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carey : puerto rico  contest, 1968

Paul Carey : Puerto Rico  Notebook, 1968.

Carey, Paul: Puerile Rico Notebook.
Surf International
Volume 2, Number 1, pages 18 to 22, January 1969.

Note that the original publication had the report for 8th November out of sequence, and this has been adjusted, starting with page 19a, then page 18 and 19b.
All the photographs are unaccredited,
and some do not have captions.
These are most probably by the editor's brother and Australian film-maker, Paul Witzig , or Paul Carey.

Also see:
1969 Paul Witzig : World Contest  Peurto Rico.
Surf International Vol. 2. No. 1  January 1969, pages 26 to 27.
Contest Results: 1968 World Contest Puerto Rico.

Page 19a

Rincon. 7th November, 1968.

Tonight the inaugural ceremony for the opening of the contest.
A genuine happening!
Nobody really held it, it just occurred, making the formal oh so informal!
Furious last minute sorting out a jumble of uniforms in a giant man-handled package.
(Australia's colours really apple-green, red and gold ?)
A bumpy bus ride to the PIaza waiting expectantly, the biggest crowd sInce the frenetIc electrons of two days before.
The Rincon Highriders Motor-Cycle Club, downing a crystal clear rum or two at the cafe, their Harley Davidsons gleaming chrome in a line outside.
Were they out for the destruction of the parade and the blood of the competitors?
They were just going to lead the procession.
Draped in fringed jackets, a  clash in styles between Roy Rogers and The Wild One, white lettering on blue with white fringes identifying them to the bewildered surfers, they traversed the few yards to the rallying point of the parade to follow, in a kangaroo-leap of noisy, oily, rubber throwing, intoxicating power.
The teams of surfers, Iined rather haphazardly behind their reined-in escort, shambled the two hundred metres it took to circumnavigate the Plaza.

The town band beat and blew its instruments valiantly in the dim fluorescent light of the plaza.
Keith Paull, looking alternately astonished and amused, led the Australians, who seemed dazed by the thundering open exhausts of the Harleys just a few feet away.
All the town was packed into the plaza, laughing, singing, crowded into the steps of the rostrum, Iying precariously along the branches of the thick dark trees, bursting into applause as the Puerto Rican team approached its place on front of the dignitaries on the rostrum.
Speeches were made and the mayor, a glum, squat, dark man in a sober coloured suit, gave a speech which sounded curiously sincere, then presented the keys of the town of Rincon to a gaily-suited, patrician Eduardo Arena.

Then the ceremony was over and the crowd broke for the Villa Cofresi and the free white Puerto Rican rum which awaited them. Surfers and band and motorcycle club rubbed shoulders in me spirit of a small town ceremony which had been peculiar and touching.

Peculiarly touching too.

Page 18

Black and white photograph: [Beach spectators.]

Rincon. 8th November, 1968.

No swell to speak of today.

But there was a draw and the heats and their composition have been decided.
Midget has no opposition, at least no "name" opposition, unless one includes Gordon Burgess of England in this category.
Ted Spencer has Joey Cabell and Petie Johnson.
Robert Conneeley is up against Corky Carroll. .
Wayne Lynch faces Johnny Fain and James Blears from Hawaii.
Nat is not expected to be too troubled by the local wonder Jorge Machuca, though Ron Roman of New Zealand poses more problems.
And Russell Hughes' main threats come from Fred Hemmings, Keith Paull's from Reno Abellira.
Peter Drouyn probably has drawn the toughest heat with Gary Propper, Hawaii's Kevin Johns and Rodney Sumpter.

Luckily all countries were amenable to using eight surfers, so Tony Olsen's pleas on Australia's behalf bore fruit.
It was decided to have a big wave contest if there should be big waves, otherwise the one contest would decide all.
At the moment, the presence of big waves in Puerto Rico seems highly legendary.
We've been here for five weeks and have seen only one swell slightly over five feet.

More free white Puerto Rican rum courtesy of the Bonnie Bell cosmetic company.
There are some surfers who are definitely not praying for surf tomorrow.

Rincon, 9th November, 1968.

The women's contest was held in what r seemed like anti-climatic haste, considering after all that it was the contest for the best
woman surfer in the world.
A few quick heats and a semi-final in good quality, 3-4 foot Domes surf, an hour-long lunch which allowed the wind to turn on-shore, and Margo Godfrey was the new women's champion.
Gail Couper and Joyce Hoffman both were knocked out of the proceedings in their semi-finals, and the 15 year old Santa Barbara schoolgirl, the popular and sentimental choice, walked it in.
Phyllis O'Donnell, from Queensland but working in Dewey Weber's shop, apparently, as someone said, ripening with age, came third and surfed ...

