Pipeline Masters Day 3 // Happy Birthday Mike McCartney!
Never mind the Woz’s Lazarus-style comeback and the comp firing back up, today is an extra special day in world surfing for another reason: It’s Mike McCartney’s birthday!
This birthday greeting from the Woz to its best mate MM came up on the onscreen ticker as the Round of 32 drew to a close sometime before midday today.
Who the hell is Mike McCartney, you might ask?
Well, Mike is Hawaii’s Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism – and the Woz seeing fit to throw this fella an onscreen shout-out speaks to the kind of hoops the Woz has surely been jumping through the last four days to get this comp (and by extension, tour 2021) back in action.
Picture the negotiations with Hawaii’s rightly concerned/aggrieved Civic Leaders: the Woz promising stricter protocols, more rigorous procedures, donations to all sort of causes, no more stuff ups, etc. The Pollies remaining stone-faced and unmoved, until the Woz pulls out the ace up its sleeve – “We understand it’s your birthday tomorrow Mr McCartney, a shame the contest can’t run, as we’d have loved to broadcast a personal birthday greeting to you in front of our millions of viewers…”
McCartney and his aides confer in whispers behind their hands, turn to the Woz and say, “I believe we have a deal.”
Anyway, that’s how Ding Alley likes to think it played out: but more likely this birthday message was just a bit of harmless arse kissing / gratitude to the State of Hawaii for being given a second chance.
Anyway, let’s rewind to the start of the day.
At risk of betraying this writer’s often vexed romantic history – but I’m sure many SN readers have had similar affairs of the heart – watching Pipe early this morning carried with it a slight sense of deja-vu.
The last four or so days have been like a bit of a break up. Things haven’t been great in your relationship, and while you haven’t officially broken up, your beloved has neither called nor returned your calls for almost a week now: you don’t know if it’s all over or not.
Over the space of this time apart, in this weird limbo, you convince yourself that, shit, this girl’s The One! And you find yourself very much wishing for reunion so you can spend the rest of your days together in a state of bliss.
But when you get back together, within the space of perhaps half an hour, you find yourself slightly irritated as some of those mannerisms you’d somehow forgotten about come rushing back into the picture. (And, no doubt, you’re pissing her off again too.)
In this case, as stoked as I was to stare at pro surfing again on my phone at 5:30 this morning, it was the fricken Bonsoy ad – you know, that one with J-Dub’s unwitting child and cutesy percussion sound effects – that I found disproportionately annoying, and had me wondering if I really needed this in my life.
For all Ding Alley’s high horse finger-pointing at anything that moves, Ding Alley is surely the most fickle customer of all.
What’s that? You’d like this Surf Comp Recap to contain some content actually pertaining to the comp and the surfing?
Oh, alright then.
Just as Pipe often takes a customary coupla hours to sort itself out through the morning, so too do the early heats: and it’s only when JJF threads a Backdoor thickshake he has no business making in heat three of the Round of 32, that the day feels like it could ignite into something speccy.
Previous to that, in the four elimination heats, it was great to see Ding Alley favourite Ryan Callinan dominate, and Wade Carmichael dodge an unintentional interference bullet against Adriano de Souza, who kicked off his valedictory lap of the tour with a 33rd.
We only mention this almost-interference as a segue to the observation that if Wade Carmichael and Adriano de Souza were to hook up and become professional surfing’s first gay power couple, they’d be called Wadriano, which, however unlikely, would be cool,
Look, to be honest, coming up with the ‘Wadriano’ thing has pretty much tapped out Ding Alley’s reserves of writering for today, so please forgive us as we resort to lazy list style observations for much of the rest of this ‘report’.
Today was further validation of the effectiveness of the overlapping heats format. Not only does it chew through heats (particularly useful when playing Covid Catchup) like nobody’s business, but it provides so much more for us punters to watch, without in any way diminishing the integrity of the man-on-man format. Such a simple idea, that turns what’s effectively a day of grind and attrition into something far more engaging than it almost deserves to be.
Remember how Saffir Matty McGillivray smashed the field (bar one) back at the Cabarita pretendy-Woz comp earlier this year? The guy carries himself like a battler but always seems to figure out how to win, makes a habit of it. Watching him put Seth Moniz into check, you get the feeling he’s gonna be the source of a lot of stalled campaigns this year as he gets more points than more fancied opponents, in rounds as far as the quarters. This heat is one of the few compelling exchanges of the day, most of the others consist of fairly meek capitulations as Pipe dishes out only a limited number of opportunities.
