The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast: Day One - I’m on the Edge of My Chair*

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

By Ding Alley

Things get off to an ominous start for your Ding Alley correspondent this morning, with an email touching down in the wee hours from the Woz, announcing ‘Unboxing Things With Koa Smith is BACK’.

This ancient sport of Hawaiian Royalty, this once edgy, countercultural pursuit of beauty and truth, now governed by an entity that sees tearing open packages in front of a camera and hooting like a chimpanzee once the prize trinket is uncovered as THE news item to lead with in its weekly broadcast.

(Actually, Ding Alley can’t verify that chimp comparison as there’s no way we’d actually click through to check out 'Unboxing Things with Koa Smith' – just as a matter of principle and self-respect.)

Nonetheless, sight unseen, I’m calling ‘Unboxing Things’ – as a surfing content idea – the lowest of all low points in the entire history of surf content, (this coming from someone who’s churned out some stunningly low-grade shite in his time).

Enough of that, we’re here, of course, to throw day one of the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast under the Ding Alley microscope.

Held on South Straddie, this is stop two of the three-part Oz Grand Slam, sandwiched between the surprisingly decent Caba comp a few weeks ago, and a Margies mish a few weeks hence.

Ding Alley is as fond of competitive surfing as anyone, but even WE drew the line at tuning in to any of the parallel specialty events over in Brasil or Portugal or whatever. Well, we logged on, but lasted about two minutes when it became clear that they were shit.

We’ve been anticipating this Straddie comp, though. The Other Side (TOS) occupies a warm place in Ding Alley’s heart: many were the times your writer and cartoonist would sprint-paddle across the seaway at dawn in the late ‘80s, playing an aquatic version of frogger with the trawlers, to enjoy the Straddie smorgasbord of uncrowded peaks.

More than nostalgia, however, there’s a few questions only tuning in to the webcast can answer: Will the modest gains made by the Caba comp be consolidated? (For example, the Woz did a great job involving and acknowledging the Bundjalung / Juraki mob in Caba, with mentor heats, profiles and Joel Slabb in the booth. Will they follow that up with the Yugambeh and Kombumerri crew?) Which surfers will fill the draw in this crazy COVID-bubble-border-crossing era? Will the next two days vindicate this domestic grand slam format? Or was Caba simply thrown into a deceptively flattering light by the complete absence of connests over the six months preceding it? And can an organisation with people who green-light ‘Unboxing Things’ prowling its corridors do un-shithouse things as well?

On the beach in Burls under the waning moon early this morning, one thing isn’t in question: The conditions are not exactly screaming of a vintage morning’s surf on South Straddie. Unkempt, ornery, and out of the east. Were this the late-80s, Ding Alley would not pile into Macca’s lime green Mazda 303 and tootle north for a sesh.

Regardless, come 7.00am QLD time, the Wozcast begins with the not-unpleasant revelation of Bugs and Occ as the commentary A-team. The thought strikes me that we could well do worse than these two, (and sadly in a few heats time, when the B-team rotates on, worse is indeed the case, but we’ll get to that.)

OK, so there’s no indigenous acknowledgement or any of that carry-on (unless I missed it) so Caba must have been an enlightened one-off in that respect. (Gotta love the Woz’s mix of opportunism and inconsistency, hey). This small but significant bummer is countered by the pleasant surprise – no token non-elimination ‘seeding’ heats this time round! Heats with consequence. Like a REAL contest!

The kindest thing to say about the morning’s conditions is that they can only improve with the tide and some random puffs of unseasonal south-westerly airstream. The 12 girls go first in what’s essentially a lucky dip. Nikki VD looks the most sure-footed in the washing machine, yet amasses a total heat score still in single figures. Isabella Nicholls is first to put the jigsaw together and gets a 13.5.   

As the men come out for their Round of 12, the sun breaks through, the tide moves in over the bank, Robbo and Liam O’Brien get shacked and it feels like the promise of a sick day might yet deliver. But it’s a mirage, really. 

