Hit it hard, hit it fast. And live a little…
The first tour event starts in a few weeks. Wipe off the anticipatory saliva and bite in.
Is Gabriel a one-shot champ or is this is the start of an Andy Irons or, even, Kelly Slater-esque rule? Filipe? How’s his huck this year? Is John John interested in Snapper’s three-foot runners enough to fire his guns? Was Julian’s end-of-season form in Hawaii a sign that he’s shucked off his terrible form of early 2014?
And Joel, Mick, Kelly? Where do they fit in?
Excited? Yeah, we should be. So why does the thought of 12, 30-minute round one heats, the round two heats that soak up another half day, lay-days, women’s heats thrown in hither and thither, fill me with horror?
It shouldn’t be like this. The best surfing happens on tour. But the tour is flawed. Like a good-looking woman with poor dress sense and permanent tension in her mouth.
You want five ways to improve the tour, right now?
1. Reduce the tour from 34 to 12
Truth is, unless you have some kinda personal contact or affinity with anyone outside the top dozen, watching ’em tag waves to the beach does nothing for you, for me, or for the supposed greater audience the World Surf League is chasing. Sure, having 34 surfers guarantees a career for men who, let’s face it, ain’t Stevie Hawkings and would therefore be laying concrete or slapping paint on walls, but it ain’t taking the game forward. It’s making up numbers. And making up numbers means…
2. You’ve gotta finish an event in two days, max
Four days for men, three days for women. Two-week waiting periods. Endless calls. Endless standbys. It’s the most lurid tempo! No wonder such a ferocious sex hunger develops around tour events. You want to see an exciting sport. Go to Speedway. Three hours. A few heats and a winner-takes-all final. Spectators with no interest in motor sports are captivated. Surfing needs a full-day super jam, two if conditions turn to grease. Which means…
3. Forget combining men’s and women’s events
Oh! You get to use the same infrastructure thereby reducing costs? How ideal! It’s an uneasy coexistence. How many joints do you know can deliver a week of good waves within a two or three-week period, across all tides? It don’t happen. And so you’re left with crucial heats running in the crummiest and most inconsistent closeouts.
Speaking of tides and inconsistent closeouts…
4. Portugal has to be iced
What should be a sideshow of tuberiding and shorebreak tumbling has become the event where world title hopes and dreams of victory are dashed upon Supertubos’ shallow sandbank. Kelly knows. And Jordy Smith, the best surfer there last year, sat in a miserable ocean and caught one wave in the final (Click on the play button to watch). That ain’t sport at its best.
5. Live a little
Bottom line, y’ain’t ever going to get even a slice of the football or soccer or basketball crowds. Surfing is too subjective, too hard to understand. So, live a little. Let the guys on the mic, all of whom know a thing or two, loosen up.
If you don’t terrorise, it’s not surfing.