The Newcastle Cup: Day Two - Whitewater Downtime
Ding Alley isn’t alone in comparing Newy to the Bells comp it's currently standing in for, but far out, there was a moment in in the closing minutes of Courtney and Tyler’s round three heat, early afternoon, when a rain squall swept through and Newcastle was more Bells than Bells: two forlorn competitors barely discernible through grey sideways rain, overhead mushy whitewater ball sweeping in from the right of the screen…
In this rapidly equalising world, I caught myself making a dinosaur assumption to this morning’s phone alert flagging that the Women were first in the water. Back in, say 2012, you’d see that and assume conditions were contestable but due to improve, at which point they’d send the fellas out.
Happily, and correctly, in 2021, an alert that the girls are being set out is no longer an indicator of inferior surf quality, and so it was with optimism your correspondent clicked through.
Five days ago, American surf forecasting behemoth Surfline turned in a remarkable forecast mere hours before day one commenced – "five to six foot, with possible eight foot sets".
Applying that differential (essentially multiplying by a factor of four) between Day One’s forecast and reality, Newy today would – as viewed through the glorious Surfline algorithm – be a solid 12 foot easy, with the occasional 20 foot wash-through.
Which is to say, decent lines of fresh-baked southerly swell – five foot on the sets maybe? – with a bit of sideshore riffle, and a reasonably defined lineup that, yep, looked not unlike the ol’ Ding Dong.
And speaking of both these lovable, iconic, contestable right-hand burgers, every time a competitor works their way through the deep-water mid-section (linking their two hits out the back with whatever shorebreak boogie they can muster) you can hear – if you listen closely – the furious tapping of keyboards as the commentariat in bedrooms the world over bemoan how fucked the WSL is for running such an abomination of a travesty of a joke of an insult of a comp.
As they say, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so rather than whine like entitled little caaarrnts, Ding Alley is proposing what we think might be an exciting addition to the criteria for comp venues with a somewhat gentle bathymetry.
You’ve got your speed, power and flow, etc, but in that ten seconds of downtime between the initial hits and the shorey – how about some kind of constructive or creative challenge that, if successfully completed, would add a crucial point or two to the overall score?
Myself and Macca have sent some early thoughts to the Woz, illustrated below. We’re yet to hear back, but we imagine there’s some excited ‘why didn’t we think of this sooner’ huddles in the corridors of power right now, and are waiting for the consultancy call-up.
My personal favourite would be using that whitewater downtime to put a balloon animal together, which could then be graciously awarded to an awestruck child on the beach upon completion of the ride.
Other time-critical challenges, other than interpretive dance, mime, and scarf knitting illustrated here, might include Rubik’s Cube work, muscle-posing, a mic’d-up stand-up routine, yodelling, etc. Truly, we’re limited only by our imagination.
Right then, to some notes on a day where journeymen and women clamber over each other to avoid last place finishes.
The fellas’ four elimination-round heats were bookended by the gals, who ran their two elimination heats first up, then saw the day out with the marathon round of sixteen.
Of the gals, notable failures to fire included Nikki van Dijk, Malia Manuel, Safety Sage, and Sally Fitz, all of whom seemed lacking any requisite mongrel or abandon in their acts and were appropriately sent packing to Narrabeen.
Macy Callahan gave it a decent dig against Steph but Her Highness was never really troubled. Riss Moore – who you’d swear sucks helium before her post-heat pressers – was great and powerful over local gal Pip Anderson.
Isabella Nicholls, who might be Ding Alley’s favourite new act in the gals with a sick top turn that’s a sweet blend of edge, grunt and timing, is becoming familiar with that heat-winning feeling, which pleases us no end.