Page 19b

... extremely well.
Sharon Webber from Hawaii was second.
This second place seemed a little ominous, since Martha Sun, also from Hawaii, ripped, whereas Sharon just made waves but the length of her waves seemed to take it out for her.
All the girls, with the exception of Martha Sun and, at the end, Margo, seemed nervous and were inclined to play things a little safe.
This seemed especially true of Gail Couper.

Rincon. 10th November, 1968.

Well, Domes was the spot again, this time for the elimination heats of the men's.
It must be the firsttime that a surfing contest, let alone the world contest, has been held on U.S. Government property, for the place known as Domes is a nuclear hot-water power plant, and is named, or rather nicknamed, after the 2001- looking rust-streaked silver dome which houses its innards, nestled incongruously among the deep-green palm trees.
The reason that anyone is allowed on this site is because the plant is being closed down.
In a small swell, Domes offers the best quality small surf in the area.
But such slow waves!
The Hawaiians especially had troubles (though one wouldn't have thought so from the judging).

The first Australian to get knocked out of the contest was a sick Ted Spencer, who was beaten by Petie Johnson and Joey Cabell in a first two out of six, five waves in twenty minutes contest.
Cabell got better waves and longer rides and did nought, Ted's waves were not quite as good but he did surf them.
Rob Conneeley was the next out.
After ten minutes he was still waiting outside with no waves caught; he finished with only four.
The Cork got ten.
Peter Drouyn's fate was similar though he didn't surf as well as Conneeley, who had been in his best form.
Midget, Nat, Wayne Lynch and Keith Paull (who was also sick) won their heats, and Russell was second in his to Hemmings, leaving Australia with 5 out of 8 into the quarter finals.
Rolf Arness was the judges' most glaring omission, going down to Ben Aipa and Felipe Pomar for no apparent reason.
He looked to Australian eyes the best surfer in his heat.

Page 20

Black and white photographs.
Top: [David Nuuhiwa top turn, white competition shirt.]

Bottom: [Domes  landscap.]

Idly reflecting over the day's activities, it seemed odd that it probably cost each Australian eliminated from the contest $75 a surfing minute, which wasn't really very good value.
Twenty minutes, five waves, two out of six and see you later, boys.
Rather cursory.
Perhaps the system used in the Australian contest, of two separate contests, best 6 accumulated points to be the finalists is better, eliminating as it does the luck of the draw, at least as far as opponents are concerned.
Many of the contestants seemed to have travelled a little too far for the justice they received.
One could argue that that's show business, but to me it doesn't seem good enough. Rincon. 11th November, 1968.
No swell.
Tandem and paddling events.
An Australian team won a Mack Sennett Paddling relay.

Rincon. 12th November, 1968.

Again no swell.
After two hours the committee of the seven major competing nations made the decision to have the contest on stand-by.
The 5,000 metre paddle race took place instead.
It was won by a Californian who had been brought from California to paddle, together with two others who came second and third. They had special paddle boards.
Peter Drouyn was 6th on a normal board.
Felipe Pomar was the first surfer to finish.

Rincon. 13th November, 1968.

No swell for the third day.

If nothing happens tomorrow then the stage is set for a gigantic farce.
The surfers could forgive the bad and inadequate food and the poor accommodation, and the high prices and the thefts, only if there is swell.
We met Pina, beautiful wife of the Peruvian Judge, coming out of the church.
We jokingly asked her if she was praying for surf, and in all seriousness she said she was.
She was so sincere we stopped smiling and mumbled that it was a good idea.

Rincon. 14th November, 1968.

The last day.

Somebody up there likes us.
Domes was 6-8 ft. and for once the Committee sprang into action.
The quarter finals , five waves in half an ...

Page 21

Black and white photographs.
Left : [Street scene with motor bike.]
Right: [Beach scene.]

hour, were run off in what seemed staccato precision.
Keith Paull was eliminated.
He didn't get the waves and that was that.
It was a disappointment for one of the most popular amoung the Australians.
The others, Nat, Wayne and Midget, won.
Russell was second.

Into the semi finals without a break.

Russell, who had been in the last quarter final, was in the first semifinal, which was an advantage.
Even though he had been tired after paddling through very heavy white water, he encountered the first surf which was big and wind-blown, and had got used to it, whereas his semifinal opponents including Hemmings again, had to accustom themselves to the poor conditions after the good quality of the morning.
And Russell was second again and into the final.
Midget and Nat both won their semis.
Many of the names went crashing down.
Lynch, Nuuhiwa, Carroll, Purpus, Cabell.
The last-names (sic) couldn't extract power from the thick but still-slow Domes waves, so the expected duel between him and Nat had to wait.
The finalists were then:
Australia; Midget, Russell, Nat
Hawaii; Hemmings, Reno Abellira
California; Mike Doyle.

