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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 »

A Fly in the Champagne: DVD Release

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Transworld Surf and Irons Bro Productions presents “A Fly In The Champagne”, released on DVD yesterday. Setting the stage for this showdown of the world’s two best surfers against each other on a remote island in the Mentawais, A Fly In The Champagne documents the rivalry between Kelly Slater and Andy Irons leading up to their showdown in Kandui Island. Produced by ESPN commentator and action sports personality Sal Masakela, the film released yesterday and is exclusively distributed by Transworld Surf.

kelly slater and andy irons

You can pick up a copy of Transword Surf’s ‘A Fly in the Champagne’ at your local surf shop. Included in your DVD purchase will be a one year paid subscription to Transworld Surf. If you aren’t interested in buying another surf DVD you can always stop by one of the participating shops hosting local release and premier parties this month. Check out the list below for a DVD feature presentation near you, or peep the Transworld Surf site to get a slideshow sneak peek and view the trailer.

Nor Easter Surf Shop. Scituate MA. TBD. Call 781 544 4610 for more info
Unsound Surf Shop. Long Beach, NY. May 16th 7pm at Unsound
Ocean Hut. Lavalette, NJ. May 24th at Ocean Hut. Time TBD.
Heritage Surf and Sport. Sea Isle City, NJ. Dead Dog Saloon May 19th 8-9 and 9-10 (21 and up)
Good Sessions Surf Shop. Jacksonville Beach, NC. TBD. Call 910-353-7070
Sidearm Surf Shop. Wilmington, NC. Beach House May 22nd 9pm
Surf Station. St Augustine, FL. May 23rd 8pm at the shop
Catalyst. Melbourne Beach, FL. TBD. Call 321-728-2960 for more info
Waterboyz. Pensacola, FL. May 22nd 8pm at Skatepark
Love Skatepark. Singapore. TBD
Ecolounge. Venice, CA. May 22nd 7pm at ARBOR.
Axis. Quebec, Canada. May 14th.

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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 »

Joel Parkinson: 2 World: 0…Shades of 2008?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

joel parkinson rip curl bells beach 2009

Just two events into the 2009 ASP World Tour and it’s already starting to feel a bit like the 2008 version. Playing the role of Kelly Slater ‘08, Joel Parkinson appears to be on a mission to quickly eliminate any semblance of a world-title race. Parko completed the Aussie two-step yesterday, dominating local wildcard surfer Adam Robertson in the final heat of the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. It’s the second time in Parkinson’s career that he’s found himself ringing the prestigious bell, and from the time the opening horn sounded there didn’t seem to be much doubt that the trophy would eventually be his. To put it mildly, Parko’s firing right now.

There are very few surfers as visually pleasing to watch as Joel Parkinson, his style is something that surfers throughout the world, including most of the fellas on tour only dream of. And much like the Slater of last year, Parko seems to be 100% in sync with everything the ocean sends his way. There’s still a long way to go, Parko will be the first to tell you that, but so far all signs appear to be pointing in the direction of a Joel Parkinson world championship.

joel parkinson

With that in mind, right about now is when the Dream Tour could really use someone in the form of an Andy Irons; someone to rattle some cages and shake shit up a little bit, someone to let everyone know it’s not quite time to bust out the champagne. It’s one thing that most of media has already handed Parko the title but you also get the feeling many on the Top 45 are actually pretty stoked on that idea as well. Hopefully someone rises up to challenge Parko soon or the ASP may just find themselves with another yawner second-half of the year. No one likes to watch a surf competition that’s sans the top surfers, and last year proved that mysterious illnesses and injuries tends to reach epidemic status right about the time the world title becomes out of reach.

Congratulations Joel Parkinson, winner of the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach!

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Kelly Slater Enlists In Neptune’s Navy: Proceeds from New Board Shorts To Benefit Sea Shepherd Cause

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Although the fury that Kelly Slater has and continues to unleash on waves during heats and video parts may be to some, reminiscent of an aquatic slaughter, let there be no mistake about it. When it comes to the slaughter of marine wildlife, Kelly is not down and not afraid to get in the fight to oppose it.

kelly slater sea shepherd

Photo credit: Surfer Mag

Last time we checked in with Captain Paul Watson and his noble band of sea shepherd pirates back in early February, they were busy giving hell to the Japanese whaling fleet down in the Southern Ocean. Last week, Watson was back on land at the Quiksilver Pro, arm in arm with the nine time world champ promoting their latest effort to rally support for the cause: a brand new Kelly Slater signature model boardshort featuring the notorious jolly roger emblem of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. According to Quiksilver Australia’s website…

For every Sea Shepherd product sold, Quiksilver will donate $5 to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

kelly slater sea shepherd boardshortAlthough Slater isn’t the first surfer to represent the Sea Shepherd cause, he is perhaps the most high profile and I’m optimistic that this recent team-up will bring a lot of attention and stoke to the Sea Shepherd cause just like David Rastovich and company did back during the 2007 Taiji, Japan dolphin campaign. In fact, it was Surfer Magazine’s coverage of that standoff that introduced me to Sea Shepherd to begin with. The shots of Rastovich and company facing down the Japanese authorities sent chills down my spine and had me wondering right then where I could get my hands on a Sea Shepherd Crew hoody. Now, with Slater on board, I’m definitely throwing down for some anti-whaling merch.

