Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Santa Cruz (No You're Not That Far).

So next week sees the start, or at least the start of the waiting period, for the O'Neil Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz and after the drama of the Portuguese leg of the Tour it has a lot to live up to.  Indestructible Jedi overlord Ke11y Slater heading out in the 3rd round, Julian Wilson winning with the last wave of the tournament and what most of us will remember... the attack of the Sardines:

Now growing up in the leafy (and very landlocked) home counties I didn't attend many surf competitions as a youngster. Or indeed as an adult. In fact it was only in the last 2 years that the ASP has even entered my consciousness; so its fair to say that my knowledge of how competitive surfing is judged is completely beyond me. My knowledge of surfing judging is about as complete as my gymnastics judging. Sure we all had a punt during the Olympics giving a score based on whether or not they stuck the landing (which as far as I can see is the only way they distinguish between routines) but when it comes down to it really, I don't have a clue. And so far as I can tell the ASP scoring system is as follows:

Barrel - 7-10 points depending on how deep and long you can penetrate the wave (snigger).
Air - 5-7 points no matter how freaking awesome it was.
Claim - +2 points to whatever your score was.
Small barrel and 3 snaps - 8.43 and the comp win.

Controversial? Maybe. However I'm sure Julian couldn't care less... He took home the all important Big W, 3 points (or however many you get in surfing, I'm yet to figure that out) and the silly Portuguese hat. Don't worry that remark isn't racist as: 1. I lived with a Portuguese man for 3 years and even he would admit that hat was moronic 2. Hats aren't a race 3. It is a stupid hat.

Julian Wilson's stupid hat.
But when it comes down to it we all love a dramatic ending don't we. And this one was out of the top draw. The Rip Curl Pro was excellent. Great waves, great surfing and crowds of over 30,000 (which incidentally is more people than go to watch Wigan Athletic play each week). It just shows how popular surfing has become and how well it can be done as a spectator sport. At least its better than watching Wigan. Or come to that being in Wigan. And incredibly its free. We can all watch it for free, or go to the beach and watch the event for free. Compare that to the cost of an Arsenal ticket (£40 for 90 mins probably against Wigan) and you are laughing.

However the best part of all (apart from the sardine incident) is just how much I enjoyed it. The whole event felt like a Test Match: there were delays because of mother nature, Australian's bantering with each other, long periods of waiting for something of any significance to happen followed by replays of it from every conceivable angle for the next 5 mins, a large drunk crowd and appeals. However, the best bit was that unlike in Cricket, or Football, or Rugby, or Tennis, or Athletics... was that for once, just for once, England couldn't lose...

Roll on Santa Cruz.


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