We’ve all seen Mick Fanning wrapped in an Australian flag, getting chaired out of the water by his mates. And we’ve seen Andy, world title in hand, wearing a hat emblazoned with the Hawaiian flag. National pride is nothing new to surfing, especially in that climatic moment when fans and fellow competitors rally around one of their countrymen after he’s sealed the deal with a win. But this morning, the scene down at Trestles was the polar opposite. It was your standard lay day: onshore, grey and dribbling. And whenever there’s no surf, and no heats to run, usually the tour guys make themselves scarce. Fast. But, with the Hurley “Keys to the Continent” event scheduled for later in the day, there were more than a few patriotic souls hanging around to see how things would pan out this afternoon.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the “Keys to the Continent” format—and you really shouldn’t be because it’s brand new—here’s how it plays out. Firstly, it’s a global team event. The two highest rated surfers from Australia, Brazil, Europe, South Africa, the U.S. and Hawaii pair up. I know, you’re probably thinking that this sounds like a bastardization of the Game format, tweaked and applied on an international level. And it would be, if it weren’t for this twist: Each surfer is judged first on a wave they surf individually, but then, the two teammates have to ride a wave together. Now, it’s fine for them to split the peak and do their own thing, but the judging criteria was set up to favor teams that have both surfers on the same face, surfing in the same direction at the same time. The idea is to have them working together, to get the most out of the wave in an updated version of the old-style, go-behind, classic longboard approach.
So, they’re going to burn each other?
Not exactly. They’re supposed to share. Surfing’s all about peace, love and Mother Ocean right?
Well, not if you’re at Lowers. At least not for 364 days of the year. But today was the exception, and as the waves turned around a touch for the event, more than one duo managed to find some synergy out there. In the final, Marcelo Nunes and Peterson Rosa, for team Brazil, managed to flow for their fellow countrymen, while Fred Patacchia and A.I. paired up for Hawaii. But it was the Aussie squad that had the love on lockdown. Taj and Mick blended a ride that was more the enough to hand the Lucky Country a win, and with every Aussie surfer on tour getting an even split of the $20,000 prize purse, you can be sure they all agreed that sharing is a good thing.
“I couldn’t have been happier with how everything turned out today,” said Pat O’Connell, who spearheaded the event for Hurley. “The reaction we were going for with this format was to get everyone involved . To get guys one the beach screaming and cheering and hooting. And in the end today, that’s exactly what happened.”