Bede: Hey everybody, dialling in from South America. I've been here in Brazil for a few days now. It's a real mission for Australians to get here flight-wise and I wanted to be as adjusted as possible ahead of defending my title here.
To a large degree, this year's Hang Loose Pro is almost a completely different event to the one I won here last season. This year's event is much earlier in the season, and it's the middle of winter here now so the water is colder than when we've been here in the past.
The upside is the locals say this time of the year is a much better swell window, so that's got me excited. So has the chance to get back into the water with a competition vest on. It's been a decent break since the last Dream Tour event in Tahiti and a few of us have been eager to get going again.
The view is that the world title race is still wide open. Parko got the jump on us early with the two wins on the Gold Coast and at Bells but now there's a few back-to-back comps and everybody senses the chance to get on a roll and make up some ground. Me included.
Tahiti was a frustrating event for me this year. The swell was small and there were long waiting periods as well. It seemed like the event never really got going. I also copped Andy Irons in my opening heat. Billabong had given him
a wildcard and as weird as this sounds, I was actually pleased to see Andy back in the water in competitive mode. He's such a great surfer. I love watching him and the circuit won't be the same until we see him back next year in full mode chasing the title.
The only trouble was his cameo appearance in Tahiti came at my expense! It was a bit strange striking him in my first heat but that's life. My mood was eased a little by stepping off the plane back into Australia into one of the biggest swells to hit the East Coast in years.
It was a bit messy at times but on one memorable day I got towed into some beauties off Currumbin Alley. It was a good 10ft and that's pretty rare for the Goldy. We paid a bit of a price for it, though. The beaches on the Gold Coast are now wrecked. It's the worst erosion I've seen since moving to the Coast. There are still no decent banks, Snapper is a huge hole, D'bah has no banks either and pretty much the whole east coast is wiped out in terms of good banks to surf.
So, getting on a plane with the Mt Woodgee boys for our long-planned boat trip to the Mentawais was nice and timely! We had a super fun trip, although we were kind of in between swells. The biggest surf we got was only about 4-6ft. The guys who rolled in before us apparently scored perfect waves. That included Mick, Jordy and the Red Bull crew. Then about five days after we got home, we heard the biggest swell of the year had come through up there. I hate hearing that!
We still made the most of our trip though. We surfed pretty much every break up there and got some good photos and footage. We also dropped my shaper Wayne McKewen off on this ramshackle floating pontoon where he was paying $20 a night and planning to stay there for the next month. He's a hard man. It wasn't for me but "Wickers" just smiled and pointed to the flawless left 200m away and the perfect right on the other side. We're now worried he won't be coming back! Bede Durbridge