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Brazil: Still Serving As The Buzz-Kill Event Of The ASP World Tour

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

If a rose by any other name is still a rose, an ASP World Tour stop in Brazil is still…

The Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro (the same event usually held each November as a precursor to the Pipeline Masters) already has it’s first two rounds in the books. To avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle, the ASP moved the Hang Loose Pro to June in order to ensure the attendance of the top talent on tour, the surfers that people actually care about seeing surf. After last year’s event saw 13 out of the ASP’s Top 44 surfers fail to show due to a remarkable array of injuries and illnesses, all that was left was another beach-break championship with 20 of the 48 competitors hailing from the host country. The thinking was that with a world title still very much up for grabs, anyone remotely in contention will do their best to avoid the unfortunate happenings that kept so many from making the trip to Florianopolis in ‘08. It worked, everyone showed up and the ‘Loose Pro has itself a full line-up of some of the world’s best surfers. There’s just one problem though- It’s still Brazil.

They call it the “Dream Tour”, yet I’m a bit curious to know whose dreams the ASP is modeling this thing after. After sitting through a few moments of the ‘Loose Pro webcast, it was time to click away and wait for J-Bay. Nothing more to see here.

Wanna start a World Tour??? Here’s your model-

Despite what some might say, there’s room in this world for a competitive surfing tour. Watching the surfers at the top of the game pushing themselves and each other live from the best waves throughout the world isn’t just entertaining, it also puts the ‘what’s possible’ element on display for all to see. There needs to be standards though, uncompromised standards. The answer for what’s ailing the ASP World Tour won’t be found in futuristic wave pools, it won’t be found in Brazil, it will be found in simplicity.

Fewer surfers, better waves, no Brazil.

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

Wave Pools: Good or Bad for the Sport of Surfing?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

surfparkmod11There is no other sport like Surfing. I will go to the grave defending the ever changing dynamic sport that is surfing and how it’s superior to all other sports. Now obviously that’s my opinion, but there is reason to back it up. Every surf session is different. In fact, every wave is different. You can never surf the same wave and never re-create the same session. There are elements that dictate how and when a wave breaks thousands of miles before they reach the shore. In all other board sports, including snowboarding, you can replicate a situation. The kickers stay in the same spot as the run before and they remain the same size, the rails and boxes and planters and stairs will all be there exactly as you left them the day before. Pretty much nothing remains the same in Surfing from session to session.

Here in lies the problem when it comes to commercially advancing the sport. There will be a lot of people reading this that will say, surfing needs to stay core and blah blah blah. The fact remains it is already a commercial giant in terms of selling clothes and overall lifestyle and no matter how big it gets, the core reason as to why surfing is so amazing will never change as long as there are oceans and waves. In a recent ESPN article, Kelly Slater listed somethings he would like to see changed as to the way the ASP runs and operates. I very much agree with the majority of his points and I would like to address a few and see what your thoughts are.

ASP taking more control: As it is currently, the ASP organizes the events but each sponsor is in charge of marketing their events and their athletes.  How much visibility an event gets is entirely out of the ASP’s hands and up to the brand controlling the contest. Kelly mentioned it should not be this way,

“The new governing body should own and run the events, own the media, do the marketing, bring in sponsors. Right now, the ASP doesn’t own any of those things, because it didn’t do the groundwork in the beginning. Sponsors own, run and market the events. That needs to change.”

As things stand, it would not be financially feasible for the ASP to do this because there is one huge piece of the pie missing, ticket sales. You gotta pay money to go see Tony Hawk bust out on a Half pipe, or Travis Pastrana pull a double backflip. The X-Games, the Dew Tour, and all those other similar events all charge for viewing pleasure. They also sell concessions and merchandise and yes all of this doesn’t go directly into the pocket of the event organizers, but enough of it does to make a huge difference in terms of visibility and marketing. You want to watch Chris Ward and Freddy Patacchia go head to head? You walk to the beach, there are no bleachers or box seats. The ASP doesn’t see a dime from fans in comparison to all
the other boardsports and major sporting events.

