Owen Wright leans on the gated fence that bounds his accommodation on the point at Teahupoo. From there he can make out the vague form of the wave on the outer reef, throwing over and spitting, occasionally with a figure dancing along its face. He can also just hear the PA from the contest tower bellow in a French Polynesian accent that Jeremy Flores has an 8.33 and a 9.17 while Dusty Payne just got an 8.6. It's the second heat of the day (Julian stayed alive by defeating Willian Cardoso just prior). Owen has just woken up and is checking the conditions for the first time. A win in round 1 can afford someone such luxuries.
Shane Dorian walks past on his way to the commentary booth. "You on today?" He asks.
"I'm not sure. Is it any good?"
"Yeah, the boys are getting some sick ones."
They are. It's the same size but cleaner. Word is they are going to try work through all of round 2 and perhaps even round 3 so they can choose from ten days of a pretty bad forecast to run one big whole day and finish the event in something worth beaming across the world. Only thing is today is slooooow going. Heats run with big lulls, one of which forces Jeremy Flores and Dusty Payne into a restart. Dusty eventually loses to Jeremy, which is an unfortunate return from injury for the video superstar. Arguably, Dusty is one of the best surfers in the world, but hasn't gained momentum in the world of competition just yet. Hopefully he'll get his roll happening in Trestles in four weeks time and finish 2012 strong.
On land an hour later Dusty, Joel Parkinson and Wes Berg (Joel's trainer) are getting ready to go for a freesurf. Dusty asks Joel if he'll have a heat today.
"I dunno," he responds, "If you guys keep having 40 minute heats, maybe not." They laugh.
But yes, the lulls. Heats turn tactical, chess style, Matt Wilkinson holds priority for about fifteen minutes of his heat against Damien Hobgood, just waiting for a good one. In the meantime Damo picks off a 6 to back up his other 6. Patience is a virtue, but doesn't work this time. You never want to draw a Hobgood at Teahupoo.
The heat before that, Chopes rookie Miguel Pupo finds three 9s and an 8. Yadin Nicol surfs well with a 7.67 and an 8.7, but what are you going to do against someone on a roll like that? A couple of heats later and Adam Melling doesn't find a wave he can score more than a 2.10 on and Brett Simpson bundles him out of the event with a 4 and a 5.The wind swings a bad direction and starts howling and to be honest, it's a little bit shit. A team manager sitting on a boat in the channel comments, "This is where surf contests get painful." It is the worst heat of the day, for everyone, but no-one more than Adam Melling.
The contest goes on hold for an hour and Freddy P, and Taj amongst others freesurf the inconsistent mess. Funny thing about Teahupoo though, even as an inconsistent mess, barrels can be found out there. And they do, making it look a whole lot better.
The comp starts again with Freddy and Bede Durbidge. Freddy finds a 9 and wins. Bede finds a 7.5 and loses. Kai Otton and Travis Logie take to the water in the last heat of round 2 and at its finish, (Kai wins) the contest announcer bellows, that that the contest is over for another day.
"The tides are so big right now, that was a couple of bad heats, only one or two good waves," says Contest Director Luke Egan as he steps off a jet-ski at the point. Asked what it'll be like tomorrow he says, "Probably the same as today, but a little bit smaller."
It's 2.45pm and Owen again leans on the same gate he did in the morning. "I kind of wanted to surf today," he smiles. "I enjoyed my day hanging at home and had just started to do my warm-up." Oh well. Perhaps tomorrow. Perhaps not. He'll face today’s star, Miguel Pupo, when he does. And whatever the conditions are like, (probably not very good) that's going to be a heat worth a gander.
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