DAY 1: O’Neill Highland Open

“Thank god it is flat” must have thought half of the surfers here and a few unlucky photographers, with boards and cameras still missing stuck in London or even worse in Durban. Someone at Heathrow is probably loving his new quiver and set of EOS Canon lenses at the moment…

It’s flat today… and cold but no surprise there. The Brazilians are wrapped under six layers of clothes but still wearing thongs, Australians are happily looking for some warmth in the hotel’s pub and rubbing elbows with Scottish ladies while the Euros are experiencing a winter revival when southern Europe is already sunbathing (yes I know it’s 23°c at the office today…). “Wait for a storm to come around”, joked a local in short sleeves looking at the beanies and thick coats outside the hotel.

Taking the ASP rental car this morning with Tour manager Greg Puget, we went for a drive to have a look at the two main spots that have held this prestigious contest in the past. Thurso East, the cold water Nias as they like to call it here, with its ruined castle and its dark reef. Nothing inbetween us and the Arctic Circle, I touched the water with the hand, it’s not that bad with the sun out and the light wind. Guess it’s a totally different story when true Scottish weather hits the area. Back at the hotel for a quick coffee refuel before heading to Brim Ness, the Highland Pro is a true mobile event isn’t it? We drive through the countryside onto a farmer’s property, mud, sheep and the family cemetery surrounded by a typical stone wall.

Complete flatness again but what an exciting area for a contest! No dunes, no roads, no VIP areas, no Rock Food, just rocks and wilderness…That’s where Hedgey won and raised the sword last year ahead of his countryman and O’Neill top surfer Jarrad Howse.

Later, we had a game of rugger against some of the ozzies, a few probably won t make it into first round!! Even if the forecast is changing all the time, small surf is expected in the next few days but we are looking at some great waves for Monday, Tuesday… Waves that will certainly light up Brims and perhaps Thurso! Bring it on!


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