The Newcastle Cup: Day One - Formula One Ferreira
At 3:04 am today, the Woz comms team came out of the blocks with some next-level cleverness, emailing Surfline’s surf forecast for Newcastle out to its database:
“It's 5-6' and GOOD. The Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres by Corona is Just Hours Away… FORECAST: 5-6’ With possible 8’ Sets.”
Let’s face it, if you can’t trust Surfline – that Seppo Surf Forecast Behemoth with eyes seemingly set on total world domination – who CAN you trust?
“Odd…” I thought, scoping my local in the pre-dawn dark, not ALL that far north of Newy, “must be a strangely localised five-to-six-foot-swell-with-possible-eight-foot sets.”
But STILL the penny didn’t drop for your gullible D.A correspondent… and when the Wozcast came to life at 7.35 am, revealing instead one-to-two foot, with possible two-and-a-half-foot sets – I racked my brains for an explanation for such a discrepancy, being 2021 and all, with all our technology, SURELY a forecast couldn’t be So. Spectacularly. Wrong.
I thought I cracked the code when I realised there’s more than one Newcastle! Perhaps the beginner-friendly beachies near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in England’s north east is copping swell of the year? But a quick search revealed the UK Newy’s isn’t firing…
Hang on. Of course.
April Fucking Fools!
Ah Wozzle, ya got us all good. Best April Fool’s gag ever. Well done you!
A clever ruse to get excited eyeballs, but you needn’t have bothered on our behalf – after all, it’s been a while since Pipe, and fucking forever since a ‘real’ Woz comp ran in Oz, so Ding Alley’s curious to tune in regardless.
See what’s up, so to speak, even if the surf isn’t.
Now, as anyone familiar with Ding Alley’s comp reporting will warn you, don’t expect much in the way of ‘journalism’ or actual ‘reporting’ in these dispatches – rather a random collection of things we noticed – mostly trivial observations with an eye to the absurd, and a disproportionate fascination with the commentary squad etc. It’s more a series of quasi-Community Service announcements than journalism.
Basically, we’ll endure hours of Wozcasting, so you don’t have to.
Right then, to things we noticed...
Just so we can get Macca’s toon up the top of the piece here, we’ll fast forward to probs the highlight of the day’s comp in Newy: Italo’s 17-wave freesurf in Heat Six.
Where most everyone hustled away on the little rights coming in off the rock platform, Italo just picked off semi-closeout lefts down the beach and went mental.
Despite winning the heat comfortably, he didn’t post a mega score or anything: there was no thought of ‘heat management’, or waiting for the waves with the highest scoring potential - none of that. Instead he surfed with the mindset of a 12-year old. Mixing it up, going for the biggest, whackiest, gouging-est things, and airs pretty much on to the sand. In his post-heat presser he nominated Formula One as the sport most instructive and inspirational – just for the sheer fucking velocity of it.
It’s worth watching that heat. Not so much for the performance really, but just for the attitude. It’s unreal to see someone just be themselves.
And as far as all those various airs he landed, if this was a few decades ago, Italo would have filled a full part in a Kai Neville kingmaker film in the space of 35 minutes. All that would have remained would be to shoot a few grainy cutaways of him looking ironic and rebellious in the middle distance. Geez.
OK, back to the start, the day began with incredibly economical Welcome-To-Country box-ticking – three seconds of a bloke playing a didge, cutting away to one and a half seconds of Tyler watching on. A quick smile and a nod to the camera and job done.
Great to see our own Jessi Miley-Cyrus – composed, casual and articulate – make a no-nonsense debut ‘commissioner’s call’.
Lovely, also, to see MR – sporting a hairstyle that looks pleasingly like Dougal from The Magic Roundabout – press the honorary first heat horn, and convincingly express his delight to have the Woz in his Newy kingdom. Actually, everyone, from MR to Louie Egan to the competitors really did seem to genuinely love being in Newy. It was hard not to feel good about it.
Not an unpleasant surprise to have Bugs in the booth. Were it not for the whims of a few hundred voters in the Burleigh electorate in last year’s State Election, Bugs MP would have been far too busy for the Woz. (It’s probably not worth noting that the LNP incumbent who denied Bugs the keys to the kingdom, Michael Hart, MP, bears the vaguest of resemblances to a later-day Michael Peterson. Anyhoo.)
Right, so the surf’s pretty shithouse. Somewhere out there, across the seas, our 11-time World Champion sits in his Jason Recliner, stroking the fluffy white cat in his lap, chuckling softly, and feeling – for now – glad to be away.
