The Banzai was a vision of shimmering beauty for Rounds 2 and 3 at the Da Hui Back Door Shootout, which is due to finish on either Friday or Saturday as a large new swell — Friday may well be too big — reaches the North Shore.
The Shootout’s a flavoursome dish, heaps more fun than the anodyne product served up by the WSL. Commentators, granted the freedom to be candid and irreverent, fill in the gaps between waves with broad-ranging conversation and whimsical tangents. Competitors, who compete both for themselves and their respective five-man teams, don’t wear coloured jerseys, which occasionally leads to exchanges of the following sort:
“Kona Olivera with a take off and an ejection there.”
“I think that’s Bruce . . . ?”
“Brah, that’s the blackest I’ve seen Bruce in a long time.”
The competition format is also unique, a surfer’s performances over four non-elimination rounds contributing towards their score in a league table. It works brilliantly, although maybe lacks the drama of a final showdown. Jamie O’Brien was leading at the end of Round 2 thanks to superior barrel-riding and a rodeo flip; Mason Ho was the real clown though, remaining in contention by contriving to make even floaters a source of entertainment. Round 3 (highlights below) ran the following day in slightly smaller waves that almost looked dainty, and saw the field whittled down from thirty to twenty. One of the other rad things about the Back Door Shootout is that the scoring system, like a Spinal Tap guitar amp, goes all the way up to 11, which was the score that catapulted to Kaimana Henry to the top of the leaderboard going in to the final round. JOB’s now in second, followed by Jay Davies, Gavin Beschen and Nathan Florence.