The Flyer: Surfing Under The Big Top

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)

OK people, just eight days till the five ring circus begins.

The event that brings all those weird and obscure sports to our tele screens every four or so years, and now surfing is one of them, lining up against the might of badminton, rhythmic gymnastics, and fencing.

Is there any other sport on the Olympic roster that encompasses everything from Polynesian prehistory, to psychedelic drug culture, to Bronzed Aussie conformity? Surfing’s got it all.

I’m wondering how this vast, history-rich sport is going to be presented in the global spotlight.

It was a shock when the ASP sold pro surfing to the Woz and the eggheads from Santa Monica began the whitewash campaign: drop the specialist terminology, make it accessible to non-surfers, remember, a goofyfooter stands with their right leg forward.

We’ve now had eight years of it. Time enough to get accustomed to the vanilla schtick, but the Olympics is sure to outdo even the Woz.

Back on the 4th of July, surfers were primed for the coming weirdness when the world’s fifth richest man was seen surfing a foil board goofyfoot - remember, that’s when a surfer has their right leg forward - so how will the Olympics top that?

At least we can be assured that Bellambi’s favourite son - HG Nelson of course, who once surfed howling Bellambi Bombora on a homemade okanui - will hear the call and respond in kind.

And will Fernando Aguerre sing his not-boring song once more? “We’ll be singing this song for many years,” promised sweet FA, so in Japan I expect to see a thousand face masks straining at the straps: “A better world through surfing!”

But what of the actual feet-in-the wax surfing, I hear you ask.

The current prediction has, not one but two ‘phoons on the forecast, with the models spinning like a Belarusian gymnast off a pommel horse - ten foot one day, two foot the next, six foot the day after that. All eyes are on the striking grey sand of Shidashita.

Like everything else under the big top, the surfing is sure to be a spectacle.

- Stu

The (Un)Official Olympic Forecast - 10 Days To Go

May as well start with the Olympic forecast then, eh? Swellnet were delighted to accept the role of (Un)Official Olympic Forecaster, and to fulfill our duties Craig will provide ongoing forecasts from our office in Manlysaki. Ten days out and the Pacific onions are coming to the barbecue. Read More >

Olympic Heat Draws Announced

There's some thrilling Round 1 match ups, such as Gabriel Medina vs world #206 Leon Glatzer. Check the draw and find out how the whole thing is gonna work. Read More >

Gallery: Tasman Lowdown During Lockdown

And now for something completely different. Out of the water with stitches, Craig did the next best thing to surfing, comprehensively photographing the fruits of the recent Tasman Low. Expect different locations and different angles. Read More >

Judge the Dread

Words of anguish, beautifully written, without the gratuitous photos. Before paddling out on a bluebird day, a surfer weighs up the risk of meeting the man in the grey suit. Read More >

Watch: Vantage Points // Russell Bierke & Andrew Kaineder

From the Wish You Were Here department: Wednesday morning on the Bukit and it's pumping. Not only is it one of the biggest swells of the season thus far, it's also hitting with a lot of westerly bias making the the broad Ulus lineup even harder to decipher. The afternoon brought a falling tide and the Outside Corner provides pattern recognition for those with the right equipment. Read More >


Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 4:25pm

I remember when the 5 ring circus was something I looked forward to watching on TV, but that pretty much passed after 2000. After that it was like any other sport on TV, I could take it or leave it. Hopefully there's some good waves, and it is something with a splash of spectacular, but like the good forecasters recommend, I will be keeping my expectations low.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 4:41pm

Remember Rodney Rude’s grandfather’s three ring circus?

Him and two other arseholes.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 5:50pm

"promised sweet FA"

You rarely disappoint, Stu.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 6:31pm

A few wee paras by Roger Cox, Saturday, 13th August 2016, 12:42 pm.
"The trouble is, surfing is a lot like fishing: you have to put yourself in a place where you think a good wave is going to break, and then you have to wait there patiently for Mother Ocean to deliver the goods. And watching people waiting can be very, very boring.

In between waves, surfing does not look like an “action sport”. I don’t know what the average ratio of actual surfing to waiting around for waves or paddling back out after riding waves is in the WSL, but I’d be surprised if many 20-minute heats contained more than two or perhaps three minutes of waveriding action. I enjoy watching surfing contests enough that I’m happy to put up with the longueurs, but I can see that your average, semi-interested non-surfing viewer would probably lose interest in about the time it takes to boil a kettle.

And that’s the best-case scenario. The worst? The big day dawns, the first time surfing has ever featured in the Olympics, round one, heat one, and... “Ladies and gentlemen, here we have two surfers who are not bad but not great, flailing around in dribbly, ankle-high waves.” The world shrugs, changes the channel, watches Columbo repeats instead."

Well maybe not Columbo but each to their own.

It's gotta be better than a wavepool though surely.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 10:11pm

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song,
Killing me softly, with his song,
Telling my whole life, with his song
Killing me softly, with his song

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 17 Jul 2021 at 10:17pm

While we're at it, 1st covid case in athletes village

8 days with an R0 of 5 and close proximity accommodation

And I look forward to HG's names for some of the surfing repertoire

garry-weed's picture
garry-weed's picture
garry-weed Sunday, 18 Jul 2021 at 10:59am

Will anyone attempt a 'hello boys' variant of an air?

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Wednesday, 21 Jul 2021 at 10:52am

Hi Stu, apologies if I missed it somewhere already but will Swellnet be able to stream Olympic Surfing like you've done so well for WOZ?
Roy&HG won't dive too deep me thinks in the smorgasbord of farcical contests they have to send up and Swellnetonians (Gra especially) do a might fine take down of pretty much anything take downable

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 21 Jul 2021 at 1:42pm

Nah, the 'Lympic broadcast will be a tightly-controlled affair.

Channel 7 has the rights and I'm almost certain we won't be able to pirate stream the surfing.

That said, we'll give it a crack.

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Wednesday, 21 Jul 2021 at 3:41pm

Thanks Stu for the update. So much content going to waste. Carn the hackers