Surfing News & Surf Industry Top Stories: Kelly Slater & a Big Wave WT; Molokai, Biolos in Europe
June 24, 2012 Down The Line Surf Talk Radio with Bassy n Baldy on XTRA SPORTS 1360AM in San Diego; on iTunes podcast (Google it).
Tom Morey was once asked if he would give up surfing for a million dollers. He responded by asking something to the effect of “does that include hanging your hand out the car window at a freeway underpass?”.
Segment Sponsor Quiksilver Waterman Collection is presenting next years’ Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction presented by Quiksilver Waterman Collection which takes place May 11, 2013 in the brand new state-of-the-art building at the OC Fairgrounds called The HANGAR. Quiksilver Waterman Collection and their brand ambassadors on twitter Mark Healey @healeysurf , Shayne McIntyre @ShayneMcIntyre, Jamie Mitchell, Peter Mel @peter_mel, Mel Pu’u: Robby Naish;
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EMAILs/ TWEEETS / SHOUT OUTS:
Email #1: Hey Bassy and Baldy,
Like both of you guys I’m a fan of the WCT, it’s surfers and the webcasts, and like both of you I was both enthralled and disappointed by what went down at the Fiji Pro on June 8. Enthralled because regardless of who was in the water, we got to see some epic hollow big wave surfing go down. And disappointed because we didn’t get to see high-performance WCT surfing go down in rare waves of consequence. I feel Surfline did a great job at breaking down the situation, but my own thoughts — some not brought up in the article and some in response — are below.
1. While the best surfers for those conditions were indeed in the water when things lined up (and I was stoked to see them charge), this was a WCT event and if those big wave surfers were skunked because the contest was run, well, c’est la vie. Those days were blacked out for that event well in advance and those chargers were aware of this as they boarded airplanes.
2. The fact that some WCT surfers were unprepared for such a swell is inexcusable; Surfline predicted the swell well in advance (hell, I was giddy about watching such a swell hit) and so it wasn’t like it wasn’t in the mainstream. They needed to be ready in case it paid off like expected. They’re professionals, it’s their job to be prepared for all conditions. Shaun White doesn’t show up with his powder board when he’s going to be competing in the Superpipe. Or if it’s fogged out, slope style competitors bring appropriate goggles. Can you imagine Kobe Bryant not competing because he brought the wrong shoes? Please. If you don’t have the right board, whatever the conditions, then you perform accordingly. Simple.
3. The great thing about the WCT tour is that the different breaks bring out different strengths and weaknesses in different surfers; advantages and disadvantages are implicit in such a format. This is obvious. The tour tends to be skewed to fairness because of this; things balance out. The PGA Tour is interesting because of this. It’s the same idea. If you’re well-rounded, you’ll probably succeed.
4. If there was ever going to be a time when “inexperienced” WCT surfers were going to compete in those conditions, this was it. It was indeed paddleable and there was arguably some of the most experienced water patrol to minimize the risk and “pick up the pieces” when necessary. If there was ever a time to go and and push the sport forward, June 8 was the day. There might be another opportunity such as this, but with waiting periods being as constricted as they are, and the lack of spots on the tour that have such consequential “magical” days are few. Sure, there will be special swells for trestles, super tubes, bells etc., but they’ll never have the teeth of a break like Cloudbreak.
5). This is the main stage for pro surfing. These are the kind of conditions where names are made. Think about Jeremy Flores last year in Tahiti. Here’s a kid, who only a couple of years earlier opted not to charge the big stuff when presented the opportunity (the infamous vote to wait or not for an incoming swell) in competition and has now been invited to the Eddie based on his performance. The ASP missed an opportunity to further its lesser-known and younger surfers — the brands future — beyond Kelly Slater. A potential gutsy, surprise performance from somebody unexpected was squandered. Somebody was robbed of the opportunity to make a name for themselves. Imagine an XXL nominee in a WCT jersey? Competition is how these athletes at that level push each other. Those who have it in them to step up, will. Those who don’t, won’t. Simple. Competitive, live sports are compelling because of the drama they create; we truly don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s exciting. It’s not scripted. Think Michael Jordan. Think Willis Reed. Think Kirk Gibson. All big performances on the biggest stage. All legendary.
Look, it was great to see all those waves ridden by guys who do that for a living. As a surf fan, and now a quadriplegic who doesn’t surf much, I was in heaven. But this was a WCT event, and this kind of high-level competition can’t be duplicated during a free surf. Yeah, guys push each other with each wave ridden no matter what, but it’s different — it’s friendlier. Look at the emotion generated between Adriano and CJ; that was only because winning and losing were on the line i.e. ratings points, money, personal accolades, a career.
So as exciting as it was to watch some of the best big wave surfers do what they do in conditions they’re familiar with, it would have been far more riveting and dramatic to see WCTers make competitive surfing history, and quite possibly witness an unexpected legendary performance. Extraordinary circumstances have a way of bringing out the extraordinary in humans.
Oh, what could have been.
Great show guys! Peace and aloha.
Tony S — end emails —-
SURFING should consider a separate big-wave tour, says 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.