wave-pool-surfing1Enter the Wave Pool: The reason the ASP doesn’t charge is because the beach is free and I don’t think that should ever change. However, the possibility of adding a wave pool into the schedule of the ASP might be the solution to generating cash to start a marketing division that solely works on promoting events and athletes without corporate brand agendas. A wave pool would provide a setting that would make the sport of Surfing more exciting and real to the everyday person. Think how many people go to the X-Games or Dew Tour that don’t skate or ride MX? They go for the entertainment. Everyone thinks surfing is amazing, everyone wishes they could do it, and everyone enjoys watching people on waves, but not everyone can get to the beach. You bring a wave pool into the mix and all of the sudden you have a format with bleachers, and sky boxes, and concessions and an event that thousands of people can watch live and millions can watch on TV. The controlled wave environment would allow for superior TV viewing as you would not be subject to weather or swells. Now, don’t get me wrong, as I stated above there is nothing that can change the dynamics of surfing and that is why it’s such a powerful experience for those that participate in it. But would adding 3-4 wave pools into the circuit dilute that element? I would say the positive visibility that would come from it would out way the negatives.

You would have a more controlled wave environment that would allow riders to go bigger, ride more waves and truly compete on a skill level as opposed to a “time the sets, take advantage of wave priority” method. Veterans often have advantage in ASP as they now how to use the current format to their advantage. And I am not saying to take that away, but every other board sport has a course that doesn’t change that allows the competition to be based solely on who does better, cleaner more technical tricks with the same opportunity given. Could you imagine watching Bruce Irons, Jamie O’brien or Dane Reynolds in a wave pool with perfect vertical lips, they would be soaring 10 ft in front of you. Riders could take more risks and perform far more technical tricks and that makes for better and more exciting competition. Look back on when the rumors that Tony Hawk was going to pull the first competition 900 at the X-Games, or when Shaun White was going to do a 1260 on the Half Pipe. Or When Travis Pastrana was going to pull a double back flip. There is drama and marketability and something that interests the average non-enthusiast viewer. People that don’t own motorcycles were emailing their friends Travis’s double backflip the next morning at work. We don’t have that yet in competitive surfing.

“Among the biggest problems with televising surfing are that traditional surfing contests are too time-consuming, that waves are too unpredictable and that judging is too nuanced for the uninitiated. But recent innovations in the competition format and the development of wave pools that could serve as surfing arenas could help bring competitive surfing to a larger audience.”  NY Times

“We would be able to schedule a contest on Friday at 6 p.m., live on TV. Picture a wave going around in a circle indefinitely. There’s a bridge over the wave for viewing, a Plexiglas bottom so fans can watch guys surf above them, and a crow’s nest in the middle so people can watch the best guys in the world surf the wave all the way around them. Kids could stand on the edge of the pool and get sprayed by their favorite surfers.” Kelly Slater

Wave pool stops should also be in land locked states or big coastal spots with no waves, the ASP could have stops in Vegas, Utah, New York, Texas, Chicago. Once the technology and end product can produce a world class break, surfing will become one of the most widely adapted and participated sports in the world. If you could truly progress your surfing in a wave pool in Vegas and then go to the coast and shred, you will have kids entering the ‘CT from places you could never imagine. Flash backs of Rick Kane from North Shore come to mind. You will see people driving with boards strapped to their roof in land locked states. You will have pro shops and local contests selling out tickets, kids going to school with sponsorship deals. Surfing will reach mainstream media as a sport, which will mean better and bigger events both in and out of the beach, better purses and better paid athletes. The entire sport will change in terms of visibility and exposure.

Whether that is good or bad? Time will tell. For the sport itself I think it will be good, for the core surfers that don’t care about world titles or ‘CT standings it will be annoying as you might be getting dropped in on by a kid from Kentucky with a bad farmer tan.

