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.
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.