There are diamonds in the rough all through the day, and some marvellous surfing from both guys and gals, but if you’re considering, say, sitting through all seven-plus hours of the broadcast replay, I would beg you, for the love of God, to consider seeking out a highlights package instead. 

I’m determined for my seven-hours of continuous arse-sitting watching this webcast on your behalf to count for something, however, so here are some observations. In point form, as I don’t possess the Shearer-or-Carroll-or Nettle-esque ability to weave ’em all into a Ewing-esque smooth narrative.

  • I can’t think of anyone who veers from crimes against commentary to poetic eloquence and back again as radically and often as Occ. For every time Occ repeats his belief that TOS would be a great back-up venue for the Snapper comp (no less than nine occasions), or murders the Queen’s English, he’ll come out with something effortlessly lyrical, like this gem when describing heat management in such a confused lineup: “There’s no rhyme, no reason, no method, you really just gotta flow with it.” Sure he’s a better colour guy than play-by-play commentator, but it’s a tick for this national treasure. 
  • Bugs delivers a commentary masterclass: Informed, whimsical yet disciplined. Relaxed. Many bonus points for not once pushing his political agenda or sloganeering.
  • The commentary B-team consists of Reg Prasad, surf reporter at uber-plebeian FM station ‘Hot Tomato’ and unfortunate companions producing a spectacular lack of chemistry. Their heat calls have all the excitement of a strictly supervised school party where there’s no alcohol, ciggies or fingering allowed. Reg also isn’t as knowledgeable about the surfers he’s calling as an anchor should be. (Example: labelling Soli Bailey ‘a true toiler’ and ‘consistent’, moments before Soli comes close to landing the day’s most monstrous, reckless, and inspired air.) Fail. Unkind on my part, I know, but too bad.
  • In place of any Indigenous recco, It seems we’ve got a GC tourism campaign featuring Parko and Fanning sincerely urging one and all to come to the GC. “Bring ’em all to our place and show ’em all how great it is.” Uh, OK. Parko’s call that the GC “feels like home” may not come as a surprise to many. I do hope these guys are doing this for some motive other than money, otherwise it’s undignified hustling for a buck neither of them need.
  • Nice moment when Chris “Ibis” Bennetts gets a tunnel back up the beach from his North End buddies. It’s a reminder of the energy a club dynamic brings. Actually, just having people around elevates proceedings hey. 
  • Seeing the sand-pumping pipe, prominent in many angles and shots through the day, standing dormant makes Ding Alley wonder about generous benefactor Dirk Ziff, working the levers of financial supply at the other end of the Woz’s money tunnel. How much longer is he willing to pump coin into the machine before he concedes it’s always gonna get washed away up the beach and out to sea? And what then..?
  • And is it just me or is it strange that the Woz push the line that the 2021 tour is gonna go ahead seemingly free of the 2020’s troubles and afflictions? Will there be some magic kind of reverse Y2K in play, when, at the stroke of midnight on December 31st this year, this bastard virus evaporates or something?  
  • This pro surfing as entertainment thing isn’t rocket science: The more the waves have to offer, whether it’s performance or consequence, and the better the surfing, the better the spectacle. Pretty simple.

Back to the heats, the girls quarters see Steph misreading the lineup, reduced to braille by the flushing tide, and little Sophie McCulloch – who I’ve never heard of – belts a turn better than I’ll ever do. 

The men’s quarters see Jack R’s next-level tube-drive. (seriously, if there’s one wave you should check out, it’s Robbo’s nine-something. Not worth sitting through seven hours of a comp for, god no, but that’s some extraordinary foamball work right there.)

By two-ish, the tide's dropping and the northerly’s ripping through the lineup like a cough through a pensioner and the comp’s called for the day.

And for all Ding Alley’s bitching and moaning and carrying on, and for how the Woz seems determined to shred any vestige of respect from the game (I direct the court’s attention to Exhibit A: Unboxing Things With Koa Smith) – if the surf’s just a bit cleaner tomorrow, and if that Hot Tomato guy maybe has to be elsewhere, then it could be a ripper morning of comp watching. 


Ding Alley is Illustrator Dave @maccatoons McArthur and Writer Gra Murdoch. 

