The Grand Arena: Snapper, Kirra, and an epic debut until 2022


Photograph by Andrew Shield, Swilly and Josh Bystrom

“It’s been a long time,” says Joel Parkinson.

He adds, in a somewhat clarifying manner: “I don’t know how long it has been since my heart was in my mouth paddling in a wave.”

The Goldie is not Noosa. In swells like TC Seth’s, it’s not what you might call “recreational”. It’s a big arena with lots of room to move around, and an amazing group of surfers watching, biding their time to feed on their feast.

As Seth moved along the coast, diverting his attention from Noosa Heads, the Gold Coast quickly built. A big messy Sunday morning turned into an even bigger early afternoon. There were a lot of eyes on it. Up there in Snapper, Parko waited for the tide to drop: “In the morning, it was a very strong reverse current coming back around the corner. It’s not good like that, but I knew that as soon as the tide was low, the current would go the other way.

Above and below: Parko at Snapper on Sunday arvo, rolling from the descent and arching to clear a path. “You had 20 seconds before you blew up the point. »Photos: Swilly

You had to think about it. Sheldon Simkus and spectators, Snapper Barrage Sunday. Photo: Swilly

Nick Vasicek, first guy, makes the most of it. Photo: Swilly

It all happened quite quickly. Joel was at home when he heard from Nick Vasicek. Nick reckoned he had just seen two of the best Snapper waves he had ever seen and was hitting them at the time. Thinking he could just paddle, “I got down and jumped in and couldn’t even get to it,” Parko says. “You couldn’t, you just couldn’t. The tear was soul destroying. You paddle along the line to get nowhere, watching 6 to 8 foot waves rolling towards you from behind the boulder. You would paddle for 15 minutes and do 10 yards when you had to do 100. You would just sit on your board and give up, go around and try again.

Eventually a jetski pilot came from Kirra and decided to help. “He drove us away and dropped us off at the take-off point, but even then you had 20 seconds before you blew up the point.” It was as bad as the tear can get.

At that moment, thought Joel, Hmmm it’s time to go get a ski, did it and got a bunch of these 6 to 8 foot waves.

It’s still a long way to go. Currumbin, open water Monday morning. Photo: Shield

The wind continued to turn as the cyclone moved. By mid-afternoon it had swung from the east almost dead to the SSE. This help opened up Snapper, but it really helped Kirra. Mitch Crews wasn’t sure if he should surf or not – he’s one of the many Gold Coast residents who passed through Omicron, and he had thought, Give it another day of rest. But when Mitch came downstairs to watch Kirra on Sunday afternoon, he wondered if he shouldn’t have left.

“I wanted to be as fresh as a daisy for Monday, so I didn’t go out, but saw a lot of barrels,” he says. “I think it could have been the best actually, late Sunday afternoon. This longer energy had manifested and the tide had turned. Soli (Bailey) and Sheldon (Simkus) and Mick (Fanning and all that team got sick of it.

“Excuse me, sir, please don’t come. Mick Fanning, nice little tuning in the Kirra cannon, Sunday arvo. Sequence: Shield

Mick the next morning, all alone this time. Photo: Swilly

Lots of room in Paddler Land. Soli Bailey, Monday morning. Photo: Shield

On Monday afternoon, the wind had died offshore and was gusting to 40 knots. The swell had receded by then, but… wow. Currumbin. Photo: Bystrom

Earlier Monday, he said it was “ding-donging… wash-through, the whole thing. But the wind was strong.

A small number of humans assisted on skis rode at high speed outside of Currumbin, but most of those expert eyes were on Kirra, where quickly the lineup organized: paddlers at the top, skis down.

It’s an interesting thing about Kirra now in the big days. For years, there has been a lot of angst between ski operators and paddlers who had such a part of this incredible place during its rare blue bird days. Nowadays, the conflict seems to have largely settled on its own: the skis stay in the lower half, where the current is hard and difficult to counter, while the paddlers ascend the first spike less affected by the stream.

