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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 »

More Maui-Waui, This Time From Kai Barger

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

For whatever reason, Maui’s group of young talent just continues to blow up harder than anyone expected. The latest of the Valley Isle’s rippers to officially make his claim as one of the elite under-22 surfers in the world: 19 yr. old Kai Barger.

kai barger

Word of Barger’s victory at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships came as a surprise to most of us, probably even all of us. If a surfer from Maui was going to become the new ASP World Junior Title holder, chances are it was going to be Dusty Payne or even Granger Larsen. And Barger apparently felt the same way. “I’m as high as Saturn’s kite baby!” Barger said after his monumental victory. “Out of all the incredible surfers in this event, like Dusty and Granger and Julian Wilson, I probably had the least amount of confidence, but I guess this goes to show that every dog has his day and today’s mine!”

asp world junior

The fact that Kai was an afterthought as far as Maui’s surfers go is a testament to how stacked the line-ups must be over there. As far as making names for themselves, you would be hard-pressed to find two surfers who did more to announce their arrival in 2008 than Dusty Payne and Clay Marzo. Payne’s win in Bali and nearly becoming the youngest Triple Crown of Surfing winner went right along with Andy Irons and Kelly Slater labeling Marzo as the best 18 yr. old surfer in the world in Marzo’s Just Add Water. Now, Barger’s huge win to kick-off 2009 will keep the spotlight firmly on Maui’s young crew for years to come.

There’s something special going on over on Maui. If anyone has any idea just what it is, I would love to hear why…..

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Clay Marzo Set to Go Big in 2009

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

clay marzo just add water

You can put Clay Marzo’s name on the long list of surfers who came up big in 2008. When word that he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome started to spread, I think I, like many others, had two questions pop into my head. First, what exactly is Asperger’s Syndrome? And secondly, how will this affect his life and his ability to surf?

Eventually it became known that Quiksilver was setting up a movie that would tackle these questions head on, and they ended up releasing Clay Marzo: Just Add Water. The movie answered the questions surrounding Clay and his diagnosis beautifully, and the result was an inspirational surf flick that touched thousands of people well beyond the realm of the surf community.

Not knowing what it is that set Clay apart from those around him couldn’t have been easy for Clay, as well as for those within his inner circle. But finally getting the answers they were searching for and gaining an understanding for what makes the Maui Young Gun tick, now makes it even easier for Clay to do just what he’s supposed to do: Surf and blow minds.

The 19 yr. old Marzo is coming into his prime years for surfing and is part of the super exciting next generation of surfers set to take the sport further than ever imagined. With the questions surrounding him having been answered, look for Clay Marzo to go big in 2009.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

The State of Pro Surfing in Hawaii

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

clay marzo

It’s been 32 years since the ASP World Tour officially began. And in every year since 1976 there has been at least one Hawai’i surfer in the Top 10 come years end. With only 3 events left for the 2008 year on tour, that streak is in jeopardy of coming to an end.

With a total of 5 world championships making their way back to the islands over the past 31 years, Hawai’i’s professional surfers have always had at least some sort of impact on the world title race. However when Andy Irons unexpectedly skipped out of his 2nd round heat with Jihad Khodr at the Quiksilver Pro France, the Kauai’i surfer tumbled all the way down to no.13 in the overall ASP rankings and left Hawaii without any representation in the current Top 10. That has to be pretty strange for the place that many consider to be the epicenter of the surfing world. Even stranger than that is the real scenario that Hawai’i could go from having 5 surfers on tour in 2008 to a mere 2 on the 2009 Dream Tour.

‘08 has been anything but a smooth ride for Hawai’s current WCT surfers. Although he hasn’t been the same dominant, intimidating A.I. that we’ve come to know in recent years, Andy had been fairly consistent up until the Trestles event. He went home with a 33rd from the Trestles event, and then followed that result up with his France no-show. Brother Bruce, and current world no. 14, made his overall displeasure with the tour known by announcing his decision to bail on full-time tour status next year. In classic Bruce Irons fashion, the Volcom-rider completely blew minds on his way to winning the “Somewhere in Indo” event, and then went on to blow minds again, although in a very different way, with laying down of scores in the 2+ range during his very brief appearance at the Quik Pro.

