The Top 16 Stories of the Year

posted by / News / December 28, 2007


2007 was a strange year. We saw a lot of break-ups (Sunny Garcia wasn’t the only prominent pro surfer filling out divorce papers), natural disasters (earthquakes, fires, tidal waves), tragic deaths and extended flat spells. For many, 2007 was a year to forget. On the other hand, there was hope. We saw Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds shake up the world tour order with their performances at the Boost Mobile Pro at Lowers and book their ticket to the Big Leagues in 2008. We saw a breath of fresh airs on the women’s tour with girls like Steph Gilmore and Silvana Lima. And we finally saw someone besides Andy or Kelly win the world title. A year of transition or a sign of things to come? We’ll have to wait ’til ’08. In the meantime, here is SURFING Magazine’s pick of the 16 most important stories of the year. Store ’em in your databases and amaze your friends 10 years from now.

16. SHANE DORIAN, MARK MATTHEWS AND DAN ROSS’ MEGASCORE IN MICRONESIA (Feb. 2007)
It’s a standard operating procedure these days: see a purple blob on the charts, predict when the swell will hit, and be there for it. Recently, the method is used more for the staple heavy-wave spots, places like Teahupoo and Mavericks, with systems in place. But in late February, as a deep low spun off Japan and headed south, a few keen wave watchers – including photographer Ted Grambeau – knew exactly what that meant for a certain reef pass in Micronesia. After a few frantic phone calls and a rallying of resident hellmen, Grambeau made it there with a few hours to spare and was able to photograph two days of the “best surf [he’d] seen in his life.” The result was a SURFING Magazine cover story, an iconic shot of Shane Dorian and a crew truly wondering if there’s life after heaven.

15. INCIDENT AT BARRA (July 2007)
The concept was noble enough: collect generous entry fees from some industry elite, wait for a decent swell, and rope off the magic sand point of Barra de la Cruz for an expression session. The town gets the 20 grand in raised funds, the patrons gorge on sandbottom barrels, the locals get to shine in their own event….win/win, right? Well, not if you talk to the disgruntled visitors who had rocks thrown at them and then used the Internet as a weapon to cast a dark shadow over the Surfline Goodwill Tour. Lesson learned: truth can be a slippery slope online; make sure you do your research before jumping to conclusions. Oh, and if you are holding an event in a foreign country, make sure you tell security that rock-throwing is not an option.

14. TRILOGY GOES PLATINUM (Sept. 2007) “You kind of throw the hype out there and then try to catch up to it,” Taylor Steele said of his rapid-fire, film-a-year process. So, in 2007, surfing’s most prolific filmmaker had a lot of catching up to do. But with a guy like Taylor documenting guys like Taj, Parko and AI (and Billabong sparing no expense to take it over the top), Trilogy easily proved itself one of the biggest surf films we’ve ever seen launched, culminating with 50-Cent opening a premier at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.

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Trilogy Goes To Vegas

13. RASTA TO THE RESCUE (Oct. 2007)“The reason we surfers were there was to share the water, stained with blood, at eye-level with our ocean kin awaiting their execution,” explains Surfers for Ceteceans-founder Dave Rastovich. “Despite the fishermen taking great pains to hide their acts of cruelty, we seized this as an opportunity to bring this travesty to the world’s attention.” With a crew of celebrities on hand to seize international headlines, Rasta organized this peaceful protest in the very midst of one of the most heinous scenes ever witnessed: the annual slaughter of dolphins in the Japan. Rasta has been busy all year working on a documentary called Minds in the Water to shed light on this dark secret, and the incident in Japan proved a worthy climax to the project. Look for the full film in 2008, or become part of Rasta’s visual petition at www.visualpetition.com

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A Cause Worth Fighting For

12. WEST COAST GOES NUCLEAR (Dec. 2007){{{80}}}-foot Maverick’s in the fog! 65-foot barrels at {{{Ghost}}} Tree! 70-foot cleanup sets at Todos! Every once in a while, the swell models don’t lie. In fact, sometimes they even underestimate a swell’s potency. This one, a big, lumpy, moody behemoth coming straight out of the west, woke every big-wave rider up from that long summer’s nap and put them on red alert. Flea survived one of the worst wipeouts ever witnessed at Mav’s. Healey somehow survived beating after beating at Ghost Tree and Todos. And Greg Long paddled into a couple of the biggest waves ever ridden at Killers. More fodder for the record books. And a welcome sight after enduring the dismal 06/07 winter.

