Hey everybody, I’m in “hold” mode here with the rest of the crew in Spain waiting for the Billabong Pro to get into the water. I’m frothing at the chance for some classic 6-8′ Mundaka at some stage of the event, but chances are we won’t get through this event using Mundaka only.
There’s barely been a ripple at the high-tide affected Mundaka.
What’s gone on here in recent years with the harbour dredging is pretty well documented and there are lots of views about it all. The reality is the break is now too tidal to work all day and anything more than a three-day swell cycle is rare for here at this time of the year.
That means getting a good part of the event done elsewhere, still in pretty good waves, and then hopefully engineering the end to finish the finals in classic Mundaka: A big challenge, as we’ve seen in the last three years. In the past, the back-up wave was Bakio and it just wasn’t up to it, causing frustration at times.
This time, Billabong has moved the back-up beach to Sopelana which is further away though a better quality wave. Round One was held there overnight but hopefully the second round (where I am the first heat up) will be back at Mundaka. I know a little bit about Sopelana as it has hosted ASP events before. My coach Kong (Gary Elkerton) won an event there and has tuned me about the break.
The ASP was going to drop the losers’ round in this event but the pros were worried that would cause too much hassling in the first round. So we came to a compromise that if we ran the first round at Sopelana before the swell comes for Mundaka then the losers’ round would be retained.
Personally, I think Mundaka is a bit too fickle to run an entire WCT there. It’s so tidal and needs a solid swell to work. It’s a contest director’s nightmare but when it works it’s one of the best waves in the world. Hence the dilemma on whether to retain it as a stop on the Dream Tour or not. Rumours are they are looking elsewhere in Europe.
New York, New York. © Warby
The past month has been pretty active for me. My wife Tarryn and I called into New York before the Trestles WCT event. We’d never been there before and I gotta admit it was pretty cool to do the full-on tourist thing and just get lost in that monstrous city.
Back in San Clemente, it was full contest mode with sponsor and trade show appearances and the event itself. I felt really good at Trestles. I had the most amazing board and enjoyed taking on Kelly in the semis. The waves didn’t really pulse during our heat but they were still fun.
I always love surfing against Kelly. It brings the best out of me plus I get to surf against my hero. There’s never been a heat I haven’t learned from. This one was so close with only 0.5 the difference in the end. I fell on my best wave on the last section, trying to doing a little air. Maybe if I’d made it the heat might have been mine … but you can’t make any mistakes against Kelly.
Surfing Trestles is always enjoyable for me. It’s like a high performance skate park for surfers. It’s a wave that’s been good to me over the years and I feel really comfortable there. This year the waves pumped for the whole comp too. Personally, I think the best surfing all year on the tour went down there.
“The Spartan” Michel Bourez on fire during the Round Three clash in France. © Joli
France was a bit more frustrating. A few of us top seeds went down early and I got put to the sword by “The Spartan” in round 3! The Spartan is Michel Bourez. We call him that because he’s ripped and buffed like a Spartan fighter. The guy is so fit and that was the hardest heat I’ve surfed this year.
Michael came out of the blocks firing with a 9.8 but when I countered with an 8, I thought, ‘Sweet, I’m in the heat, I just need another good one before he gets another one’. Next thing – bang! – he’s nailed a 9.7 and I’m combo-ed. I will never give up and I waited and waited for a good wave that never came. It was pretty hard to beat a 19.5 heat score in those conditions. He smashed me. Michel beat Parko the heat before and Kelly at the same event last year so he’s definitely on the rise. He surfs with lots of power and big turns, and I think he will be around awhile.
The French event was frustrating for me. The banks were a little weird and we didn’t get much swell, but it was so awesome to see one of my good mates Ace Buchan win the event and take down Kelly in the final. It showed Kelly is beatable, and it was a pretty wild night for the Aussies celebrating Ace’s first win.
This event will be about Kelly wrapping up his ninth World Title and pretty much the perfect year. I think there will probably be a few people skipping Brazil. As for me, I am just amping for some quality Mundaka.
Bring on those sick waves,