By Andrew Lewis
All photos: Hartl/Rip Curl
I guess I always kinda assumed ISD would involve trunks and tan lines. Doe-eyed tourist girls and Ed Hardy shrink-wrapped meatheads. In fact, this is not true. Here in Torquay, June 20 is usually a cold, sleepy affair. Around 5 p.m. — when the sun gives up, plummets into West Oz, and leaves you dreaming about far-flung things like evening sessions — there is nothing else to do but head over to Bird Rock Café and drain a few schooners of Pure Blonde and find solace in the fact that from here on out things are gonna get better, warmer, lighter. But this year in Torquay, ISD was different.
I had spent the better part of June in the Middle East [Editor's Note: Check Andrew's Middle East blog series Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3], where 90 degrees is considered balmy and surfing is a sweaty, often fruitless affair. Now I was huddled in the parking lot above Winkipop, watching thick lines of 4-foot swell explode into powder-white runners from Bells clear on down to Jan Juc. It looked freezing out there. I wanted desert and 90 degrees back. The previous day’s cold, overcast and rainy mood had suddenly broken for ISD, and the sun was glistening on each offshore-skimmed wall. Obviously, word had gotten out and the lunch rush was on.
With little motivation for booties and crotchety old dudes on mals, I opted for a lesser-known spot conveniently located within sprinting distance of Bird Rock Café and its cache of waiting spirits. It was there that I found Rip Curl International Team Manager Gary Dunne and a small army of enviro-savvy RC employees doing their part for ISD. Planet Days, as they’re called, are a Rip Curl global initiative and, aside from being a great excuse to get out of the office, have become an ongoing community event here in Torquay. In this age of environmental assassination on the part of big business, it’s nice to see one company doing its part. And in an even more fantastic display of loyalty to the environment, everyone was dutifully ignoring the sound of roping swell tickling their ears.
Though…it didn’t last. When Choko (that’s Dunne; all Aussies have nicknames, you understand) announced the cleanup was satisfactory, the crew was released. Under promising and warm light, we overpopulated a once quiet little righthander and basked in a small piece of winter glory. And it felt like the ISD I’ve come to know and love — sans trunks and meatheads.