*The article’s title is a verbatim quote from the day’s commentary. It was either that or 'Adaption Is The Name Of The Game.'


crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 6 Oct 2020 at 7:47pm

"Their heat calls have all the excitement of a strictly supervised school party where there’s no alcohol, ciggies or fingering allowed. "
We age ourselves into a bygone era at the mere mention of fingering.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Tuesday, 6 Oct 2020 at 8:11pm

Occy referring to (I forget who) as the next guy "off the production line" pretty well sums up the soulless trash that is 'professional' surfing these days.
But jeez lime green 323 brings back memories, body roll of death in wet weather.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 6 Oct 2020 at 10:11pm

I'd never heard of that Burleigh guy Liam but he impressed me to no end. Great surfing.

I tuned in and out for most of the day and really enjoyed the comp. Rabbit behind the mic was pretty cool too.

Sth Straddie holds a special place in my heart too. Living at Main Beach I used to ride my bike up there when I was young and do the paddle and later a mate would pick me up in his little runabout at McIntosh Is. and we'd motor up there and punch cones after anchoring up and dive straight in.

Good days.

PS- my girlfriend at the time had an electric blue Mazda 323, good memories of that thing too- ha ha!


evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2020 at 7:45am

Well the girls were pretty ordinary Stef was a huge disappointment but
because of the thundering waves I watch some of it my son just said they
were a joke. The guys were somewhat entertaining infact they were great
I liked how they surfed the beast was entertaining. Jack is on another level.
The commentry team is simply bloody awful. After the Cabba rubbish thou
this is wonderful with nasty heavy conditions thats entertainment.

IF im not surfing im racing

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 12:38pm

Steph was surfing well at end of last year & into & thru Cabba Comp.

Then her Stalker cornered her at only exit point in Cabba Car Park. Straddie Comp as with Cabba comp only has the one entry/exit Water Taxi Car Park. Note Water Taxi can't carry more than a handful, leaving Steph trapped & more vulnerable than at Cabba.

All know Steph was stalked and bashed before & this stalker lives near & is clearly on the prowl. Quite rightly Steph has more to fear with isolated Covid lockdown Comps than others dare imagine...A stalker can exploit isolated Lockdowns to further trap victims.

Steph knows it & her local fans know the threat is ramped in this Island setting.

Locals reckon she's brave for having another crack after the last WSL security fail. Steph had every reason to keep safe & to boycott this perfect Stalkers venue.
Crew wish her well & more peaceful times ahead.

Note: Covid Chariot breach shows WSL are not exampling Covid security! These breaches or serious lapses could cost them the WA Gig... just saying! Would not be a surprise in current climate!

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2020 at 10:51am

Same Bat - tripe. Same Bat - channel. Surely Occy and Rabbit need to get a real job at this point. Oh that's right they do have one, as surfing industry talking heads and in Rabbit's case, the new and improved all Australian Donald Trump.


truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 10:10am

"And can an organisation with people who green light 'Unboxing Things' prowling it's corridors do un-shithouse things as well?"

Poor swellnet crew never had a time to Unpacket their WSL Baitboxes!
Beastly Ding Alley is Alive & Frothin'...Blubby! Blub! Blub!

tbb thanx Ding Alley for respecting local Saltwater Surf Culture.
swellnet crew show our respect to TOS Saltwater crew...thanx for the TOS Comp.

TOS Saltwater Dreaming with respect to all Quandamooka people's place...

