Ramblings From The Jungle

Now this is more like it. After eight days of biblical proportion-like rain, maramu (south=bad) winds, and generally crappy weather, the skies have cleared and the swell has kicked in. At the moment, the new swell is shaking my 6×10 shack, located conveniently on the Dengue River. Front row at Chopes.

Saturday and Sunday was what we all came to this jungle for: warm, sunny skies, and perfect–yet deadly–surf. The Billabong Pro has finally begun and contest organizers have apparently made the right call. Round one was completed Saturday and round two Sunday. The tiny village of Teahupoo is bustling with activity and smiles abound after over a week of bedsores, gambling, boredom and reading (the horror!). Call it Groundhog Week. But that’s all behind us now.

Conditions on Saturday: Fun, glassy, and rippable 2-3 foot Teahupoo (it does exist) with sunny skies. Standouts of the day included some of the obvious: Andy, Kelly, Bruce, T. Knox, CJ Hobgood, Parko, and Mick Fanning. Paulo Moura and Marcello Nunes represented Brazil well–posting wins in the first round. It was classic channel times, too. Floating, people-carrying-objects littered Havae Pass and many a Hinano were swilled. After sitting in the rain for over a week, I was glad to receive an awesome sunburn while drinking beer aboard the good canoe Bonjouir (thanks Koshu and Annick!) The Bonjouir crew also has a floating snack set up in the channel where you can blast up on your ski, get a casse croute or poisson cru, and maybe a cocktail if you’re cool.

Sunday was when the swell really kicked in, topping out in the damn-near-close-to-six-feet range. The best ride of the day went to Neco Padaratza perfect ten, the first one of the event. Thats great for Neco because he had a real shocker out here a couple years ago. Neco was left dry-docked on the reef and got blasted by a six-foot, evil double-up. I didnt see Necos ride Sunday because I was trolling for ahi and mahi mahi a mile off the reef aboard a 50-foot luxury catamaran that just sailed in from New Zealand the Bossanova. Although we didn’t catch any fish, we did manage to drink a few beers and chase around some bird piles. Props to Captain Dave and Tristan for that one. Tomorrow, I’m going to the crows nest for a new view of the channel party fifty feet up and swaying heavily. Should be interesting.

Back to the surfing. Cory Lopez went freakin’ nuts on Sunday. Lopey had a pair of nine plus rides before Toby Martin had even caught a wave. Cory went on to post the highest heat score yet and looked really good. Gamblers take note: it’s getting bigger, and Cory has no problem at eight foot Chopes. Or ten for that matter. I think he’s pissed because he missed the big pre-event swell, too.

I spoke with Liam McNamara today. The Raider-helmet-wearing Pipe local was one of the two trialists to make it through to the main event (Tahitian legend Manoa Drollet being the other), and although he was taken out by Damien Hobgood, Liam was stoked: I got lucky and the waves were really good. Maybe now I’ll finally get a postage sized stamp shot in TransWorld, huh?

Maybe.

Either way, well done Liam.

Watch it all live on billabongpro.com. Look for me dangling sixty feet above the action or getting caught by a rogue west peak on my kayak.–Justin Cote