2009 Rip Curl Search Day 9 Photos

And then there was surf
Day Ten of the Rip Curl Pro Search

And then there was surf. It snuck up on me. I was minding another great night in Lisbon, which was leading to another brain shattering morning. Or hotel shattering. Then I had a feeling. A suspicion that huge closeout barrels were might going to break at Supertubos. I had this feeling at 6 am, rushed to the {{{BMW}}} and sped north like Vasco de Gamma himself. Except he sped south.When I got there it was delicious. Barrels the size of semi-trucks were detonating. A frenzied crowd had gathered and were screaming mad curse words in Portuguese. A younger boy was foaming at the mouth. Two girls were beating each other in the face with sticks. The ocean was alive.

I hate the words, "step-up board" like I hate the words "in-form" but the surfers needed to be in-form on their step-up boards today. Those who were less than prepared tasted death. Or the possibility of concussion. Or busted ear drums. Young Owen Wright busted his and I am angry.

I pegged Owen to win the whole contest when I saw him free surfing early in the week. I thought, "This child will win the whole thing." And then he dispatched Dane. Dane surfed amazing but Owen…Owen had one of the more delightful right-handed tubes that I have ever witnessed. And he was scored appropriately. A 9.67. I thought, "This young boy is going to take the event." In his next heat, against Damien Hobgood, he was cruising along and then he got hit on the head by a wave. And then another. He came to shore and wobbled around while doctors and lifeguards wave their hands and touch him. The girls beating each other put down their sticks.

It came out later that Owen had broken his ear drum and is most likely done. I am angry at him for making me a liar. I told this to Dane and Dane said, "You suck for being totally unsympathetic and weird." Whatever.

Jordy surfed well and I have never actually spoken to him but it's not for trying. His Afrikaans-tinged English is just difficult to understand. And so is his surfing. I don't know how a man his size gets so good at airs. I don't know how he floats above the lips doing his rodeos and whatnot. His ally-oops. At least he makes sense in beefy beachbreak tubes. He made sense today when he pummeled {{{CJ}}} in the first heat of round 3.

But then Jordy lost to Bede. Bede is an under the radar talent. A dangerous man who surfs like he has nothing to lose. He lost his sponsor. MADA went broke and part of Bede's deal was the Australian rights to the brand. I asked him why. I liked MADA product. "Yeah, mate, they made good stuff but the retailers just wouldn't pay." Fucking retailers. I asked Bede what he was going to with his license and he said, "I don't know." But who cares? He beat Jordy like a drum. He beat him riding solid barrels and by having nothing to lose.

Joel started to look actually good in his heats. Not tentative or uncool. He grabbed a barrel that I timed at five minutes. I drank three espressos and smoked two cigarettes before he was spit out in a blaze of fortune. His yellow singlet looking golden. Arms raised to the sky in victory.

Mick Fanning won too, beating Freddy P. I teenaged Portuguese boy named Joao asked me, when Fanning was surfing, if he was had a halo around his head. I responded, "No, young man, that is simply his blonde hair." He then asked if Mick and Joel were in a bar fight, who would win? I didn't have the heart to tell him neither so I said both.

If Owen doesn't surf tomorrow, which he won't because he wants to make me a liar, then Mick will advance to the finals. And if Joel beats Bede, which he might because he surfed really good today, and Bede may be out looking for a sponsor, then it will be a Mick vs. Joel final. Won't that be fun?

CJ Hobgood lights up Peniche like a neon sign at night.

Bobby Martinez still has THE backhand. Digging deep at Supertubos…

…and threading barrels just like his D-Bah super session in 2008.

This is the story of Parko's European leg, until now. Semifinals tomorrow.

Dane Reynolds punts on the end of a frothy shack. Had he landed this, he might have beaten Owen Wright. Meh.

Three white Rip Curl hats between two Wright men. Owen's dad meets him at the water's edge with post-heat headwear.

Like a specimen on display. Mick Fanning, behind the glass.

Mick is like a soldier on the march lately, and he looks the part. Ten hut.

Taj engages in some aerial yoga. This pose is Upward Dog.

Freddy P practices for the next event on tour, at a place called the Pipeline.

Europe has fast freeways and fast beachbreaks. Timmy Reyes gets low and hits the gas pedal.

Bede Durbidge stalls his way one step closer to the semifinals tomorrow morning, and one step closer to a major sponsor.

Jordy Smith grabs rail and carves the end off a rare shoulder.

Supertubos was throating like a sandy Off The Wall. The tour scored. Clap clap, tour, clap clap.

Joel Parkinson claims his perfect 10, and the crowd approves. And the crowd wears Dockers.

Owen Wright holds his perforated eardrum in pain – a sad punctuation of an epic run in the event.

Speedy recovery, Owen! If we were 4-0 against Dane and Kelly this year, we'd be a lot more pompous than you.

Fanning slides through a sand cave on his way to semifinal #3 in a row. Rip Curl event? Injured opponent? Sniff sniff, smells like a hat trick.

Bede again, another recipient of a perfect 10-point ride in today's all-time conditions. Tomorrow: a conclusion to the never-ending Euro leg