Posted in Surfing | 29 Comments »

Back On: Plenty of Action in Tahiti During Billabong Pro’s Downtime

Monday, May 18th, 2009

If it seems like it’s been forever since the Billabong Pro Tahiti first got underway…it pretty much has been. Between tricky winds and a crossed up swell pattern, Billabong’s contest director Luke Egan has had a hell of a time making the decision to pull the trigger on Rd. 2. Considering he had Billabong’s cash crop surfers Joel Parkinson and Andy Irons scheduled to surf the second and third heats once the call was made, you have to imagine Egan has had all the input he could possibly want or need. Nonetheless, the event is finally back on. Conditions at Teahupo’o aren’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Tahitian beast, however they are expected to improve as the day goes on.

billabong pro 2009

While Mother Nature’s fickleness has wreaked havoc on the Billabong Pro, Tahiti itself hasn’t been without excitement. The crew at Surfline has some smooth, visually stimulating footage available of super-sessions that have taken place in the downtime. The clip of Kelly Slater and Manoa Drollet’s session at a dream-like right has already reached legendary status. That’s been folllowed up with footage of A.I., Parko, Occy, and Slater blowing up a left not far from the contest site at Teahupo’o. This includes a shot of Kelly dropping in and getting covered up while surfing goofy-footed.

The beauty of what was taking place in the water and the majesty of Tahiti was accompanied with a bit of drama on land. Apparently a semi-secret meeting was held between the ASP and top 45. A few of the guys on tour aren’t thrilled with the new format and wanted to share their feelings regarding this issue. A post on The Extreme Scene summed up that situation quite well.

Having said all that, the Billabong Pro Tahiti is indeed back up and running at Teahupo’o. If you can’t make it to the water yourself, it’s always entertaining to watch a few of the world’s best go to work. You can see all of the live action here

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

ASP World Tour- We Just Want to See the Best Surfers Surf the Best Waves

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

If I want to hear about records, statistics and in-game strategy, I’ll watch baseball and basketball. With surfing, all I really care about is getting the chance to watch the best surfers in the world surfing the best waves in the world. Hopefully someday we’ll have a format which allows that to happen much more often than the system currently being used by the ASP.

kelly slater teahupoo

Somewhere between Kelly Slater’s vision of a radical overhaul and Da Hui’s discombobulated criticisms of the ASP lies the very real truth that the Dream Tour is in desperate need of a makeover. The new format where the top 16 surfers get automatically seeded to the 2nd round was supposed fix some of what’s ailing the tour. Unfortunately, all it seems to have done is make a bad problem worse. Aside from the appearances of Andy Irons, Josh Kerr, Dane Reynolds and maybe one or two others; Rd.1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti was weak and painfully boring to watch. If you were to put the Rd. 1 line-up of main event surfers side by side with the surfers who took part in the trials, an argument could very easily be made that the trials line-up contained much more talent. Clay Marzo, Mark Healey, Julian Wilson, and Bruce Irons…or Ben Dunn, Jihad Khodr, Nathaniel Curran and David Weare?

CUT THE FAT There are 45 guys on the Tour. That’s too many. Cut it in half. There are guys who lose in the second or third round at every contest. One didn’t win a single heat last year. F1 doesn’t have 45 cars on the track for a reason. There should be a competitive level at the top, and we don’t have that.” Kelly Slater

In his Rd. 1 victory over Jihad Khodr, Andy Irons did more than just remind everyone he’s still at the top of his craft, he also put the mile-wide disparity in skill level on display for everyone to see. Khodr had no business being in the water with the 3x world champion at Teahupo’o and was left trying to scrape up 4’s and 5’s on the inside after A.I. opened with an 8.67. This type of situation happens far too often on the Dream Tour and is exactly why they’ve automatically put the top 16 into Rd. 2. Maybe instead of pretending the back half of the top 44 actually belongs with the front, it’s time to trim it down and allow more opportunities for locals and wildcards to go up against the surfers being touted as the world’s best.

As a fan of surfing and someone who likes to see how far it’s progressing, I watch the webcasts to see the best surfers surf the best waves. Unfortunately, for now anyways, the system being used by the ASP doesn’t always allow for that to take place.

Posted in Surfing | 5 Comments »

“Money-Hungry Pig Idiots”: Da Hui Rips Billabong, ASP

Friday, April 24th, 2009

For those who have yet to witness, Da Hui has taken to YouTube to share their feelings regarding Billabong and the ASP. Their point of conflict lies with a trials format that only allows 1 local surfer into the main event of the Billabong Pro Tahiti; a far cry from the 16 spots allotted by the Pipeline Masters. In the letter addressed to “Tahitian surfers of the Tahitian Surfing Federation and all it may concern”, a spokesman for Da Hui eloquently refers to the ASP and Billabong as “money-hungry pig idiots” and informed the Tahitians that “its time to stick out your chests, not your asses.”

