Sean Doherty

Senior Writer, SURFER Magazine

8.17.13

Features

The Mountain and the Wolves

Perfect rides abound at Teahupoo for the second day of competition

Before we start cataloguing the other side of the ledger, let’s itemize the things that weren’t perfect about today. The Teahupoo school boat—there’s no road fit for a school bus here—was running five minutes late this morning (and no one seemed to care). At 11:37 a.m., the wind shifted from totally breathless to one knot onshore from the south (and stopped three minutes later). My coffee this morning could have been a little warmer. But apart from these and a litany of grievous First World problems (how long you got?) this was about as good a day as any surf fan was going to get.

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8.16.13

Features

Walsh & Walsh: Undertakers

Ian and Anthony Walsh take down top seeds in the opening rounds at Teahupoo

If the first round went to script, the handful of Round 2 heats that ran this afternoon deviated wildly. Walsh & Walsh sound more like lawyers or undertakers than mercenary surfers, and when Ian and Anthony Walsh paddled out for their sudden death heats this afternoon against their respective high-seed opponents—Taj Burrow and Nat Young—few gave them a sniff.

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7.1.13

Features

The New ASP

The unlikely story behind ZoSea's ASP World Tours

The pro surfing tour has just changed hands for the first time in three decades, been signed away for a song, and while the outgoing owners haven’t yet cleaned out their desks, the new owners haven’t moved in either. The whole show’s in limbo, and at this historic juncture everything and nothing is happening simultaneously. It’s been termed a “bridging year,” but a bridge to where exactly, no one is sure.

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6.26.13

Features

Today, Tomorrow

Kelly and John John fall in Round 5 as the swell builds into the final day at Keramas

Well, the PA was certainly working this morning. Yesterday’s silent debacle was long forgotten as today Adi had his shit together. The dawn serenity at Keramas was being exsanguinated by the guitar solo from Metallica’s “One”, sawing the heads of all present at 110dB. It also seemed to be flattening the surf, a pure heavy metal offshore, as the 6-foot sets of twilight yesterday were replaced this morning by weak, chest-high peelers. We sat and watched Mick Fanning surf it for half an hour with meager returns, and what had been forecast and billed as a certain day of quality surf seemed to be a complete and utter hoax. With only 12 guys left in the event, there seemed little chance they’d be thrown out there in waves best described as “cute.” CJ Hobgood, who’d just shown up, was a little more optimistic. “It’ll do its thing,” he drawled, waving a dismissive hand at the lineup. “Just wait.”

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6.25.13

Features

Tidak Apa Apa

A powerful new swell carries Round 3 to completion in Bali

We’d rolled through the rice paddies just as the crown of Agung was being outlined against the dawn. The swell we’d waited patiently for had finally filled in overnight, the morning was breathless and sweet, and Keramas was suddenly right there in front of us, firing, as good as most of us have ever seen it. It was barreling from up there to down there and after four laydays the decision to surf heats today was a fait accompli.

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6.19.13

Contest Wire

Echoes of the Über-Oop

Sean Doherty reflects on one of the biggest airs ever done in competition

Yesterday afternoon I was back at the hotel in Sanur, having beat the traffic, having just filed my post for the day, full of self congratulation at my endeavour and initiative and was just contemplating running down for a quick surf when I first heard the commotion. Bemos from the contest were dropping crew back to the hotel from Keramas, and they were all buzzing as they got out, the buzzing paraphrased thusly: “Holy shit!”, “Oh my God!”, “That was the single greatest thing I’ve ever seen!” That kinda stuff, much of it coming from the ASP judging panel who themselves were still in disbelief. Pretty soon the foyer of the hotel was full of people with phones and laptops gorging data, all watching and replaying the same video. They were double checking they hadn’t been seeing things.

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6.18.13

Features

East Side, Wet Side

Notes from Day 1 at the Oakley Pro Bali

And so after five years the tour is back in Indonesia, and not before time. The ZoSea crew who are currently shaping the new tour for next year and beyond will be watching closely here, and an Indonesian leg of the tour should be a non-negotiable in their plans. Here on Bali or across the ditch in G-Land or wherever you want to plonk it, they’ll have our undivided attention.

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6.12.13

Contest Wire

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before

Kelly Slater puts on a historic performance en route to victory at the Fiji Pro

They say if you walk in like you own the place, then you’re halfway to where you’re going. Well, Kelly announced his arrival at Cloudbreak this morning by burning some hot laps on his jet ski through the lineup, shooting follow-footage of local surfer Aca Lalabalavu who was heavily piped at the time. Kelly dismounts and paddles straight out for his quarter against Seabass, and that’s when things really start to burn. John John, still dripping wet, catches Kelly’s first perfect 10 and comments, “I don’t know, but from here it kinda looked like a 20.” John John didn’t know how prophetic he was being, because it’s only a matter of minutes later that Kelly draws another wall of Pacific toward him. It’s bigger, foamier and throatier than the first, and tail of his 5’10” quad is doing it’s best to skip out from under him. CJ offers, “Man, that thing was a bull ride!”…and it was another 10. That’s your perfect heat, right there folks, the fifth in pro surfing and Kelly’s second. History made before 10am. The signs for the rest of the day are there early. When Kelly comes in and starts talking about the significance of the feat, he adds the caveat that, “Man, the way the waves are out there today, someone could go real close to getting another one.” And when he says someone, well, you probably know who he means.

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6.10.13

Contest Wire

Order Restored

Cloudbreak specialists shine as Fiji returns to form at the Volcom Pro

It’s just after 9 a.m. and Kelly is on the contest mother ship—the Bel’Mare—having just dispatched wildcard Mitch Coleborn. It took all of seven seconds for him to show what 20-odd years of surfing a place can do for you, sitting way up the point on The Ledge and taking one the length of the reef. It was the first wave ridden from up there all morning. From there it was the predictable python squeeze, just showing Mitch Coleborn enough daylight to keep him interested while always having the thing under control. It was textbook Round 3 Kelly. The fireworks would follow (again predictably) later in the day as the waves improved and the field narrowed and the finals approached.

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6.6.13

Contest Wire

The Horror

Round 2 moves to Restaurants, where Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater make up for lost time

Parko made it back from fishing at 11p.m. the night before last. He trudged up the beach on Namotu, glad to be on terra firma, but knowing the repercussions were waiting with the dawn. They’d been out at sea for 22 hours. They’d caught one fish. He crawled straight into bed, and lying there next to him was his surfboard, an unridden 6’3” that had been pulled from his boardbag by Mick Fanning earlier in the night and covered in all sorts of unprintable graffiti and unflattering caricatures—Joel with a fishing rod, Joel in a boat, a disembodied nose just floating there. His stickers had been covered over with the logos of companies that sell fishing reels, fishing rods, fishing line. He should have slept like a baby that night, but he didn’t. Missing a heat for a spot of recreational fishing had the potential to make him a cult hero in bass and barramundi circles…but he was gonna look real silly amongst his surfing constituency if he lost his next heat and kissed his world title goodbye only halfway through the season.

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