Santa Cruz, California. Home of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, final event of the 2009 CWC Series. Santa Cruz, California, home of the strange.
Yesterday saw slow-ish action in the morning, conditions improving after the high tide delay and through the bottom of the tide. Warm, golden sun beamed down in the morning for a clash between Tom Curren, Sam Lamiroy and two others whose names escape me. Crowds gathered along the famous cliffs to witness a largely wave-starved affair. Afterwards I greet an eliminated Lamiroy at the top of the steps.
“So what are you doing here?” wonders Sam.
“Covering the event and goings on for our website,” I reply.
“That’s a waste of time, isn’t it?” Sam wonders.
“Not as much as watching you on the webcast,” suggest I.
Seconds later Tom R. Curren, former three time ASP World Champion appears at the top of the wooden steps. He’d ‘gotten’ through. “Hey! Welcome to my country. Welome,” offers Thomas. He seemed happier to see me than Sam Lamiroy did. Curren looks a bit older than he used to, because he is. his hair is going a bit gray, but his tan is good. If Kelly’s tan is 100%, then Curren’s is 93.5%. It’s up there. What’s more, he’s through.
Seals bark from the end of the wharf, basking in the sun. Fat, shiny, and fat. Their chorus is powerful, horse. As it echoes around town it incites madness in folk. It makes them do things, it makes many want to sleep outside.
“You can’t do this to me,” said the unshaven man, “We have a thing called the Bill of Rights.”
Further along the main drag, we got to a restaurant. An Italian restaurant. The food was OK but the wine tasted of vodka and one of the waiters was hammered. He kept dancing and talking crazy. When he danced it looked like this.
Outside groups of youths were gathered. I think here they call it ‘loitering’. It may or may not be criminal offense. I didn’t know this one was going to flash and when it did a male youth exclaimed, “Who’s f***ing taking pictures of us, man?” He sounded cross. I think he may have been just tired. Tired and showing off.
We carried on. Someone knew of a studenty coffee shop place in a residential area. Students were on lap tops. Dude behind the bar was happy to have his picture taken. He looked like this.
I met Neco Padaratz earlier in the afternoon. We drove up the coast looking for a wave at one of the little beachies up there and found some, no one out. Neco writes poetry. “I can give one to you for sure,” he says, “But I dont have many in English. It’s in Portuguese, I don’t think the rhymes will match.” I’d heard many things about Neco previously, none of them were that he writes poetry. As we were leaving Steamer Lane we saw Curren again, he waved our car over and pulled up behind us. He wanted Neco’s autograph. He had a print of a portrait of Neco and wanted it signed. Neco wrote, “Thanks so much for making me keep trying.” 1. Neco Padaratz writes poetry. 2. Tom Curren wants Neco’s autograph. Now there are two things I wouldn’t have bet on at breakfast.
After, Neco voices the collective sentiments of many. Isn’t that what a poeteer does?
“There will never be another like him. Never another the same. Not Kelly, not anyone. It took them so long, so many years to beat his records. But it doesn’t matter. There will never be another one like him.”
I’m welling up. This seems like as good a place to leave it for today as any.