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Clean-up Set Part I
Clean-up Set Part II

11. KEN “SKINDOG” COLLINS AND GREG LONG TAKE TOP HONORS AT THE BILLABONG XXL EVENT (April 2007) The big-wave world officially turned upside down in April when the Billabong XXL awards doled out its top prizes to waves caught in the Southern Hemisphere. Ken “Skindog” Collins’ impossible Puerto barrel and Greg Long’s monster at Dungeons in Cape Town proved that big-wave surfing is no longer seasonal; it’s a year-round pursuit.

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10. HOLLYWOOD KIND OF GETS IT RIGHT On the one hand, you had Russell Crowe narrating a hard-hitting documentary about one of the most hard-core surfing families in Oz and how they beat the odds. On the other hand, you watched a bunch of surfing penguins go on a quest for soul. Either way, both films – which could be categorized as “Hollywood films” since they went on the big screen – got the nod from surfing insiders. Bra Boys – a recount of the Abberton clan and their struggles – is a gritty, real-life view of the surf ghetto known as Maroubra. Surf’s Up is an animated tale written by non-surfers that somehow didn’t miss a beat in dialogue, animation and overall theme. Hollywood may have trouble getting it right, but both films gave us hope that somehow, someday, we will all be one.

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Surf’s Up: The Review
Bra Boys Trailer: Blood is thicker than water

9. RIP, PETER DAVI AND JOAQUIN VELLIALIA Every year, we lose at least one brother to the ocean’s mysterious ways. This year, we lost two. In early January, Joaquin Vellialia, a Puerto Rican shaper and dedicated Pipeline surfer, paddled out on a late, Second Reef afternoon and never returned. In early December, {{{Monterey}}} big-wave pioneer Pete Davi paddled out at Ghost Tree (which he always referred to as Pescadero Point) and somehow didn’t make it back to the beach alive. Both surfers were respected, talented and accomplished. Both died in inexplicable circumstances. The ocean giveth, the ocean taketh away.

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Death At Ghost Trees

8. DANE AND JORDY SHAKE THINGS UP AT TRESTLESYou’d been hearing about it since May. Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith, two young-and-hungry surfers at the forefront of high-performance shralping, had already qualified for the 2008 ASP World Tour and found themselves in the Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles as wildcards. The waves were small, they just got off a grueling, six-week leg in Europe…and they blew everyone away. First, Dane took down Taj and Jordy took down Parko. Next, it was Mick for Dane and Andy for Jordy. Before they could complete their coup they both lost in Round Four, but the damage was already done and the performance bar already set. As Reynolds said, “I don’t care if I lose. I don’t ever want it to get to a point where I hold back in order to win. I’ll quit before I do that.”

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Jordy and Dane take out Parko and Taj in Round 2 of the Boost Mobile Pro

7. CALIFORNIA ON FIRE (October 2007) 500,000 evacuated in San Diego. Schools closed for a week. Freeways shut down. No one really understood the gravity of the Southern California wildfires unless they lived it. And for surfers that experience got even more surreal as the same winds that stoked the fires stoked us with flawless, brownish orange conditions from northern {{{Baja}}} to Ventura County. Howling Santa Anas combined with three days of solid combo swell made for some special conditions up and down the coast. The only dilemma was leaving your home unattended for the waves of your life. Most surfers chose the waves.

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6. SUNNY GARCIA GOES AFTER NECO PADARATZ AT THE BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS (December 2007) “I might have spent time in prison, but that doesn’t change who I am.” So says 2000 world champ Sunny Garcia, who decided to let Neco Padaratz know how he felt after a double interference call in Round One of the Billabong Pipeline Masters. The incident, which involved busted out fins, heavy restraints and UFC fighters, became a hot topic among surfing circles. One, because the horrible conditions at this year’s event didn’t give us much else to talk about and two, because we all had to admit it was the most exciting thing we’d seen on the North Shore all year.