I’m not going to pretend to know the inner-workings of the ASP and Billabong’s arrangement with Tahiti or their apparent monopoly of Teahupo’o. And no one would argue that there isn’t more than just 1 local surfer capable of hanging with and beating anyone on the Dream Tour. All you need to do is look at Manoa Drollet’s brilliant 2008 performance as evidence of how talented and dialed in the native surfers are when it comes to their wave. Over the years, Billabong has no doubt reaped a hefty reward from the natural wonder that is Teahupo’o. Opening the door for a few more local surfers to prove themselves under the bright lights of the ASP World Tour would certainly go a long way to further show their appreciation.

Where the stance taken by Da Hui gets confusing is their citing of the 16 wildcard spots allowed at the Pipeline Masters. They say that “all Polynesians should be allowed to have their talent shine and not have it blemished by foreigners”. Yet if you look at the list of the 14 wildcards who have already been confirmed for the 2009 event, it would be a stretch to say that even 50% would qualify as native Hawaiians or Polynesians. Considering it’s a system that’s left out past Pipeline Masters Rob Machado and Bruce Irons for this year’s event, it might not be a bad idea to re-evaluate the format being used at Pipeline as well. The ‘peer poll’ method used to select 6 of the final 16 especially leaves a lot to be desired. When Jamie O’Brien barely squeaks in at number 6 for the Pipe Masters, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

While there’s no question changes could be made to allow more of the top native talent into the main event at Teahupo’o, I’m not exactly sure the Pipeline Masters has proven itself to be the gold standard on this matter.

Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

New Format on Tap for 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“It’s the best trophy you can win in surfing” -Kelly Slater

It’s a great change that’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. With the Rd. 1 call at the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach about to be made, we finally get to watch a webcast without having to sit through the typically unexciting and anti-climatic loser’s round that has been Rd. 2. The Bells Beach event will be the first ASP World Tour event to switch to the new format, essential eliminating a full day’s worth of competition and keeping the opening round of momentum rolling on with less chance of interruption. The top 16 surfers from last year’s final rankings won’t surf until the new Rd. 2, and from there it goes Rd. 3 and on to the quarterfinals, semi’s, and finals.

2009 rip curl pro bells beach

Good on Rip Curl for making the choice to implement the new format. “I think the new format will be a great addition to the Dream Tour,” said current world no. 2 Adriano de Souza. “It allows us to capitalize on three-day swell cycles and allows us to compete in the best possible conditions. I’m stoked to be seeded into Round 2 all season, but it could have its positives and negatives. I won’t have to worry about finishing in last place, but I won’t get a warm-up round to surf in. Everything is serious from the start.”

In the grand scheme of things, the historic event at Bells serves as a good barometer for what’s likely to take place on tour for the rest of the year. While the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper is a solid place for a surfer to launch a run for a world title, following up a stellar result on the Gold Coast with a poor showing at Bells kind of puts you back at square 1. Quik Pro. winner Joel Parkinson knows this, and following his 2 day long celebration of his win at Snapper, Parko got back to his ‘man on a mission’ surfing regimen. “After the Quik Pro, I spent two days partying with my family and friends, then got straight in to training the following week and for the last week or so I have been surfing non stop,” Parkinson said.

Following Kelly Slater’s 17th at the Quiksilver Pro, a lot of the talk has surrounded his choice of equipment. His self-made 5′4″, for whatever reason, just didn’t get him the scores that he is used to. Heading into Bells, and in true Slater fashion, Kelly remained noncommittal when asked about his potenetial board of choice for the event. “I’m not sure what my choice is until I hit the water,” Slater said. “I like trying new things but I also like to win heats when I travel halfway around the world. You also have to stick with directions that you choose to go if they have potential for something. I’m still working things out. I’m not altogether unhappy with my performance on the Gold Coast, just the result.”