“I think jetskiing courtesy is a rule out there now,” says Crewsy. “People were getting mad about it, but it calmed down. Now you know if you are paddling up, and if you are going down the end, that’s where the skis are. You just come in and walk around again.

“Everyone respects each other a little more. “

Lots of ski teams on Kirra during Monday – 13 in this single shot. Fortunately, everyone gets along well these days. Photo: Shield

“Quick! Second wave of the set. Mikey Wright and his team, on the move. Photo: Bystrom

And yet, the largely open lineup meant the waves weren’t being surfed. Photo: Shield

If your head is straight, you can roll anything anytime. Crewsy on the tall twinnie, scampering down the line. Photo: Swilly

Mitch surfed for three hours in the morning, riding brother Alex’s tall 6’3 “twinnie, partly to facilitate paddling. “All the normal names had gone out to get the correct ones. The Wright brothers, Owen with this Gath and Mikey were getting epic barrels. I’ve seen rogue nameless legends get sick of them too. It was cool to see guys paddling hard with their heads down doing it.

“I would really prefer to paddle. I get a few lifts to the point, which has just been here for a while, but when I paddle in one of them I feel like I deserved it.

Either way, Kirra will give you moments not quite like nowhere else. Parko had one Monday morning that still sparkles in his memory. “I rowed in it, couldn’t see from the spray, cleaned my eyes just as I went weightless at the base of the wave and somehow, the rail is set up. It’s just an amazing thing to watch him 100m down the feather line from inside the tube.

Asher Pacey, daring pull-in. But what are you going to do? Photo: Swilly

No wonder he gets a wrap or two for style. Asher again, with more than a shade of MP in the reduction position. Photo: Swilly

There is only one noggin like that. Owen Wright, hard to miss in more than one way. Photo: Shield

Mitch Crews again on this twin-fin. “It was Christmas, then it was shit, we have a cyclone!” he said to SL. Photo: Swilly

Mitch decided to take a break until noon, hoping to save some energy for a crazy afternoon. But Seth was always on the move. By 1:00 p.m. he had removed the fetch south of the Goldie and turned the wind southwest. The wind rose sharply, blowing straight out to sea, and the swell lost a third of its mass, then another third.

Late Monday, Greenmount was still showing signs of previous gold, but many experts were done. Many crew members were happy to take over in perfect, smaller conditions.

Now? As we were talking to people, I felt like there was a bit of shock in the air. How long ago has a year started like this? How many is still to come?

“All the sand is gone right now,” says Joel. “This should be rebuilt fairly quickly, however. It could be one of those years.

Find out more Seth: The Noosa superbank | Ten epic rides starting Monday

The moment a Kirra tube dog dreams of. Dean Harrington, Monday morning. Photo: Swilly

Elouera Guy does good to Kirra. Connor O’Leary, sitting tall and pretty, mid-morning Monday. Photo: Shield

A rare, longer interval set connects to the upper Kirra sandbank on Sunday morning. Few people understood this until later. Photo: Swilly

Everyone is a participant. Spectators looking for an occasional soak on the first Kirra spur. Photo: Swilly

Grab the rail and hang on tight. Hinata Aizawa in the blue room. Photo: Swilly

Winter Vincent transforming into the teeth of this Monday wind. Photo: Shield

A guy who saw a few days like this. Brenden Margieson walks away from the slopes of Kirra. Photo: Swilly

Steph Gilmore spent his days settling his Hawaii quiver. Slash! Photo: Swilly

“Good year!” OKAY! Thanks, Gold Coast City Council! Thanks, TC Seth. Photo: Shield

Sam Yoon, from Tugun via Hawaii. “He’s a legend,” says Crewsy. “He had this big, thick plank and I kept watching him free fall, cut the drop and stand upright in those beautiful barrels. It was epic! There you go, Sam, you’ve been called for. Photo: Swilly

Wave of your life, if you have it. Lachlan Leckie, epic high line. Photo: Shield

… And Monday night, it was all over. Hopeful crew chasing the remains in Kirra. Photo: Swilly


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