Mack is handing the reigns over to Mr Will Bruce, business partner, above average surfer, Adelaide supporter and keen WSL observer for a decent wrap of the 2018 tour so far…
Every year, without fail, I find myself wondering how it’s already time for the latest sports season to kick off again. Despite having finished almost 6 months earlier, I wonder to myself, how can AFL be back? I’m not ready for this, I think to myself….
Despite only happening every 4 years, I constantly find myself in disbelief that the Olympics/Winter Olympics/Commonwealth Games etc. are back again. Again? Are you kidding me? I feel like I’ve had my fix of swimming/athletics/curling for life.
Yet, despite finishing in the last two weeks of December and kicking off again barely 12 weeks later, I always find myself counting down the sleeps for the first event of the year to kick off at Snapper. I’m like a kid and his advent calendar leading into Christmas. Who’s surfing well? How’s that new rookie going to surf? Will Slater turn up?
Snapper has always been one of those funny contests. Excitement levels are at an all-time high but so often conditions just don’t seem to work out. How often does Greenmount seem to pump in the weeks leading into Snapper courtesy of Cyclone (insert name here) only to go flat right as the waiting period kicks off? It often seems like that famous scene in the The Endless Summer – “you guys really missed it, you shoulda been here yesterday”. And this year, appeared to be somewhat similar. Courtesy of old mate Gita, the Goldie PUMPED for almost all of February. The contest appeared doomed, again.
Enter Cyclone Linda. We could write paragraphs about the contest but let’s be honest, the highlight reel was focussed fairly and squarely around finals day at pumping Kirra.
Quiksilver Pro Top 3:
· Griffin Colapinto has arrived. Triple Barrel perfect 10 and a semi-final finish at his first event on tour – and he seems as humble as they come
· Mikey Wright rips. Yes he lost in round 4, but not before taking down JJF and showing the world what he has to offer. He surfs the way he wants and it’s a pleasure to watch
· Julian Wilson. Old Mr Nice Guy seems to have a new found competitive streak to him this year and we like it. He ripped and deserved the win
With stop one out of the way and an early Easter on the cards, Bells was only a week away. That’s like sending a kid back to school for one week after holidays and then giving him another week off. STOKED!
Being based in VIC, Rip Curl Pro time is like Christmas for us. The entire Surf Coast stops and the focus turns to Bells. Unlike Snapper, there is always a sense that Bells will score some reasonable waves. Perfect? Maybe note, but contestable, for sure. And this year was no different. The long term forecast looked good, if not all time. Consistent 3-5 foot with morning offshores, followed by weak afternoon onshores.
This year though, there was one surfer and one surfer only on everyone’s mind. Mick.
Michael Eugene Fanning.
Given the laidback and somewhat dreamy nature of the professional world of surfing, most surfers seem like pretty likable characters. You ask any surfer and chances are they’d be keen to share a tin with Wilko, cruise with Steph, learn how to stomp airs with Gabby or just hang out in the commentary box with Strider & Co.
But Mick, well he’s in a different league altogether. The complete package, not just as a surfer, but as a human. As my business partner recently said, most people don’t know Mick, but they feel like they do. I’ve never met the guy yet I speak about him as if I do. I tell stories about Mick to work colleagues like I was there. I cheer for him in heats like he’s my mate and when the final buzzer sounded at Bells, I found myself in tears, like the rest of the surfing world.
Given his success at Bells and his long affiliation with Rip Curl, Bells seemed the perfect place for Mick to pull up stumps and let’s be honest, he couldn’t have written the script better.
Rip Curl Pro Top 3:
· Italo Ferreira’s win. This easily could have been the most hated moment of the entire event but it clearly meant a lot to Italo. Somewhat of a journeyman, this was his first win on tour and if Mick was stoked for him, so were we
· Steph’s win. Everyone wants to surf like Steph so when you get the chance to see her surf form start to finish, how can you not put her in the top 3?
· Mick. Not because he surfed well. Not because he nearly won. Not because it was his final event on tour. Just because once again he showed the world how to act both in and out of the water. All class.
With one of the great professional surf careers done and dusted, it was time to head west. The Margaret River Pro has always been an odd event to us. Swell never seems to be an issue but choice of break does. Maybe it’s just us but every year we quietly pray that the planets align and one K Perrow makes the call to head out at either the Box, or in more recent years North Point.
So, when competition finally kicked off and our prayers were answered, we were stoked to say the least. The swell was solid, the winds were offshore, the conditions heavy and the viewing was all time. Rarely in tour surfing is the wipe-out reel a feature but some of the clips doing the rounds on Friday night were insane. It felt like everyone was surfing harder than ever which was so sick to see.
Given the circumstances that ensued, you’re probably expecting some thoughts and a point of view on the shark situation. We’re confident the topic has been covered enough (both sides of the argument) so we’ll leave it there for you to decide where you stand.
Margaret River Pro Top 3:
· North Point. It looks like a spot that would take years to get dialled in which makes it all the more impressive when someone takes off on a death slab and comes flying out the other end. The first Friday was all time
· Jack Robinson. Will he make the tour one day? Won’t he make the tour one day? As long as we get to keep watching him surf we don’t really care. If Taj is the Mayor of WA then Jack Robinson must just about be the deputy
· JJF. He set a new standard of surfing in WA last year and after a slow start this year he was back in full flight in the west.
So that’s the Oz leg of the tour done for another year. Lots of amazing waves, lots of stories and lots of great surfing. But at the end of the day it was really all about one man, cheers Mick.