Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gabriel Medina Looks Forward to Bells

Wonder Kid has a contest he’d rather forget:
Last year at just 18 years of age Brazilian Gabriel Medina split open a huge hole in the ASP world tour. As a teenage giant killer, Medina went from young grommet to full-fledged world title contender in the blink of an eye with two World Tour wins from four contests.

At 15 years old Medina is the youngest surfer to win a WQS event and amazingly had only begun competing in pro surfing events at 14. Last years ASP mid-year rotation made it possible for him to jump straight from the WQS and into the 2011 ASP Top 34.

2012 should be shaping up as a big year for him but an =25th place at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is not what was expected by him or his fans. What went wrong? Snapper Rocks can be a tricky place to surf at times especially in less than ideal conditions. Medina couldn’t find any rhythm in either of his heats and paid a heavy price being knocked out in Round Two by fellow rookie, Aussie Yadin Nichol. But there is one thing for certain about the year ahead, Medina wont be down for long. The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is just around the corner.

Ace Buchan Fires Up

 A lions roar from Ace:
Adrian Ace Buchan, the goofy footer with the gnarlest backhand snap on the tour today always greets you with a smile. When Ace came up against Tour Rookie and fellow Hurley team rider Brazilian Miguel Pupo in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast there weren’t too many smiles going around in or out of the water.

In the battle of the goofy footers Ace came out on top and moved into the quarterfinals on the very last wave of the heat. He was wadding to the beach as the final scores were read out from the judges. Ace’s reaction to his wining ride was far from the usual smile, more like a lion’s roar and an emotional fist pumping. Ace was very happy but his normal smile was missing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On Surfing's Social Merry Go Around.

2012 Social Circuit - Images by Peter 'Joli' Wilson

On Surfing's Social Merry Go Around.

It’s been a busy couple of months of surfing action both in and out of the water here in Australia to start 2012.

The contest action kicked off with the Billabong World Junior Championships at Burleigh Heads, then the Breaka Burleigh Pro, the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach, Sydney and then it was back to the Gold Coast for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro.

On dry land, Pipeline legend Gerry Lopez, with good friends Wayne Lynch and filmmaker Jack McCoy were here, having traveled the east coast of Australia doing a ‘Talk Story’ book signing tour.

Lopez packed out the Surf World Gold Coast Museum for his night of reminiscing and surf stars from the past and present were in the audience to listen to this softly spoken Hawaiian ‘chat’ about surfing and his trips to Australia. He told of his first meeting with Bob McTavish in Hawaii, when Dick Brewer was just starting to shape short boards. He also commented on being amazed when he saw Wayne Lynch surf for the very first time in Australia.

The audience ranged from fellow surfing legends, Bob McTavish, Rusty Miller, Cheyne Horan, David Baddy’ Treloar through to current World tour surfers such as Dan Ross.

A few days later, at a gala function in Manly, in conjunction with the Australian Open of Surfing, Ross Clarke Jones was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

Clarke Jones’s acceptance speech was the ‘best’ anyone had heard in the history of the awards. He started off slowly; a bit nervous, explaining Quiksilver had sponsored him for nearly 30 years and as he was warming up, he pulled out a pair of shorts from a plastic bag, the very first pair of Quiksilver board shorts he had ever received as a sponsored surfer to show the audience. Board shorts he might be struggling to get into today.
It didn’t take long before the big wave hell man wound up ‘roasting’ his tow-in partner, and former world surfing champion, Tom Carroll who was on stage to hand over the award.

Ross spoke for nearly 30 minutes and had the audience hooting with laughter, dead quiet, then clapping loudly at his stories and thank you. At one stage Ross stopped and asked, “Seeing as I’m being Inducted tonight, can I be
De- ducted if I don’t stop soon?’’

The night also handed out awards to Owen Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons as Male and Women ‘Surfer of the Year’. Owen’s younger sister, Tyler Wright won the Rising Star award, Jack McCoy won Nikon Surf Movie of the Year, for Deeper Shade of Blue and former world champ Barton Lynch won the Surfing Spirit Award for his work with grommets.

Within days, many of the same group of surfers and industry people were pulling on formal attire and fancy dress for the ASP World Surfing Awards, held on the Gold Coast just prior to the Quiksilver Pro, which kicks off to the 2012 world tour.

Surf stars, past, present and future walked the ‘Blue Carpet’. The unconventional character of Matt Wilkinson, better known for his ‘colorful wetsuits’ was dressed in top hat and tails with his ‘date’, filmmaker Nick Pollet dressed as a drag queen in bright red dress.

It was a huge night with Kelly Slater getting his hands on his 11th World Title trophy while Carissa More carried away her first. After the serious proceedings of trophy giving was done everyone rocked to the Australian rock band, Wolfmother.

The next morning there was change of pace but an event that will have far reaching significance for a long time to come. In a small ceremony on the top of the Greenmount headland, overlooking the Quiksilver contest site and the Superbank line up, the Queensland Governor, Ms Penelope Wensley officially declared the area encompassing the three Gold Coast point breaks of Burleigh Heads, Currumbin and Snapper Rocks –Kirra as a National Surfing Reserve; the first ASP world tour event site to ever be dedicated a National or World Surfing Reserve.