Slater was responding to questions from The Australian regarding the decision to halt the Volcom Fiji Pro in what turned out to be enormous, perfect waves at Cloudbreak.
When that event was called off, it allowed up to 30 big-wave specialists, who had flown in especially for the occasion, to put on their own show. The session was broadcast live on Volcom’s webcast and its TV affiliates.
Asked if the decision not to run the event had diminished the sport’s marketability, Slater said: “It actually brings up a more interesting question about the Association of Surfing Professionals backing a big-wave world tour or events in a specialty way as they happen.
“These (big-wave) guys and these swells need a good platform that supports what they’re already doing and someone to really document the whole lifestyle and help these guys out more.”
The most influential people in Sport
As reported in The Australian last week, the decision to abandon the contest came down to a split vote, with head judge Richie Porta voting for the event to proceed and contest director Matt Wilson and a representative of the surfers calling for a postponement.
There has been some speculation in online forums about exactly who was the surfer who voted with Wilson to stop the contest. However, Taj Burrow, who would have been in the first heat if the event had continued, said the surfers’ vote had been the result of a kind of consensus.
Burrow said he was consulted, as were a handful of other surfers in the ensuing heats. “I was scared,” Burrow said with a wry laugh.
“I’m pretty sure the surfers felt like we just didn’t have big enough boards. It was just this really weird, unorganised moment. In the meantime, the big-wave guys were out there going nuts and a lot of us felt we’d just watch them.”
The incident also raises the issue of the role of the contest director, and whose interests he represents. In an email to The Australian, Wilson, who normally works for the ASP as a regional director, said he was still being employed by the ASP at the time of the announcement to call off the contest.
But ASP tour manager Renato Hickel said: “For that event, Matt was the contest director through Volcom. Once the event accepts, he’s working for the event.”
The distinction is important. Volcom was in a win-win situation at the time. Call the event on, and the world’s most famous surfers will throw themselves at huge waves, live on Volcom’s broadcast. Call the event off, and it still gets to broadcast the unsanctioned big-wave session anyway, regardless of the opportunity lost for the ASP.
Slater said the ASP should have one contest director for the entire season, whose allegiance is to the ASP.
“We should have a single contest director for all events hired by ASP who works closely with the people who know each spot best,” he said. “We have seen cases where contest directors can run based on conditions that suit their friends/sponsored riders best. It’s human nature. We need someone at arm’s length.”
Slater added, however, he wasn’t criticising Wilson. “I don’t think he did a bad job.”
TOP 5 Stories:
#1 QnA Performance Shaping Bay has a solid list of shapers lined up to talk design to the surfing public:
Rusty P., Matt Calvani, Matt Biolos, Daniel Thomson, Chris Christenson, Timmy Patterson, Tim Stamps, a DIY show by Foam Ez, DIY by Shaper Studios
#2 Parko to Paddle Molokai. From JoelParko.com
How long has the idea of doing the Molokai race been floating around in your head?
It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long while now, but I never thought I’d ever get the chance. It’s always been on the bucket list but I never thought it’d come together until I’d finished with the tour.
How much of the race’s vibe have you soaked up over the years?
I’m always watching it every year. We’re generally in J-Bay when it’s on and I’m always checking it out. I guess Jamie (Mitchell, 10-time winner) is the king of it and being a Gold Coast surfer I’ve always been interested in the race and how he went. It’s been in the back of my mind to give it a go one year and experience it.
Are you doing it solo or as a team?
I’m doing it as a team with Wes (Berg). He’s one of the best board paddlers in the world and a guy I’ve trained with for years now, so he’s a pretty handy guy to do the race with.
How do you think you’ll go?
[Laughing] I’ll just be happy to finish. I’m there for the experience, not the win. It’s about being in the ocean, that’s why I’m doing it.
And you’re hearing the Kelly might be doing it as well?
Yeah… [laughing] maybe he doesn’t want Jamie to get to 11 Molokai wins! Nah, I reckon he’ll be doing it for pretty much the same reasons I’m doing it. I reckon he’s probably been thinking about doing it for a while too. It’ll be good having him in the race
#3 Matt Biolos off to Spain to shapes, so if you want him to make you a board call the Pukas factory in Spain and Matt will dial you in.
#4 Congrats to Jake Marshall from Encinitas Ca, for winning the boys U14 division of the USA Surf Championship yesterday at Lowers.
#5 Want to paddle a Downwinder on the Mainland? The Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge (CGPC) is a Festival celebrating the sport of Stand Up Paddling in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. The 2012 Gorge Paddle Challenge will once again feature a Distance Downwind Race, a Course Race, a Team Relay Race and a recreational, non-competitive Paddle for the Park, a fundraiser for the new Hood River Waterfront Park. In addition, there will be SUP exhibits from many companies, free SUP lessons and demos, live music and more!
The inaugural 2011 Gorge Paddle Challenge was held in near perfect conditions at the Hood River Waterfront Park. The Event was a huge success, with tremendous positive feedback from the athletes, sponsors and spectators. With over $15,000 in prize money given away the CGPC became one of the top prize money races in the US.