Words: Brendan Buckley
Gnawing on the golden heels of the 2010 WCT event at Middles, the 4-Star 2013 Rip Curl Pro Puerto Rico was held two miles down the road at Jobos Beach. In terms of a venue, Jobos is Madison Square Garden with palm trees. As one of the island’s most consistent waves, a right wedges off a pretty rock and bends into a semi-protected cove. On the hind side of the right, a left produces a ramp for daredevil goofy-footers. The soft sand beach holds enough grains for thousands of people to bake in the sun. A cherry on top, the coast is lined with little bars. That didn’t matter much though — there was a mountain range of free Coors Light cases and every peak was blue.
The blue peaks in the water were extreme. Extreme, not in the sense of getting a skull tattooed on your forearm or attempting a backflip on a dirt bike, but in the sense of extremely small and extremely large. The first two days saw sluggish waist high bowls whittle away the tone-deaf surfers who couldn’t find a rhythm in the sea. On day three, the remaining competitors were taught a lesson in being careful with what you wish for. Ten-foot walls of fury smashed into that pretty rock and stampeded through the cove. Many boards’ young and promising lives were cut short that day, often times just from duckdiving. The whittling continued.
But the porridge was almost just right for the final day. There were still some white-water stampedes, but the best nooks of the event were on offer between them. The top 32 competitors knifed those nooks with vehement rail turns and the occasional punt, possibly avenging broken boards of the past. The beach was packed with passion. Puerto Rican flags, drums, whistles and howls. I once observed an eruption of applause aimed at Brian Toth simply for paddling. The salt to Brian’s pepper, Dylan Graves smashed a path all the way to the final with Evan Geiselman, Cody Thompson and Andrew Doheny.
Performing in front of thousands of drunken people is no petty task and we saw a nervous final with an empty driver seat. Not one competitor was in need of more than a 5 to ink the deal in the closing minutes. Cody Thompson, sitting wide and proud, found that 5 by penning a couple turns on an open wall. As his Floridian brothers chaired him up the beach, the applause did not cease. Instead of pouting, smashing bottles or rioting, the local crowd hoisted Dylan up and cheered with more excitement than ever. They soaked him in beer and hugged him till he felt sore. Everyone smiled and danced into the sunset. It spun into a wild night of rum, gambling and reggaeton, and eventually everyone left feeling as if they had just won the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Puerto Rico.