In brilliant sunshine and spectacular waves, the O’Neill CWC in Thurso, Scotland – which, at 59° degrees north is the most northern wave spot on the planet to host a professional surfing event, resulted in a battle between two Antipodeans – 24-year old Brent Dorrington from Queensland, Australia and 27-year old Jay Quinn from Gisborne, New Zealand.
Since 2006 the World Qualifying Series (WQS) of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) gives its annual guest performance at the very North of the United Kingdom. This 6-star event sees the greatest WQS surfers fight for the distinguished sword in the ice cold waves where water temperatures are expected to be between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius.
2011 proved no exception to this exciting event. Jay Quinn has some experience with cold water surfing. His hometown saw the first O’Neill Cold Water Classic this year, but Dorrington is a newbie to this extreme type of surfing. “I decided to man up and come try to surf in the cold,” said Gold Coast surfer Brent. So to walk away with the Highland sword, the prize money, the title and the knighting from plain old Brent Dorrington to Lord Brent Dorrington can be seen as an incredible achievement.
“I have never won a comp in my life so to be in a final and win it is truly amazing. I’m on top on the O’Neill Coldwater Classic Series now,” said an elated Dorrington. “l am looking for the bonus at the end of the series and the points from this contest are really important to me. It has just pumped here this week and it has been the best waves I’ve had in a comp.”
Brent Dorrington is not, however, unknown in surfing circles. His older brother, Luke, refers to him as that “sausage-fingered midget”, but it has been suspicioned for some time now that he might well be “the next big thing” out of the Gold Coast. “With his father shaping his boards, his mom letting him bail school for the life of a pro surfer, support from his ripping older brother, and surfing with the best in the world, big things are expected from Brent Dorrington,” says the official Oakley site. ‘Brenno’, as Dorrington is known, is a member of the Oakley Surf Team.
The win over Jay Quinn was his first-ever ASP Star Tour triumph and it wasn’t in the easiest conditions. Besides the icy water, the waves were a challenge – not necessarily because they were huge, but because in the final heat they were virtually non-existent!
The competition was really decided in the semi-finals. Brenno had a staggering near-perfect score of 18.5 at the expense of New Zealander, Richard Christie. “I just snagged two waves in the first 10 minutes with a first turn and then a barrel on both of them. There hadn’t been any barrels before that or after so they were the only two out there and I got them both, lucky me.”
Luck has a lot to do with it, but detracts not at all from the fact that this guy is a world class surfer.
The final heat had been delayed due to the low tide mark, but resumed late afternoon. However, the waves continued to be inconsistent and only 2-3 feet high at Thurso East reef and had to be restarted in the first 10 minutes due to lack of any waves at all. They remained uncooperative for most of the 35-minute final. However, the situation became relatively better during the last few minutes and Dorrington, again, drew the lucky straw and managed to catch them both which was enough to secure him the overall title.
“I’m going to hang the sword in my pool room and it’ll look good on the wall for sure,” Brenno said. “Adam Melling (fellow Oakley rider) and Royden Bryson are good friends of mine and they both have one, so I’m stoked to join the club.”
His success in Scotland has placed Dorrington ahead of Adam Melling, Joan Duru and Quinn on the CWC ratings. With the second stop now concluded, the O’Neill CWC Series will head off to Tofino, Canada, for its third round scheduled to run from October 15-21.
After the snowstorms of 2010 no-one knew what to expect this year, but the weather was glorious. “Since coming up here with this event we have always battled the elements on this exposed wild coastline of Scotland. This year, while the water is still freezing, the conditions out of the water have been a pleasant surprise for everyone involved in this event,”” said Bernhard Ritzer, O’Neill Director of Sports Marketing. Add to that the fact that the mobile event had no need to explore further than the world-class wave of Thurso East, and the competition could be judged an all-round success.
“It’s been an awesome week of surf,” said Australian Jarrad Howse. “These have been some of the best conditions we have ever had for this competition. Not only has the comp been impressive, but the freesurfing around this area has been incredible. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Roll on October and Tofino…