Tweed Coast Pro, Day One: “We Don’t Mean Wobbly In A Bad Way”

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

Being curious to see exactly how the Woz Oz Grand Slam would explode onto the screen at 7.00am sharp this morning, your Ding Alley correspondent logs on five minutes beforehand, and sits there absorbing the oddly meditative pulled-back live overview of the break – wattlebirds chirping, the odd magpie song, the ambient hum of the surf and the occasional PA test in the background. 

All that nature is a reminder we’re back in – ahhhh – nature – and there’s a world of separation between Caba and the Santa Monica Palace of Smarm that is Woz HQ, and the Amphitheatre of Shame that is Lemoore.

The opening dance by the Juraki boys is a nice touch. Good to see the crew put on a tighter performance than their Wadawurrung counterparts at Bells, who I swear kinda phone their performance in sometimes.

Anyhoo: Here we are at Caba for a good old fashioned Boardriders monthly pointscore. 

Covid’s made beggars of us all, so let’s be grateful for being able to witness Oz’s best surfers maximising a day of turnable burgers.

The pockmarked nature of the Caba lineup presents equal parts challenge and opportunity for all concerned: surfers AND commentators. In fact, much of the commentary through the day will be dedicated to finding kind things to say about Cabarita. 

Maximum topspin for positivity, describing the surf, is achieved by Richie Lovett with the glorious phrase: “We don’t mean ‘wobbly’ in a bad way”.

Anyway, it certainly feels like a Sunday morning kinda comp when the trials kick proceedings off. The highlight is Black Rock’s Grant Banning, who’s a far better surfer than me, but surfing a fishy ol’ thing with lots of volume, and representing all the not-quite-elite-level surfers out there: getting a few half turns in before presumably heading off for nine holes of golf. 

Into the main event, where we can see what six months away from competition has done for the form of our Australian surfing heroes. I refer not, of course to the competitors, but to our friends in the commentary booth. 

I’ll admit it, when the pallet-clad commentary booth comes into frame, and reveals the A-team of Ronnie, Vaughan, and Jodie I feel a clear sense of relief – not a Wasilewski or Turpel in sight – and with the lockdown situation in Victoria depriving us of Pottz’s Churchillian phrasemaking, we’re assured of relaxed and informative commentary at best, and only mildly awkward fumblings at worst. 

Rick Lovett shows he can keep yakking in a worthwhile fashion, Laura Enever effectively channels the post-heat asking-you-a-question-by-describing-something-then-awkwardly-asking-how-you-feel-about-it spirit of Rosie Hodge, and Luke Munro does a dignified job on the back of the ski. If you squint, Luke actually bears more than a passing resemblance to John Shimooka, who’s absent from proceedings. Luke and Laura switch roles through the day and both do well.

We’ll take a point, actually a point-and-a-half, actually two, off the Brothers Blakey for far too many self-referential indulgences relating to their work on Postcards From Morgs, and deduct another point for all commentators constantly describing the Tweed Coast as a cornucopia of astonishing and uncrowded surf options when – let’s face it – it’s largely straight beachies riddled with gutters.

Some quick notes on the blokes’ round of 12.

Never thought I’d say I missed Ace Buchan’s surfing (always damned with faint praise by commentators are ‘precise’ and ‘surgeon-like’), but seeing Ace and Conor tear consecutive waves – real, honest-to god-ocean waves – in heat one is truly pleasurable for this viewer – certainly beats any moment in the entire Rumble at the Ranch

Owen Wilson’s (we’ll call him that in deference to Mr Turpel) eight pointer in heat two is a thing of beauty – the Big O taking his time on a grower that runs down the line, lit up by the sun and resembling Little Marley – a badly Xeroxed version, sure, but a version nonetheless

This heat sees an intermission courtesy of a shark spotted to the north. With the drone surveillance in place looking out for the pros, these two days might provide a small anecdotal snapshot of the prevalence of sharks in the area.

Heat three lives up to its promise, with Jack Robbo looking the goods. 

