A shopping trolley sits abandoned on the side of the road behind Snapper Rocks. A frayed Australian flag flutters lazily on a 14th floor balcony. A scrub turkey disappears into a pandanus thicket. Nothing moves in the minutes after dawn, least of all the ocean. She’s been flat—has been for days—and life around here has been afflicted with a tropical torpor. With nothing breaking and no chance of the Quik Pro running this morning, I walked on over the hill to Duranbah, where I expected to see a human beehive, a frantic attempt to save the contest.
I followed the fiber optic cabling that had been run from Snapper over Point Danger and down to Duranbah. When cable was run five days ago, it took the local crims only a few hours to try and steal it, thinking it was copper. But alas, the cable survived and as I followed it over the hill I imagined a full days surfing would soon be flowing through it. Finally. This edition of the Quiksilver Pro had been painted into a corner by the worst forecast in its 13-year history, had already been extended by an historic two days, and was now destined to expire at crumby D-Bah, hardly one for the ages. The new incarnation of the Tour was probably due an event like this, having over-achieved for surf last year.
I walked over to D-Bah and it was flat and there was not a human soul to be seen, nor a World Tour event. The surf was terrible and the place deserted. As I walked down to the corner a startled Rabbit Bartholomew jumped out from under the pandanus, his face already smeared in zinc. "Yep," he chirps looking out at a listless lineup, "looks like they might need to extend the waiting period to Easter Sunday." But even with the two extra days having been negotiated to the waiting period, the contest was already on wood and needed to run pretty much every minute of every day between now and Friday afternoon to make the deadline. Looking out at D-bah it was clear that wasn't going to happen. This contest was a dead duck.
I walked back over the hill to Snapper and there it was, a miracle of sorts. I took a shot of java and rubbed my eyes. It was Mick Fanning paddling out. It was miraculous on two levels; the first of which was that there didn't actually appear to be any waves.
Secondly, Mick is the most recalcitrant surfer on Tour when it comes to shit surf. No one tells Mick to surf. If it ain't up to scratch, he ain't paddling out…especially so when he's drawn at home against Dane Reynolds in Round 2. When you add Kelly Slater surfing in the following heat, there's 14 world titles of bargaining power that have helped keep this contest in a holding pattern for 11 days. Mick now holds the record for longest wait between heats.
Today there was no choice. The math said they needed to surf.
Mick needn't have worried. If the bantamweight conditions made him vulnerable, it was far worse for Dane Reynolds. Mick zinged down the point, joining the dots and looking great, while Dane went looking for sections that weren't there. Mick won easy. The swell from Cyclone Pam—sharing its name with Dane's French Bulldog—may have the same bite and sadly will arrive a couple of days late to do Dane any good.
A few days ago, lay day number eight I think, I'd interviewed Dane and he's in an interesting life juncture. He's 29 and just two months away from becoming a father, and has also seen in the last year or so John Florence fill the role he once played on Tour…the incendiary bridge between the Tour and free surfing worlds—the Promised One if you will. While not exactly desperate, Dane will always have options, he's surfed this week like he wants to be here. He's had hustle in his heats, but turning up as a wildcard to a contest after surfing six heats in a year and running into contest juggernauts like Medina and Fanning is like pulling off a sleepy side street onto a five-lane freeway. Dane on Tour would be a win for both worlds—art and sport—but getting him on Tour is proving tough. And his past week at Lake Snapper hasn't done much to sell him on that dream.
The show rolls on tomorrow. It has no choice.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.50 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.43
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.33 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.63
Heat 3: Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.77 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.67
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.83 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.00
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.17 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 9.84
Heat 6: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.74 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.40
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.83 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.5
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.33
Heat 9: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.67 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.10
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.47 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 13.10
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.16 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 13.93
Heat 12: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.10 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.00