There’s a few semi-newbies on the Woz commentary/roving reporter squad. Stacey Gailbraith, Dimity Stoyle, Laura Enever. We’ll give ‘em a few days to find their feet before sharing our observations.
Richie Lovett makes a decent point about the pedestrian conditions on offer: these are the waves us mugs generally surf, day in day out, so it’s good to see the what the pros can do on ‘em. And while it’s hard to argue with this logic, if I didn’t have to watch in order to write this very sentence, I would have tuned out pretty much immediately.
I think the Woz might have missed a trick. Here was a chance to actually do a “Break Breakdown” at a place many of us might be curious and uninformed about. It’s one thing to have Luke Egan say “you’ve got your Ladies up there, Rocks there, Third Reef and Middle Peak here” while off camera so you’ve no idea where he’s pointing. Carn Woz! Throw the drone up and show us the lay of the land!
Bit of Easter deja-vu, with the gang jiving along little two-foot righthanders not dissimilar to high tide Rincon. Especially with the camera angle shooting down and into it, the slope of the beach, the closeout reo. A little bit Bells-ish for sure.
Favourite commentary quote supplied by Richie Lovett, describing Yago Dora’s dependable air-rev: “He’s got this turn on lockdown”.
Actually, Richie invented a new word today, at least I THINK it’s a new word: “Stagmatic” 2:38 from the end of heat eight, used to describe Alex Ribeiro’s approach to the wave. I think it’s the perfect word myself.
EVERY SINGLE heat this of the Men’s, almost EVERY SINGLE surfer is spoken of as being in CAREER BEST FORM, as well as in peak fitness and most potential. It’s good to see the best in people, but come on…
OK, so picture Ding Alley on a psychologist’s couch right now, doing a word association exercise:
Toledo. “Zippy” – first competitor to amass a heat score over double figures. (Meanwhile, across the bay from Margies’ Main Break, The Box chuckles and gives a slow, menacing handclap.)
Gab Medina. “Beastly” – his last whippy air wizz fizz on a one foot wave was scary.
Jack Robinson. “Ornery” – compete failure to fire.
JJF. “Unhurried” – supremely loose in his comfy heat win.
Occy. “Jihadist” – just the beard and the rocking back and forth as remote Zoom commentary guest.
Jeremy Flores. “Champion” – such a good post heat presser. An actual interview with content!
Ryan Callinan. “Happy” – just so great to see the lad beaming and mobbed by the groms after turning in a solid win. Remember it wasn’t so long ago he lost his folks. So to see him ripping and stoked is genuinely epic.
Jesus, we’re fucken 1300 words in to this mess, so we’ll wrap this with Ding Alley’s highlight of the day. A truly glorious blink-and-you’ll miss it moment.
In heat nine, an all Aussie affair between Jules, Wade C and Ethan Ewing, there’s a moment where Ethan Ewing (from memory) has to adjust his line subtly so as not to scalp Wade, who’s paddling back out.
Joe Turpel spots this big, juicy commentary home-run! After all, he’s sharing the booth with a former World Champion (’78 World Champ Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew), known for his competitive intensity.
You can HEAR the glee in Joe’s voice – he’s run this routine with Pottz a million times over the years – as he asks Bugs. “If it was in ’78 and Wade was paddling in front of you, would you go AROUND him or OVER him?”
As we know, Pottz would be ALL over this: we’d be strapped into the time machine and told, again, how every time a priority buoy was paddled around, a ten-round heavyweight title boxing match would occur while hidden from scrutiny, etc, etc, because everyone was oh-so-gnarly back then.
But Bugs isn’t Pottz, and Bugs doesn’t go there, doesn’t answer the question, he just keeps calling the heat, because stuff’s going on in front of him.
Could be my imagination, but you can almost HEAR the cogs spinning in Joe’s brain for the next 15 seconds. Like, did Rab hear and ignore him? Or did he miss it? Should he ask again? This isn’t right, etc.
So, Ding Alley’s takeaway highlight from the day, (as well as Italo’s F1 froth, RCal’s happiness, and ‘Stagmatic’) is Joe’s 15 seconds of having the earth give way beneath his feet. Full credit to him though, he shook it off like the vaudevillian trouper he is.
// DING ALLEY
PS: far as the Ding Alley Bingo card goes, today ticked off:
1 8 9 11 18 19 26 27 30 31 35 37 38 39