Pipeline Masters Day 2 // Black Surfboards Matter

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

When the biggest buzz of the day is the fact Kelly takes a twinfin out in his heat, you know things have come down a notch since yesterday. More on this later.

In the commentary booth – where most of the action takes place for the first hour or so this morning ‘cos it sure as hell doesn’t happen in the lineup – Shane Dorian’s reminiscing about Andy Irons with the industrial-strength sugar glaze that’s cosmetically applied to one of modern surfing’s deepest tragedies. He describes how, when Andy was on a roll, all was wonderful in Andy’s orbit, but when things weren’t clicking, everything was just the worst. “Surfing with Andy was an emotional roller coaster, it was fun to go on the ride with him.” 

It’s impossible to always choose the right words when you’re riffing in the booth on this ‘n’ that, but ‘fun’ might not be the most fitting descriptor of the Bipolar Disorder that rarely affords its poor hosts a firm foothold on life. 

Fame must be a bugger for anyone suffering this condition: for every loved one beside themselves with worry and doing all they can to help, there’ll be any number of parasitic arseholes and enabling sycophants whose interests dovetail with your gradual self-destruction.

Shit, that went darker than intended. Mean just to say it’s fitting that Pipe’s held in Andy’s memory, because transcendent moments like yesterday’s Invitational final throw the mediocrity of this morning’s false start into ornery contrast. 

And just as the heights of Andy’s achievements made his comedown to ‘ordinary’ life so hard to bear, there’s something about Pipe that makes it almost obscene for a single heat to be run in conditions less than stellar – or if not stellar, at least fearsome. 

Commentators can go on about how pros have to adapt and ride what’s in front of them, but let them adapt at lesser contests. Pipe demands a higher set of standards. 

And so it comes not a moment too soon that Marty Thomas (who looks increasing like lead singer in a middling rockabilly covers band, while being distantly related to Colonel Sanders) whacks the brakes on after two heats – three if you count the Dancing Bear surf-off decider between MW and LF. 

Leo takes that decider out, thus sealing his official spot on tour. As the comp’s put on hold to let the morning wind edge back around to a more favourable aspect, let’s pause for a moment of silence to reflect on poor Michael Wright, having come so close to a spot on the tour, and now banished to purgatory. 

But miracle of miracles! Resumption of play, heat three of round one, sees a resurrection nothing short of biblical. Here’s Mike Wright, surfing against Fred Morais and Filipe Toledo! Why Joe Turpel isn’t in paroxysms or speaking in tongues at this remarkable turn of events is beyond us, until we’re struck by the realisation that MW will probs get as many starts as he wants in a fractured 2021 anyway. 

And while we’ve got this heat under scrutiny: filled-out Fil Toledo looks solid! Not quite Willian-Cardoso-solid, but gone forever is the Dickensian chimney-sweep physique of youth. 

An unexpected upside of this – apart from more heft to Fil’s already powerful rail work – might be that it’s unlikely his old boy will ever whistle at him ever again. As the saying goes, “You can whistle at a whippet, but you can’t…” ah, actually there’s no such saying, but you get our point.

Anyway, here we are, reconciled to working through the seeding round today, and, despite the fact we’re seeing our heroes surf in a jersey for the first time in ages, the prospect of 12 consequence-free heats at head high Backdoor – with a slight late bump if we’re lucky – is as compelling as watching a slow puncture. 

Let’s cherry pick some highlights in the water, and see what we can notice around the traps.

Hold the phone: here’s Strider doing the piece to camera about the comp’s C-19 safety protocols and procedures. Appropriately, he’s masked up for this piece. It’s the only piece he’ll do with the mask on all day.

Jordy’s heat four abbreviated bottom turn to stall ‘under the hood’ – as Joe would say, is a thing of casual beauty.

It wouldn’t be a Gabby heat at Pipe (heat five) without some calculated last-minute tactics, and jumping off mid turn to deny ADS priority etc is further proof that some things never change. Suck on that paddle-battle, Luvvy O’Meara.

If FanCam’s anything to go, the Woz has approximately a dozen participants worldwide willing to send footage of themselves jumping up and down like Yahoos to demonstrate their appreciation of the sport, as every time FanCam comes up, it’s the same dozen yahoos doing the same jumping and yahooing. Good for them.

