Will BWT competitors be given free reign to earn a buck wherever they can?
If you’ve paid any attention to the upcoming Titans of Mavericks event you may have noticed a few surprising names.
I’m talkin’ about Jamie Mitchell, Mark Healey, Greg Long, Albee Layer, Shane Dorian, John John Florence, Josh Kerr, Jamie Sterling… I’m sure I missed a few.
What do they all have in common? They’re WSL competitors! Which means they’ve all signed the “Surfers Agreement,” a document I have never seen.
But some minor deduction could lead one to believe it contains provisions related to competing in unsanctioned contests. Can’t allow that, no sir!
Which makes sense, in the context of ‘CT surfers. Those guys earn a fair living. But for the big-wave fellas it’s a little fucked. Damn hard to pay your bills as a hellman, unless you’ve got the world-class social media skills of everyone’s favorite diminutive shark rider, Mark Healey.
The sanctioning game came up during the Cape Fear event. BWT surfers weren’t allowed to enter. Albee Layer was very upset.
“People who surf on the WSL full time aren’t allowed to do any other events,” he told an online retailer, from whom I’ve lifted this, and the following, quote verbatim.
Which for the guys on the CT makes sense. They get paid much better than the big wave guys and all have good cash coming in from their sponsors; they can make a healthy living. On the Big Wave Tour we only get two or three events each year and not even a quarter of the prize money. If you won every event of the year, you’d still make less money than someone who places last every time on the CT. We should be able to try and surf wherever we can.”
More than half the guys on the BWWT aren’t sponsored. They can barely afford to do it. There’s not enough money in it for anyone to dictate what we do when the BWWT events aren’t on. It’s not really fair… for the guys on the CT it’s a good rule, but something needs to change for the Big Wave Tour. For us, they can go a whole year without running an event; that’s not a career. If that happens we’re making zero dollars. I’m lucky enough to have good sponsors, but most the guys on tour don’t. They don’t have anything coming in outside of the tour and aren’t making good money at the events. When opportunities like the Cape Fear event come up, it’s a chance to get good exposure and make some money. It seems like the WSL teaming up with events like this would be mutually beneficial to all parties.
To be sure, the Titans of Mavericks is a weird event. Lawsuits flying everywhere, a non-surf media company getting its mitts on the permit. Twiggy circulated a petition to include Peter Mel. The Party of Five handed him the axe for his troubles. The WSL tried to wrangle their own permit, but it was not to be.
So what the hell is going on?
Will the aforementioned big-wave slayers actually compete? Or is it little more than a marketing gimmick? I mean, you can invite anyone you want. Doesn’t mean their boss will allow them to surf in the event.
I reached out to Dave Prodan to find out more. He responded in his usual, delightfully terse, fashion.
It is not a sanctioned event.
However, the WSL respects Mavericks as a venue, and certainly the surrounding community, so WSL BWT surfers are permitted to compete in the event.
Hope that’s helpful.
It is helpful! Quite the policy flip. And it’s great! Only allowing BWT competitors in WSL events was a dick move. Total attempt to monopolize big-wave surfing. Great to know they’ve seen the error of their ways and decided to allow the boys a little more freedom.
One question remains. Is this indicative of long term WSL policy? Will BWT competitors be given free reign to earn a buck wherever they can?
Or is it a one-off, the result, maybe, of some backroom deal to which the likes of you and me will never be privy?