Surf: 1 to 2 feet, side onshore and perfect for Tom Curren's 5'2" disk
Events Held: The Donavon/Tom Curren/Slater/Occy Jam Session – grooviest man wins
Nature's Call: Optimism is a virtue
Predicted: Hide your drugs!

It's been three days now since we've last seen a heat at Supertubes. And while most years we'd fill the down-days space with tales of our favorite pros taunting lions or tempting ladies at the local watering hole, this time we have a lot more to tell. You see, it's ASP meeting time, and when they finally manage to get all the chiefs together in a room, some big decisions inevitably go down. Here's two of the biggest calls over the past few days:

Donavon Frankenreiter: free and easy in JBay on Saturday Night.
1.Mundaka is canceled. That's right: the famed sandbar left, maimed ever since from the manmade sand dune in Laida and the Guernika River's change of flow, no longer hosts a World Championship Tour event. "There's nothing we can do right now," said Billabong VP of Marketing Graham Stapelberg. "There's simply no wave there anymore." Due to the logistics involved in holding a 'CT, a replacement event is not scheduled for 2005. That means there'll be a total of 11 events, with three events not counting. Most surfers polled seemed indifferent to the decision; only Mr. Slater suggested they should now count only seven events (with two wins under his belt, we sense a little bias). As for the future of Mundaka, Stapelberg says it's ultimately up to the break itself. "If it comes back this year," says G, "then it's likely we'll continue the event in 06. If not, then we'll be exploring other options, most likely Portugal."

Coffee Talk at the Seal Point Lighthouse with Kelly Slater, Taylor Knox, Craig McCay, Todd Kline and more.
2.A much heavier and historic call happened Saturday morning when the ASP announced they kicked Brazil's Neco Padaratz off the 05 World Championship Tour for steroid use. Although the ASP rulebook clearly states that drug use is prohibited, no one's ever been subjected to such extreme measures after being caught. Neco's brother, Flavio Padaratz, said the current world No. 27 knew full well this day was coming. According to Flavio, Neco's chronic back injury reached a low point during last year's WCT event at Trestles. In Huntingon Beach, he asked for something that would allow him to recover quickly and surf in the next event. He took the performance-enhancing, anabolic steroid for a month leading up to the Quiksilver Pro in France, then stopped the day before he arrived. Ironically, he was one of the surfers subjected to a random drug test by the French Ministry of {{{Sports}}}. "Before he even took the test, he showed them the steroid he was taking," says Flavio. "He wasn't trying to hide anything."

The problem is, it's the same type of illegal steroid used by Olympic bodybuilders back in the day, before the big drug scandals. Sore back or no, it's a performance-enhancing drug.

"Another surfer from those random tests in France tested positive for marijuana and a hallucinogenic," said an ASP source, "but we only fined him ${{{5000}}}. There's a big difference between recreational drugs and the ones Neco took. There was really no choice for us."

Padaratz was immediately stripped of all his World Championship Tour ratings points, is disqualified from JBay (giving Phil MacDonald a free trip past Round Three) and must fight his way back through next year's World Qualifying Series with a low seed. For some WCTers, such a decision would be a certain career-killer. But considering Padaratz's record on the Qualifying Series, it's likely he'll be back on in two years. Says Neco on the whole ordeal: "I don't even know what the stuff is called. A medicine is a medicine to me, but obviously the ASP sees it differently. I'll be there come the first event of '06."

In lighter, fluffier news, the rest of the Top 44 made the most out of their time out of the water. The Joel Parkinson and Troy Brooks families had quite a scare at the Seaview Lion Park on Friday when one of the agitated cats decided to gnaw on Parko's rent-a-car tire. "Punctured a hole right in it," he said. "Me wife was freaking out!" Damien Hobgood practiced for his next career — Bassmater — at a stocked pond on local Craig McCay's farm. "It's glassy and hardly anyone's out," he said, reeling one 12-incher in. "They can't resist my lizard lures."This is neither light nor fluffy, but Hawaii charger and event wildcard Ian Walsh had just about his entire world stolen from him out of his rented place on Pepper Street. "They took everything," he said. "Laptop, passport, phones, plane ticket…probably about $10,000 worth of stuff." No wonder they're so crazy about security in these parts.

Taylor Knox: cub fan at the Seaview Lion park.
And last, the best form of self expression award goes to Mark Occhilupo, who stole the dance floor show at the Mexican on Thursday night. Falling onto the ground and sporadically throwing out one appendage to the occasional down beat, Oc's abstract impressionism could best be described as an amputee starfish. Despite all the non-surf activity, spirits and prayers now focus on next Wednesday through Friday, when the "best looking system in a year" is due to pump out swell in our direction. Bust out the 4/3s and break in the booties; it's time to focus on the surfing again.