We forget how young pro surfing is. How tender, how fragile.
Be very honest now.
Organised “competitive” surfing is wandering round in a dark alley in a night-dress calling for help from a mid-western police department, possibly in a terminal condition.
Completely cancelled by Covid-19.
Have you missed it?
Hankering for it?
Of those who put their hand up, put it down if you are in the local boardriders. You represent less than 10% of surfers, in Australia at least, a far, far smaller percentage anywhere else.
Surfing as Sport has effectively been completely and wholly absent planet-wide since Black Friday March 13 , 2020 and crowds, people actually surfing, as long as beaches are open, have been bigger than ever.
Surfing as a sport, dead.
Yet surfing more popular than ever.
Ergo, surfing is not sport.
Too quick to rush to the conclusion?
Hold on, poor Nicolas Carroll is choking on his cornflakes, I can read his mind – even over the internets he claims massive overreach.
Let’s walk it back a step: six months or so into the Covid crisis and surfing has never seemed less like a sport that at any time since pre-colonial Hawaii when wave sliding on boards was the subject of something like a sport.
I don’t know the details of the Hawaiian system, let’s hope Matt Warshaw or even better, someone from the islands themselves like Huli Opu or CkT might fill us in on the sporting aspects of the he’e nalu as it was practised prior to Jimmy Cook’s visitations during ka wā kahiko.
Notwithstanding that, since George Freeth passed it to Alex Hume Ford, who begat Jack and Charmian London’s embrace, promoted the Duke, who fired up Tom Blake, surfing has drifted away from sport towards Blakes “Church of the Open Sky.”
Ford himself started up the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki as a way to quarantine beachfront land for surfing which “made it possible for every kid with guts to live at least half the day fighting the surf.”
We forget how young pro surfing is.
How tender, how fragile.
Green shoots die off, even established branches like Japan can dieback.
England was once home to CT events. Now, no more.
Even the USA with its coveted consumer market cannot sustain a single long-standing CT event.
Its status in Australia has been more assured thanks to the support of the taxpayer. But you could easily mount an argument that it reached it’s peak there sometime between 1976 and ’86 and has slowly been trading down on the social licence it banked in that golden decade.
Now, even the owners and governing body of the nominal Sport itself have lost confidence in their baby.
By their own hand they’ve lost focus and tried to pivot towards a “storytelling” organisation. Covid-19 has merely accelerated and put under the glare of unforgiving spotlights a process started by the governing body itself.
An own goal that will go down in History and spawn a thousand unread PhD’s in surf studies.
Meanwhile, the legends of the Sport who could be called on in these dark times to philosophically buttress the activity that gave them fame and a livelihood are busy spruiking wavepools. Drowning their legacies in an evolutionary billabong for the sport which will never provide the stadium atmosphere or spectacle needed to capture the mythical Middle American market.
MR says it’s better than any natural wave.
Really? Says who?
If it was that fucking good the punters would be flocking to come watch instead of staying away in droves.
Gerry Lopez, says this “quintessential” perfect wave is going to really “push the envelope of surfing”.
Gezza, I’ve watched every minute of all three pro comps held there and snippets of the proof of concept “dummy” comp and I’d say there is literally nothing more false.
Oh, it’ll be like snowboarding half-pipe or skateboarding, they say.
One simple thought experiment will banish the fantasy.
What is a skateboarding half-pipe compared to?
Another skateboarding half-pipe.
A snowboard half-pipe can be compared to a mountain but the comparison can be engineered to be favourable.
A wavepool is now, and will be forever, compared to the ocean.
And even the dustiest Okie when asked to conjure surfing in the ocean will have a mental image of Laird at Teahupoo or G-Mac sliding down a hundred foot burger at Nazare.
Why would a head-high streak of pelican shit in a tub ever capture their imagination in comparison to that?
I say why, but I mean, how?
That’s Joe Blow and the armies of VAL’s. If you have any skin in the pro surfing game, then it’s compared to Chopes and Cloudbreak and even the electric blue cylinders of Kirra rifling down golden sandbanks.
Build ’em bigger you say.
This useless science degree I hold tells me the physics of moving water is brutal, and brutally expensive.
You build the half-pipe, you build it once.
The wave has to be built over and over and over.
Every. Single. Time.
And each time that plough runs through the water, the bank balance dribbles away.
Don’t worry, the dream won’t die.
We’ll figure something out.
We always do, even if we have to mow a few lawns to keep the rent paid in the interim.
In the meantime I think much fun taking the chat further with Chas and Derek tomoz on Dirty Water.
I got my brown sangas all ready to go.
God, I hope Carroll calls in.