We all love Andy Irons and remember his irreplaceable talent, but gotta say the one-note lionisation of AI through the ad breaks is unsettling. It feels like a missed opportunity to use the power of his story to an effect greater than simply trying to shift Rising Sun merchandise. 

Why not do a spot using Andy’s story to encourage anyone who’s struggling with life to talk to someone, to know they’re not alone, and perhaps take the first step on the long, often hard-yards journey of rigour, discipline and self-love that is healing and recovery. It’d be challenging to execute such a message the right way, especially for an organisation estranged from nuance, but not impossible. 

Imagine if AI’s legacy counted for something vital like that. 

And while we’re up on our high horse: It’s great to see the problem of ocean pollution has been solved! Remember in previous years, all those Woz PURE initiatives? Ad-break clips of mid-tier pro surfers purposefully picking up plastic off the beach etc? Talking about how it all starts with us? Judging by the absence of any reference to anything remotely environmental this time round, we can assume victory for the planet has discretely been claimed. Hurrah!

Nice to see the ocean rise from its slumber for JJF in heat seven, and a suitably masterful burst from the people’s champ. And onya Robbo, Free-o and Caio.

And finally, seeing as The Grinch and pals didn’t get terribly much airtime today, other than a contractual obligation flurry towards the end, we’ll sign off with some Dr Suess reportage on today’s big news item.

Kelly showed up with a twin fin, 
Stuck in the sand for all to see,
How many fins are in a twin fin,
Not one, not four, not three!

Two is the number of fins in a twin fin,
a surfboard all shiny and black,
Two is the number of fins in a twin fin,
Oh fuck, is that a stabiliser in the back?

Two and a bit is the number of fins in a twin fin,
Ridden by surfing’s ageless saviour,
Two and a bit is the number of fins in a twin fin,
It’s not attention-seeking behaviour.

A grindy old set of heats that couldn’t help but suffer in comparison to yesterday. It’s not like anyone’s going anywhere, so let’s wait for the real thing before we rip in to any clashes of consequence, eh Woz?

// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch.

Comments

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 3:55pm

Love your work, as always.

Sunnysideup's picture
Sunnysideup's picture
Sunnysideup commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 4:13pm

very, very funny. I openly laughed at least 2 and a half times.
the zues rhyme was probably over reaching.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 4:35pm

Epic. Epic. Epic.

Thank you very much Ding Alley.

More entertaining than the comp itself.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 6:19pm
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 7:33pm

Curious why you posted a link to another websites Pipe coverage in the comments section of this one Udo?

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 6:50pm

I watched a fair bit of the comp today on the 2nd screen while I was working and Ding Alley has brained it again!

Epic summary and I concur with nearly all of it.

Tell ya what though, Jack Robbo definitely has an X factor and his heat was the one I was most interested in. He didn't disappoint. As plenty have already said, if the tour gets pumping waves at the A grade stops he's gunna rip it a new arsehole.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 7:32pm

Pipe, Sunset, with some luck solid steamer lane, then north point/box. Robbo could be off to a flyer...and then come years end, brushed out the backdoor even quicker than you blink at 2ft trestles.
Seems just.

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

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 8:55pm

Thanks DA, your sentiments shared by myself and many.

I actually kind of shudder at pro surfing’s future whilst watching the waste-of-time, sorry ‘seeding’ round.

Every other event for 2021 sees the men and women together. That’s 70, yes, seventy heats of surfing in a 10 day waiting period.

What’s the old saying? ‘You do the same thing..........’

Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook's picture
Tooold2bakook commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 12:04am

Loved it. Thanks

rj-davey's picture
rj-davey's picture
rj-davey commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 12:47am

"an organisation estranged from nuance"

Another great read DA. Loved the Suess verse

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 7:57am

Reckon that was the first time a twinny had been surfed in the Pipe Masters since the 70s.

MR won Pipe in 1980 but he always rode a single fin in comps. From the great man himself:

"I rode a twin virtually all the time at Off The Wall from '78 onwards and at very small days at Backdoor.

"All the contests I surfed in at Pipe were on single fins then thrusters in the early 80's.

"We had really long waiting periods in those days and they very rarely ran rounds of Pipe Masters unless conditions were huge."

