JANUARY: The California state budget crisis worsens. Governor Schwarzenegger closes 14 state parks. Free parking and lack of enforcement help sprout small homeless encampments at campgrounds such as El Capitan, Leo Carrillo and Carlsbad. Vigilantes, fed up with the trash, drugs and generally unhealthy situation, destroy the encampments. One vigilante, a wealthy surfer, is arrested on murder charges is connection with the encampment raids. The national media goes crazy, and surfers are drawn into the national spotlight. The wettest January on record has California rivermouths swollen with sandbars, rattle snakes and bacteria. The US Commerce Department green lights the TCA’s appeal of the California Coastal Commission’s denial of the Trestles toll road.
FEBRUARY: A massive North Pacific swell hits California and Ghost Tree is swarmed by an unprecedented number of tow-in teams. Many consider it the last time Ghost Tree will be tow surfed – at least legally. Monterey locals jokingly rename the spot “Coast Fee,” an ode the predicted citations and fines to be handed out by the Coast Guard the next time the fabled spot is deemed surfable. President Obama holds a Pacific Rim economic summit in Hawaii. The secret service clears all surfers from Kewalo Basin as President Obama body surfs at Point Panic– in a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch board shorts. The surf industry cringes.
MARCH: Andy Irons and Kelly Slater both take a hiatus from the 2009 ASP Tour. Andy cools his jets, invests in sports psychology and refuels the fire. He also surfs -a lot. Slater involves himself in board design, artistic outlets, and charitable causes. He also mixes in epic rounds at Pinehurst, Augusta and Soupbowls. The dynamic duo’s break from tour sets the stage for THE most anticipated comebacks in competitive surfing history: Andy v. Kelly in 2010. Andy’s new focus is a laser-like. Kelly is already focused. Jeremy Flores wins the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper.
APRIL:Lean, ideally diversified surf companies report surprisingly solid numbers and the specialty retail outlets report above average same store sales. Ma and pop surf shops benefit as margins on hardgoods increase and inventory investments in newer ‘core’ brands sell out.
MAY: The Indian Ocean produces a series of six epic swells. Four weeks of perfect surf rolls up from West Oz to Aceh to Sri Lanka. The Mentawais sees all-time conditions, with hardly anyone surfing, as the sluggish economy slows down surf travel. The lucky few score “lifetime” sessions. One aging mid-forties surfer, on his last day of vacation, drives out of his umpteenth barrel at Kandui, jumps into his waiting dingy, gives the boat driver his surfboard and quits surfing forever. His experience, he assumes, will never get better. How can it? A surf industry marketing bro consumes too much alcohol at SIMA’s Surf Summit in Cabo.
JUNE: Teahupoo hits the 12′ foot mark and an epic session goes down with all of the usual suspects. Added to the crew are Kelly Slater and Andy Irons, who, out of need rather than desire, become tow partners on this day. The next day is smaller, the swell of a more westerly direction, and sadly a b-level pro perishes.
JULY: SUP surfing continues to proliferate. The ease, the fun and, yes, the dominance factor into the non-stop growth of standup surfing. Not everyone is pleased and confrontations between prone surfers and standup surfers find their way into local headlines from Honolulu to Hossegor. Books, pamphlets, seminars, articles and YouTube videos regarding SUP etiquette appear everywhere. It does no good. Jeremy Flores wins the Billabong Pro at JBay. Occy and Luke Egan dominate the expression session – on SUPs.
AUGUST: A wealthy San Francisco financier, who fancies himself a surfer, flies Kelly Slater and Andy Irons out to a remote South Pacific reef pass for a man-on-man duel in perfect 6-to-8′ foot surf. The winner of the hour long session will receive a one million dollar check. Unfortunately Slater injures himself 20-minutes into the heat and the unique concept is put on hold until another day. Afterwards, surprising everyone, both surfers announce their plans to petition the ASP for wildcards so they can compete on the ASP World Tour in 2010. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble! ASP officials are tight lipped.
SEPTEMBER: British Airways completes its purchase of Qantas Airways. Surfboards are banned on all flights. In Australia, surfers picket at Sydney and Melbourne airports. The over-traveled and exhausted Australian National Cricket team, eyeing an opportunity to stay at home, join the protesting surfers in Melbourne. British Airways lifts the surfboard ban. Jeremy Flores wins the Quiksilver Pro France. The Aussie cricket team flies to India. They lose.
OCTOBER: Jeremy Flores wins the 2009 ASP World Title in Morocco after a ninth place finish in the Rip Curl Search event. Flores becomes the first European to own the title (Potter- was he a pommie in ’89?). The ASP Mens world title is again decided without Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline being a factor. Third quarter economic indicators suggest a faster than expected economic recovery is taking place. Large surf hits Mavericks and the new rules governing PWC usage at Mavericks are put to the test.
NOVEMBER: WalMart signs on as the 2010 ASP World Tour title sponsor. In conjunction, the ASP announces a series of specialty events for 2010. They include a Masters event at P-Pass in the Caroline Islands, a SUP event at San Onofre and a mixed team event in Hawaii that pits Bruce Irons and Coco Ho squaring off against Andy Irons & Layne Beachley. Massive XXL surf hits Ireland.
DECEMBER: Capping off an exceptional Hawaiian season, Mikey Picon wins the Triple Crown of Surfing. A fellow European competitor, in an accidental semantic stumble, disrespects the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. He back peddles, but it is too late. He’s told to leave the island. Andy Irons wins the Billabong Pipeline Masters. On New Years Eve day, in perfect 25-foot Waimea Bay, George Downing green lights “The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau.” The ‘Eddie’ is won by Jamie O’Brien.
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