The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast: Day Two - Mullet Run at Straddie
Bolting back up the South Straddie sand after staying out later than was wise, psyching for the terrifying dusk seaway paddle back to The Spit, your correspondent reaches the boulders and turns for a last look at the empty lineup – there, fifty yards away, a grey kangaroo bounds along the beach at full clip clearly intent on climbing the steep and high sand dune. It comes off the bottom, heads vert up the scarp, realises it’s not gonna make it, redirects off the lip, back down to the beach, straight into another bottom turn, fangs back up the face, clears the coping and bounds off into the shrub.
That was...geez, thirty years ago now, and until today it’s the most demonstrably Orstralian display of surfing I’ve witnessed at South Straddie, that is, of course, until all-fishin’, all-huntin’, mullet’ runnin’, Kelly-(Ned, not Slater)-beardin’ Mikey Wright storms the barricades on day two of the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro.
Since publishing our recap of day one yesterday (which set a new record for reader interest and engagement, if the five comments total are any indication), Ding Alley has realised something.
Wozcasts aren’t actually supposed to be watched.
What we mean is this: Wozcasts are more like muzak, something to be played in the background as you oil the deck, semi-concentrate on work or study, watch some other sporting event on another screen, do the dishes, or just scroll through whatever sershall meedjha platform’s your poison of choice.
When a webcast’s an adjunct to the rest of your day, and there’s the option to turn away, it’s fine.
Consciously engage with it to the exclusion of all else for any length of time, however, and there’s every chance you’ll find yourself rolling your eyes, despairing and huffing and cursing the screen aloud.
And look, I’m aware that banging on about the shortcomings of Wozcasts, in particular the commentary crew, is as repetitive and uninspired as that which is being criticised, and for sure commentary is way harder that it seems, but there’s an unevenness in the skills of the personnel that’s just amateur hour.
Commentary is THE conduit between performer and audience, so surely worth investment and development, no?
Don’t get us wrong, the crew put in a decent showing: Stacey Galbraith (who I always thought was a shiela) and Cooper Chapman did orright; KP may not have troubled the decibel-o-meter but had good insight; Bugs still ruled (though you got the sense of the old boy’s dwindling reserves of enthusiasm); and every time Occ launches into a lengthy soliloquy only to end up back where he started, but facing the wrong direction, we only like him more.
But being forced to endure the warblings of some of the less effective participants gives us cause to wonder: Is there a Woz handbook for rookie booth dwellers? And if so, what would its suggestions be? Here’s Ding Alley’s guess.
1) If you’ve nothing of interest or insight to say, just state the fucking obvious as often and repetitively as you can, and make it sound as if you’ve just been granted an incredible insight. HOW it sounds is key. As long as it SOUNDS like commentary, no-one will notice.
2) Be relentlessly positive and complimentary about everyone and everything. No dark, only light. Superlatives are your friend. If something happens that is objectively good or noteworthy or interesting, use terms like 'Amazing', 'Incredible' and 'Unbelievable'. This technique of hyperbolic amplification is a proud American tradition and it’s phenomenal to see it catching on here in Oz!
3) Silence is strictly verboten, so for Christ’s sake, keep talking. Doesn’t matter what you say. We recommend bouncing between between rules one and two above. Alternate (1) Screaming Obvious with (2) Delusional Optimism. Try to create theatre out of things that are very unlikely: ie, if there’s twenty seconds to go and someone’s caught inside with a snapped board and comboed, tell your audience in your inimitable ham-fisted way that there’s every chance a comeback’s on the cards.
(Jesus, how worked up can someone get over commentary? Which kind of proves our point, Wozcasts are dangerous things to consume unless they’re diluted with distractions.)
Kinda feels like there’s not too much point scrutinising the day’s surfing here. Wade Carmichael anchored his under-the-lip-larrys with surefooted heft, Liam O’Brien – who has the on-land demeanor reminiscent of a young Mark Richards – is ‘one to watch’ as the cliché goes, ’twas a shame Ethan Ewing and Robbo didn’t ignite. On the gals side, I was rooting for Little Sophie McCulloch who hustled the in-betweeners and belted lips like a champ, but hit the wall in the final against Bella Nicholls. In all honesty though, Straddie’s ragged and shifty lineup wasn’t much of a showcase for the girls.
Wasn’t much of a showcase for anyone, really. When ‘finals day’ contains half a dozen compelling competitive exchanges at most, you can’t really say it’s one for the books, hey. Too random, too east.
Anyway, here’s a few sketches of a few protagonists:
See the Tyler interview? Being Tyler Wright seems like a heavy burden. So much kudos to her for her convictions and willingness to articulate her absorbing discovery of the wrongs of the world. And not that Ding Alley should ever be consulted on such matters, but if Ty can find a way to come across as less sermonising on the Woz’s generous platform, it might further her excellent causes.
Now, this is the dumbest and most damning observation Ding Alley has ever made, but know that Bond Uni ad? With the American gal’s voiceover, “I didn’t think it would be possible to chase my dreams on tour, while pursuing my career in sports management.” Look. I’ll just say it, it sounds like the opening exposition of a short adult entertainment film. Disclaimer: no reflection or inferences intended, it just reminded Ding Alley of something we saw once.
Occ’s most endearing line for the day, describing a Liam O’Brien tube attempt: “The only way out is through the front door, which in surfing terms is called the doggy door.” Not all-time Occ, but satisfying nonetheless. Also, props to Occ for only mentioning TOS as a back up venue for Snapper a handful of times today, and props to KP for being too much of a gentleman to hit Occ with a rolled up newspaper and shout it’ll never happen unless deliberately avoiding spectators is part of the mix in ’21 and beyond.
Hooray for Sally Fitz. Feeling browbeaten about being told to educate yourself? Get Sal on the line and suddenly things are up. Here’s a telling stat: Not ONE of the day’s special online interviewees – earnest J-Dub, earnest Ace Buchan, earnest Tyler – signed off with a shaka. Sal, bless her, signed off with a DOUBLE shaka, and you know she means it. That’s the ticket.
The Semi between Wade Carmichael and Mikey Wright was the most compelling clash of the day, with half a point ultimately seperating them. The thought occurred to me that if these two fellas were to marry each other – depending if one took the other’s name – they could become Wade Wright or Michael Carmichael. You read it here first.
The day saw a deserved winner in Mikey Wright. I’m still ambivalent about Mikey’s ’CT act, but his ability to repeatedly solve today’s shifting puzzle that was Straddie – not to mention the unfeasible beast sent to him in the opening five minutes of the final – shows the depth of his special surfing intelligence.
It was deadset unreal to see Mikey stoked and insisting on being chaired up the beach. It’s not our business to speculate on the hidden lives of professional surfers, and it might be my imagination, but it’s hard not to sense a heaviness of spirit in that fine surfing family sometimes. It makes ya cheer when the sun comes out for ’em.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and Writer Gra Murdoch.