Tell ya what, if it looks like a tricky lineup out there – which it does all day today – can you imagine how tricky it REALLY is? Imagine being out there, as a Joe-average punter, and trying to get a wave. You’d just be lost. Lost and shitting. Even with only one highlight ride per heat, pretty much, it’s easy to forget (and worthwhile to be reminded) the degree to which these guys make it look far easier than it is.
I think commentators Kaipo and BL may need to put a load of washing through the machine tonight as both appeared to spoof their daks after their video call with Pipe Immortal Gerry Lopez. And though the man is a deadset legend, their excitement seemed directed around the fact that they had spoken with him, moreso than anything he said, which was, if I’m honest, fairly pedestrian.
What I’d give for some unfiltered candour from the booth.
Kaipo: “Well, the man himself, Gerry Lopez.”
BL: “I was hoping for more, to be frank.”
Having said this, Kaipo’s probably the only commentator in pro surfing history who can sincerely describe something as ‘fly’ (ie: ‘that eyewear’s looking pretty fly’) and not sound naff.
While on commentary, Megan Abubo gets another Ding Alley Gold Star for her insight and natural eloquence.
While on matters of the vocal chord, here’s a quick guide to speaking South African: Jordy’s favourite wave is Paaarplaarn. Say it out loud, exactly as it’s spelled, without putting an accent on it. Paaarplaaarn. There. Perfect.
Does anyone know if Brazil has Movember? Caio Ibelli’s pencil moustache is something else, as is Yago Dora’s John Newcombe number. And in keeping with Ding Alley’s stupid preoccupation with surfers who look like musicians, Yago could easily front a Brazilian Soundgarden / Audioslave tribute band, such is his Chris Cornell visage.
Spewing about Slater and Ewing. Would have enjoyed an upset there. But in keeping with the dynamic of the day, it’s a bit of a fizzer really.
You have to imagine Julian Wilson came into his heat with superboy Jack Robbo with a sense of dread. It may be unkind, but it feels like J-Dub’s star is on the wane: no more Hurley, schlepping Bonsoy, and seems like he’s never really had the luck of the bounce go his way when it counts. Up against super-Jack – whose very presence causes surf fans to flutter their eyes and fan themselves with their hands – poor Jules had his arse handed to him.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep an eye on over this Hawaiian season will be to see how much Seppo twang re-inflects itself back into Jack Robbo’s accent in post heat pressers. To that end Ding Alley has started to monitor this with our patented seppo-accent-o-meter™, which gave out a reading of a very modest four percent on his short vowels. So far so good.
As for the rest of the Round of 32, it was all a bit of a fizz really. Not a single heat score in the excellent range. A number of heat totals in the two-to-four range. Just as the surfers had to hunt for their scores, us punters had our work cut out for us to find viewing rewards.
I think usage of the phrase ‘Time is the enemy’ clocked into double figures today.
The day stopped three heats into the Round of 16, with Leo, JJF, and Jordy into the Paaarplaaarn Masters quarters so far, with play most likely to continue in blustery conditions tomorrow.
But before we go: of interest to Oz viewers was heat 13, rookie Morgs Cibilic versus Gabs Medina. And despite Morgs holding down a lead through the early stages, Gabs did as Gabs does, and stomped him like a discarded ciggy butt.
That heat started with Gabs bowed in conspicuous prayer at the water’s edge. And Ding Alley will allow Gabs to lead us in prayer to close out this dispatch, with our speculated transcript of his pre-heat convo with The Almighty.
Hey Big Guy, Gabs here. Just checking in... (chuckles) Yeah I know, I only reach out when I want to win a heat, and you’re right, there’s no other circumstances under which I pray half as fervently… and, yep, I know, this runs contrary to the more selfless elements of the Christian tradition – but hey, I’m not the first to petition you for supernatural assistance in smiting my enemies, so, you know… Actually, thinking about it, things are quite a mess down here, in this world you made: there’s innocent kids dying in civil war zones; countless refugees in hopeless situations; mindless destruction of irreplaceable rainforests; world leaders sorely in need of the wisdom, counsel, perspective and courage a guy like you could no doubt bestow SUPER easily if so inclined. So, dear God, I suppose I pray for these things too, and it’d be just AMAZING if you could pitch in on those fronts, but seeing as those problems aren’t going away in a hurry, can ya stick around for forty minutes and help me smoke this cunt first? Amen.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and Writer Gra Murdoch. Thanks to Tim Baker who dropped by for a yak and spotted that birthday shout-out onscreen while Ding Alley was boiling the kettle.