worldprosurfers

December 18, 2008

“I’LL TAKE THAT!”

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A great season on The Rock and plenty of fun ones to sink your teeth into on the small days at Rocky Rights as well. © Joli

If somebody had said to me on January 1 this year that I would finish the year having jumped from No. 5 to No. 2 plus pick up a CT contest win along the way, I’d have gone: “I’ll take that!”

That’s how 2008 has ended for me and I’m stoked with how the year has gone. Would I have wanted to have finished No. 1? Of course! But Kelly just had such an amazing year and was nearly unbeatable. That might have demoralised others on the tour but it didn’t me. Quite the opposite actually.

I learnt heaps from this year, both from watching how Kelly went about
remorselessly hunting down that phenomenal 9th world title, and from my own experiences. I will take that all into next year.

Kelly is an amazing athlete that pro surfing is so fortunate to have. I’ve seen articles comparing him to Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. He’s definitely in their company in terms of what he has achieved and that has helped the credibility of surfing so much — but in 2009 I won’t be out there to lie down for him. I know he wants 10 world titles. My plan is to be in the way. I know it’s a massive task but I’m up for it.

When I reflect on this last year, there are some good memories. Winning in Brazil was obviously the highlight but I actually felt I probably did my best surfing at Trestles at the Boost Mobile Pro. Trestles is just such a high performance wave when it’s on plus I had an amazing board I could do no wrong on.

My best heat was probably against Owen Wright at The Search in Indo. The waves were pumping and we had a really close high scoring heat that went down to my last wave before I shook him off.

I think another key this year has been that I kept my training up all year and didn’t slacken off like I have done in the past. That made for more consistency in my performances. I also changed my backhand tube-riding technique and that worked so much better on some of the barrelling lefts on tour.

I made a few mistakes this year that cost me. I’m not losing any sleep over that because you learn from your errors. A good example was not following Kelly over to Rincon in the Bells final when I held the lead and priority. That ain’t ever going to happen again!

I’m also stepping my training up even more for 2009 and I will also make an additional trip to Tahiti just to put a bit of extra time in there.
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All three events copped amazing waves. © Joli

People ask me that now I am No. 2, do I feel like I’ve now permanently shed the underdog status thing. Not entirely, I believe. I still don’t get the media attention like the other guys but there has been a huge difference this past year.

It was good to close off the year with Hawaii having one of its best seasons in a long time. There were so many good days plus we got really good waves for the Triple Crown too. The last day of the event at Haleiwa was pretty insane. Other than the semi-final heat, Parko and I were in when no waves came through at
all (it was really bizarre, it just stopped for 20 minutes), the surf was awesome that final day.

One guy who caught my eye this winter was Dusty Payne. He is such a talented surfer, and he can do it all whether the waves are big or small. He has a massive future in surfing. I felt Adrian Buchan made big gains on the tour this year and is a guy who we should be watching for. Ace had such a good second half of the season and finished 6th overall.

I’m spending the Xmas/New Year break relaxing and spending time with family and friends up at Stradbroke Island, enjoying myself before I get back into a heavy training routine. Have a great Christmas everybody.  Hope you all get some waves and I will talk to you in ’09!

Bede.

November 13, 2008

HALEIWA, SUNSET, PIPE

Filed under: Bede Durbidge — Tags: , , , , , , , — wpssuperblog @ 11:57 pm

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Parko has spent a bit of the break up on North Stradbroke island as well. © Shield

It was really cool to arrive home to Stradbroke Island in Australia and find my family and friends had organised a party for me after winning in Brazil. It was a great buzz and drove home the good feeling around securing my third WCT contest win and moving to No. 2 in the ratings behind Kelly ahead of Hawaii. I’m a believer in celebrating your victories but you can never stop moving. So my mind has also been fully focussed on the Pipe Masters and the Vans Triple Crown where I am defending both titles.

It’s given me a real focus for Hawaii. Basically, Parko and/or Taj need to win at Pipe to overtake me in finishing second on the WCT for 2008. I’ll be stoked if I can hold the position as it will complete a solid season where I will have moved from No. 5 to 2 – providing real confidence for a shot at the world title in 2009.

We’re all dropping equal ninths in terms of our best results counting, so it’s going to be hard for people to make up points with just one event remaining. But it’s a bonus to also have the Triple Crown to aim for as well as Pipe.

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There have been plenty of fun times this year outside the contests as well; at South Stradbroke with Bottle and Clint Kimmins a couple of months back. © Shield

I was stoked to take out last year’s Triple Crown. The respect the Hawaiians alone hold for the Crown makes you proud to have won it. I guess it’s because the three events are often held in such diverse conditions at different North Shore breaks and it’s a real challenge to prove consistent across all of them.

The opening event is at Haleiwa, which I reckon is an awesome wave. It gets huge (and a bit scary) there but it’s still a real high performance wave even when it’s big. The contest at Sunset is different. When Sunset is on, it’s a full ocean wave with its own unique feeling to it. Longer boards are required and conquering Sunset is a feat in itself.

Then you finish off with the Wimbledon of surfing, the Pipe Masters. It’s the premier event in the premier wave. To have your name on that trophy is just so awesome. But I’m greedy … I want to see it there twice!

