AGAINST THE WIND

posted by / News / September 20, 2004

Surf: Overhead, out of control, 40 mph northeast wind swell
Events Held: Men (Rounds 1 and 2), Masters (Rounds 1 and 2), Grand Masters (Rounds 1 and 2), Women (Round 1), Senior Women (Round 1), Senior Longboard (Round 1), Legends Longboard (Round 1)
Nature’s Call: This blows.
Predicted: Sand coming out of every orifice.

HEAT OF THE DAY:
With Buxton’s “victory at sea” conditions giving surfers an express ride south to Frisco the second they paddled out, it was hard to consider any of today’s scheduled clashes “heats.” It was more like a mix of talent show and triathalon as the best and sometimes luckiest competitors paddled out, put in one good ride for the judges — usually just a maneuver or two that carried them a full {{{100}}} yards down the beach — followed by a hard run against the wind back up to the groin. Still, if you had to pull a number off the sheet, it would be Heat 19, which offered the Men’s Round sole exchange when New York’s Alex Fawess took a late drop on one of the few comparatively well-formed, heaving lefts for a quick standing cover up that NC’s Will Skudin immediately answered, showing off his Buxton seasoning with a few sharp snaps to win and advance.

PERFORMER OF THE DAY:
Mother Nature. In less than 24 hours, Hatteras went from yesterday’s well-sculpted, chest-high performance peaks to this morning’s relentless rows of thundering white water. Sandstorms whipped down the beach, stinging eyes and faces harder than a million, microscopic Chinese throwing stars. Competitors huddled behind trailers, the occasional truck, and each other while ESA officials hunkered down like Bedouins in low-lying tents. If that wasn’t enough, an inside eddy next to the groin whirled an assortment of dangerous debris, including tree limbs, roots and lumber, adding yet another hazard to the haggard conditions. And when the tide came up, parts of the Easterns set-up partially submerged to dampen the mood even more. But in the midst of all the gale-force hell, a lone speaker stood strong, rising tall out of the inshore tide pool, blaring Ozzy like a defiant stereophonic power fist. And the competitors showed similar resolve in the face of adversity. Sure, they griped, and nobody hung around too long after handing in a jersey. But everybody paddled out, took their lumps and tried to look at the bright side. “At least it’s not flat,” smirked an obviously disappointed yet determined Competition Director Brian Broom. “And, yes, we do have an emergency back-up day, but that’s for real emergencies. Right now, as long as the East Coast’s best surfers are here, the waves are here and the judges are here, we will attack.” Don’t look for a free day tomorrow either when the wind’s expected to slacken by a measly 5mph. The good news is: with a couple of tropical systems still in the Atlantic and the current storm scheduled to pass by Tuesday, conditions for the youth divisions’ debut on Wednesday could be as epic as the adults are septic.

COMPETITIVE HIGHLIGHTS:
Hmmm. Could it have been Chris Egan’s shorebreak closeout head dive into dangerously shallow water? Maybe it was when Grand Masters standout Marc Angellilo took a two-by four across the head while paddling out and still emerged victorious. Nope. It was when {{{Legend}}}/Senior Longboard competitors Carmen Garcia and Mike Clark — stung by the closing of Bonner Bridge (see below) before their heats — hired a charter to cross Oregon Inlet where a waiting van ferried them the rest of the way to the contest site.

SHOCKERS:
The Bonner Bridge spanning Oregon Inlet was closed to all traffic for several hours today until the Coast Guard could safely steer a dredge that had broken free into safer waters. Otherwise, there were few contest surprises as most of the flagship competitors remain in contention from US Masters Champ Pat Emery to Grand Master Kevin Grondin to Legend Longboarder Bobby Holland to super Woman Kelly Nicely.

QUOTABLES:
“Yeah, I guess it’s interesting. If you like watching old men get sucked down the beach then run a mile against the wind.” One unnamed reporter’s assessment of the Grand Masters rounds.

“Hey, the stars pay big money for exfoliation treatment – we’re here getting sandblasted for free!” Great Lakes Director Lester Priday’s happy-go-lucky take on the crappy-go-sucky conditions. Matt Walker

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