By Chas Smith
I woke to rain pounding on my deck. Thick and unrelenting. I poked my head out of the sliding glass door and peered south to Supertubos. A warm gust toussled my hair. I knew the event would be called for the day. I tucked back in and let Mother Nature rock me to sleep.
Later in the morning, after espresso and Brazilian soap operas, I wandered over to the site. The storm had passed and a hot sun warmed my bones. Puddles glistened. Snails were everywhere. I first noticed the crunching and then I noticed them. Small with tan shells. It seemed like a plague of snails. Do snails carry disease?
There is a Brazilian soap playing in Portugal right now that mixes life in Rio with Bollywood. Part of it seems to take place in Brazil. The other part in Bombay. Or maybe it is all supposed to be in Brazil. I don’t understand a word of Portuguese but it is fascinating.
Even though the event is off Rip Curl’s tent city was alive with pleasure. Municipal employees were hurriedly constructing sand berms to fight off the stormy tide. Red Bull employees were wandering around in cute jackets smiling at Rip Curl employees. The Red Bull employees were, by and large, female. Television crews sat in microwave transmission vans and smoked unfiltered cigarettes. Laughing. There was nothing but nothing to do, save look semi-occupied. A newscaster for FUEL fiddled with her microphone foam. It was unclear who she could interview.
Owen Wright appeared out of nowhere and walked slowly to the shore carrying three boards and a towel. He was in a grey and black wetsuit and his golden hair bounced with each step. His boards looked professionally and magnificently stickered.
He paddled out a touch south of Supertubos proper and quickly spun around to catch a warbled nugget. His style loose and forgiving. He hit the lip once hard, air dropped to the trough and pulled into a mini-tube. The three other surfers in the water craned their necks to look. I assumed them to be locals. They were all certainly unsponsored as evidenced by their wide stances.
Owen continued to put on a show. He would chuck fly-away airs. He would loosen his fins in the lip. All tourist eyes transfixed. His goofy-footedness looked natural even in the grey mush. He might be a dangerous foe.
A rainbow beamed over dry docked ships in the distance. Tourists smiled and mumbled approval in French, German and Dutch. Approval at young Owen’s surfing. Approval at the gloriousness.
This event is a draw and holds appeal far beyond surf fans. The parking lot was full when I arrived and full when I left. World citizens drawn to spectacle. I saw a German with blonde dreadlocks cut into a mohawk. I asked him why he came to Supertubos this morning. He said, “Ahhh this wave is famous for the surf community in Europe.” I told him the event wasn’t running today. He said, “I know that but look at this place. It is worth just watching.” I saw a Brazilian wearing a pink tracksuit. I asked her if she was more stoked on the women’s or men’s events. She replied, “You know, I love the good surfing.” I asked her if she was stoked on Layne Beachley. She replied, “No. I am more for Luke Stedman. He looks delicious.” I saw a small group of Chinese tourists and was very confused as to why they weren’t Japanese. One of them had a t shirt reading, “Let’s get awesome tonight. 180 air!” I saw a French family. The father told me, “We were in Spain for family vacation and watched a day of the surf contest there. We wanted more so we drove down here. We love surf events in Europe. There aren’t enough of them.” I agreed with him. I could happily move here. I could happily eat croissants for every breakfast.
I heard a cannon explode in the distance. There is a cannon that shoots regularly in Peniche. Every thirty minutes in the morning, I’d say. I don’t know its purpose. Is it to scare away birds? Do they dynamite fish in Portugal? I will find the answer.
Owen took off on a fat right. His backside style was as smooth as Swiss butter. He is a dangerous foe.