Moments in the MARGINS

Moments in the margins       by Andrew Carruthers

The pre dawn light appears gloomy lethargic; asthe sun wearily begins its march across the sky. It seems despondent hungoverfrom the moonlight night and long hot days. Clouds and mist hang in thetropical air like unwashed curtains full of salt obscuring the light and makingthe terrain hard to define. The first glimmers of dawn break golden, laden withpotential and possibility the world feels fresh and remade during these firsthours. The sun breaching the horizon shakes of the gloom of night casting itaside like a sweaty sheet. This is the golden hour the time before the clashand clamour of the contest begins, the emergence of the day as the world slowly wakes up.

Kaitlyn Maguire warms up before the contest.

Waves are breaking and the tribe starts togather. From backpackers accomodation, hotels, cars and vans they emerge, theworlds best long boarders here for contests.  In these peripheral hours they gather quietly on theshoreline. Some check the line up perusing and choosing positions for upcomingheats. Others quickly surf honing skills they have brought to the table tocompare and compete against others seeking the cup. Some sit calmly others pacethe floor. These small quiet hours, the first of the morning, are full oftension and beauty, pregnant with possibilities and potential outcomes. All areeither surfing or mind surfing the waves, visualising manoeuvres or practicingthem. The WSL crew is rushing for readiness and the surfers are priming themselves and their equipment ready to enter the aquatic arena.

Japan and Taiwan were the last two events in S.E. Asia for me, the later was the culmination for the WSL World Longboard Tour.Champions would be crowned in Taiwan for the first time ever. Its theseperipheral hours in the morning that captivate my artistic attention. Chasingthe light and the action together the surfers and I exchange gifts. There’s isthe gift of surfing, the love of the ocean and the giftedness that they have toexcel at the discipline of competitive longboard surfing. Its a rare ability tobe able to reach an elite level in sport, especially a sport as random andreliant upon the whims of nature as surfing is.

My gift is vision; vision to capture the momentsof collateral beauty in amongst the frenzy of these small windows. Vision toassist others to find peace and calm in the sometimes anxious moments of thecontest environment. Together we dance in the golden hour of light andmovement, capturing and sharing the beauty that is often over looked or passedby.

Over and above these fringe moments is thecontest, structured and relentless rolling out heat after heat dependant uponconditions. These two areas seem juxtaposed; one seemingly free the othertethered to rules and time. However I believe they are linked, codependent ifyou like. 

The practice before perfects the art and thecompetition pushes the surfer to extend develop and reach different heights. Ihave heard many say that competition surfing isn't the best surfing. Theybelieve that people surf better when they ‘free surf’> Other argue that theheat of competition and the desire to win pushes some competitors to newheights.  Both may be true withoutthe expectation and appealing to judges and a criteria difference may beallowed to cultivate, but in that frantic moment when you need a score, themanoeuvre must be made.   Somesort of brilliance is achieved some surfers find that something extra withinduring competition. I have seem seemingly unmakeable things made easy in the heat and thrust of a heat.

David Argunda enjoying the lay day...

Set into the middle of these small golden hours and the contest environment are the unexpected almost lavish lay days. Theconditions are not right for surfing at the contest site but other places mightbe. This is the escape valve, the pressure releasing hatch that randomly opensup like a gift. This year I was able to escape to a pristine left hand pointwith a few surfers for a day of tropical beauty and opulence of waves and timetogether. Taiwan is a stunning island a green jewel in a aquamarine sea. Only ashort distance from the contest which was affected by strong winds and an overlygenerous amount of swell was a long sheltered left point. Here we playedlaughed and rode waves for hours. This gift of unexpected time space and beautyemerging out of the landscape of the contest like a gold nugget discovered in afield. Here we partnered together the gift of surfing the gift of photographyand the beautiful gift of waves.

There is beauty and value everywhere if you lookfor it. These small sometimes overlooked moments of laydays, and the tinypackage of time before the contest begins each day can be seen as interruptionsor inconvenient. However its here that collateral beauty dwells, the unexpectedunexplored moments of light captured forever and lavish generous conversationsshared on the beach. These moments are the gold that hides in the field ofdreams, world title dreams at that. 

Champions were crowned in a spectacular fashion.Taylor Jensen was in a group of 4 men who each had 2 world titles HarleyIngleby. Piccolo Clemente, Phil Rajazman and Taylor Jensen sat on equal standings.  As the final unfolded and EdouardDelperro rose to win the Taiwan open of surfing the door opened slightly forTaylor to make the jump to his 3rd world title. For the second time in WSLhistory and a first for long boarding, the champion was decided in a ‘surfoff’. Edouard and and Taylor sat equally placed with the same points. Theywould surf again to decide the world title. 

Taylor Jensen warming up before securing his 3rd world Title.

the First world titles held in Taiwan gets the big thumbs up.

The Woman’s  title was a more clearly decided affair with close decisionsand a few contenders but Honolulu Bloomfield standing victorious for her maidentitle. 

The question remained would Edouard clinch hismaiden title or would Taylor Jensen move forward to join Colin McPhillips on 3titles. In windy overhead conditions the 2017 title was decided.

History was made and Taylor after a 5 year gapgained his 3rd world title he’s closing in on Nat Young’s 4 titles now. Cupswere raised aloft and celebrations rang out the crowning of champions is alwaysan amazing spectacle to witness. Seeing the achievement of years of sacrificetraining come to fruition is amazing its glorious its beautiful. It’s here thatthat the collateral beauty gathered in the margins of mornings and the lazylaydays, collides head-on with the contest in a spectacle of triumphantjubilation. Taiwan 2017 what a blast.

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