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5. TODD ENDRIS GETS CHOMPED (TWICE) AND LIVES TO TELL ABOUT IT (August 2007) We now know how that little seal felt in that incredible Planet Earth footage on the {{{Discovery}}} Channel. Todd Endris, a Monterey aquarium dude and all around dedicated surfer, was out at his local break known as Marina when a 14-foot white shark exploded under him, chomped twice in the air, and somehow let go as he was left to die in the water. Endris – full of resolve – somehow managed to make it back to shore on his own where a medical technician happened to be on the beach and administer a tourniquet. His entire backside was chomped, but he was out of the hospital in a week and back in the water in six weeks. “It all happens so fast,” he said, “but you definitely have time to think about it and react.” First reaction: stay away from Marina beach in Monterey.

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4. CARISSA MOORE FINISHES SECOND AT THE QUIKSILVER PRO AT SNAPPER ROCKS Chelsea may have won the event, but 14-year-old Carissa stole the show. With 10 NSSA titles on her belt the Punahou freshman flew to Australia and schooled the establishment with surfing well beyond her years, becoming the youngest surfer ever to make a WCT final. And for any doubters, she backed that up in October with a perfect 10 at the No Fear Surf Fiesta at San Miguel – and this was in the Mens’s division.

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The Present Meets the Future: Chelsea Beats 14-year old Carissa Moore to Win Roxy Pro

3. SURFING FOR PEACE (Jan. and Oct. 2007) In early 2007, SURFING traveled to the holy land and discovered the religious zeal which Israelis take to their Mediterranean surfing. Month’s later, inspired by their country’s founding surfer, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz’s scheme to deliver much-needed surfboards to the war torn Gaza Strip, a group calling themselves “Surfing for Peace” organized a huge demonstration, including surf lessons, a ceremonial paddle-out and a massive concert featuring musician/surfers like Kelly Slater and Makua Rothman to shed light on the desparate need for peace in that part of the world. “God and the Devil will surf together if the waves are good enough,” Doc said in his moving pre-concert speech. and if you don’t believe the simple act of surfing can bring people from opposing cultures together, well, maybe you’re not doing it right.

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Surfing For Peace Concert Rocks Israel

2. JORDY SMITH’S BIDDING WAR (Oct. 2007) SURFING Magazine had him pegged as early as 2005, when he went on a young guys’ trip and said he wanted to be world champ. But it wasn’t until he finished runner-up at the O’Neill World Cup at Sunset, won the Billabong Pro Junior and won the 2007 World Qualifying Series that the rest of the world caught on. Jordy Smith is the real deal, so much so that many big industry players were willing to bet their companies on it. And as he spent the summer on logoless boards and dealing with breach-of-contract lawsuits, Jordy let the hype build to seven-figure extremes. “I know the companies treat this as a business,” said Jordy, “so I have to do the same.” Which is exactly what he did. And in the end, he signed a deal with O’Neill rumored to be well over the million-dollar mark. As Kelly Slater said, “Whatever Jordy gets, Jordy deserves.”)

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Jordy Smith Signs With O’Neill

1. YEAR OF THE AUSSIE (2007) Things were just warming up when the mates took the ISA World Games in Portugal in May. After years (eight years, to be exact) of Kelly, Andy and other dominators, Australia finally took a hold of what they figured was rightfully theirs. Mick Fanning, after a half-decade of unwavering dedication and a near career-ending injury, did it like no one else with 10 straight months of strictly business on tour. Stephanie Gilmore, Mick’s understudy, followed that up on the women’s side and became the youngest world champion…ever. And if that wasn’t enough, former unsponsored journeyman Bede Durbidge went crazy during the {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown season, making the finals at Haleiwa, winning Pipe and making it a lucky country hat trick. The Aussie sweep this year was convincing and a long time coming. Whether that newfound dominance is temporary or permanent remains to be seen. As one competitor said, “We got our pride back…for now.”

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Mick Fanning Wins The 2007 World Title & Hang Loose Pro
Stephanie Gilmore is the 2007 ASP Women’s World Champion
Bede Durbidge wins the Billabong Pipeline Masters and the Vans Triple Crown Titles

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