(Almost) Two Decades Of Separation
Glyndyn Ringrose was the best untold story of the Rip Curl Pro.
Water safety pioneer, world tour surfer in 2000, CT wildcard in 2017 and motivational dynamo. One of the few people (alongside Kelly Slater) who can claim they’ve surfed against a post world-title John John Florence and a pre-jail Sunny Garcia – years when both Hawaiians were, and are, in their zenith.
I had no idea who Glyndyn Ringrose was until I saw him surf the biggest, grossest Bells (a consequence of a localised windstorm) during the Rip Curl Pro Trials. And even then, I only initially paid attention to him because I thought his name was funny. “Is that just a Welsh variation of Glendon?” I thought while looking over the trials roster, chuckling. Unconventional vowel placement gets me every time. I continued to skim onwards down the list.
However, once the trials wrapped up, and Glyndyn had won, I found myself coming back to the now Rip Curl Pro, Bells wildcard. I did some research, for fun. What did I find? Well, not only did he surf on the world tour 17 years ago, but he’s also been a fixture on the WSL water safety team in the Fiji, Bells and Gold Coast events. Also, he’s been trying to qualify for Bells for more than a decade now. Interesting enough.
Oh, and he’s also a 44-year-old cancer survivor. Wait, what? So a guy who overcame one of life’s most severe health challenges blew his way past dozens of young, spry competitors to achieve a goal he’s been aspiring to for years? Seeing as I, unfortunately, don’t have any connections to documentary film studios, I decided instead to give him a call. Or rather, he called me after I texted him. He had just finished surfing with his kids, and was more than happy to chat.
First, we discussed the trials. “I’ve been trying to win the Bells trials since I was on the CT back in ’99-2000,” Glyndyn says. “I’ve come up one place too short multiple times. I almost kinda forgot about doing it for a bit. Well, maybe not completely forgot, but it was always in the back of my mind – qualifying for a CT event, again. There was always a possibility. But I’ve always come up just that tiny bit short.
“This time I only qualified because a lot of the young guys pulled out and I got a text saying I was able to join in. The conditions suited me and made it through to the final and, yeah, won the final.”
As mentioned, the last time Glyndyn surfed in the CT was 2000, his final event being the Mountain Dew Pipeline Masters, which was won by Rob Machado. Since then, the closest he’s been to another CT was as part of the water safety team, a job he’s done since leaving the world tour, and recently made headlines for pulling Sally Fitzgibbons out of the water after she lacerated her foot in round three at Bells.
“I fell into it once I got off the tour,” Glyndyn continued. “Skis were just starting to become a thing. I had a ride on a ski with my friend, Shane Bevan, who was on tour with me back in the day and just thought, ‘This is so much fun!’ You can jump over chop, outrun any wave, chase any wave, tow surf, it was the best.
“At the same time, Quiksilver had the sponsor for Snapper and asked me if I wanted to do the ski for the Quiksilver Pro, way back when I had just started driving. And I thought, ‘Yeah why not!’ So I was doing it back then in the day with guys like Darren Handley and my brother. We did the Quiky Pro, and that led on, because I lived in Victoria (Phillips Island specifically), to the comp guys saying, ‘Why don’t you do Bells? You live down there and you’re a Victorian surfer.’ And it’s just been a slow progression from that.
“Coming from a professional surfing background, I understood what the surfers wanted. I could sort of encourage others to do things like not make chop in the lineup and be inconspicuous.
“It was a slow growing process, but I work with a bunch of different groups. The guys on the Gold Coast, the guys down here at Bells and also the guys in Fiji. It’s a great thing and I really enjoy doing it.”
Considering his almost two-decade long absence from the CT, I asked Glyndyn how the level of surfing feels today compared to the time of Y2K: “It’s progressed a lot, professional surfing. Back in my day it was really just Sunny Garcia doing the same hacks three times for a huge score. With Sunny and Matt Hoy it was the start of the big hack thing, all power. But now you have to have a huge variety of just turns alone. You can’t just have one thing that you rely on. You have to have a hack, rail game, a good cutback. A massive variety altogether.
“Watching it over the years I’ve seen that natural progression move forward and it has developed quite a lot. Back then, you could just pop your board up, get your fins out a little and get a huge score. Now you can’t just do a little pop, you actually have to do a quality air to actually get a real score. It’s a good mixture at the moment of power, quality turns and aerial.
“It’s definitely changed. But changed for the better. Challenging every surfer to actually surf to their limits. You look at John John, who I was up against in round one, he had an average heat. And he still had two, three air reverses. As I’ve said, it’s all changed for the best.”
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