Fred Patacchia started off the year with a frustrating leg-injury at the hands of Pipeline and it really took Fred a few events to get back into form. He finished runner-up to Bruce in Indo and, aside from his Trestle’s showing, seems to be riding some decent momentum. He’s currently sitting at no. 18 and will more than likely seal himself a spot on the ‘09 tour in the next couple of events.

Roy Powers and Pancho Sullivan round out the rest of Hawai’i’s pro-surfing contigent. Pancho, at no. 40, will definitely have to climb back on tour via the WQS next year and Roy, at no. 23, is flirting with having to do the same.

The overall future for Hawai’i’s pro’s is actually very bright. Between Clay Marzo, John John Florence, Torry Meister, Mason Ho, and many others, Hawai’i has an absolute slew of up and coming rippers that will most likely compete for the world championship for years to come. However it may be another few years before those guys are actually set to make noise on the Dream Tour. If Roy doesn’t finish in the Top 27, that basically leaves Hawai’i’s tour hopes heaped upon the enigmatic A.I., and a somewhat resurgent Freddy P. Sunny Garcia, currently no. 20 on the WQS tour, has an outside shot of being on the ‘CT next year, but even then you have to wonder about how well he’ll be able to compete with the new breed of surfing that’s taking place on tour.

So while there are still 3 events, and most importantly the Pipeline Masters left for Hawai’i’s current group of pros to make some noise, it’s been an uncharacteristically off year for the state of pro-surfing in Hawai’i. While this seems to be more of an abnormality than a sign of things to come, the possibility of having no surfers in the Top 10 come years end is something that none of us expected at the beginning of the year.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Clay Marzo – Just Add Water: A Surf-Film Like No Other

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Clay MarzoFor several years now, Young Gun Clay Marzo and his creative, unique style of surfing have led him to be an inspiration in the water. With Quiksilver set to release the new film ‘Clay Marzo: Just Add Water,’ the inspiration he exudes is about to reach a whole new level.

While the film is set to once again portray the unimaginable surfing skills (that have led 3x world champion Andy Irons to refer to Clay as “hands down, the best 19 year-old surfer in the world,”) it will go beyond surfing and tell the story of the challenges he faces on land as a result of being recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I’m not sure if I ‘ve ever looked forward to viewing a surf movie in the way that I am looking forward to seeing Just Add Water. It has been clear for a while now that Marzo, from Maui, is truly a special surfer. Winning three NSSA National surfing title, having Kelly Slater compliment him by saying “he knows things I don’t know about surfing,” and just unleashing on waves in a manner like no one before is evidence of that. Accomplishing all of this while dealing with an undiagnosed disease, however, is beyond special. “When I first met Clay I noticed that his personality and demeanor completely transformed in the ocean – he literally came alive in the water,” said the film’s director, Jamie Tierney. “It was also clear that Clay was quite misunderstood in the surf world, and the mission of the film was to show the side that only those closest to him could see.”

The tour for ‘Clay Marzo: Just Add Water,’ begins this Saturday in Florida. Check out the dates and locations and make an effort to be there for this sure to be epic film if possible. If you can’t attend any of the showings, the film will be released in stores this October. A portion of the proceeds from this film will be given to Surfers Healing, a foundation for Autism that seeks to enrich the lives of children with autism and the lives of their families by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing.

“This movie will inspire people to live in the moment and to always take the time to look a little deeper. People are amazing and you never know what is behind their eyes,” – Strider Wasilewski (Quiksilver Surf Team Manager)

Fort Lauderdale, FL — August 9, 2008 — Cinema Paradiso
Wrightsville Beach, NC — August 11, 2008 — Wrightsville Beach Park
Ortley Beach, NJ — August 13, 2008 — Surf Club
Marmora, NJ — August 15, 2008 — Yesterdays

Posted in Surfing | 7 Comments »

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