The corner office-types on tour get plenty of perks to help offset the...trauma...of surfing professionally. What's the biggest advantage to being a top pro? In my younger and more vulnerable years, I'd have said it's the free clothes, because for the awkward adolescent, a trendy wardrobe seems like the answer to all of life's problems. I've since managed to mature about halfway out of this phase. Many teenagers would answer that groupies are the best perk, because at their age hormones storm the brain like hero passengers on United 93. But a lot of surfers who feel they have enough t-shirts, and who've moved beyond the urge to Terry Tate every passing female and get straight to work, are most jealous of the pros' extensive quivers. And with good reason, I'm afraid. Travis Lee from Channel Islands was on my flight over toting three giant coffin bags for his WCT riders (or, as far as Australian customs is concerned, 20 personal surfboards for his "vacation"). Boards stream in from all corners of the globe for these guys as they get ready to compete. Kelly, of course, is anomalous in that he's now riding boards he shaped himself. Once he starts sewing his own trunks he'll secede from the surfing world entirely like antebellum South Carolina. Rogue Kelly will be a doozy - people like that are dangerous when they don't need anybody else anymore.
Meanwhile, even the little kid in me is loving life on the Goldie, as I've managed a small collection of free gear just for being "media" - a Quiksilver hat, t-shirt and towel so far today. Neat, huh? Also, someone next to me just referred to the morning meal as "brekkie." (!!!) I'll be test-piloting a Channel Islands Double Helix today, the Dane Reynolds Proton model, as the waves are onshore and the comps are off. A report on its merits will be soon to follow - I've lately been riding a quad-fin K-Small Merrick, but some of the SURFING staff (resident artist Scott Chenoweth and managing editor Travis Ferre) is keen on the Proton. I haven't tried one yet so this is very exciting. Adieu, mes amies!