The Pipe Masters also has the best trophy in surfing. You get a handcrafted special board made by Gerry Lopez. I’ve had it on display in the Mt Woodgee shop window in Coolangatta for the past 10 months and it certainly draws attention.

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Sunset, there’s simply nowhere else like it. © Cory Scott

For obvious reasons, Hawaii is also the ultimate proving ground for your equipment. I’m taking over 10 boards. With the five I left over there from last year, I’ll have 15 in my quiver all up. The lengths range from 6’2 to 7’6 and the reality is you could surf your shortest board and longest one on the same day – the swell can rise that quickly, often within hours.

My boards went insane there last year so having the best of last year’s batch and a few new ones as well has me amped. It really helps that my shaper from Mt Woodgee Wayne Mckewen has spent so many seasons in Hawaii himself. Wayne is so onto what is needed there and knows exactly what I need to surf well in those kinds of waves. I’ve tried a few Hawaiian shapers’ boards in the past but Wayne’s just felt better – and that gives me plenty of confidence.

My wife Tarryn and I will be staying in a nice little studio at Sunset with a nice family we know who have two young boys who surf. We stayed there last year and I am really looking forward to getting back, seeing them and surfing some big hollow waves.

Aloha everybody,

Bede

October 30, 2008

THE NEW FORMAT

Filed under: Bede Durbidge — Tags: , , , , — wpssuperblog @ 6:23 pm

Praia Imbituba, not a bad place to be. © Bella/SC

Hey everybody, it’s pretty bizarre sitting here in Brazil and seeing how many seeds have passed up the current stop on the WCT. It must be a record for the number of wildcards who have gained entry into the main event – last count, I think it was about 16!

I’m not complaining. I’m sure certain guys have got good reasons for not being here but it never crossed my mind not to come. You only get so many chances to
win a ‘CT contest and you won’t see me passing any of them up.

It was great to get my own campaign away with a win in my first round today. It was my third 1st round win of the year, and it’s always good to get that extra day off, under this format. But more so for me than ever because of the jet lag I have. It’s such a long flight from Australia and it’s the total opposite time – 12 hours difference.  That can wreak havoc with your body clock, but I’ll be right after one or more sleeps.

This event won’t be any easier for the absence of so many seeds. There are so many good competitors among the Brazilians that we will have to be on our game. It’s looking like we’re going to get some fun waves for the event again this year. Last year, the Brazilian event delivered some really good waves.

Brazilians like Heitor will be looking to put on a show for their countrymen. ©Joli

It’s timely I should mention the event format as that is a hot topic among ‘CT surfers and administrators right now. The ASP has just held a pretty historic board meeting where they’ve attempted to address some long-standing concerns about the current tour format. The result will be some changes to the 2009 Dream Tour.

The main change is all of the events are going to be given the chance to run with a format that can complete the comp within three days. Under the current 48-man format that’s pretty much impossible as you need four days.

The problem with a lot of events is that while a 12-day waiting spell sounds good in theory, it’s actually rare to get two consistent swells into that time period. Most of the breaks are good for three good quality days maximum. Too
often that means we have one day of the event in less than average conditions which is not what we or the spectators want.

It ends up putting a bit of a dampener on things, especially if that poor day of surf coincides with the finals. So events are being given the option to run with a new 32-man format which means comps can be finished within three days, allowing the organisers to pick the eyes out of the whole waiting period.

How does it work?
Round 1 will have 32 surfers instead of 48.  They’ll be man-on-manheats among the guys ranked 17th to 27th on the CT plus six wildcards and the top 15 guys on the World Qualifying Series (WQS). The top 16 ranked surfers will be seeded into round 2. I like that because it’s a true reward or bonus for the guys that have competed well over the whole year.

The new format has already been adopted for all of the Billabong events on the 2009 tour – the Pipe Masters, J-Bay, Teahupoo and Mundaka. But events will retain the ability to choose the 48-man format. Quiksilver has already decided on this for the opening event on the Gold Coast. Their thinking is that Snapper at the time of the year generally does produce four good days within the 12 and that the whole event can be run in good waves. Rip Curl are yet to let us know what they plan for Bells and The Search.

I’m a fan of the new 32-man format. One of the reasons is that it does away with  three-man heats which means a lot less hassling for waves.  You can just concentrate on surfing good and catching the best waves without having to worry about someone paddling around you or blocking you. Sure, you lose the double life under this format but I’m not worried about that. The vibe on tour is that everyone is pretty stoked with the changes being made for next year.

Pre-Brazil, I had two insane weeks at home on North Stradbroke Island. We had the Straddie Assault teams contest there where we scored some good waves and our club won the pairs event.

Looking forward to the Triple Crown. ©Joli

I also got in some hell training sessions with Elko (World Masters Champ Gary ‘Kong’ Elkerton) to get my fitness level back up after six weeks away from home and ahead of the Hawaiian season.

In my next blog, I’ll look ahead to the awesome challenge I have of defending the Triple Crown and the Pipe Masters titles. I’m frothing for it!

Bede

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