The Top Fucking 5© 2010 WCT Rookies

5 02 2010

Dusty Payne is the first Maui surfer on the WCT. Photo: Childs

Winning the WQS is like being the best a plumber in the world. I guess it’s something to be proud of, but no one really cares. That being said, Daniel Ross won the WQS in 2009. But I can’t include Dan “The Plumber” in The Top Fucking 5© because he’s not really a rookie. This is his second attempt after a one-and-done 2008. With the new one-tier format starting next year he’s the penultimate WQS champ. Let’s look at the cream of the WQS crop.

5) Patrick Gudauskas
Pat narrowly missed the cut last year and his motivation propelled him into second place in the WQS ratings. His rodeo clown in the Maldives got a ton of press. Then all three Guduaski (I’m assuming the plural version is akin to Cacti) surfed the same heat at Sunset last month. Even Octomom was envious. This is what I wrote about the Gudauskas brothers a few months ago. “The Gudauskas brothers are everywhere. Just now I went to the fridge to grab a beer and one of them was parked right beside the hardened butter and eggs. The little fucker had his wetsuit on too. They are multiplying I tell you. On the seventh day God got so tired of producing the little miracles of joy that the Gudauski are, he needed to take a day off, kick off his Reef sandals and decompress.” Prepare to see more of them. Pat is part of the San Clemente trio that qualified for the WCT this year. Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, along with Nate Yeomans, might not be Athos, Porthos, and Aramis but the “all for one, one for all” credo might just give them a boost for their maiden Dream Tour voyage.

4) Matt Wilkinson
The Aussie goofyfoot told Stab Magazine earlier this year he had the ASP judges figured out and it looks like he was right. “They will give you a seven for one air reverse,” he said. “I thought, surely I can do two air reverses in 15 waves. Two sevens in a heat is all you need to beat someone who does backhand or forehand reos all contest. You’d have to be retarded to fail to do two air reverses in 15 waves.” Matt has reverses wired but he’s going to have to mix it up to compete with the elite. He can go either way, He might blow up or he might struggle. If he puts together a good showing at Snapper and Bells he just might be a darkhorse candidate for Rookie of the Year.

3) Brett Simpson
Brett comes from a long line of talented Huntington Beach surfers that seem to fizzle out like candle at the Playboy mansion’s grotto on fat girl night. When they hit the world stage something happens. Most don’t even make it this far. Brett peaked at the US Open last year. Speaking of HB, last week the Huntington Beach City Council introduced a measure aimed to outlaw beer pong. I’m serious. But Simpo is part of the new Huntington…clean cut, progressive. But I’m a sucker for the seedy side. The side that would charge 15-foot Pipe and Chopes then down a few Hinanos in the channel between heats. It might take a few years, but he’ll find his rhythm and embrace the dark side of Surf City.

2) Dusty Payne
What’s this? A Volcom surfer on the WCT? Seeing more than two Volcom surfers on tour is like seeing more than two Indians together off the reservation. It never happens. Except Indian casinos. The 21-year-old from Maui replaced fellow Volcom Stoner Bruce Irons and qualified for the ’CT on his on his first attempt. He just might be the best of the lot and if you’re going to gamble on Rookie of the Year, he’d be a solid bet. With the new, one-tier ranking system even Dusty is in the dark. “Guys on the tour have no idea how it works,” he said during the Volcom Pipeline Pro. I predict Dusty will make the cut and finish in the high teens this year. However, the over/under on the amount of times web announcers utter the phrase “Maui Wowie” is exactly 420.

1) Owen Wright
Editor’s Note: I asked the infamous Enoch Ward (AKA Blasphemy Rottmouth, AKA Ol’ Dirty Bastard, AKA ♂ ) to tackle Owen’s segment.
Dear Owen Wright,
I congratulate you on being the only surfer on earth that prays each night to his Laird and Savior for ALL of his heats to be against Kelly Slater. Luckily you never pearl because your nose acts as a tri-pod anytime your thorax bends in excess of 13 degrees forward. I don’t mean to poke fun at something only the Good Laird or an inebriated plastic surgeon in Tijuana can fix… but good god man! That nose would cause a continually-lying proboscis monkey named Pinocchio to blush with envy. I halfway expect there to be 74 smaller noses in your left nostril alone. Do your boogers come with training wheels on them? If Larry King grew his frosted tips out, shed his glasses, and donned a Rip Curl rubber, then you’ve found your stunt double for Kai Neville’s next rumored project: ‘Modern Colonoscopy II: Bare-Back Mountin’ with Dion Agius and some of his Special Friends.’ In summary, keep the sacred words of Alfredo Villas-Boas near and dear to your heart as you paddle out for your first heat at Snapper: “On my surfboard I am grounded like cement on my feet.” Peace and good tidings.

Always and forever,
Enoch Ward

Rookie of the year favorite Owen Wright. Photo: ASP/Warbrick


Why Did the ASP Axe Perry Hatchett?

4 02 2010

Perry Hatchett, the longest-serving head judge in ASP history, is out. Photo: ASL

Scapegoat \ˈskāp-ˌgōt\ noun
a: one that bears the blame for others
b: one that is the object of irrational hostility.