Just one thing is puzzling to me. If you search Quiksilver.com (not Quiksilver Australia’s site) for ‘Sea Shepherd’ or ‘Kelly Slater Sea Shepherd Trunks’ there are no results. Which leaves me wondering why it’s only Quiksilver Australia that seems to be representing the Sea Shepherd cause? Is there a conspiracy? Also, after a few minutes of research, it seems like the only place to get these shorts here in the States is through online surf shops, most of which say that they only donate a buck of each sale to Sea Shepherd. I definitely want all five bucks from my purchase going towards bottles of butyric acid and whatever else is needed give these poachers a miserable time.

In closing, the shorts do look pretty nice. High-tech and super comfortable. I just wish they made them in a different color than black. I just don’t like wearing black shorts. I guess I would wear it for the cause if necessary, but you’d think that an industry giant like Quiksilver would dish out for a few more colors/designs and that Sea Shepherd would want a more visible logo than black on black (which is how it appears on the shorts.) How about whale Grey, or cetacean Blue?

Posted in Surfing | 7 Comments »

Marketing Genius? Once Again, Kelly Slater Two Steps Ahead

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Whether it’s his intention or not–and let’s keep in mind we’re talking about one of the fiercest, most driven competitors to ever step foot on a board–9-time world champion Kelly Slater is doing a smoking job at getting people to talk about the shrunken sticks he’s been riding as of late. Let’s face it….as supernatural and other-worldly as Slater has been throughout his surfing career, at some point that career will in fact come to an end(right?). So what next? His deep interest in board design and close relationship with Al Merrick, as well as his latest venture into shaping seem to all be pointing in one direction…

kelly slater deep six

Coming into the 2008 year on the ASP World Tour, Slater’s ever-decreasing board size was already a hot talking point throughout the industry. His segment in Taylor Steele’s Trilogy was a dirty little demonstration on just how ultra-effective and super fun the boards he was riding could be. As the year progressed and Kelly stomped aside the competition, there were very few people, including the surfers on the WCT, who can honestly say they weren’t considering a reduction in board-size in their own quiver. In interviews, video segments, and especially on the water, Kelly Slater was an avid-evangelist for his new design and telling anyone who would listen that shorter was the way to go.

When the 2008 Billabong Pipeline Master rolled around, Kelly had long since wrapped up #9 and essentially rendered the back half of the tour as pointless. With the title long since wrapped up, there was speculation as to whether Slater would even make it to Ehukai for his opening heat at the Pipe Masters. Kelly Slater did indeed end up making it to his heat, and fresh from blowing up a swell in the Caroline Islands he went on to do the unthinkable….win the Pipeline Masters while riding a pig-nosed 5′11″ at 6-8 ft. Pipe. While the majority of the surfers were busy riding the standard 6′10″+ guns at Pipe, Slater was introducing us to the “Deep 6″. With the way he surfed the Deep 6, Kelly Slater brought a whole new flavor to Pipeline and once again had everyone throughout the industry peering at one thing and one thing only…his stick.

Slater’s taken it to a whole new level in 2009, as he showed up to the recent Quiksilver Pro in Australia with a bag full of boards ranging from 5′4″-5′7″. Before being taken out by Young Gun Julian Wilson in Rd. 3 of the event, Slater, while riding a 5′4″, once again put his hand-crafted design on display for all to see. There was and still is loads of chatter surrounding his choice of equipment circulating throughout. However, right or wrong from a competitive standpoint, he showcased a smooth style of surfing and once again did what any good marketer is supposed to do- get the people talking.

Whether he finishes with 9,10,11, or 15 world titles, Kelly Slater is already and will likely be forever known as one of, if not the greatest surfers to ever hit the water. Is the board reduction just an added challenge for someone who has already demonstrated his superiority over the rest of professional surfing? Or has this all been one big marketing campaign for someone looking to bridge the gap between the next phase of his career? Who knows, but either way…you’re reading this, I’m writing this, we’re not the first, we won’t be the last…Kelly Slater must be doing his job.

The demonstration-

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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

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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 »

Kelly Slater Giving Surf Travel Tips

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Surf Travel

With the recent price gouging by most major airlines for checking surfboards, surf travel has been a hot topic lately. But usually those topics are focused on which airlines you should boycott and which still play friendly to us surfers. Despite the ridiculous fees, sometimes as much $300 per board each way (Delta), unless your content surfing your 1-2 foot sloppy beachbreak, getting away to score epic waves is still a must. And who better to give us the 411 on the best surf destinations then Kelly Slater?

Unlike other travelers, surfers are interested in surfer-friendly places to crash, snagging the best airline rates for surfboards and where to hang out.

Here’s Slater’s list of five great surfing meccas along with some hints about how to fully enjoy your search for the proverbial endless summer.

CNN, with the help of Slater, just published an article on 5 of the top surf spots in the world. These include; Pipeline, Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, Snapper Rocks, and Hossegor France. Included with each break are tips on where to stay, eat, hang out, how to get there, best time to go, and what the vibe is like. Oh, and each of them includes a couple nice little quotes from Kelly on what he likes about them.

And what would a surfing article from the mainstream press be without a little cheeseyness throw on top? Yes, the even include a helpful little table of surf slang so all those tourists can finally understand why everyone in Hawaii keeps calling them a Haole. These include; Bro-down, Gnarly, Goofy foot, Grom, Haole, Kook, Shredder, Sniveler, and sponger.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

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