Glenn 'Micro' Hall On: 7 Things That Will Keep You Hooked On Surfing This Year
COASTALWATCH | FEATURE
7 Reasons Why This Is The Best Year Ever, To Be A Surf Fan
By Glenn "Micro" Hall
There are so many reasons to be excited about the 2017 World Championship Tour. I wish I could go to bed tonight and wake up in my hotel room overlooking the Super Bank on March 14, get my morning coffee head straight to the event site at Snapper.
For me The opening day of the 2017 WCT season is like Christmas morning for a five-year-old kid waking up with an ear-to-ear smile. March 14 is day one of the Snapper Rocks Quiksilver and Roxy Pro waiting period and it can't come quick enough! On day one, 32 guys and 16 girls are all officially tied on the ratings with 0 points, and day one for these male and female athletes to finally get their world title campaigns underway. Day one at Snapper has more energy and emotion flowing through the air than any other day on the surfing calendar.
From the lineup of any break between Dbah and Burleigh Heads and any cafe, restaurant or Surf club along the Gold Coast, you will see, hear and feel the emotions of the Quiksilver Snapper Rocks Pro.
Cafes play the webcast, restaurants play the recap of the days action and surf club's serve cold beers to hydrate the fans while breakdown every turn thrown and barrel ridden on the Super Bank that day. For two weeks, the local school kids live off hot chips and froth! They roam the street hunting autographs and Supporting their local heroes, Mick, Joel, Jack Steph, John John. Backpacking tourists, Wicked camper driving gypsies, and Brazilians who now call the Gold Coast home. If you're on the Gold Coast, you're watching the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro.
If John changes fins, everyone knows. If Julian eats desert, everyone knows. If Kelly drinks a beer, everyone knows. It's hard to hide on the Gold Coast as every move in and out of the water is watched and analysed.
SEE ALSO: The Quiksilver & Roxy Pro Surf Forecast
Watching The morning free surf on day one of Snapper is like watching the fighters weigh in before the fight they have been training for months. Some fighters stand out physically with more muscle, some look nervous, and some look calm and calculated and ooze confidence. At the start of every WCT season everyone is in the world title race, everyone is mathematically tied. As the season gets underway on March 14 it's the fighter who has done the most work physically and mentally that stands out. The fighter who believes in them self the most, the fighter who has no doubts they are ready to rumble. This is the fighter who is the one who is on the front foot from when the bell rings when they step into the ring on day one of Snapper. It's too late to get any fitter, it's too late to start to learn any new combos, it's too late to heal any old injuries, it's fight night and you would wanna hope you can look at yourself in the mirror and say ' I'm ready, Bring it on!'.
As long as I've been following the WCT as a fan and a surfer, there have been captivating individual stories to follow throughout the season. From young rookies fighting to stay on tour, to veterans in their retirement year chasing the ultimate send off with a world title. From Kelly breaking records of WCT victories, world titles and what's truly possible in his 40s, to surfers returning from serious injury. This year has it all! 2017 has more stories to follow than ever before, making this year potentially most exciting year yet.
Here is a list of the incredible stories that I'm excited to follow throughout the 2017 WCT season.
Both Owen Wright and Bede Durbridge are set to return from injury and aim to put a full season together competing at the highest level. Let's remember the severity of their injuries; both laid out in bed after suffering what were meant to be career ending injuries and possibly even worse.
In the early stages of their injuries both Owen and Bede were fighting for their lives! As their condition was upgraded two of Australia's true gentlemen and best surfers were told they would recover to normal life but never return to competitive surfing.
Luckily for us as surf fans, those doctors had no idea how tough, driven and passionate to compete Owen and Bede were. Two of the best will step into the ring at Snapper and will no doubt have the crowd behind them through every round. Inspirational story – check!
Kelly Slater just being on tour at the age of 44 is incredible enough. The fact he is still in world title conversation at 44 is astounding. Kelly has announced in 2017 he will commit to a full world title campaign, and it could be his last. He has said this before as well as admitting he's struggled to keep focus and motivation for a full season the past few years.
If 2017 is the last year we see Kelly 'go for a World Title', I want front row tickets. Kelly is arguably the greatest sportsman of all time and I'm certain there will never be another male surfer who comes close to breaking Kelly's record number of titles. Possible Fairytale send off of the King – check!