Logan River guardian Dugong Yowgurra has Spear swooped by Sparrow Boggaban.
In turn spears Dolphin whose water gushes creating a Bay of islands then to bleed at blood red shore of Coochiemudlo.
Crew can read that Sparrow (Bird) is a 'Mountain Chain' that ends at the Sea. In creation sense it applies as a life force as a Long Mountain Creek flowing fast - racing as a bird to clear spear (Trees) from river mouth then push trees thru The Spit. The Ocean (Dolphin) is now engaged (swims up Tree lined Creek) as Ocean Floods thru the Bay (Quandamooka) creating more Islands (Dugongs) That Flank The Rivers that are carved out by (Sharks).
(Stradbroke Is) is Minjerribah + (Moreton Is) is Mulgumpin
Both are Quandamooka bookend Dugongs that guard the Rainbow Shark God.(Brisbane River) The cliffs are where the Shark's Fins carve into the river Banks

Nerang River (Shovelnose Shark) Empties at TOS
Also where 3 Girls stole Jabreen's Boomerang, so he turned the mean Girl into withering-fat Moon, the sweet colourful girl into a Rainbow & the girl with the flower garland became the stars or possibly as Milky Way.
Jabreen is known to the surf crew as WSR creator. The first to wipeout, on the first wave with 2 other brothers. The surf God was a waterman that could swim to horizon & bodysurf ashore. He raised the Gold Coast Point breaks where he entombed himself.
Kombumerri adorn their Surf God in several fish traps of varying size & depth that shape the Burleigh Barrelometer (Read below). It is a meeting place of East Coast Surf reverence where all peoples pay respect to Original Surf Idol.

Nerang River Love Story tells of a jealous River Spirit that stole a bride by turning her into (Muyim) A Blue Water Lily ... the distressed groom searched for his bride. The River Spirit felt guilty but would not release his prized catch so instead transformed the groom into (Yimbun) Bulrush. When the breeze blows...Yimbun leans in to kiss his bride Muyim...Many morals of danger are entwined in longer versions...tbb wont spoil that for the crew...your call.

Hunter Gowanda followed Nerang river to The Spit opposite to TOS as he transformed into a bodysurfing Dolphin to now feed his tribe fish (You probably guessed by now that most Saltwater stories record actual Climactic events in great detail)...Begging Saltwater pardon for tbb's concise crude re-tellings.

Bingingerra (Mt Witheren or Turtle) Was a hero that fought off Sharks in a massive sea creature battle over last remnants of land as sea kept rising. This being a then extensive estuary behind Sth Straddie.

Minjerribah (Recent Imagining)
1792-94 Mulgumpin (Parted) Minjerribah (Between 1791 Bryants -1799 Flinders)
1821 Straddie South breach (Original breach was at Burleigh Lagoons > relays > North)
1823 TOL castaways are canoed from Moreton Is to Stradbroke Is & shape canoe.
1827 Isle of Stradbroke is named after 2nd son of Earl of Stradbroke.
1828 Occupation & Island Secured > Saltwater Killings follow {r.i.p}
1829 Pro Surf Rafting Tweed > Points thru Nerang Mouth to Dunwich exports
1864 Spit Bodysurfing
1865 Currigee Cup - Sth Straddie (Yachting Race) Continues today
1860/70's Cane Gangs Sup'd & bodybashed all about here..
+ Saltwater row crews plyed goods to the Tweed
1877 Rock Wall Seaway opens interstate shipping
1879 Last Corroboree Wangawalla (around 250) near Bundall
1896- Nth breach Jumpinpin creates Sth Straddie Is ( Later-temporarily seals Sth Entrance)
1898-1925 Saltwater Pilot Jenny Graham / Keeper of the Flame (Lit the waterways)
Couran (Dugong Skirt) Beach is also the Sound of the Sea where striking waves echoed up Brisbane River. Tugun another & All cultures used sound waves to forecast rain as The Burley Barrelometer. North Coast Caves deployed Little Hairy Surf Reporters...Modern life smashed our all encompassing Surfaround Soundwaves.
1910/11 Locally made Main Beach Surf Board > Boardriding
1985 Boat enters new (2nd) rock seaway
1993 South Straddie NP
2003 Couran Cove saltwater experience...(earlier? + continues in varied ways)
2017 eg: Greenheart (Guragunbah) Ochre was used in Saltwater Art Camp
tbb named GC Greenheart > 1998 & was rewarded a Couran Stay by Ron Clarke
2018 Sea Eagle Songline Canoe Trek.
2019 SMP includes Saltwater Fish traps/Dolphin Unison/Surf Museum
2020 Spit Saltwater Realm installation designs are given an unfair wrap.

Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook commented Saturday, 10 Oct 2020 at 11:56am

Tbb where can I learn more about the mythology? Any good books?

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 4:52am

Enjoyed the Rabbit-Occy combo.

kaiser's picture
kaiser's picture
kaiser commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 10:20am

Spoke too soon, DA. Bugs saved his poli-soap box until the moment with the most eyes on it - the final. Then occ told him he’d get his vote. Even though neither live in the electorate. Occ also said it would be great to have an environmentally conscious MP, which was met with awkward silence

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 10:28am

Occ as Campaign Manager!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 12:00pm

Bugz campaigns are more like surf sessions.
Nev shapes up the Raffle Boards.
Tappa auctions off one off $400 Surf Posters
Andy Mac cues up Rare Surf Flix
Cheers Andy for '70's "Band on the Run"
Hodad tbb stuffs pockets with cool Surf Stickerz, see ya Bugz!
tbb can assure crew...Bugz is not selling out his Surf Stoke.
Pretty sure the crew knew as much anyhow.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 11:29am

Spuddups...& crew here are not alone as local surfers are stoked with Bugz.

tbb attended recent Bugz launch & [NEV] gave him a big wrap as a great orator?
Mind you the mike had cut out & few could hear didn't expect fireworks.
Bit of a bummer and a lazy wind down to unplug BUGZ magic 15 minutes of glory.

Bugz takes the! Not a stage...a floor where Bugz looks up to the crowd.
Surfers are denied grabs on WSR or GWS or Light Rail or any Surfie topics.
Instead Bugz spoke only of Covid 19...a topic new to all & in a room of Surfies.
Yep! Sure does sound boring & without a microphone was sure to lose voters. Right!

Well No!
Bugz could be heard throughout the whole venue as clear as you like with no mike.
Bugz not only ramped Covid Speech he owns it with facts & bullet point precision.
Stokes local pride to rally support...we stand together, this is the Plan get on board
The room of 100 stand as one roaring as 1,000 with fist Pumps & Hoots.
Run Rabbit Run!
This was Rock Star territory not some long winded local Pollie...
Rabbit raised the roof & as NEV said...a great orator indeed & on point 2nd to none.

tbb...again spoke to Bugz & assured him his delivery was a masterclass.
Yep! We're talkin' about a Goldie grom surfer with the war cry of a born leader.
tbb & locals are spoilt to have Bugz AM represent Gold Coast...Legend for sure!

Check out 'Rabbit Tales' as Bugz is also a born Grom story teller...a national treasure.
Agree with crew...Bugz brings surf stoke & know how to the Booth as well.

Again! tbb apologizes if here or for any comp comments that may breach site rules.
Mostly about the Champ pimpin' Surf Stoke!
More than happy to talk up a Surf Champ if he's worth he's salt!
Goldie crew also thank swellnet & crew for recent Bugz articles & comments.
This is as good as it gets & we're right to shout it out loud...Salute all for saying so!

PS: Bugz entourage is his High School pack...Wot hodad has that much cred?

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 11:54am

I just wish Denis Callinan was around to be part of the Bugs brigade.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 4:43pm

Love it TBB!!

Hall of Lame's picture
Hall of Lame's picture
Hall of Lame commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 4:38pm

Last time I surfed Snapper with multiple others of varying levels of competence, Parko did not seem to wish to show me or them how “great it all is.” I think that ad may be misleading.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 4:42pm

It's hard not to scrutinise their testimonials for irony hey.

masseydoug's picture
masseydoug's picture
masseydoug commented Friday, 9 Oct 2020 at 11:47am

Watching a comp online is a magic first this year and certainly better than watching an update on the virus by leaders chasing their next votes. The OCC cast and Bug cast added to the usual commentators. TOS locals(regulars)may not be too impressed with the coverage as it will just spread the crowd from other spots.


wozz's picture
wozz's picture
wozz commented Saturday, 10 Oct 2020 at 6:27am

Except for the leftist political leanings this is a brilliant bit of whinging. I’d call it journalism but it’s to correct and on subject.