Bells is here. That’s always a big deal in professional surfing because it’s a decades-long staple in the sport, held annually through Easter weekend for almost 60 years now. As far as competitive surfing goes, that’s about as deep as the sport’s roots can go.
Let’s not pretend that surfing doesn’t have a fan appeal challenge in some parts of the world, though. The sport’s never translated well to broadcast formats and wave riding is such an insider thing that it’s tough for the Average Joe to watch a heat between two eventual world title favorites and appreciate the difference between it all going down in onshore mush or head-high perfection.
Now, not everybody likes sports and not everybody likes surfing. But you can argue that everybody likes a good story. And a good story told well is actually an invaluable thing to many of the world’s most popular professional sports institutions. HBO’s Hard Knocks, for example, has done wonders for driving interest from the casual fan in the National Football League, just by going behind the scenes during one team’s preseason grind. The games don’t matter but the documentary show makes the stories of the athletes matter, and that’s compelling enough to make appointment television.
Enter 21 Days, a similar style documentary series that occasionally looks at professional surfers in the weeks leading up to an event, in this case, Kolohe Andino and Jadson Andre in the countdown to Bells 2019. Andino was born in Southern California, the son of a CT pro, and in the spotlight from such a young age it’s as if he was bred to be a world tour competitor from day one. The surf world has expected big things from “Brother” for a long time now, who’s still searching for his first career CT win. Jadson Andre, meanwhile, started working from a young age just to help his family get by. A CT rookie in 2010, Andre fell off tour following the 2017 season and spent all of 2018 working to re-qualify.
This is an intriguing story about two world-class athletes who traveled entirely different roads that led them to the same place. If you’re a tour geek, you’ll love it. If you’re a casual fan, it could certainly muster up some more interest in the goings-on of a world tour pro.