In sports, a judge, official or referee is a thankless job.     

Perry Hatchett, the ASP’s now ex-head judge, held the position since 1997. Australia’s Surfing Life broke the story yesterday. Technically he was not fired. They just did not renew his contract. Because the ASP has essentially been silent on the matter, I can only speculate on their logic and timing. The 2010 season begins in less than a month.  So why was he really let go? Was it because…   

a) He thought a rodeo clown was a Brazilian midget from São Paulo.    

b) He threatened to leave and replace Simon Cowell on American Idol.    

c) Former Russian Olympic judge Igor Kasmanov said he’d replace Hatchett for half the price—as long as Alana Blanchard joins Russia’s ice skating team.     

d) ASP CEO Brodie Carr saw Modern Collective and lost his marbles. He couldn’t believe such maneuvers were possible. He had to do something quickly. Since Oliver North was unavailable Hatchett was the next logical scapegoat.     

e) Rebel Tour dementia got the best of the ASP stakeholders, causing the same I-can-do-anything-I-want syndrome that urged Napoleon and Hitler to invade Russia in the winter.  

f) He was unable to understand the “revised” judging criteria because they changed it from paragraph from to bullet point form.      

All kidding aside, Hatchett was true ambassador for the sport and ASP leadership has suffered from Bugs-itis since Rabbit Bartholomew stepped down as ASP President at the end of the 2008 season. This is yet another blow. Bugs gave the tour even more legitimacy. He was a surfer’s surfer. A former world champ. He was instrumental in making the Association better for everyone. The Dream Tour was his concept. His baby. He wasn’t an absolute savior by any means. He couldn’t turn water into wine. But, in a way, he turned Huntington into Trestles and Allentown into Chopes. And we can thank Bugs and Mr. Hatchett for that.

Style Bandits Part II

13 01 2010

Higher flyer Dane Reynolds is the "new" face of the ASP tour. ASP/Cestari

A few months ago I stated style is the most overlooked aspect of the ASP’s judging criteria. Of course with a sport as subjective as surfing it’s difficult to explain style. It just is.  

Another ASP press release arrived in my email inbox yesterday. This one explained the “new” ASP judging criteria. Below are the some key excerpts.

Surfers must perform to the ASP judging key concepts to maximize their scoring potential.

“It’s paramount that the ASP Judging Criteria evolve to reflect the ever-progressing envelope of high-performance surfing,” Perry Hatchett, ASP Head Judge, said. “The revision of the criteria for 2010 is the result of discussions between our respected panel of judges as well as the world’s best surfers.”  

It is important to note that the emphasis on certain concepts is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.  

Judges analyze the following major concepts when scoring waves:
– Commitment and Degree of Difficulty
– Innovative and Progressive Maneuvers
– Combination of Major Maneuvers
– Variety of Maneuvers
– Speed, Power and Flow

Now let’s look at the “old” judging criteria.  

A surfer must perform radical controlled manoeuvres in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow to maximize scoring potential. Innovative/Progressive surfing as well as variety of repertoire (manoeuvres) will be taken into account when rewarding points for waves ridden. The surfer who executes these criteria with the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves shall be rewarded with the higher scores.”  

Basically the same criteria, right? The only real difference appears to be the added emphasis on high-performance surfing (and the fact it was in easy-to-read bullet point form rather than paragraph form). 

I still don’t see style mentioned anywhere. It’s also interesting to point out the photo accompanying the release was a shot of Dane Reynolds. With Slater in perceived limbo, are they trying to make him the face of the tour?  

How this will affect the surfers remains to be seen. If history tells us anything, it’s change happens slowly. One thing is for certain. When the tour hits the Gold Coast of Australia next month we’ll be watching and waiting…with bated breath.

The 2010 ASP World Tour Schedule

22 12 2009

A short press release arrived in my email inbox yesterday evening announcing the “historic” changes to the 2010 ASP World Tour schedule. I can’t recall the last time the ASP sent out a press release that didn’t include the word “historic” in it. Everything the ASP does is historic these days. It’s like Roosevelt’s speech when the Japanese Empire bombed Pearl Harbor.

“Today—ay-ay will be a date which will live in infamy as we announce sweeping changes to the already Dreamy Dream Tour schedule.”

But who can blame them? This stuff is exciting and the 2010 season doesn’t kick off for two months.

Frankly, there are not a lot of changes. A few tweaks here. A few tweaks there. Teahupoo has been moved up by a few months. They dropped fickle Munduka for Portugal. And they pushed back the start date of the Teahupoo event to capitalize on swell opportunity. Billabong has dropped an event and Rip Curl has added one more event. But I was thoroughly disappointed they did not formally announce the venue for the Rip Curl Pro Search. My money is on Huntington.

If it isn’t broke why fix it. Right? To be fair, Mother Nature was not kind to the WCT in 2009. Perhaps that’s what so great about surfing—the uncertainty. If the waves are as bad in 2010 as they were in ’09 then THAT would be “historic.”

