By Adrian Gianatti
Adeste Fideles is an old Christian hymn, its English appellation is ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. The Latin language version is playing over my car stereo as I drive to the final of the 2010 Drug Aware Pro presented by Rusty. Bob Dylan is singing. In Latin. His voice is rippled with a sandpaperish aural texture and sounds exactly how the voice of man who’s smoked a million or so cigarettes should rightfully sound.
Bob Dylan’s real name is Robert Zimmerman. The irony of a Christmas tune, sung by a Jew (at least by birth, if not by practice), is delicious. Adeste Fideles is a rally cry, imploring believers to come and show their adoration of the messiah.
Festivities surrounding the Drug Aware Pro were stepped up this year, thanks largely to the injection of some extra coin into the coffers by Rusty. The week of the event has become a celebration of surf culture, with art and photo exhibitions and a music festival enticing believers in the sanctity of surfing to come and show their adoration.
The masses on hand for the men’s final were more than vocal in their support and adoration for local icon Taj Burrow, who with just over five minutes remaining had relegated Josh Kerr to combo-land. The waves were four to five feet and a light onshore had begun to kick up, offering a little bit more lip to play with than is normally granted. An 8 and an 8.5 were locked in for TB, both met with thunderous applause and shrill hoots. The air was thick with inevitability. Taj hadn’t lost a heat this year and there was no way in hell defeat would rear its head now. Kerrzy seemed to have sensed the inevitable and even threw in a silly little chop hop attempt on one of his waves.
Then it happened. Kerr brandished his quill and began writing his own chapter in the book of cool shit that’s happened throughout the Drug Aware Pro’s history. Wedged between stories about Tom Curren riding a fifteen footer through to the river mouth (about 350 yards) and his namesake Carroll getting interrupted while obliviously changing in the girls toilets will be Josh Kerr’s perfect 10 and last minute victory in the face of defeat. The inevitable had become un-inevitable, or evitable, whatever. The point is, you’d have been pooh-poohed had you speculated out loud that Kerr could have mounted a comeback from this position.
But he did. The 10 was unanimous. A solid four foot right, a big, straight air immediately followed by an air rev. No readjusting or shuffling of feet, no check turns, no worries. Then with 3 minutes to go, another four footer popped up for Kerr. You could see the section from a mile away. A boost was imminent, but what type? And how high? Kerr only needed a 6.5 and had booked a 6.33 for a grabbed air-rev earlier in the heat. He launched the same air again, the moneymaker, only this time higher and cleaner. Every judge scored it above 6.5. Victory. TB was dealt a home game upset, but still thought it was "an awesome way to lose."
Fittingly, the women’s event was also decided under nail biting circumstances. With 30 seconds remaining, Sally Fitzgibbons needed a 7 to bust into the lead against Chelsea Hedges. A three foot left popped up which she tore apart on her backhand. Her score dropped: 7.4. Sally was into first with the announcers counting down the final seconds. Unfortunately for Fitzgibbons, Chelsea had gone right when Sally went left, she too had gone to town on her backhand and she too had put in a clutch performance and earned the score. It was only a 6.4, but a big enough improvement on her previous scoring waves to ensure Fitzgibbons’ last ditch effort was rendered null and void.
The crowd of believers gathered on finals day lapped it all up. They had come, joyful to adore the surfers and did not leave disappointed.
Some general observations from the event:
There are a lot of different faces to Margaret River. The conditions were windy, calm, onshore, offshore, moderate, solid, huge and brown underwear inducing. It was never flat though.
Actually it did go flat… sort of. What’s called flat here is called head high everywhere else.
With such variance in the conditions, adaptability was a virtue. Surfers that could seamlessly switch between their 7’0"s and shortboards did the best.
Josh Kerr might have a competition head on his shoulders these days. He refrained from taking to the skies for most of the event, sticking to safer fin and rail work to get the job done. But when the cards were down he backed his air game and wasn’t afraid to go big. This tactic worked against TB and it worked against Mick Fanning too, who also knows a thing or two about how to surf a heat. If Kerrzy continues this approach, he could easily earn himself a place in the invitation only big leagues again.
On the flipside though, his preparation for the 10 foot day was to go to a rock show the night before and party like he was in the band.
Who else was ripping? Ace Buchan was flowing and fast, even managed an Occy-at-Bells-esque backside foam climb. Sunny ruled as soon as it got over six foot and sent water to the bleachers on every turn. Yadin Nicol flared early but was stopped by Taj in the quarters. Wardo and Cory Lopez loosened their tails at every opportunity. CJ was steezing on everything, big or small, left or right.
Most common phrase uttered after the final? "Faark, how good was that?"
Final Results - Margaret River Drug Aware Pro presented by Rusty
6 Star Prime WQS
1. Josh Kerr ($20000, 6500 points)
2. Taj Burrow ($10000, 4875 points)
=3. Bede Durbidge, Cory Lopez ($5000, 3656 points)
1. Chelsea Hedges ($4500, 3000 points)
2. Sally Fitzgibbons($2300, 2520 points)
=3. Felicity Palmateer, Tyler Wright ($2000, 2160 points)