The Outsider: Victorian Rhapsody
Anzac Day. Tullamarine.
In the past I've said unkind things about Victoria which have justly caused offence to the fine citizens of this state. Whilst it's never easy to say: I was wrong, and eat from the humble pie, I feel an overwhelming urge to correct the public record. It would be a travesty for it to remain so unjustly skewed.
Can I start with my hosts, Ed and Jacqui, core surfers, naturalists and proud Victorians by birth and inclination? They have guided me gently and with deep insight through the seasonal vagaries, swell patterns, vegetation, bird life and geography of their beloved Bellarine Peninsula and beyond. Ed is a man of science and art and I can't help thinking of him without recalling the tribute paid by Steinbeck to his man of science, Ed Ricketts. "Ed was interested in everything. He would listen to any kind of nonsense and change it for you to a kind of wisdom. His mind has no horizon. Everyone who knew him was indebted to him".
Ed tuned me in to the flat reefs, the tidal phases, the quality of the Autumn light. Above all the light; which glows with a soft radiance during the afternoon and infuses everything with a honeyed sweetness. Ego dissolves in this Victorian light and a feeling of vastness spreads like a benediction through the soul. This is the first and last freedom and it lies beyond the tentacles of the marketplace.
In the cauldron of competition, the relentless manufacturing of wants transposed on the culture by the commercial imperatives of industry and the anonymous hate on the internet it becomes easy to forget that the surfing experience can be a conduit to camaraderie and fellowship. A bullshit session in the carpark, a beer in the post-surf glow will always mean more than the artifice of a Title race. Lest we forget.
Hynd was in the carpark this morning, surveying a sparkling Bells line-up that was still graced by well overhead sets. He was surfing six foot Winki on a finless board when the Final was in play. Solo. He heard the shouts of joy that erupted spontaneously when Parkinson scored his perfect ten as the final seconds ebbed away in the Final. He insisted on a precise description of the ride.
The beachbreaks were sparkling in the morning sunlight and the feeling in the water was stoked out. Offshore A-frames as far as the eye could see and a wetsuit that hasn't been dry since I got here.
Gratitude is not a commonly expressed emotion over the internets, but my heart was full of it when I finagled my seven-footer onto the plane.
Thank you Victoria.
PS: We'll come back tomorrow with a detailed post mortem and interview with ASP CEO Brodie Carr.