The Billabong Pro in Tahiti is now over and how exciting was it? Broken ribs, giant swells, even gianter barrels, judging controversies, mosquito bites, Matt Wilkinson, Kelly Slater. Kelly Slater grabbing the next world title by the throat. All things that make for such great exciting. Brodie Carr is toasting other surf executives in southern France right now. The rise of the ASP! The fall of ugly detractors!
And now on to New York for the Quiksilver Pro!
I am currently in New York staying at the Standard and it might be my favorite hotel on earth. Everything is perfect, from the views to the wood paneled ceilings to the firmness of the pillows to the Harry Potter black robes to the in-room Transworld Surfs. Chris Coté is a happy man and an inspiration. And the Standard will host some of the events surrounding the Pro too. Some parties and some out-of-wedlock surf babies. It will be more great exciting. The rise of competitive surfing! The fall of free surfing enthusiasts! And I was here, at the Standard, before Irene hit as well. I shall be honest. I have written poorly about surf on the East Coast. I have written ugly things. But two days before Irene made landfall I met Surfing’s artistic director, Scott Chenoweth, in Long Beach and we had a fine session. The waves were head-high, a bit over on the sets, and rolled to shore like they belonged in Bondi. Or Grandview. The water was filled with chopped up jellyfish and it felt like surfing in boba tea but it also felt like surfing. Just amazing. The locals were over the moon and wiggled down the line with giant smiles on their round Italian faces.
The sand on the beach was a perfect consistency and the scaffolding for the contest would have been perfect too if it wasn’t being busily torn down pre-hurricane. The sun was shining, the excitement of impending destruction in the air. There was a 12-dollar beach fee that nobody paid. Everyone shuffled by the sign and the teenagers collecting the fee with purposed faces. It was wonderful, like breaking into Disneyland. Like getting out of a speeding ticket.
The next night as Irene began to howl, a beautiful woman and I enjoyed oysters, lightly grilled octopus, and Champagne cocktails amidst a festive atmosphere. The Standard had decided to stay open through the storm, housing their employees onsite so the Champagne cocktails would continue flowing. It was a party at the end of the world. It was even more exciting than Teahupo’o.
And, so, while I don’t take back my poorly written ugly things, I will caveat them. Surfing on the East Coast before a hurricane is like winning the lottery. Like une folle nuit avec une femme grande. —Chas Smith