"Sick, at least there's nobody out," Timmy Reyes yelped as he spun around for a thigh-high game of connect the dots at Duranbah. Timmy paddled out just before dark today to share some tiny, Huntington-esque wind chop with the squad of Japanese transplants that swarms the place when it's small. There's a major Japanese presence on the Gold Coast, sort of like the North Shore, and when it's little a bunch of them can be seen out shredding anklets while the rest of the town, spoiled and complacent, cracks an early beverage. Actually, in that regard, this is just like the North Shore - where a jaded "it's flat" means "it'll still break your femur."
In QLD today, though, it practically was flat, serious kine. But that's ok - barely a deterrent, actually. Going in the water here has ancillary benefits not present in, say, wintertime North America. The mercury's been slipping above 30 centigrade, which translates as:
30 x (9/5) + 32 = 86 Farenheit
However, due to the lazy, useless ozone layer down here, the sun lights you up like a fried egg on toast and 86 feels more like a hundred. Thus, paddling out in the oceanic equivalent of war-torn Bosnia sounds like a fantastic idea, and feels even better, hang the wind and the tiny swell. Personally, I had to try out my Double Helix Proton, and while today's conditions weren't really enough to gauge the new craft, preliminary reports are highly positive. The Proton felt buoyant and zippy, but still turned well, and I didn't feel at all like a loser on it until Timmy paddled out to add some perspective. Linking three or four Venti turns and rail carves, while other (good) surfers were shooting for Talls, Timmy showed that a solid foundation of south-of-the-pier groveling is invaluable the world over. He also threads a lot of "Wave of the Winter" candidates at Backdoor and Off the Wall - but that just seems to be the way with these guys. They don't really specialize, they're all just very, very good at everything and it's a treat to behold. So many armchair pundits write off guys as "big wave only" or "bad style" or "ugly faced," but when you see them in person, those labels don't hold water.
We can all behold them some more tomorrow (whether in person or via the webcast) if the contest runs, and it very well could. Today folks were content to stay inside and do what they do when the surf goes wrong. Not that there's a lack of fun to be had - Australia's Surfing Life (ASL) launched its DVD from the Hawaii season at a little place in Kirra two nights back, and the guys behind "A Fly in the Champagne" are doing their Australian premiere tonight. ASL, like other magazines down here, often includes DVD's poly-bagged with their newsstand issues. It isn't groundbreaking stuff, but it's fresh footage and fantastic for the pre-surf routine. I've just moved into my new flat on the hill overlooking D-Bah: if the Quik Pro runs there instead of Snapper, I can watch heats from the cool comfort of the front porch. But hopefully it won't come to that. In the meantime, happy Clean Up Australia Day (Sunday, March 1st)!
For more from Stuart Cornuelle on his Life Australian tour, visit http://www.surfingmagazine.com/blog/surfing/