Rd. 1 of the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is on it’s way, you can catch all of the action HERE.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Joel Parkinson Blows Up, Wins at Thrilling Quiksilver Pro

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

joel parkinson wins quiksilver pro

Everyone on the ASP World Tour might want to take notice….Joel Parkinson is a man on a mission. Following an impressive performance at the 2008 version of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, one that saw Parko seal his first ever Triple Crown of Surfing, it’s been reported that Parkinson has been pushing himself to the brink, driven by a roaring hunger to finally win an ASP World Championship. With that being the goal, Parko is off to one hell of a start for 2009 as he surfed almost flawlessly enroute to victory at a thrilling Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. While it’s just the first event of the year, Parko surfed with an added edge and confidence to his game. Couple that with the fact that the last 3 winners of the inaugural tour stop have gone on to win the overall crown, the rest of the WCT, including Kelly Slater, already has a monumental hill to climb if Joel Parkinson continues to bring what he brought to the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks.

Here are some of the goods brought to us by the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks:

Jordy, Dane, Adriano, and Julian Wilson- You hear it all the time….the WCT is just not going to be that exciting once Slater retires, right? Not even…The young crew of up and comers are bringing an added level of excitement to the ‘CT with an explosive, go for broke approach to the contests that was as exciting as I’ve ever witnessed. Julian boldly dethroned Slater, Dane got swiped of what should have been a huge win over Taj Burrow, and Adriano de Souza went balls to the wall the whole event, culminating in an impressive finals stand against the man to beat, Joel Parkinson. If these guys end up staying on the WCT throughout the upcoming years….

Mick Fanning V. Joel Parkinson- Everyone knew it when these two were paired up in the semifinal…the eventual winner would go on to win it all. With that in mind, the two Coolangatta surfers went on to put up one of the all-time heats as they went head to head in said semifinal, Parko just simply wouldn’t be denied. If you have a few minutes, use a little bit of Google magic and find highlights of this head to head match-up. To use a term that doesn’t get used very often in the world of surfing, it was simply epic.

Is it the size that matters, or the motion in the ocean?- We all like to tell ourselves that size doesn’t really matter, but it looks like the judges agree with the chicks…bigger is better. While Kelly Slater struggled in his rd. 3 loss to Julian WIlson, it appeared throughout the contest that the judges were none to impressed with his self-made 5′4″. He was constantly underscored throughout the event. Are the ASP judges sending Slater a message for the rest of the year? Will Mr. 9-time continue to ride his little creations at Bells? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Kirra Effect- The man upstairs might be sending us a message- Bring Kirra Back! In a year that is being dedicated to the restoration of the famed break at Kirra, how crazy is it that the stars aligned and allowed the final rounds of the event to be showcased at it’s current form. It was the first time an ASP World Tour event had been held at the iconic right-hand point break in 12 years, and allowed a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the battle going on to bring Kirra back to what it once was.

Congratulations Joel Parkinson, winner of the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) def. Mick Fanning (AUS)
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) def. Taj Burrow (AUS)

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.37
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.53 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.00
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.86 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.77
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.40 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.24 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.50
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.23
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.33

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

WCT Set To Kick-Off With Quik Pro at Snapper Rocks

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

And so it begins….If it seems like forever since we’ve had a competitive world championship race to keep tabs on, it’s because we pretty much have. Between Kelly Slater making the 2008 WCT his personal whipping boy and the later than usual start to the 2009 tour, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interest generated by the ‘CT over the past 8 or so months. That’s all about to change.

kelly slater

As the holding period for the the 2009 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks opens today, the 2009 ASP World Tour also gets underway with everyone starting equally at ground zero. To pretend that anything other than Slater’s run for #10 will be the dominating storyline would be asinine. With that in mind, it appears that most have deemed Joel Parkinson as the chosen one to put a wrinkle in King Slater’s plans. Parko’s had a couple of solid runs and 2nd place finishes, but so far just hasn’t quite been able to make it over the hump. With the WCT once again starting off at his home break, Joel Parkinson is fired up and ready to start his 2009 campaign for a world championship.

“I can’t wait. I’m excited for another good year and hopefully we get really good waves. It’s such a bonus to start the season here at home where I’m familiar with everything and know the banks really well. I’m really excited. I’ve just been surfing a lot and training a lot. Just trying to get everything sorted before the season starts. In regards to Kelly, I haven’t really figured that one out yet. You just have to be bigger, stronger, faster and more determined. I’m hungry this season though.”