And is it just me or does Mikey Wright have a bit of an MP thing going on? Of course there’s the lanky physique, the long sleeves and the mo, but there’s something about the way he holds himself between turns, the leading arm, perhaps. Whatever it is, it’s cool.

As the backlit morning glare mellows, I find myself genuinely enjoying the webcast. It’s no Superbank or J-Bay but with calibrated expectations it’s more than OK. The guys are settling in down the line a bit, the surface conditions are late-wintry, and it’s just unreal to see Oz surfer after Oz surfer heat after heat. 

No disrespect to our Brazillian and international brothers and sisters, but each heat in this comp is interesting to watch by virtue of the fact they’re all Aussies. In cutaway shots to the beach there’s coaches in flannos and akubras, and even Jack Robbo’s post-heat-interview American twang is harder to detect. Glory Be!

The Gals are on next – trials and the round of twelve – all a fairly pedestrian affair if I’m honest, though it’s great to see trials winner India Robinson have ‘one of those heats’ to get through to the big show, and there’s no way to describe Steph’s performance on her epoxy as anything but regal. 

Watching Steph – so relaxed, unhurried and fluid, all while letting go of critical turns – is a reminder of what I’ve missed most from the Woz’s roster of comps this year. The privilege of witnessing total surfing mastery in action is what’s genuinely special about the whole Pro Surfing shebang I reckon.

And good on Tyler for her BLM stance. In case you missed it, she takes a knee and raises a fist for the first seven odd minutes of her non-elimination heat. 

Several years ago I took Tyler to task in a Burleigh Fruit Shop about all the single-use plastic she had in in her paws. I like to think that encounter awakened Ms Wright’s social conscience, which saw itself expressed so eloquently today. 

And without belittling the issue, there’s great potential for surfers to take a knee more often in the future – whenever, a Woz Commentator starts murdering the English language, someone can drop to a knee, raise a fist, and effectively mute the broadcast. The profound and transformational power of silence is something that can truly improve the world on many levels.

And speaking of ethics and values: I was busy typing up how respectful the production team have been – not zooming in on any female bot bots paddling out when I looked up to see Nikki Van Dyke’s duckdiving arse framed fairly tight in screen. Not saying there’s any arse-cam directive, it was just a coincidence.

Rolling into the fellas’ elimination round. To be honest, had your correspondent not been commissioned to cover this comp, I would have logged off by now, but as long as the Woz presses on, I’ll be here, running out of puff as I am – so:

Ace aces Micah Margo. 

Ethan takes down Wade – E.E looking particularly strong.

Jules smothers an out-of-rhythm RCal. Jules regularly gets talked up as Oz’s premier world title contender, but I think perhaps that window might have closed. Having said that, the bastard will now probably go on to win the event.

Shame to see RCal looking not-quite there. He’s one of the surfers we’re looking forward to cheering on in 2021 (assuming that when December 31 ticks over to Jan 1st, the world will magically right itself etc)

Mikey gets the better of Morgs, who cuts a Pauline Menczer type figure for some reason, in his sky blue helmey.

The surf holds up reasonably for the Girl’s elimination round and the level lifts from India Robinson and Isabella Nichols, both who rip. Spewing India gets knocked, she’d have easily accounted for Zahli Kelly and Phillipa Anderson in the next heat. Sprightly Sal takes out Holly Wawn, (with the highlight being guest Morgs in the commentary booth mentioning Sal’s Almond Breeze sponsor – which would have pleased team Bonsoy no end). Two genuine prospects Molly Picklum and Keely Andrew go hard at at each other with Molly more in sync.  

And thankfully, a mere nine uninterrupted hours of competition later, we can draw a line under day one of the Oz Grand Slam here at Caba.

All up, a decent enough facsimile of a World Tour event. So well done you, Woz!

Ding Alley will tune in tomorrow for finals day with an only marginally diminished level of interest and enthusiasm. Here’s hoping this east swell doesn’t suffer a slow puncture overnight.


Ding Alley is Illustrator/sadist David @maccatoons McArthur and writer/masochist Gra Murdoch


DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 6:48pm

Typically fun write up , Ding Alley ....thanks.

