the end of this month.
Three days ago North Korea successfully launched a long range ballistic missile, the first successful long range ballistic missile launch in the rogue nation’s history. Kim Jong Un declared that it was a present for the “American bastards.”
I didn’t pay attention because I was too busy writing the rumor of big events happening at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. (Maybe Jack Johnson concerts to go alongside WQS events.)
And did you know that Jack Johnson grew up on Oahu’s North Shore? Of course you did.
Did you also know that North Korea’s new successful long range ballistic missile can maybe reach Oahu’s North Shore? I didn’t until National Public Radio told me yesterday.
As surfers, should we take this aggression personally? I think maybe we should. I also think that Da Hui should take it personally. Just imagine how wonderfully effective a Pyongyang visit from da boyz would be!
“Ho. Which one you fukkahs Kim Jong Un?”
A nuclear North Korea would most certainly be a thing of the past.
If any one of you can draw let’s collaborate on a cartoon called Da Boyz go to North Korea. I have no doubt it would be a hit.
I was up in Los Angeles today having a lovely meeting with our handsome web developer and otherwise minding my own business. At the end of our productive session (plug-ins and widgets etc.) he asked, “Do you live near Michael Ciaramella?” I told him that I did and he said that Michael had come up and placed in or won or… oh details were never my strong suit… but something in a South Bay big wave contest.
First, I was amazed that such a thing existed.
Second, I can’t remember.
But third, Michael had apparently won a gift certificate to a local restaurant, some Spy sunglasses and a poster of himself surfing a big wave in the South Bay. Our handsome web developer walked me to his garage to give me Michael’s gifts.
I studied the poster for quite some time.
A fine big wave with Michael clearly charging etc. “But what is falling out of his mouth?” I quietly wondered. “Was he eating a hot dog? Vomiting?”
And then I realized that he was cradling a GoPro mouth mount.
“Hmmm.” I quietly wondered.
Has the jury come in and delivered an official verdict on the GoPro mouth mount? Jamie O’Brien and Anthony Walsh talked about it here…
But I don’t necessarily consider them the jury. I guess I consider YOU the jury.
New app turns paltry little surf contests into dazzling high-tech events!
Lately, I’ve come to enjoy, very much, thrashing around in little surf contests. It’s a thrill to feel so aroused, so vital, in these fifteen-minute, six-man club heats.
Your heart beats perilously fast. You catch a wave and twitch and gesture to try and get your fives and sixes. For tiny parcels of time keen eyes study and judge your surfing. It’s alternately flattering and crushing.
Until recently, judges would write down scores on pieces of paper, hand ’em over to some sort of tabulator, who’d write ’em on a whiteboard and then work out who went through and so on.
All very bush league.
And, then, one day I walked down to an event and was surround by computer screens with live scoring, judges with tablets, live heat times, instant results, all through an app called LiveHeats.
Before the event, your invitation to enter comes via text. Stab your fingers at your phone a couple of times and you’re registered. You know your heat time, and if there’s any delays the time is constantly adjusted, and who you’re surfing against.
The Australian pro surfer Chris Friend, who has a biz degree (economics major) and his computer whiz pal Fernando, figured they could build a simple interface that would change the game. No MS-DOS with its local networks, clunky monitors and print-outs.
Just tablets and phones all linked through the one pretty, and seamless, interface. It’s like when you first played with an Apple computer after being tortured by PCs for years.
Why did it take so long to get so good?
Thirty-three clubs around Australia pay $99 a day to use it, as well as Surfing Victoria, Surfing Canada and SUP South Africa. LiveHeats has also administered a couple of hundred overseas events from Canada to Nicaragua.
“I think we can help create a seamless competitor experience for surfers on the QS and CT,” says Chris, who was rated #100 on the qualifiers a few years back. “Currently, the system for entering QS events isn’t connected to your comp experience so you’d have to go to the comp site to find out what heat you surf in and then use the spectator’s site to see your past results and rating. Surfers in LiveHeats-powered comps can login to their dashboard to enter and pay for events, see their upcoming heat time to the minute, see their jersey colour, as well as track all previous heat results and scores.”
Of course, it isn’t the most uplifting thing to see a year’s worth of thrashing distilled into a handful of threes and fours (best wave in an entire year of contests, a six-five), but what can I say?