The Down Under Diaries

Thursday March 5

Stephanie Gilmore Roxy Pro Gold Coast

5PM Stephanie Gilmore continued her dominance of women’s professional surfing today as the Roxy Pro was held at Duranbah. Although the surf was on the small side, Steph showed the highly touted rookies who’s boss and knocked off Megan Abubo and Chelsea Hedges to set up a semifinal battle against Paige Hareb from New Zealand. On the other end of the draw, Coco Ho took out ripping Brazilian Silvana Lima, Rebecca Woods to set up a semifinal against fellow Hawaiian Melanie Bartels.

4PM Paddled across the shark-infested Tweed River and over to Fingle today…and lived to tell about it! After hearing about Timmy Reyes and Luke Davis doing it the other day, I knew I had to do it. The only problem was that I wasn’t sure exactly where to paddle from. With the tide dropping, the last thing I wanted was to get swept out to sea by the 5mph outgoing current so I launched from pretty far down the river. After a short, five minute paddle, I made it to the other side but was far from the nearest beach and had to walk through the bush fro 20 minutes to get there. I finally got to the pier there and saw a couple dudes ripping the shorebreak and decided to join them noting more people=better odds as Fingle is notoriously sharky. One of the three out surfing was Nathaniel Curran who will be surfing against his good friend and fellow Cali boy Dane Reynolds in round three. “How is that Nathaniel? We’re gonna be down one Californian right off the bat no matter what!” I asked him. “It’s so lame…I can’t believe it,” said Nathaniel. He added that they used to surf against each other all the time when they were kids but haven’t had many battles over the last couple years. For the record, Nathaniel was ripping! After a while the whole O’Neill team came out; Jordy, Timmy, Luke Davis, Roy Powers, and video dude SK…the boys were seriously hungover from the Mickey Avalon show last night. Glad I missed that one…

9AM So glad I passed on going to the Mickey Avalon show…he’s really not my cup of tea. I’m charged up for the final stretch of the Down Under Diaries! We had a killer surf yesterday at Lennox Head—one of the best rights in the world and a wave that Taylor Knox claims as his personal favorite. While it was only two-to-three feet and a bit windy, I had the top part of the point to myself for a good half an hour. I can’t explain to you how good it felt to not be surfing with 8 million dudes. I can only imagine that place at six-to-eight foot and pumping. One of these days…Anyway, off to watch day two of the Roxy Pro at Duranbah. Don’t worry I won’t paddle over there on the SUP…

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A school of dolphins frolicking below the Byron Bay lighthouse. Lots of wildlife in these parts. Photo: JCote

After marinating in Coolangatta for this long, we had to get out of town for a breather so we headed to nearby Byron Bay. Just 45-minutes down the coast, Byron is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Snapper Rocks and Duranbah. The town of Byron Bay is believed to be sitting on top of a huge deposit of quartz crystals, which apparently creates some mystic healing power. According to my friend Hilton Dawe, the Aboriginals used to gather here to heal wounds, have peaceful meetings, and maybe even carve up some sick rights out at “The Pass” Byron’s version of the Superbank. Filled with hippies, mystics, tourists, yoga enthusiasts, and surfers, Byron Bay is a must do on your trip to Australia. Check out the slideshow above for some of our highlights from yesterday’s day trip…

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2X Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore...isn't she too young to be in a Hall Of Fame? Apparently her incredible skills supersede any age requirements. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Yesterday Stephanie Gilmore, Peter “PT” Townend, and Phyllis O’Donell were inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame during a ceremony at Twin Towns resort. Similar to the Surfing Walk Of Fame in Huntington Beach, the inductees have their hand prints forever engraved into the sidewalk as a symbol of their respective contributions to our sport.


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