Holy shit, it’s hot in Cairns. After 3.5 hours of fully-dressed, drunken half sleep, I was roused by some freakishly early hostel risers (I hate hostels) and opened my eyes to a sky blue wristband. It was 5:30 a.m. An hour and a half later, as I ate a pilfered mini Clif Bar and drank a flat white in the airport, I concluded that perhaps drinking nothing but Coronas for nine hours was an unwise decision. Now, thankfully, my only residual symptom is that I am a sticky and disgusting mess. Or maybe that has to do with the fact that it’s like a thousand degrees here.
Anyway, it all began with sushi.
Over sushi in Byron Bay, I was reminded that the Innersection finale party would be held on the Gold Coast and, more importantly, that I was within attending range. A few days after sushi, I began scrambling to finagle my way into this party. I’ve known Innersection all its life. I raptly witnessed its birth and will proudly take partial credit for having helped shape it into the respectable young film it has become.
As it turned out, you didn’t need to be on a list or have a golden ticket; you just needed to beat the crowds–so Nathan Myers told me via email. Yesterday, I was sitting at Café Scooterini in Coolangatta, killing time and trying to decide how early I could show up without being a complete geek. I had been waiting ten minutes for my cappuccino and anzac bikkie when Taylor and Nathan happened to walk by. As Nathan recovered from the shock of my not having a penis, Taylor said to stop by anytime after 4 p.m.—they were going to set up.
I resumed my Person vs. Self conflict: Who did I believe deserved to walk with the 100 Gs? Matt Meola’s section is packed with risky, inventive surfing. But watching Craig Anderson’s is kind of like watching Inception with surfing: That high-def! Those chopper shots! SLOW MOTION! And then there’s Peter Devries, whose skill is impressive, but in a 6-mill, doubly so. Plus, I kind of think he might be related to the Malloys. And everyone loves a Malloy.
At 4:30, there were more people under the age of 10 around the pool at Komune than industry folk. The air also felt like that of a rainforest. I managed to snag a sky blue wristband from Jamie at VAS. He said he would give me one because I was nice. Later, he reluctantly tried to take it back because people who get paid to surf and edit magazines and stuff were pissed they couldn’t get them. I managed to keep it (thanks, Taylor) and soon, the air seemed less stifling. Approaching strangers also became infinitely easier.
I started talking to the guys next to me about the woman who had just stripped off most of her clothes (slowly, may I add) to reveal a super stylish (if dated) one-piece and was now awkwardly lingering at the edge of the pool. She was in her own little world. Around her, the crowd of tattooed guys in shades was growing. Two of the Top 6 contenders were present: Craig Anderson is cool but not a dick, and Matt Meola, who Nathan said is the “poster boy of Innersection” (unsponsored pre-section), is so humble it’s ridiculous and looks like your little brother’s best friend. Also in attendance was unicorn enthusiast Ozzie Wright, who I was able to recognize thanks to his luxurious mane and ukulele.
Ozzie’s band, The Goons of Doom, played a spirited set and by 8 p.m. the joint was busting. As were the clouds. Taylor and Nathan appeared on the mid-pool runway shortly after and summoned the masses to watch the top sections and the big announcement.
Craig and Matt were the last two standing and when champagne exploded over Matt, Craig was the first to congratulate him. He later told me he was completely fine with the way things turned out. I believed him. Matt said that he was amazed to be included in the film at all, and actually winning had greatly exceeded his expectations. He proceeded to celebrate with some more well deserved champagne.
While the men who made Innersection possible seemed pretty stoked that this project is complete, they’re already working on its next incarnation. If you enter and rank, you can look forward to a sweet trip. These guys are always changing it up.
As I was leaving, Nathan asked me if I wanted a closing quote for the story. Naturally, I did, yes.
“Tiger blood!” he shouted emphatically. “I watched a slug crawl along the edge of a straight razor.” He paused for a second, and then said, “That’s good. Print that.”