The working class vs the ruling elite
Come every Autumn in Australia, as sure as the first cool morning offshores will begin their insolent tickling of backyard gum trees, I’m compelled to write about my love for the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle teams format.
It’s our culture manifest. Surfing as socialist democracy. All of the best bits of competitive aquatic poncing rolled into a two-day shoot out.
I’ve nothing new to add, sort of. Still a massive fan
But this year did offer the juxtaposition of the ABB running at the same time as the WSL.
Newcastle and Rottnest. The working class vs the ruling elite.
Newy on finals day was unruly, messy in parts, but highly contestable. Hidden gems popped up throughout the unscripted madness.
Rotto, on the other hand, was perfectly groomed. But ever so slow. Monotonous. Droning.
I’ll let you draw your own analogies.
The Nudie teams format always delivers. Guaranteed drama every match up no matter the quality of the waves, or the surfers. Hour-long heats fly by with 20 surfers in the water.
My club was bundled out in the trials at the start of the weekend so I was able to catch a lot of the Nudie broadcast at home. Jeez it was fun. An easy choice over the WSL’s dull grey.
There were core legends, both mens and womens. WSL-adjacent rippers. A bevy of up n coming juniors. Air shows. Beach sprints. Larrikins like Jacko Baker giving mid-heat analysis. Beau ‘Nitro’ Walker still surfing in a backwards baseball hat.
Grom interviews that could have been lifted directly from a 1980s beachside vox pop. “Aww yeah it’s pretty filf out there ay.”
The passion of club surfing in Australia. North Narra captain Hedgey’s pre-final determination/death stare would make the Felipe meme look like a doe eyed puppy shot.
And all ably commentated by the likes of Vaughan Blakey, Sean Doherty, Reggae Ellis.
Yes there were technical issues.
The amount of live action missed because of wave replays was criminal. There were some commentary howlers on the frequent beach crosses.
But instead of trying to ignore it, pretend there was nothing happening, the crew took the piss. Called it as they saw it. Made the entire package even more entertaining.
Do you see big corpo sponsor Nudie tearing up its contract with Surfing Australia because not everything went to script?
Is City of Newcastle or Destinations NSW threatening to cut funding and burn the welcome mat because a commentator spoke his or her mind?
As if. They love it. And the format continues to thrive.
It begs the question: why is the WSL still scared of its own shadow?
From what LT says in his post-heat there were some small progressions made in the commentary booth yesterday. That’s good. But I thought we had turned the same corner early last year too, only for the double positive corpo speak to kick back in even harder post-Covid.
One step forward, two steps back.
Team surfing is never going to replace man-on-man (which in these gender fluid times I think should be simply renamed ‘the Drouyn format’). Not should it. There’s way too much ingrained history.
But the liveliness of Nudie was undeniable. The party atmosphere. The passion. The fun.
A working class barnyard jamboree, while the bosses laboured through another staid, tiresome offering of enforced formality.
I know where I’d rather be.