Was an enjoyable day’s viewing. As mentioned, it was all about the Australian flavour . The commentary was a very big step in the right direction. Jodie Cooper has that inimitable West Oz country girl deal that I can’t get enough of . At one point she even pulled up Richie Lovett for pumping up the tyres on the Caba region too hard as it would blow out crowd numbers.....despite the sponsor being tourism NSW. Well done , Jodie.

Highlight of the day was Owen Wright smashing out an eight point ride against Ethan Ewing and then having Cool Hand Luke Munroe on the ski remark that Owen had said “ Hold my beer , Ethan , the big dog is here .”

If Richie could let go the Turpelisms such as calling a tube a “vision” , he’d be a really good straight man to the more colourful commentary.

Fun enough background action whilst painting the back deck on a sunny spring day.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 6:39pm

Thanks DSDS, I liked Jodie calling RL out on his use of the term the 'Harvey Norman Couch' by deliberately replying “Yes, it is nice to be back in the Harvey Norman CHAIR' ... She's a ripper hey.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:00pm

Nice write up and funny about the Bells boys "phoning it in".

I tuned in and out today while also putting the finishing touches on my new deck. Is it deck season?

My favourite Jodieism was when she blended competitor with opponent to get "your component".



Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:12pm

for sure it's deck season z.a – spent yesterday fingering muck, grit and leaves out of the world's worst designed gutter, and the missus was prepping the balustrade today. Decks ahoy!

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:18pm

Someone should get a new thread going- "Show us ya' deck!"

It'd be fun to get a few Kiwi's onboard but probs NSFW.


Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Monday, 14 Sep 2020 at 5:25am

Ha ha! I see what you did there. You most certainly don't want to see my deck.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:29pm

Watching a bit of it on TV now.

IN: Jodie Cooper

OUT: Rosie Hodge

You know it makes sense

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:42pm

Shame on you, ringa, eye candy like Rosie should never be 'OUT'. BTW why do pro surfers get jet skis patrolling the line-up for noahs? On any given Sunday (RIP Paul Newman) punters take their chances. PS Did Tyler's BLM moment get her an extra point or two (didn't see her heat)?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:54pm

tbb thinks Ding Alley have bumped off Mr Form Guide & swiped his WSL VIP sticker.
swellnet's Mr Perfect would never say 'Arse' let alone honk one.
Sure! He might measure one up, strictly in a professional Mr Humphries' like manor.

Back in Comp mode, tbb has a hankerin' for Mr Form Guide's perfect Score Cards.

Waiting for Mr Form Guide's score on Ding Alley's first VIP Comp Call *[10]*
He's just so perfect...he would say that...

'You can untie Mr Form Guide now guys! 'Seriously, Ding Alley' Return our Comp Guy!

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 7:59pm

Ethan Eeewing was biggest predator in the line-up today. Great to see the talent. What kind of beach only breaks right?

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 9:16pm

Wait, what? Was Plazo in the trials?

FreddyWaters's picture
FreddyWaters's picture
FreddyWaters commented Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 11:43pm

I cannot take my eyes off Ethan's surfing, best rail and style in Aussie surfing right now, when his competitive skills click, its going to be an inhuman spectacle

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 14 Sep 2020 at 6:39am

Sprightly Sally - she is that GM, but it sent me off to my Merriam Webster dictionary to check the spelling, sprightly or spritely? And there you go, both are given, one a variant of the other, you can never be sure which unless it specifically says ‘US variant spelling’.

Enjoyed the write up. Without hardwire internet I wasn’t going to stream hours of surf from my phone via my iPad. So how did Tyler go? Good to see her back in a singlet, what was it, a year off or more?

And good to hear Owen Wright plugged in straight away. Some talent that family.,

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Monday, 14 Sep 2020 at 7:10am

Good write up Ding and some good surfing in pretty ordinary conditions but it could have been worse....good to see some new talent in the girls, Isabel,India and Molly have a future for sure and the event came over way better than the 'ranch' way more relaxed commentary and vibe.Ethan for the win over Jules.