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29.10.04 - PAT O'CONNELL



Ex sarge, Seignosse-Bourg, France, Wednesday November 3rd, 2004.
THE latest news from Brasil is that we have a new draw for the Nova Schin Festival WCT after some late withdrawals from the event. Sadly, we also have the news that an expected easterly swell has failed to materialise, and the boys remain on hold for the third consecutive dawn today. Hopes now swing precariously on a small south-east swell that will presumably get the coloured Nova Schin vests into the Southern Atlantic tomorrow.

Mick Fanning
Mick Fanning has long since ditched his crutches, but the lightning-like performer is still out of competition consideration...but look out in 2005!

Besides the still injured warriors in Shea Lopez and Mick Fanning, we have a further five regular WCT combatants who have failed to arrive in Florianopolis. All five sit amongst the Top 16 in the ratings after nine events. When the first round hits the water, it will be without Damien Hobgood, Sunny Garcia, Dean Morrison, Danny Wills and Mark Occhilupo. Damo has the best excuse and alternate activity possible - he's on his honeymoon! Hope yas are having a ball, Damo and Charlotte! The big (but getting trimmer) Sunny Garcia advised the ASP in Europe that he would not be making it to Brasil if he had what he considered an acceptably prosperous leg through France and the Basque Country.

Damien Hobgood
Damien Hobgood has the best reason going for missing Brasil - he's on his honeymoon! Surely, he's not watching TV right now, not alone anyway!

After a third in those incredible waves at La Nord on the final day of the Quiksilver Pro France, and then even after a following 33rd in the Billabong Pro Mundaka, Sunny obviously figured he'd done the job well enough. Completely out of character for a WCT surfer, especially Sunny, he even hung out in the Basque Country after his frustrating second round exit, he and his wife Raina dwelling in the hospitality of Sunny's adopted family, the Letamendias at nearby Zarautz. Back at home on Oahu now, Sunny will be making the best of almost a month of honing on North Shore juice before the majority of the troops arrive. Look out Triple Crown!

Sunny Garcia
The discerning Sunny Garcia...missing Brasil in favour of staying home and getting some overdue time on the North Shore in preparation for the upcoming Triple Crown.

As living testimony to the closeness of the 2004 WCT points race, Sunny currently sits at 16th on the ratings, despite having three 33rds, and an injury no-show at the season's opening Quiky Pro on the Gold Coast, in his tally to date. He sits on just under 4500 points, which is just below what they have been calling could be the cut-off points figure for next year's confirmed WCT surfers. It's a weird season, and complicated scenario points-wise at the moment, the clustering of surfers in a really narrow points window between 20th and 40th really bearing testimony to the makeup of the Top 45 these days. There's 10 to 16 or so surfers consistently setting the standards and pulling the results, and then there's a frustrated bunch of talent fighting for survival. Heading for Brasil last weeekend, Pat O'Connell referred to the syndrome saying "Now there's sort of an upper 'A' class, and everyone else is either 'A' or 'B'plus". We'll talk further about the ratings situations and possibilities tomorrow.

Mark Occhilupo
No, rumours that Occy has stopped in Hollywood en route to Brasil to
audition for the role of John Belushi in the Blues Bros re-make are NOT correct.

Occy is another missing from the draw for the tenth WCT of the season. He has quite a history in Brasil, coming third there, maybe second (from memory), in the first contest that ever brought the full pro' surfing front line to the Brasileiros, the Hang Loose Pro at Florianopolis' Joaquina Beach in 1986. As we all know, he also completed one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history by claiming his long-awaited world title in the early rounds of the Rio Pro at Barra Beach in 1999.

Danny Wills, Dean Morrison
Looking at this shot of Willsy (L) and Dingo from Mundaka, you'd think they were both suffering from a decent case of constipation, but apparently there were far heavier bugs circulating around the Goldy and Byron environs last week.

Along with Luke Egan and Joel Parkinson, Occy was booked to fly to Brasil on the weekend. Louie and Parko both received late SMS notification on their mobile phones from Qantas that their flights had been inexplicably been cancelled. They cooled their heels at home, waiting for the next flight, but Occy failed to get the message and flew to Sydney from Coolangatta expecting to connect to his Brasil-bound flight. Not! Turned around, it was presumably the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Occy flew home and unpacked his bags deciding to rest up for the annual Hawaiian occupation. Despite surfing well, Occ's had a bit of a frustrating run the last couple of months. A little rest should do him well.

Danny Wills
Willsy and his little princess. Apparently she was so bad with a heavy virus last weekend, that Byron's style master just couldn't leave home and head to Brasil.

Surfers are of course able to miss events when injury or personal problems or preferences arise, only the best eight of their results from the 11 WCTs being held this season, taken into final account when the points are tallied. As mentioned previously, we're also minus Dean Morrison and Dan Wills in Brasil. Mind you, it's only second-hand info', which can render assumed fact as total fiction, but 'word has it' that both Willsy and Dingo pulled out after contracting some gnarly virus at home. So severe were the symptoms that Dan's daughter was reportedly hospitalised overnight when she caught the bug, and likewise Dean Morrison. As it happens, both Willsy and especially Dingo, are amongst the hardest and most elusive WCT surfers to catch on the phone during down-times between WCT events. I tried ringing them several times to confirm 'the word', but as is often the case "...the number you have called is currently unattended - please try again later". Welcome to pro surfing!