Doyle had not been chosen in the Californian team originally but was taken as the big wave reserve.
He got to the final with just good surfing and extremely good use of the conditions, as well as good contest tactics.
Midget is his Australian equivalent.
Russell Hughes vindicated the judgement of his supporters.

By the time the last semi-finals has been completed, the surf at Domes was too wind-affected to be worthy of a world contest final.
On this occasion it took the contest committee two hours to decide to move to Rincon itself (known as Dona Maria's) where the slightly more westerly direction off (sic) the coast afforded the surf protection from the wind.
And, after an hour which it took to move the contest (it took the contest only half an hour, but ABC wide world of sports T.V. wasn't able to set up in that time, so could we have a world championship without ABC? No, we couldn't.)
The surf was very thick, hollow and still glassy.
A lot of waves were closing. out so you had to pick and choose.
Fred ...

Page 22

Photograph: [ Nat Young and "The Young Weber" board.]
The text is superimposed over the photograph.

Hemmings had to straighten out on the waves, dropped in on four others, got five or six perfectly respectable but highly uninteresting long rides, and won the Contest.
Nat tried some very difficult things, brought off half and blew the rest, and was fourth.
Midget was impeccable, got long rides, close to the curl, came off the top once or twice, and pulled a beautiful cut-back down the steep face of a wave which everyone thought would get him nailed, yet he got enough power out of the bottom turn to make the eight foot section.
That was memorable.
Surfers on the beach picked him as winner but they were wrong.
Russell was beautiful.
He got long rides as least as long as right-said-Fred, and got two tubes to boot, and they were big waves to disappear in.
But he came third.
Mike Doyle made good waves, surfed very well and close to the curl, tried a few neat top-turns, and was fifth.
Little sixteen year old Reno Abellira didn't get a lot of waves and blew a few, but his tiny little surfing water-ski propelled his faster than anyone else, and he was exciting on the waves or part-waves he caught.
He took off on the biggest wave of the day and it was exciting to see him move his legs in telescope fashion absorbing the shock from the lumps across the face of the wave, miraculously attached to his tiny pin-tail.
Reno was sixth.

So the contest was over, Hawaii was stoked, the crowd was surprised, but there's really no reason why a world contest should produce more consistent results than any other contest.

1. F. Hemlngs Hawaii
2. B. Farrelly Australia
3. R. Hughes Australia
4. R. Young Australia
5. M. Doyle West Coast
6. R. Abellira Hawaii

It seems to me that the reception at the Mayagues Hilton after the final, more or less encapsulated the feeling which the contest produced.
Despite the cons, the pros seemed to finish first.
From the start it was obvious that to the Puerto Rican organizers, surflng came second.
Surfers interested were subjugated to those of the Department of Tourism, namely development for ...

Page 23

[Nat Young top turn.]

Page 24

tourists of the Puerto Rican West Coast.
Thus ABC-TV (U.S.A.) were given prime importance, since they were the instrument of publicity.
The source of publicity, surfing could well have been mountain climbing or ping-pong or whatever other potential the Rincon area might have offered.
That its surfing potential was greater than any other, was a mere whim of nature.
In this over-riding atmosphere, the food and accommodation and organization and cost of living were all bad.
Security was worse.
Nearly 1/3 of the boards taken to the contest were, stolen.
Dr. Don James and another photographer, Peter Dixon, had all their photographic gear stolen and thus left before the final.
Yet the Puerto Ricans themselves were extremely friendly and this helped make up for the cupidity of a few.
All the bad things, together with the lack of the surf everyone had promised, irritated and annoyed the surfers, but at the same time united them, so that the nuisance value of unpleasantries tended to be met and balanced out by a kind of solidarity among all surfers present.

A type of communal feeling existed which seemed to make even the contest result unimportant.
At the Prize-giving dinner, even right-said- Fred pin pointed this in his victory speech, while people all around were exchanging ideas, planning projects, new board and help for each other in Hawaii.
In Puerto Rico, if someone had a board stolen, everyone was willing to lend him another.
If an American forgot something, an Australian would drive him back to get it.
If a Hawaiian dinged his board, a Panamanian would patch it for him.
Things like that.
And once again, the Mayor of Rincon pulled off a master-coup of a speech.

You could see he was speaking Spanish slowly so that even Anglo-Saxons could try to pick up what he was saying.
Then, in extremely broken and slow English, he said that Rincon ,was the home of everyone there.
And everyone there knew that he, meant it, and what's more, they believed it. 

[Russell Hughes and friend.]
[Midget Farrelly and board, two others, one with board.]

Note the rubbish scattered on the beach.

Page 25

[Unknown, bottom turn.]

Surf International
Volume 2, Number 1. 
January 1969.

Back cover:
Shane Surfboards

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Geoff Cater (2011-2020) : Paul Carey : Puerto Rico Notebook, 1968.