After experiencing three straight weeks of surf at home, mixed with a couple days in NY, I've just begun to feel the effects of this event-filled hurricane season. Owen Wright taking home $300,000 was the crowning moment for a season that East Coasters will be warmly remembering long after the buoys stop registering long-period ground swells from distant storms.
Twenty years from now, when people on the East Coast are talking about how epic the 2011 Quiksilver Pro New York was, I will tell them emphatically, "I was there."
I was there when Heitor Alves landed one of the most incredible inverted backside 540 corkscrews ever--in competition or freesurfing.
...when Josh Kerr showed the world how to win multiple WT heats in a completely nontraditional fashion--launching off everything as if it were an air show (a division in which he is already a two-time world champ).
...when Taj Burrow had his heart ripped from his chest by Kelly Slater once again like he was in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
...when Owen Wright found the focus necessary once again to dismantle Kelly twice as a wildcard in '09 and in the final here for his first of many WT victories to come.
...when Bobby Martinez sounded the bullhorn heard around the world to let everyone know there was a surf contest going on in NY. ASP and Quiksilver should have been paying him for that bit of priceless publicity. Instead, they will most likely keep his $15,000 in prize money as a fine on top of his disqualification from the event. Kelly really dodged a bullet in the form of an on-fire (and fired up) Mexican who was one of only two surfers who've knocked Kelly out of a WT contest this season.
...when Hurricane Katia blessed us all with one of the most beautiful final days I've witnessed in the hundreds of events I've competed in or watched--especially considering she saved the best for last when after the final, the winds went back straight offshore and the surf pulsed with the incoming tide for all us spectators to enjoy a few waves ourselves.
What does this all add up to?
The Quiksilver Pro was a huge success for surfing. Because, for better not worse, with the cancellation of the festival side of the event, we had a truly hardcore surf contest with real surf fans excited to be there for one reason: to watch the best surfers in the world compete, not on the webcast, but in person, in their home waters. My home waters. Kelly's home waters. It may be NY, but to East Coasters we are all family over here--welcoming and grateful for every bit of surf, every bit of recognition garnered for our devotion to the surfing culture. We received both in truckloads, thanks to Quiksilver's forward-thinking that saw the potential for an epic event if we could just get mother nature to cooperate. And when the swell arrived, what transpired was the most impressive display of high-performance surfing to date. In New York of all places the East Coast finally had its 15 minutes of fame.
Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days.