Surf: Four feet, good, offshore/sideshore winds

Events Held: Mens round one and half round two

Nature’s Call: You wanted the Superbank? OK! Can do!

Predicted: Slight swell increase

Gold Coast, Australia: Boy, Snapper Rocks is a Unique Pro Surfing Environment. Look up the line and watch Joel Parkinson, in his casual near-slumping stance, come out of the tube and turn directly up the face and through 270 degrees like he’s combing his hair.

Look down the line and watch . . . well, watch the cops busting up a crowd.

The event organizers here at Snapper Rocks have arranged for no less than three actual POLICEMEN — seriously! — to patrol the bottom end of the lineup, blocking recreational surfers from moving past a certain spot on the Superbank.

Your correspondent does not envy these policemen their task. Preventing surfers from paddling up the line at a perfect point is never easy; but there’s something about a cop that drives the average surfer fricken mad.

The policemen looked funny, wearing boardshorts along with their standard issue button-down shirts and badges. “F—wits!” came the screams from several fairly hardcore blokes as one cop — yelping at a transgressor — almost ate it on top of ’em in his big XL1200 jetski. The wayward cop just ignored the yells and circled back around to growl at the kid he’d been trying to discipline. “Move! Now!”

“I’m tryin’ to catch a wave, ya f—wit!” the kid said, plaintively. “I’m goin’ the other way!”

Maybe it’s the natural downside of holding a contest at the world’s most heavily populated surf zone. But at few events do you see such a direct contrast between the, shall we say, blue collar surf community and the higher levels.

“We need them,” was the comment from organizer Matt Wilson, regarding the cops. “The lifeguards don’t want to do it — they say they get too much flak. But if we don’t do something, the recreational surfers will take over.”

Well, maybe. But given the evidence up the line, nobody without a certified fifth-degree black belt in Pro Level Ripping woulda stood much chance.

Sand has filled in last week’s deep pit outside the Rock itself, and waves are peeling from right around the corner, which means spectacular tube-shots under the backwashy, sandy lips. Pat O’Connell outran everyone in the final first-round practice heat, scoring the event’s highest points to date with an 18.87/20. Put plainly, Pat got pitted.

“There’s a real variety of waves on tour, and everyone sorta has the locations where they feel they have their best chances (of winning),” rationalized Pat, who’ll never out-and-out claim things like this. “I feel this is where I came closest to winning an event. I got second in 1998 against Kelly and I feel like this is my chance.”

Like many international pros, Pat came to Snapper a week early. Other than the warm water, why? “I just don’t have enough to do at home,” he said, summing it up for so many of the top 45. “I sit around and think too much. If I come here. at least I’m doing something.” How about that? This crew wants to go back to work!

It’s too early to predict winners, so let’s look at form. Parko was his easy rubbery self, disposing of trials winner Luke Munro with what looked like a 50-percent performance for him and an {{{80}}}-percent one for most others — tubes outside, airs inside, a range of stuff in between. In truth, though, he was very bloody nervous; the defending champ should not be in round two trying to avoid last place. “He’s a prick to surf against,” Joel said, meaning Luke. “Well — he’s a good guy. . . it’s just that he’s so good out here. I was worried.” He needn’t have been.