Possibly even a chance it was the first twinny ever ridden in the Masters, but without being able to verify it that's one record KS will have to do without.

Dan87's picture
Dan87's picture
Dan87 commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 8:44am

Fucking brilliant!!!
Great idea on AI too!

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 11:08am

poignant. illustrative. reflective. funny. astute. > thanks, great writing

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 11:16am

Totally agree about the one sided glorification of Andy. The guy had a really serious disease and all they rabbited on about was his surfing poweress (is that a word?) which every man and his dog is familiar with. I was always on the soap box that the WSL and all his mates seemed to have done zero to keep him safe and on the meds. They all must have known he could be out of control yet the WSL created nothing around him to help him and now they don't want to talk about it. Let's face it he didn't exactly go out in a blaze of glory and he is not with us because of some romantic notion of dying with his boots on, he died in some shitty motel in some shitty town in the US O.D'd on crappy drugs. Sad state of affairs that they don't even acknowledge it and as you say, get the message out to help others. The AFL has done some great things in this space and the WSL could learn everything from them.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 12:24pm

not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet - but - Rick Kane rode a pink twinny at Pipe in 87... prior to Chandler taking him under his wing

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 1:21pm

Hahaha. Brilliant! But did he technically ride a wave....does it count when 'the wave breaks here, don't be there' before he got to his feet.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... commented Sunday, 27 Dec 2020 at 10:06pm

Gold.... I’ll have to watch north shore again one day. Haven’t seen it in 30 plus years

juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 1:12pm

Best one yet for me.

Agree with all the AI stuff you wrote, I never knew his story until watching 'Kissed by god'. Watching him off his rocker at The Box, well, that was something else! I never knew, but now that I do, it's not cool at all to apply 'industrial-strength sugar glaze that’s cosmetically applied to one of modern surfing’s deepest tragedies' for $, as you so elegantly put it.

Loved the twinny poem as well.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 1:34pm

That poem reminded me of the hand grenade scene from The Holy Grail for some reason...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ashgP4YMdJw

Nolan's picture
Nolan's picture
Nolan commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 2:36pm

Its already been said, but the irreverent, intelligent humour of this piece is masterful. The fact you are able to do it so quickly after competition ends is admirable.

I was moved by your comments on Andy, in particular:
"... Bipolar Disorder that rarely affords its poor hosts a firm foothold on life.

Fame must be a bugger for anyone suffering this condition: for every loved one beside themselves with worry and doing all they can to help, there’ll be any number of parasitic arseholes and enabling sycophants whose interests dovetail with your gradual self-destruction."

These comments deftly balance the tongue in cheek riffing in the rest of the piece and speaks respectfully to the trauma involved in steering someone you love and care for through the turbulence of such a mental illness. There is no rule book, and its so easy to judge others until you've travelled the journey yourself and made all the mistakes that come with trying to manage an emotional rollercoaster for the first time. Your insight and respect is both rare and profound. Thank you.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Tuesday, 15 Dec 2020 at 2:44pm

Hey Nolan. You're very welcome mate, and thanks so much for the kind words.

luke.hutch's picture
luke.hutch's picture
luke.hutch commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 9:33pm

Woolies intrusion add made it difficult to read. Good one Woolies

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 14 Dec 2020 at 4:28pm

Made me feel like I was there. Have always watched this as a backdrop to crunching out spreadsheets at work. Now that I’m not working I’m doing other things, so watching the replayed footage sure saves time. Read DAs piece beforehand and I know what to look for.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Monday, 14 Dec 2020 at 10:51pm

Couldn’t agree more on the AI comments. The lionisation really shits me. If you are going to name events after him have it more than a Disney gloss job. Bi-polar is serious, his drug addictions didn’t help and all glossed over and swept under a rug to sell t-shirts still.

knB

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Saturday, 26 Dec 2020 at 8:54am

I think we are being unrealistic to expect anything but what we get here with AI/Billabong. I'm not aware of any sporting hero's downside being played to in any event context. Happy to be proved wrong.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 26 Dec 2020 at 10:23am

It's not so much about making a song and dance about his flaws and faults as it is sharing the whole story of his human-ness to let others who are struggling know they're not alone. But you're right DR, such honesty is anathema to sports marketers hey.