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Soup of This Day #327: The Sea Is Foaming Like A Bottle Of Beer

July 31, 2013

Joe from Montana had not got much experience surfing in big sky country. He had however, wiped out riding a tube – Photo: ScubaBear68, 2011. ScubaBear68 is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72

Of late my Soups have got a bit heavy. Yeah, they’ve still had sport as the main theme but I’m willing to admit that maybe I’ve got a bit preachy.

Sometimes I can’t help it.

For this Soup though I figured I’d get off my pulpit and just let the sport be the sermon. This should be relatively easy because I’ve chosen a sport that preaches for itself. A sport that is so at 1 with itself that it is to spirituality what wax is to a surfboard.

Mostly because it is actually surfing.

Yep, I’m gonna take you grommets on a literary barrel ride. Like, wow dudes.

Sure, I know not a lot about surfing or even the culture built around it. For instance I had long hoped that goofy footing was surfing while wearing comically over-sized Disney slippers. That dream has now been dashed on the jagged reef of reality – Goofy footing is riding a board with your right foot to the fore. If you do it with the left, then it’s called a natural, or regular, stance.

So I am in fact more like Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah at the start of Point Break. Except that I am not an FBI agent or a former football star and nor do I conveniently share a name with a landlocked State.

As it happens, there is technically no landlocked Australian State, although the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which is a rough analogue to the US District of Columbia, has no coastline. Western Australia, my home state, has a lot of coast, some of which is marked by allegedly awesome surf breaks.

Western Australia would make for an onerous surname though.

While we’re examining that concept – What’s with calling the lead Johnny Utah? I get that the name sort of sounds like legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas and Utah is kind of an anti-surfing mecca, which lends incidental credence to Agent Utah’s farming back-story.

The thing is though, the name also sort of sounds like the writers couldn’t be arsed. Where for instance is the creative love for South Dakota? Or Vermont? Or Montana?

Joe Montana. Sounds familiar.

Meanwhile, matching Johnny Utah early on, I did grow up in country Western Australia. That’s farming land and there’s not much call for board riding out there. Even skateboarding was foreign to me so the concept of riding a wave of water just didn’t figure.

I did sort of wear the clothes – Stocking up on Billabong and Stussy t-shirts so that I could match surfin’ cool with laid-back country style. This was a look I carried through the early years of uni, hardly ever marring it with an actual trip to the beach. Or the country. Not that I intensely disliked either – I just liked the city more and I was always preoccupied.

Now though is the time for my surfing redemption – My chance to discover if I too can be at 1 with a rolling wall of water.

Not by actually surfing. I’m still too preoccupied with other stuff to give that a go. Instead what I figured I’d do is write a little bit about surfing and then see if that ignites a latent desire to rip a 180 and go hunt some rhinos.

Which I understand means to turn face about and search out and ride big waves. There is no hunting of actual rhinoceros involved. I’m all for leaving those horned giants be.

So, since this is a sport blog I’m going to start my written surfing safari with a quick recap of how the 2013 World Surfing Championships for men and women are shaping up, starting with the former:

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Surfing Championship for men has just passed the halfway mark for 2013, with 5 of 10 rounds complete. It’s pretty tight at the top with 3 former champs within 5,000 points of each other – There’s 10,000 up for grabs for winning a round so the gaps are about as thick as a layer of wax on a thruster.

That’s a kind of surfboard. I think.

Currently Aussie veteran Mick Fanning leads the way on 31,400. White Lightning, as he is apparently known, is 32 and has 2 prior titles under his low-slung belt (2007, 2009). He rides a 6’1″ magic stick with a natural, or regular, stance.

To be clear, a magic stick is a board, and not a broom. I checked.

Paddling right behind Mick on 30,950 points is arguably the greatest of all competitive surfers, Floridian Kelly Slater. Slates’ magic stick is a 5’9″ round tail Semi Pro with a Thruster/Quad setup. His stance is natural, but you can’t call it regular because this dude is radical – He has won 11 titles (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) and in case you’re wondering about that 7-year gap after 1998, it’s because he got bored and took a holiday. Which is fair enough because he’s 41 and won his 1st World Champion’s gong at the age of 20.

Last in this set of champs is Joel Parkinson. Parko is 32 like his fellow Aussie, Fanning. They share a board size, with Joel riding a 6’1″ magic stick, and Parko favours a natural stance as well. He is the reigning World Champ and lies just a board length behind Slates, on 26,700 points.

Over to the women and the 2011 World Champ, Hawaiian Carissa Moore leads after 6 of 8 events – 21 year old C-Moore has ridden her 5’5″ Mayhem Rocket to 48,200 points.

Frankly, she deserves to C-Moore than that just for climbing on to something with ‘mayhem’ and ‘rocket’ in its name.

2nd-placed Tyler Wright is a 19 year old Aussie who doesn’t seem to have a fearsome board, it being listed as just a 5’8.5″ number. Still she’s been 4th the past 2 years so she’s hardly peaking yet. She’s trailing Moore by just 1,700 points (46,500).

In 3rd is 20 year old Californian Courtney Conlogue. You can try saying that fast, or you can use her approved nickname of Tiger. There’s no word on what board is favoured by Tiger, but she is roaring in 2013 after finishing in 8th in 2011 and 5th in 2012. This time out, she’s clawed out 40,100 points.

There’s an honourable mention for Aussie Stephanie Gilmour. Steph is a 5-times World Champ (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) and despite being injured in Round 5 is still a mathematical chance on 30,450 and in 5th place.

And so that’s the end of my competitive surfing round-up. I’ll wash-out with a telling of my closest brush with foaming water:

It involves riding a tube. Not as in a wave that has curled over to form a natural tube shape that a zoned-in board-rider can get shot out of – I was instead riding an inflatable tube like you’d find in a car tyre.

And I wasn’t in the ocean. Or even a river. I was in an amusement park called Adventure World, trying to get down a set of cascading concrete rapids. I did ok at this for the most part, at least until I got to the top of the last big drop, a 5m steep slide into oblivion.

Oblivion was a pool cushioned with jets of bubbles.

Unfortunately though I wiped out on a flat section at the top of this miniature Niagra Falls and my tube made the trip without me. This was a gnarly situation dudes and dudesses – I couldn’t go down the slide without a tube and I couldn’t go back up. Sometimes though, when you’re out on the edge and at 1 with the water, Mother Nature provides for you.

By dumping another kid higher up and floating his vacant tube down.

I’m not proud of it, but I lunged across and careened that poor bastard’s rocket of mayhem down the waterfall before anyone could notice the switch.

I’m pretty sure that in hindsight my stance was not natural either. Yep, I’m a goofy footer.

The Sea Is Foaming Like A Bottle Of Beer

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