EVENTS HELD: Several matches of tennis
NATURE’S CALL: You didn’t think I was capable of this did you?
PREDICTION: Standup barrels by Saturday
It almost never fails. You and your crew get blind drunk one night during a surf trip, and the next morning a mysto swell has arrived as if by cruel magic. You’re slobbering away in dreamland while perfect waves are peeling off without you. Wednesday, May 28th, marked the birthday of the surfer’s choice for most popular guy on tour, Nathan Hedge. Hog, as he’s known, turned 24, and the party was on. The intensely hospitable staff on Tavarua served up a birthday cake, the Fosters supply was endless, and the Aussies were whipping the island into a frenzy. Why not? It had been flat for two days, and the forecast wasn’t calling for a rise in the surf until the weekend. The odds were stacked against the Quiksilver Fiji Pro happening anytime soon.Apparently, Murhpy’s Law works in strange ways around here. Yeah, a bunch of guys were hung over (but of course Hog was up and at ’em for his usual predawn surf check.) However, instead of Cloudbreak morphing from the kiddieland peelers of yesterday into the world-class freight train we all know and love, it was even worse. No one thought it was possible, but the surf was darn near dead flat. The boys, while they’d obviously rather be surfing, didn’t mind catching a few extra winks. Over a late morning coffee, Taylor Knox announced, “This is the first morning Kalani (Robb) didn’t wake up at 5:00 am, turn on the lights, and blast Tupac. I wish he would party like that every night.”So it was another off day for the event, the third in succession, leaving the gents to find ways of entertaining themselves. World Champ Andy Irons chose to flush out his system on the tennis court. “I was a little crooked this morning,” he said of his physical state after the night’s festivities, “but I played a little tennis and I’m all right now.” Many of his tourmates joined in the tropical sweatfest, but given the talent level on the court, it’s a good thing they all have steady day jobs.
For the boys, it was anything just to keep themselves occupied. But at one point, as the entire visiting population of the island cooled off in the pool before dinner, it became apparent what was missing (other than surf) from this setting. It’s a surf groupie’s wet dream. In contrast to events at any other location on earth, where the surfers can hole up in their hotel room or hop in their car and speed away, here they are captive on a tiny island. But alas, there are no fans within hundreds of miles. No autographs to sign, no fenced off competitors’ area, no spectators at all (except for the other surfers, the media, and the odd spouse or girlfriend). The surfers can be themselves all day without worrying about their image. From the smiles on their faces, despite the lack of action, they take pleasure in the reprieve.Sometime during the next couple days, competition will recommence where it left off in the middle of Round Two. Until then, the fraternity known as the World Championship Tour will play the role of island tourist. Hopefully it will happen soon, because there are only so many things these guys can do other than surf. Andy, antsy to get back to business, sat under a small waterfall in the pool, and raved, “This is the first barrel I’ve had in three days.”— Jason Borte[For more info, go to www.aspworldtour.com.]