Best encounter on the gals side of the draw, by far, was Courtney Analogue v Tyler Wright. An intriguing battle of tactics – T lurking in the shorey to get a baseline score in the slowing swell before moving out to worry Courtney. A master move engineered by lepricoach Micro Hall that looked like paying off, were it not for Analogue knifing into a quickfire combo out the back where her board – looking too long and bladey until that point – suddenly made a great deal of sense. I might have missed it, but after the clock wound down, Tyler paddled right past the victorious Courts without so much as a ‘Good Job’, let alone a sisterly hug and pat on the back. Let’s hope there’s some good old-fashioned rivalry and disdain going on there, Ding Alley is a bit tired of all this good-natured sportsmanship, to be honest.
Today really was all about the ladies, 10 heats for them, as opposed to a mere four blokes’ heats. And as good as the gals were, it really was enjoyable to see the fellas throw some spray around in half decent waves, and given the ornery conditions that dictated entrée into the ‘loser’s round’, there was some serious middle-of-the-pack talent involved. Heat by heat:
This may be an unpopular call, but I dig Adriano de Souza’s style, and was stoked to see the soon-to-retire 2015 world champ put together a decent heat as he and an unhurried Owen Wright pantsed poor Matty Banting.
For some reason, Matty B reminds me of a tennis player, and, similar to Oz tennis’s male talent pool – there‘s always a bit of hype around our young guns in the tourneys leading up to the Oz Open – your Kyrigios or what have you – but they get smashed by Nadal or whoever in the early rounds. It feels like Matty B always cleans up in the lil prequel Queys, then gets wiped off the court at the big dance. When you consider how fucking hard he rips, I guess it speaks to how gnarly the ‘CT guns really are. We really do get a diluted impression of exactly how good they are when we watch online, I believe.
Heat two. I swear Julian Wilson’s turning into Sunny Garcia! Some of his power hackery was an absolute carbon copy of the Hawaiian’s beautiful, brutal act. I find myself constantly under-estimating J-Dub – perhaps it’s how the cutesy-percussion Bonsoy ad (where his kidlet’s an unwitting accomplice in Daddy’s buck-hustling) boils my piss – but today’s performance reminds me anyone underestimates him at their peril. Pleasing also to think he’s motivated by competitive contempt for Jack Robbo, (who also advanced through this heat at the expense of a mistiming Mikey Wright). Whether or not such a rivalry exists between the veteran and the rookie, Ding Alley chooses to believe they hate eachother with a passion. Robbo did well to advance, BTW, for a while he was all over the shop.
Michel Bourez, (who, we were told at least a dozen FUCKING times through the heat, is nicknamed The Spartan) did his power thing to dominate heat three, with Connor O’Leary, who you can’t help but be a fan of, doing his Owen-Wright-meets-Matt-Wilko thing, leaving likeable Saffir Matty McGillivary languishing with the lowest heat score of the day.
Leo F and Conner Coffin (feat. prison lesbian haircut) disposed of a frantic Jadson Andre in heat four. Jaddy is Ding Alley’s spirit animal, we love him and his journey dearly, and if he ever won a comp we’d be ecstatic like never before, but his second (I think) wave, a nothing score, was remarkable in that it might have been the ugliest three seconds of board riding ever seen in a professional context. Worth checking out.
Leo, on the other hand, ruled. Which reminds me, last year the Woz lost its shit over a superhyped ‘surf off for a coveted place on tour’ between Mikey and Leo. Well it looks like they’re both fucken on tour from where I sit.
Can’t wait to sit through the marathon mens’ round of 32. Truly. Wonder if it’ll run tomoz?
Signing off with quick notes on the commentary:
Joe Turpel saying ‘Acai’ makes me want to punch someone.
Richie L needs maybe to learn to disguise his FCS promo pitches. I’m starting to wonder if its part of the deal he’s cut with the Woz. A reduced rate in return for Fin Control System airspace.
Joe T’s got a new way of saying “Teahupo’o”. Buggered if I know how, but he’s managed to give it four syllables, maybe five.
Nothing like seeing an oft-repeated promo spot for a podcast speculating about the damage Matt Banting can inflict on this contest, after he’s been eliminated.
Getting Heated? You bet.