The Reserve borders are from 500 meters north of Burleigh Heads headland stretching south to Snapper Rocks on the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Former world surfing champions, Mark MR Richards and Pete PT Townsend joined National Surfing Reserve patron Rabbit Bartholomew at the ceremony.

Kelly Slater, the groups Global Ambassador and who rates Kirra as one of his most favorite waves said,
“I’m very stoked to be working alongside World Surfing Reserves to lend a voice and help ensure we honor and recognize the beaches that have brought all of us the lifestyle we love so much.”

Once the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro’s wrap up, the contest scene moves to Margaret River in Western Australian for the Telstra Drug Aware Pro Men’s Prime and Women’s Six Star event and there are a few star-studded names in amongst the heat draw. Bells Beach is the last stop in Australia for the Rip Curl Pro over the Easter break so there is plenty of action to continue both in and out of the water.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stephanie Gilmore wins Roxy Pro Gold Coast

Roxy Pro Gold Coast 2012 - Images by Peter 'Joli' Wilson

Steph is Back:
The first Women’s World Tour event for 2012, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, is all wrapped up with Aussie girls filling the top four spots. Four times world champ Stephanie Gilmore was back on the podium holding the winners trophy and lighting up the crowd with her infectious smile.
Steph, the local heroine, defeated North Narrabeen’s Laura Enever who was surfing in her first tour final, with a excellent nine point plus wave right on the siren.
Fellow Aussies Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons bowed out in the semi finals. The tour rookies put in solid performances and it looks like it will be an exciting year ahead for women’s surfing.
Check out all the action in this Gallery. Also check out the latest issue of www.18seconds.com.au for a cool multi media interview with yours truly.
The next big event is the Women’s Six Star rated Telstra Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River in Western Australia. I’ll be covering all the action so keep an eye on this blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taj Burrow-Back On Top

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast 2012 - Images by Peter 'Joli' Wilson
Happy Vegemites Aussie surfers scored a double victory at Snapper Rocks with Taj Burrow winning the Quiksilver Pro and (former world champion) Stephanie Gilmore winning the Roxy Pro. “I’m feeling great mate!” said Burrow after defeating Brazilian Adriano de Souza in what was a tense see sawing 35 minute heat battle in front of a packed Snapper Rocks beach. “I felt like I was in Rio [Rio de Janeiro],” said Burrow about the massive crowd that spilled into the water. “There were so many Brazilians here chanting for Adriano and I was a bit unnerved at first but it got me revved up, and I heard the Aussies bounce back with a really good roar on a couple of my waves, I could actually hear them as I was going through my turns. That’s a pretty special feeling.” Burrow’s definitely needed some local support after de Souza had opened the final with an eight point ride nailing an air reverse on his very first turn. “I was freaking after Adriano’s first ride, it’s quite an exclamation mark to come out on the first wave and try an air on your first turn,” explained Burrow later. “He did a sick turn and got eight (points) for just that one turn which is quite intimidating for sure but I knew I could get those scores too, if not better, if I could pick the right waves, but he (de Souza) sure makes it hard for you.” Adriano de Souza, who had avoided a lot of the contest hype that focused on Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith has come second in this event and would have dearly liked to have won, but Burrow got the better of him again today. “We’ve met about 10 times now and Taj has won about six times,” said de Souza as he watched Burrow being mobbed by a massive media scrum. “I had the heat of my life against Taj last year and I would have really liked to have had a win today. What can I say, he belongs in the top three or four in the world and he has been knocking on the door (of a world title) for pretty much like 10 years. I’m sure we’ll met again and maybe next time it will be different.” Both third place getters, Josh Kerr and Jordy Smith would have liked to have the results go differently too. “If you’d told me a week ago I was going to get a third I would have told you I’d be stoked, “ said Kerr as he watched Burrow and de Souza battle out the final. “I really wish I was out in the final right now,” he continued with a shrug. “I had that heat this morning against Adriano and I really wanted to get through so I’m really disappointed right now, but I’ll take a third.” Jordy Smith had his own reasons for wanting a win at Snapper Rocks after the news last week of the downgrading of the World Tour event at Jeffreys Bay (to a six star); Smith would have been the defending champion. “I had an added incentive to win here because they’ve taken JBay (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa) away and I wanted to win one of the right hand point breaks this year.” Smith was runner up two years ago at the Quik Pro and made the semis twice in the last three years so he was more than a little disappointed about his result. “@#%*, I’m just really bummed, I wanted to make the final so bad. If you want to win a world title you’ve got to win finals,” he said. “I guess it’s a really good start to the year and now I hope to go and do really well at Bells, hopefully win or make the final at least.” When asked about the conditions today he answered with a smile, “It wasn’t perfect Snapper but I’m happy to have beaten Parko out here (Joel Parkinson’s home break). He’s probably beaten me 10 times and I’ve only beaten him three, so I don’t think I’ve got it over him yet, (laughing) but those three times are all out here at Snapper.” The 2012 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast didn’t have perfect waves and for a lot of the Top 34 surfers it was a nervous start to the year. The tour rookies didn’t really get a chance to shine with the seasoned pros filling the final top eight spots. Taj Burrow has led the world tour ratings at this stage of the year before, but it’s another long year ahead. He just laughed when asked how he felt about his World Title chances this year? “Right now, it’s all about rating points and having a few beers with my mates.”