For a contest two years away in a Japanese beachbreak…
Right now, I’m looking at a presser from Surfing Australia. The headline, and it’s a doozy, reads, “Opening Three Days of Surfing Australia’s National Squad Olympic Readiness Training Camp at WSL KS Surf Ranch a Success”
Two three-day blocks of exclusive “training sessions” at Surf Ranch. With coaches, shapers, surfers. The whole entourage is over there. And it poses one really fucking big question. Why the fuck is Australia’s Olympic squad training for a contest that’s going to be held in two year’s time in a two-foot Japanese beachbreak at a long, slow wave-pool point?
Think about it.
Who’s paying for all the tickets? The hotels? The rental cars? The pool? What’s the total budget? Every single airfare is a couple of grand from Australia. It makes no fucking sense whatsoever.
The Board locker room at the Surf Ranch during the Surfing Australia Olympic Readiness Camp. Surfers, Ace Buchan, Matt Wilkinson, Owen Wright, Ethan Ewing, Connor O'Leary, Wade Carmichael, Stuey Kennedy, Steph Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Keely Andrew, Nikki Van Dijk, Macy Callaghan, Bronte McCaulay. Head Coach Bede Durbridge, Andrew Stark, Kim Crane. Support team, Dave McCaulay, Jason Rodd, Martin Fitzgibbons, Mick Fanning, Darren Handley, Mick Cain, Luke Egan, Nam Baldwin, Chris Prosser, Jason Patchell , Ted Grambeau & the My Surf TV crew, ( Nim & Blainey ). @bededurbo @surfingaus @australian_institute_of_sport @mfanno @stephaniegilmore @sally_fitz @mattwilko8 @stueykennedy @mysurftv @acebuchan @thegreenapple10 @connoroleary @ethan_ewing @nikkivandijk @wadecarmichael @dhdsurf @tedgrambeau @keelyandrew @brontemacaulay @dmacsurfboards @jrsurfboards @kswaveco @jeffbiz1 @kellyslater @owenwright1
It’s a WSL marketing exercise. Are they trying to put pressure on the ISA and IOC to use that pool for the Olympics? Why else would you be training in a pool? It’s the worst training you could do for Chiba. For fuck’s sake, send ’em to Chiba and train over there. It’s a lot cheaper and a lot more relevant to go to Chiba and surf two-to-three-foot beachbreaks and work on their technique there instead of in long lefts and rights.
If you wanted instant improvement, wouldn’t you send the surfers to the American Wave Machines pool in Waco? Kelly’s pool is great, it looks beautiful, photogenic as hell, but I haven’t seen anyone surf there the best they can surf. At Waco, you can see the improvement in a day.
Six weeks ago, or whatever it was, the CEO of Surfing Australia, Andrew Stark announced he was leaving to become the WSL’s general manger for Australia and Oceania. He’ll also be working on “the development of the first WSL High Performance Training Centre in the region, leveraging the Kelly Slater Wave Pool Technology.”
From the same presser, “Andrew started at Surfing Australia in 2009 when the organisation was very small, with 7 staff and less than $1 million turnover. 9 ½ years later under his strong leadership, the organisation is now a thriving business with nearly 28 full time staff turning over $7 million per annum. In July, they are opening the doors to the massively expanded $10 million High Performance Centre at Casuarina Beach.”
I get it. He’s real good at building bureaucracies. (Yeah, I’ve written about that before, too.)
So Australia’s got the finest facilities in the world and the biggest infrastructure. Except we’ve got no fucking surfers coming through the system. Australian competitive surfing is in a lot of trouble right now. It has become so sanitised through Surfing Australia that the really gifted surfers seem to shy away from it. People talk about the Brazilian Storm. It’s not a Storm it’s a fucking Brazilian earthquake.
And you know what comes after an earthquake? A tsunami. What we’re seeing is a tidal wave of Brazilians coming through. Who’s Australia got? Mikey Wright, Jack Robinson, maybe Ethan Ewing. We’re a dribble. There’s no substance.
Ethan Ewing tearing at the Surf Ranch during the Surfing Australia Olympic Readiness Camp. Ethan won the mini contest that was held at the end of the first training day yesterday. Vision & Re Post from @mysurftv @surfingaus @surfingaushpc @australian_institute_of_sport @ethan_ewing @dhdsurf @dhdsurf
And that’s what worries some of us older guys, people who’ve been amongst competitive surfing for a long time. It stands out like dogs balls. To see these huge bureaucracies grow, these millions of dollars spent, and no results.
Just fucking more and more motherhood statements and empty theatrics.