Who's gonna miss it, right?
Two days ago, I engaged the creator of #TourNotes, Peter King, in discussion of the tumultuous 2015 WSL season. As a former professional surfer with an unmatched overview of the game, he gave a rousing and through account of the season.
In a nutshell, Filipe, best in the world, judging, prone to costly mistakes, Gabriel, big legs.
What I didn’t include in the interview, which was already a little long (who’s got the time to scroll down half a dozen pages!), was PK’s recipe for a better tour.
And let’s put this in a nutshell, too. Kill the WQS, says PK.
Shall we examine?
BeachGrit: I’m always surprised by the unwieldiness of the tour. Thirty-something guys, plus gals at a few events, two sets of loser rounds, two-week waiting periods. Test cricket is fast-paced compared to pro surfing. I believe numbers should be slashed. You?
PK: There shouldn’t be a QS. There should be one event. Everyone comes and surfs the event. I’ll explain. Snapper. You have the top 16, or whatever, and the rest go up on the Sunshine Coast for ten days to decide who goes against the top 16. Get rid of the of the WQS and that gets 12 million dollars back in the kitty. Obviously, you’re not going to have 108 guys at Cloudbreak, but there other spots in Fiji to decide the surfers. No more one stars, two stars, three stars, six stars, ten stars, no more Primes. Everyone comes to the 12 events, once a month. One hundred and sixty guys descend on a town for two weeks. So, for Trestles, they surf Oceanside for ten days. This used to be called the QS. Every heat win is worth 250 bucks so it’s worth it for everyone. Go have an event, get your 16 guys and they come up to Trestles for the main event. The whole tour is in California for a month, it’s great for rent-a-cars, it’s great for hotels. At the moment, it’s a painful system.
BeachGrit: I’m such a fan, oh such a fan, but those first two days of an event, no matter how deftly called, are drudgery.
PK: Less is more. You don’t have to broadcast until 16 guys are left surfing. You have two days of action. Best two days and we’re on. We got great talent and we got two days. An event that lasts longer than an international cricket match, well, you can’t keep everyone’s attention. It’s a tough show.
You know what all the guys say about the QS? They love it that they know…exactly… when their heat is on. My heat is happening at 11am on Thursday. It’s like a boardriders club contest. You know it’s happening and that’s that. If you’re in crap conditions, it’s crap for everyone.
BeachGrit: Worse are events in opposite hemispheres when events go on and off standby. It’s hard to wake up at two am for the possibility an event might run, and then only two or three heats.
PK: They struggle with that in France. It’s not easy to go down the beach in France, it’s called off, walking over the sand dunes, back to the hotel, come back, find parking, walk over the sand dunes. It’s a hassle. France is the hardest place. You need the right tide, the right bank. There’s some tough decisions. The moment they say it’s on, a bank pops up that’s better. Europe is brutal. You know what all the guys say about the QS? They love it that they know…exactly… when their heat is on. My heat is happening at 11am on Thursday. It’s like a boardriders club contest. You know it’s happening and that’s that. If you’re in crap conditions, it’s crap for everyone.
BeachGrit: It’s always hard to watch the two best surfers in the contest have a final in deteriorating waves, which often happens.
PK: You want to finish strong. It’d take two days to finish a premiere event in my new format. Two days. Great, we’re going today and tomorrow. It’s tough to pick good conditions for three or four days.
BeachGrit: You see it when the girls have stand-alone events. It’s wrapped in a day and a half.
Ronnie Blakey is my favourite. His fake Australian accent is amazing. It’s, like, I don’t believe the news if it’s coming from an American. It has to be read by an English person. With surfing analysis, it has to be an Australian voice. Let’s put it back in the hands of people that know.
PK: The girls’ tour is a lot easier to run. There’s so few of ‘em. You know what else I’m thinking? There should be a qualifying series for announcers. I’d sure like to see Barton Lynch qualify for the announcing booth and hear some real analysis. Did Sean-o (Doherty) lose favour along the way? I don’t know how you can’t have those voices explaining what’s going on.
BeachGrit: Tell me how you feel about Joe Turpel. I can’t imagine pro surfing without his distinctive, just below falsetto.
PK: I’ve done broadcasting before and a guy like Joe is invaluable to a webcast. If you’re a producer in the booth, you need someone who tells the audience where you are and what’s been happening. He’s so good at directing the traffic. Joe’s perfect, he’s the voice of surfing. But without calling anyone out, Ronnie Blakey is my favourite. His fake Australian accent is amazing. It’s, like, I don’t believe the news if it’s coming from an American. It has to be read by an English person. With surfing analysis, it has to be an Australian voice. Let’s put it back in the hands of people that know.
BeachGrit: Do you enjoy Pottz’s international accent?
PK: I just like him. When he was at the top of his game he signed a picture for me that read: Remember, nothing is impottzable. I never forgot it. He’s a world champion. If you’re not a world champ or an Australian, get off the stage.
BeachGrit: You want to ice the WQS, and this I hear, but what do you think the WSL got very right this year?
PK: The best thing they did was get everybody talking about surfing again. Every surf blog in the world, every surf website in the world, analyses every nuance of the WSL. All they need is us talking about it, and we’re talking.