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29.10.04 - PAT O'CONNELL



05.11.04 - LIFE ON THE ‘OTHER SIDE’.
Ex sarge, Seignosse-Bourg France, Friday November 5th 2004.

Martin Potter, Kelly Slater
Webcasting is also a good way to utilise ageing, thinning surf stars, like Pottz and Kelly here in Trestles. (I'll pay for that one!?) At least they have a purpose, which is more than can be said for ageing thinning photojournalists.

YOU wouldn’t believe how many times my mobile phone ‘beeps’ and carries-on when I’m on the beach at WCT events. There’s countless crew on the other end, sms texting from all over the globe…it might be a competitor down the road wanting to know who won what heat, what heat the draw is up to, what the swell is doing with the tide - whatever…or it may be a father on the opposite side of the globe wanting to know how ‘little Johnny’ went in his heat against whoever. Texting is the essential way of communication on the ASP tour road. For you folks out there in the real world, wanting to know what is going on at event,s your only option is presumably the internet, the and/or respective event websites. In case you haven’t worked it out by now, I’m not in Florianopolis this week at the Nova Schin Festival WCT. I’m in France and so, this week, a rare occasion indeed, when I’m not at whatever ‘CT that is going down, the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. I’m a member of the ‘public’, and to tell you the truth, I’m finding it quite a frustrating experience.

Nuno Jonet
That's Nuno Jonet there in the foreground, one of our key WCT announcers, and webcast dudes. The Portuguese and former European surfing champion speaks seven languages! The guy next to him is the guy who does the Russian translation. Behind him is Greville Mitchell, the only guy on tour who speaks HRH Queen's English. He doesn't need a microphone - he's a full bellowing baritone (and our guardian angel).

Needless to say, a self-confessed (and ‘professed’) pro’ surfing addict like myself, and yourself (?), is on line as soon as he or she gets out of bed in the morning. Quite frankly, being on this side of the computer screen for a change, I’m looking at the whole webcast thing in a totally different light. I want more-more-more info’ and photos – and I want it NOW…if not sooner! I guess the guys on the Florianopolis end of the computer screen putting the Nova Schin webcast out won’t be too impressed with that comment or demand, but what’s wrong with a little cynical and sarcastic twisting of the proverbial knife from time to time, especially amongst friends?

Brad Bricknell
Most of the WCT events, at least those sponsored or presented by the 'Big 3', have multi-lingual webcasts. The bloke here on the left, Brad Bricknell from JBay, does the South African version. Don't they speak English there? Yeah, but Brickers speaks Zulu and Corsa as well! The guy there beside him is Quirin. He's a German, fluent in French, who lives in Barcelona - yeah, so he does the French, German and Spanish. Impressive huh!

It is indeed amazing what you can actually get hold of, in facts, pictures, live scores, results, and of course, vision, from the event sites via the internet these days. If you’re a hardcore addict, you’ll obviously have a broadband, ISDN or ADSL line wired to your computer. If you don’t, you’re either a tight-arse, stupid, lazy…or maybe poor, like me. Surely you have better things to do with your time than look at a flickering computer screen loading whatever very slowly. If you don’t have a high-speed line, you’re tripping, and missing out. It’s logic!

Mano Zuil
Here's Mano Zuil, the ASP's Boss Hog Computer and Webcast dude. "More you guys! Sarge wants more - now!" Yeah right. The only way he'd heed my requests would be if I dumped my Apple G4. Not a chance; sorry Mano!

Do you even know what goes down on the other end of the line? I swear it’d blow your mind if you were to witness how many people, and how many miles of black spaghetti, and how many boxes of circuit boards (i.e. computers), and logistics, and technicalities, and money, and brain cells…etc., etc., it takes to bring all that stuff down the line to you on the internet wherever you are in the world. Believe me, it’s seriously impressive. That they can bring you any sort of webcast at all in remote locations like Teahupoo, and even out to sea at places like Cloudbreak, is truly amazing.

Stirling Howland
Billabong's main web man is Stirling Howland (L). Don't know what he just did, but the guy next to him looks pretty stunned by it.

The ASP’s head gyro-gearloose is a big lumbering Brasiliero named Mano Zuil. He comes from a joint called ‘Niteroi’, which is an upper-class suburb on the north side of Rio de Janeiro’s massive harbour. Mano’s old man, may he rest in peace, had something to do with the national drink over there in Brasil. They call it cachaca. The third ‘c’ comes with a little ‘squiggle’ under it, which in Portuguese sounds like an ‘s’. Phonetically we gringos pronounce it ‘car-shar-sa. It’s quite a handy phonetics, because after you’ve had three of them, and are slurring badly, you can still get it out, and the barman still understands what you’re saying. It’s made of crushed limes, the juice there-of, lotza sugar, and the spirit itself, which is similar to cane spirit. Speaking of loosing brain cells…beautiful but deadly! Anyway, Mano’s poppa had a hand in a brand called ‘Pitu’, so big Zuil Jnr., could have been born, as we say, with a ‘silver spoon’ in his mouth – but Mano was born with a computer chip stuck between his teeth. That’s why he’s always grinning – his mouth was disformed from childhood…but I digress!

Peterson Rosa
Sometimes these days they even get celebrity announcers into the webcast like Billy Idol...oh, whoops, that's Peterson Rosa, trying to look like a gringo in Mundaka, live on Globo Sports TV Brasil. Not!

Yes, Mano is Boss Hog on the computers. There’s not much he doesn’t know about computers or webcasting. Besides his disformed mouth, his only known fault, besides always saying “yeah, I’ll do that tomottow”, is that he despises Apples – the white ones, which pretty much ALL the WCT crew carry and use around the globe on tour. He and his fellow PC-brainwashed sidekick Robson Machado (no relation to the goofy golly-wog we all love and miss), work together with techno’ wizards like Billabong Australia’s Stirling Howland, and Quiky’s Jason Haynes, and with big casts of dedicated technicians and announcers from around the globe, to bring you what you get on your computer screen. It’s obviously still better being there live, but if you’re stuck back at home sweet home, or in France as yours truly is right now, or – forbid the thought – at work (!), at least the sponsors and the ASP are bringing you something to get your teeth into. We still can’t rely on the press and media out there to bring the results to you, and who wants to wait until the next cynical surf magazine comes out? More! Give me more…NOW!
P.S. Yeah, sorry, I know we said we’d talk about ratings possibilities today – we will tomorrow! Have a nice weekend!