WOMEN'S SURFING PROPELS:
The level of women's surfing is progressing faster than Connor MacGregor's mouth, and each year the bar is being raised. The surfing displayed by the top 16 women last year was mind blowing. Tyler, Steph and Carissa led the charge of style and beauty, while Courtney, Sally and Johanne showed the competitive fight is well and truly a part of women's surfing. Not to mention the breathtakingly heroic efforts of the women in the big wave event at Jaws. Paige Alms won the inaugural Women's Big Wave event. But Paige wasn't the only woman who wanted a piece of the 40-foot mountains of water with howling cross shore winds. Laura Enever couldn't resist the challenge and showed that the opportunity to be a part of the history-making women's big wave event was too special to miss. Laura threw herself over the edge at Peahi disregarding the chance of injury despite her World Tour spot being on the line weeks later in Maui. Progression of the sport – check!
RETURN OF THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP:
White Lightning – Mick Fanning's life story is like a movie script. He's had it all; the tough times as a kid, the life changing injury, the heart-breaking family tragedies, and private life struggles. The WCT event wins as a grommet, the ground-breaking performances around the world, and the world title victories.
On top of all this, he wrestled a great white shark on live tv, then came back the year later to right the wrong and win the Jbay Pro event. He competed in the Pipe Masters the day he found out he'd lost his brother that same.
Everyone loves Mick but it's not just for his surfing achievements and his professional approach as an athlete. They love him because of who he is as a person. He's caring, respectful, generous, positive, open and loving. All characteristics he will be remembered for when he hangs up the DHDs.
Mick is yet to announce any retirement dates but it's obvious he needed to find his motivation for the WCT by having a year to rejuvenate. After his gap year in 2016, chasing new waves and doing some soul searching, he came home paid his gym membership and get back in the ring.
Somewhere throughout the last year, he found the motivation to go after another world title. Whether he found it in the barrel at the secret right, or mind surfing from the deck at home, who cares, he's back and I can't wait to watch Mick operate like Mick does. He's been training like a warrior and he's ready to put the mouth guard in and throw down with anyone. Mick is the most respected guy on tour and everyone from fans to fellow tour surfers would be happy to see the ending to his life movie be a 2017 world title. People's champ swan song story – check!
There is no denying that Mick, Joel and Kelly are competitive mongrels. They love winning, they hate losing and they want to beat each other more than anyone else. These three greats have a three-way rivalry which will help push each other until the last wave ridden at the Pipe Masters in December. Who knows, this could be the last year for all three of these guys, you think they won't all want to go out a winner? Watch them fuel each other's fire as each bags points throughout the season. Rivalry story – check!
CHANGING OF THE GUARD:
Jordy, Julian, Jon Jon, Italia, Gabby, Filipe are all ready to take the reigns as the top dogs on tour. Obviously, they have all had their moments with WCT event wins, single world titles and award-winning movies, but as long as 'the old guys' are still there, these young bucks still give way to the masters. Kelly, Mick, Joel, Ace, Bede all have the respect from the new generation and sit where they want on the bus.
The new generation are itching at the bit ride shotgun and be promoted to the top dogs but these old dogs aren't going to hand them any free rides. 2017 could be the last year where we see a balanced mix of the old school and new school surfing generation. Generation shift, check!
Watching a rookie run out for their heat at snapper is like watching a rat being dropped into a snake pit. You can see nerve, they're all awkward and look like they aren't moving naturally, like they're waiting to be pounced on. The rookie who can block out their nerves and stand toe-to-toe in the ring with the big boys will be back at snapper in 2018.
The 2017 rookie roster is a mixed bag of talents who will all shine at different locations. I'm excited to watch Conner O'Leary's deadly backhand at Snapper and Bells, Ethan Ewing's Andy-like style at Jbay, and Zeke, Joan and Leo at the lefts Tubes of Chopes and Fiji. These guys could do big things if they aren't blinded by the bright lights of the big stage.
2017 could be the greatest year ever to be a surf fan. Buy the jersey of your favourite surfer and get your fantasy surfer groups set up. Pump the sand and let the cyclones grow, bring on the opening event of the 2017 WCT season!
Micro was Central Coast surfing child prodigy and even made the top six in the coveted Surfing World Grombash issue 250. After spending time on the Qualifying Series he tragically broke his back during a heat and missed his Wild Card entry to the CT the following year.
After qualifying again, he maintained a long and successful career over ten years, but was most well known and respected for having such a big heart. He surfed and represented Ireland despite his hometown being Umina in NSW, as a tribute to his maternal grandfather. As a natural mentor on tour, he moved into a position as coach to Wilko, Tyler Wright, Laura Enever in his first year of retirement at age 33. In his first month as coach / mentor both Wilko and Wright won the first event of the year, Wright went onto win her maiden World Championship Title.
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