Friday, March 27, 2009 Updated: June 15, 1:28 PM ET
Jazz from Taz
Last week, my brotha over on the Left Side, Jake Howard was waxing on the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Series, a mini tour of low temp/highly rated events within the World Qualifying Series. The first event is currently reeling in Tasmania.
Jake mentioned the merits of high profile Dream Tour studs showing up, the interest of the new locale, and the quality wave.
Three days into the event (already pumping surf at three separate breaks) and I have to agree whole-heartedly. Have you ever suffered through a surf contest in crap surf? There's just too many other forms of entertainment out there to expect people to pay attention to a comp in two-foot junk. I mean, how easy is it to whip out your Blackberry and start Facebooking instead of staying glued to a heat.
Jordy Smith, with that familiar sweeper in an unfamiliar wave.
Of course, there will always be the bikini oggling, car-flipping, cool shades wearing, free shwag hunting masses who will come to a live event. But with so many notables doing the free-surf route, a series of events that is going to be appealing to top names may is imperative right now. Ceej, Damo, Jordy. Even Cory Lopez showed up and busted a few airs.
Not to mention, feeding on surfers' inherent curiosity of new waves and far off outposts is clutch. You've got a travel feature and contest series all in one. And there's waves, a little element often missing from 'QS events.
I know it's expensive, but see it as an investment.
Day One Bluff's Reef was firing. It was 6 to 8-foot and throwing big chunks of the Tasman Sea onto the reef.
"I've been so surprised by the quality of the waves here," British charger, Sam Lamiroy, "Here at the Bluff is probably as good as you are going to get on the tour. This feels like a real step in the right direction. It's got raw power and good shape on the right ones."
Day Two Meaty four to six-foot peaks at a remote beachbreak. And that's after the swell dropped off. The place just gets so much swell that they could move to a some beach that was still pumping. And it meant a long hike past snakes and other wild animals. This is what's been missing from surfing in recent years.
Local Dustin Hollick shows how they do it in Taz in Round 1.
Day Three Location Three, Lighthouse Beach in Marrawah. The swell dropped off and they still found a beach with a solid bowl. So much better than no-faced cutbacks and pumping for that decisive windshield wiper in the shorebreak!
"I met a few of the locals yesterday evening out in the water," Smith said two days ago, "I was asking them how to get back because it was getting pretty dark and we were pretty far from anything. They were like, no worries catch a ride with us. It was crazy driving through the night with all the Tasmanian Devils about and stuff. We almost hit something the other day I would have felt bad. We didn't though, we stopped and let it cross the road."
How much better that to hear than "There's a few waves out there. You just have to connect the dots, but its hard to find the ones with juice. I'm over it," or something similar?
You have to give credit to O'Neill on this one, and especially contest director, Matt Wilson who keeps showing off his uncanny knowledge of Tasmania. Today, he's moved everything to Nettles Beach, a fourth feral location.
There's no webcast on this one, but I think we'll all survive without up to the minute results. The videos on the O'Neill site should be enough to hold you over.
Damo is still going strong. Jordy surfs against Dusty Payne in Round 5, which looks sick. Red hot Owen Wright takes on Nathan Hedge. We'll keep you posted as the news comes back from the wilds of Tasmania.