Monday, April 13, 2009

The 'Ultimate Beach Trip' to the Rip Curl Pro

Wow, what a weekend! Thought that instead of the usual ‘Happy Monday’ blog, I’d share some of my fun weekend with you guys. Which really, at the moment, is about the same thing as my usual ‘Happy Monday’ blog, but hey!

Friday afternoon we met Bec and Jade, Jade being the awesome chick looking after us for the weekend. We headed straight down to Bells, and checked out some of the GromSearch action, since the Pros had a lay day. Then, it was off to the hotel (The Sands, Wow), and the drama of figuring out what name the reservation was under. After a phone call to someone, who called someone, who called the hotel, we got into the room (which was just amazing!), then hit the dog filled beach. No, seriously, there were dogs everywhere! I went in the water, then two minutes later decided The Muso wasn’t such an idiot for staying on the sand, and came back out shivering again. After walking from one side of Torquay to the other (soooo many pretentious houses), discovered a great restaurant called Left Off the Rocks. Seriously, their mural by Mylestone is amazing, the food is good, and the atmosphere is pretty cool. The camera got pulled out for a few experimental shots of the near-full moon over the water (the dolphins weren’t being helpful with completing the scene), then the long walk back to the hotel, including cutting my foot on a not-pine-cone, some guy having issues getting his boat onto his trailer, and one fishing guy’s really well behaved dog.

Saturday started early with free stuff. Got to love it! Rip Curl pack in hand, headed to the grandstand to watch the groms and Round Three of the Womens Pro (Poor Nikki Van Dijk, 14, getting thrashed by Steph Gilmore). Then got kicked out of Grandstand 2 into Grandstand 4 cause we had the wrong passes (oops). Surf was a bit dodgy, and split the day wandering between the music stage, and the grandstand. Some great action when the surf cooperated. Come the end of the day, hit the beach again for a swim in the slightly warmer water. Left Off the Rocks was packed, but managed to get in right before they started making people line up for a few drinks and some live music, along with surfer spotting. Avoided the Torquay pub, since the line went halfway around the block, and apparently it took people 2 hours to get in. Ouch! Thanks to the crew who gave us their taxi too, muchly appreciated whoever they were!

After the drama of checking in, checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning was surprisingly drama free, and required no phone calls. Bacon and Egg rolls in the grandstand while watching the Women’s Quarter finals in nice, warm, sunny conditions. Unfortunately, surf that had started the day promisingly had started to die down by the time we got there at 9.30, and it wasn’t unusual to see people sitting around on their boards for 10 minutes waiting for a wave. Around midday the Expression Sessions started up, and saw some awesome action as first the men, and then the women went out and just had some fun on the waves, busting out all sorts of moves. Wow. Just… Wow. Grabbed some fake grass in front of the stage to watch The Violet Flames (apparently nothing to do with the Violet Femmes), then headed the long way down to the beach itself to watch Semi Final 2, and Silvana Lima thrash Sofia Mulanovich in a taste of what was to come later in the afternoon. Spent 10 minutes wishing I was 6 ft before I managed to get to the front of the standing section and get some great photos (Sorry to The Muso for standing on his feet every two seconds). Was funny watching those sitting right up the front suddenly scatter every time a wave reached them, lots of wet cameras, jeans, beach towels, etc. Then, it was the long trek back up the hill (there’s a lot of steep bits at Bells, you’d get super fit super fast doing it every day!), grabbing prime position in grandstand 4, and settling in for the Womens Pro Final between Silvana Lima and Steph Gilmore. It started off in a flurry of great surfing, then continuing in the fashion of the day, the waves became incredibly inconsistent. Some great surfing in the 35 minute final, and eventually it became evident that Silvana Lima was about to topple the two time defending champion at Bells. Even as far up as we were, you could hear the crowd on the beach go nuts as the final drew to an end, especially those Brazilians as they started celebrating! Managed to get one of the best seats (well, spots, since I was standing) for the presenations, scoring a spot on the stairs of the grandstand. One of the great perks of having a VIP pass. The crowd filing up from the beach just kept coming and coming, I hadn’t realised just how many people had been down there! Steph Gilmore was gracious in defeat, and the crowd still went wild for the Brazillian, apparently the first male or female from Brazil to win at Bells ever. It was an awesome moment to experience. After that, it was a case of finding a patch of fake grass in front of the stage, waiting an eternity for Ash Grunwald to set up, and then kicking back listening to his dirty blues for the rest of the day.

The camera got a huge work out down in Torquay, with exactly 200 photos taken over the three days. Funnily enough, the majority are of surfing, and there is only one out of the lot that had either The Muso or I in it (and it’s an accidental shot of the back of his head!). I spent the whole weekend wishing for a high tech media type camera with awesome zoom and a couple of filters, but once I got home and uploaded them, I’ve decided my little camera didn’t do too bad a job.

It was a pretty sweet weekend, getting to just sit back, relax, and not stress about anything. The crew at Rip Curl was great, and were intent on us having a good time. Jade was fantastic, awesome chick, and huge help. So, while I didn’t get to meet Steph Gilmore (which I’m a little sad about, but there is always next year), I had a great time down at Bells Beach, and you’ll all have to put up with the babbling for the next few weeks. Definitely one of those experiences that is going to be putting a smile on my face for ages to come. They were right when they called it the 'Ultimate Beach Trip' prize.

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