And in regards to Kelly…who knows what he has in store for this year’s version of the WCT. Word is that he’ll likely be surfing a big gun at Snapper, something in the 5′4″-5′6″ range. Whatever he ends up pulling out of his quiver may not really matter though. With a 10th world championship so close that he can almost taste it, Slater already has the competition sized up and is ready to let loose at the Quiksilver Pro.

“I’m not sure whether Dane and Jordy will pull straight up to that level to start this year or not, but I know that Parko’s always hungry and Mick goes without saying. C.J. got a taste of it last year again and will come out firing for sure. Taj will be hungry, but I wonder how his focus will be after a couple of really great seasons and not quite the results that his surfing shows all the time – he’s always one of the best at Snapper. Bede will quietly execute more people and Bobby is going to be the hungriest, starting the year without a main sponsor.”

The holding period for the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks runs February 28 through March 11, 2009.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Mick Fanning Fired Up in ‘09

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

mick fanning

At this point, it’s no secret that Kelly Slater is making a run at his 10th world title and the rumored $10 million dollar bonus Quiksilver has offered him if he claims it. At this point, I’m not sure how Quik will make good on that offer, but alas. While many of us might rush to the conclusion that Kelly’s #10 is all but in the bank, there’s at least one person that isn’t quite ready to step aside and declare him the ‘09 world champ, yet.

Mick Fanning’s making no secret that he’s fired up and ready to duke it out on the waves with The King. In a recent article with Gold Coast, Mick admits that he just wasn’t motivated last year and pretty much rolled over, letting Kelly make him and everyone else look stupid. He’s letting it be known though that the same ‘burning ambition’ that brought him the title in ‘07 is back and he’s looking forward to battling it out with Slates.

“Last year was a really different year for me,” said Fanning yesterday… “I wasn’t all that motivated. The few years building up to (the world title) there was a lot of strenuous work and last year I wasn’t as focused on winning. I just wanted to enjoy a year and not be so flat out with it all. It was good to take a step back. It was a really good learning curve and for this year there are no distractions and everything is feeling good. I have put myself first again. I am fit and healthy and pretty excited and motivated for the year.”

If Kelly surfs on a completely different level from the rest of the top 44, as he did last year, no amount of words or ambition from Mick, or any of the competitors, will matter. It’s time to start talking about who will win the title in 2010… this year’s already spoken for.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Smooth Move: Andy Irons Officially Stepping Away From Dream Tour

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

“This year is all about surf trips, and being anywhere but sitting on my ass at home. I want to chase swells all year long with my friends, and do a couple of select Billabong contests as a wildcard.” – Andy Irons, Freesurfer

andy irons freesurfer

The cat is now officially out of the bag. 3x World Champion, 4x Pipeline Masters winner, holder of 4 Triple Crown of Surfing titles, and one of the best all-around surfers to ever step foot on a board, Andy Irons, is stepping away from the ASP World Tour in 2009.

Whispers of Andy’s upcoming year off have been floating around for some time now. You could sense something just wasn’t right for the Kauai native as far back as his opening heat of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in ‘08. Something was missing, and the only surfer to put fear in Kelly Slater’s mind appeared to be a shell of his former self. For whatever reason, the passion and the fire inside seemed to be non-existent.

Riding a wave of support from the Billabong team, and following in the footsteps of little bro. Bruce, A.I. will relinquish his 2009 spot on the Dream Tour and pretty much just travel, blow minds while surfing the best waves throughout the planet, and stock up on endless amounts of fresh new material for our viewing pleasure.

“Bruce’s decision messed with me a little bit. Yeah! Imagining him surf perfect waves without me anywhere around is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. There is a big difference in retiring from the tour and taking a break, though.”

I absolutely love that Billabong is deciding to back Irons up on this move. I always felt like Andy slogging around some of the shitty surf that goes on throughout the course of the tour is kind of a waste. And it’s not like he’s retiring for good. In fact, if he actually does decide to return, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a re-charged Andy Irons come back in 2010 and unleash hell on the rest of the tour.

Until then, we get to witness one of the all-time amazing surfers blow up on the types of waves he should be riding, waves that allow his aggressive, attacking style to be let loose on. And we’ll all be better people for it. You can count on it, Andy Irons is going big in 2009

Make sure you check out the full interview on Surfline.com.

Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

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