Have the Quiky and Roxy Pros outgrown Snapper?
By Andrew McKinnon
SURF SCENE COLUMNIST
ANOTHER Quiksilver and Roxy Pro has come and gone, but how did it rate compared to other events?
As far as the fans are concerned, it was an outstanding success. They turned up in droves for finals day in the pouring rain.
Infrastructure at Rainbow Bay is a problem with traffic and high-rise living at the best of times. Throw in a million dollar event broadcast to the world and watch the congestion problems grow.
Has the whole show become too big for its own mobility?
Surfing Queensland CEO Adam Yates is the operational manager for the opening tour event. His team is under increasing pressure to provide the best of a very cramped situation and then have to work 24/7 to ensure the contest infrastructure doesn’t impede local tourism with Easter fast approaching.
This year and last, the sand bank went AWOL due to a tropical cyclone swell. Two weeks ago, prior to the TC Winston swell, Snapper was firing behind the Rocks and as good as it gets.
It only takes one big swell to shift the best part of the wave and that’s Mother Nature at work. And it takes more than a week of pumping to put the sand back. Consequently, both years have finished up with fat Snapper that really changes the fortunes of various pros, including the locals.
I don’t think I saw one tube in this event that was judged on power turns, snaps and the occasional innovation.
Back in the 1990s when it was the Billabong Pro, the event was mobile from North Stradbroke to Lennox Head, but those days of mobile contests appear to be over. Adam and the team had a second set-up ready to go at the ever-consistent D’bah, but only if Snapper went flat.
There were far better waves happening from Rainbow Bay to Kirra on the last two days, but shifting the whole monolith machine has now become too hard.
Unless you are part of the inner circle VIP main building set-up right in front of Little Marli, which blocks out the best part of the ride, the best place to view the action is from the Rainbow Bay Surf Club. Manager Ray Holland and his staff, including new entertainment manager and former 80s tour surfer Glen “Rocky” Rawlings, do a fantastic job of keeping everybody happy within the constraints of space and numbers.
However, the WSL juggernaut is now so big, so sophisticated, so clinically dialled in for the elite that it has lost some of the fun factor.
I’ve never had VIP entry apart from in 2003 when I commentated and Dean “Dingo” Morrison won. Luckily, this year I managed to score a Wednesday pass (on the final day). I watched the early VIP line-up manoeuvring for position like a Boxing Day sale – when the 9am green light said open, they stormed the steps in rapid succession, obviously to gain the premium spots. By the time I wandered up to the VIP area, it was standing room only, wall to wall and I could not see a thing, so I quickly retreated back to the Deck Bar that had a better view with more real atmosphere.
It’s really easy to write off this whole show, and some of the people who walk around thinking they own Snapper Rocks for 10 days, but that would be too easy. My suggestions are to try and make this event more mobile from Burleigh to Snapper/D’bah, lose the two-storey block building on Little Marli and move it to where the BOQ VIP is on the eastern side and rearrange the commercial sites to allow better viewing for all – surely that is not too hard.
The saving grace of all the madness was watching a balls to the wall performance from Matt Wilkinson, better known as Wilko, to defeat cool as a cucumber Californian Kohole Andino and register his first world tour event. And what a powerhouse display from Tyler Wright, originally from Culburra NSW, now Lennox Head resident, to extinguish world number two Courtney Conlogue, of California, who was far from disgraced. End result – Aussies reign supreme! Oi Oi Oi!