Editor's Note: Shea planned to send more updates from the ASP World Masters Championships in Brazil, but fun must have gotten in the way. Here's our first correspondence with him since landing in South America.
From: Shea Lopez
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 11:11:41 -0500
To: Brendon Thomas
Subject: Rio Masters Update
Getting such a large group of surfing's brightest past stars together was neither fast nor easy. The last event was 8 to 10 years ago at Makaha in perfect 15-foot surf with Kong winning his third Masters title. Here in Brazil, Super Surf has committed to three more years of putting on a proper big-money Masters event. With this, and an already heavy schedule of Prime and WT events, Brazil has made a huge push toward becoming professional surfing's greatest supporter.
I wish I was doing a better job covering the event though, but it's not possible at this time. I'm the grommet here, and although I have a head full of amazing memories and stories shared already this week, I haven't slowed down long enough to jot anything down. I will…eventually. Now, I plan on soaking up every minute of this grommet's dream gig of surfing alongside the people that directly influenced my life more than any other group. To this point, I haven't missed a minute of this golden opportunity--besides the first minute of my heat today, due to a watch running slow and becoming 15 minutes behind over night. A rookie move for sure, although expected, as all of us here are a little rusty from the lack of contest experience lately. Not to worry though, we are all pros here--quite a few are even World Champions--and today all the guys look to be remembering what it takes to ride and compete in the kind of surf that we rarely bother getting wet for anymore.
I'm going to tell you though, even without ever doing a turn, there is one thing that every master here has--STYLE. Style is the one thing you never lose. Think about this next time you surf: your knees, shoulders, hips, ankles, neck, and back will wear out sooner than you think. All the unnamed moves you attempt to do now will be a thing of the past. What you will be left with is your style.
And for most of us here, there is a burning competitive desire that not much else in life can soothe other than surfing against your former competitors. That has been made glaringly obvious here from the best example of a lifetime pro surfer I know: Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew. "Bugs" has been surfing great here--best I've seen of him in a long time. After a close heat yesterday, he went over and over again in his head how things could have gone differently/better for him so that he could improve his chances in the next round. When I saw him at dinner, he had come to the conclusion he was screwed from the beginning, because during his time as ASP President he had fired two of the judges who are now judging this event--not a very common predicament to be in as a competitor. This helped him rest easy at night though, knowing now that his surfing is on point, it is just going to take him "Busting Down the Door" to win the Grand Masters Title. He, Shaun Thomson, and Michael Ho were absolutely ripping in their pursuit of taking that title home with them.
For the most part, it has been all shits and giggles among such an eclectic group of surfers. That is bound to change though with the five-round non-elimination format we are using. Come Rounds 4 and 5, everyone will have a clearer picture of what they need to qualify among the Top 8 and have a shot at the $25,000 first place check. You can go to aspworldtour.com and find the link to the webcast there to see one of the few times any of these legends will ever be competing again.
You're missing a good one here. Wish I could share all my experiences here with the world, but I can't. Your only chance is to get on a plane and get down here for the big weekend finish to come.