The 2010 ASP World Tour schedule is as follows:

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, February 27 – March 10, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, March 30 – April 10, 2010
Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, April 21 – April 30, 2010
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, July 15 – 25, 2010
Billabong Pro Teahupoo, August 23 – September 3, 2010
Hurley Pro Trestles, September 12 – 21, 2010
Quiksilver Pro France, September 25 – October 5, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Portugal, October 7 – 18, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Search, October 30 – November 10, 2010
Billabong Pipe Masters, December 8 – 20, 2010

Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and compare the tour today to 1990.

O’Neill Pepsi Cold Water Classic – Santa Cruz, USA
Bundaberg Rum Surf Masters – Burleigh Heads, Australia
Rip Curl Coca-Cola Surfing Classic – Bells Beach, Australia
Coca Cola Bottlers Surf Classic – Narrabeen Beach, Australia
Gunston 500 – Durban, South Africa
Life’s a Beach Surf Klassik – Oceanside Pier, USA
OP Pro – Huntington Beach, USA
Quiksilver Lacanau Pro – Lacanau, France
Rip Curl Pro Landes – Hossegor, France
Arena Surfmasters – Biarritz, France
Pukas Pro – Zarautz, Spain
Seland Pro – Sopelana, Spain
Buondi Pro – Ericeira, Portugal
Marui Pro – Chiba, Japan
Alternativa Surf International – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Hang Loose Pro – Guaruja, Brazil
The Drug Offensive Masters – Margaret River, Australia
BHP Steel International – Newcastle Beach, Australia
Hard Rock Cafe World Cup of Surfing – Haleiwa, Hawaii
Marui Pipeline Masters – Pipeline, Hawaii
Billabong Pro – North Shore, Hawaii

Now that wasn’t exactly a dream schedule…six events in Europe and crappy beachbreaks galore. Another thing you will notice is the amount of corporate event sponsors like the Hard Rock Cafe, BHP Steel, Coca Cola and Pepsi. It was a far cry from today’s tour which is essentially controlled by three major surf brands.

Nevertheless, Tom Curren dominated the 1990 season by winning the first three events and more than a third of the 21 events.

Photo Credit: © ASP/ CI/ Scholtz via Getty Images

A Historic Change? I Think Not

15 10 2009
On July 11, 1963 a Vietnamese monk named Thích Quảng Đức's burned himself to death on a busy Saigon road to protest the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.

On July 11, 1963 Vietnamese monk Thích Quảng Đức's burned himself to death on a busy Saigon road to protest the persecution of Buddhists.

An old Scottish proverb says “twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.” In surfing it takes a lot less than that.

Although the Basque Country is well known for its rebellions, no one caught on fire last Saturday in Spain, where the ASP held a press conference to announce what it called “historic changes to make the ASP World Tour bigger and better for 2010 and beyond.” In fact, the most famous and outspoken of the so-called rebels, Kelly Slater, wasn’t even in the country. He was hundreds of miles away in France.

After months of rumors and speculation about a rebel tour the ASP acted swiftly albeit conservatively. The surfers wanted change. The fans wanted change. The ASP is attempting to sell these changes as landmark changes, but in reality, they are just traveling back in time.

These are the “historic” changes.

1. Beginning in 2010, the ASP will move from the current two-tier format to an all-inclusive one-world rating format where both ASP World Tour and ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events will be used to determine a surfer’s rating. Can you say Déjà vu? Isn’t this essentially the same structure they had in the ’80s?

2. Halfway through the 2010 season, the ASP World Tour field will be reduced from the current 45-man plus three wildcards format to a 32-man plus four wildcards field.

3. A slight increase in prize money. Each event will now boast a minimum purse of $400,000 instead of $360,000. In addition, the world title will include a $100,000 bonus. The increase is almost laughable. The surfers deserve more.

4. An increase in surfer benefits that include full insurance coverage as well as a pension plan. There is no word yet if the Norwegian voters will give ASP CEO Brodie Carr a Nobel Peace Prize.

5. The ASP board structure will transition from the current 5-person (1 chairman, 2 event and 2 surfer) model. The new ASP board structure will consist of three independents, two events and two surfers – including a women’s representative.

Other than reduction of top-tier surfers from 45 to 32 there is nothing historic about these changes. These were done in jest. In fear. Nothing scares the establishment more than the idea of change. Something needed to be done. But this was no shock and awe campaign. This was a spit wad. A butter knife in a room full of dynamite.

But, it just may have worked. For now, talk of the rebel tour has fizzled faster than Jason Buttonshaw’s surfing career.

The ASP is basically a cartel controlled by three surf companies — Rip Curl, Billabong and Quiksilver. “The Three Families” have all the power, control the media rights and have carte blanche in terms of choosing wildcards. This is what needs to change.

Additionally, the ASP is headquartered on a continent inhibited by former English convicts. The geography is holding the sport back. Surfing is a national sport Down Under, but the ASP is suffering from insulated security. Moving the headquarters back to the States will open up marketing potential and sponsorship dollars. The potential for growth in Australia has peaked. America is the land of opportunity.

Regrettably, the 2009 Dream Tour has been a nightmare. Surfing is like no other sport. Its uncertainty is a drug. The man vs. man vs. Nature element is like no other. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. JBay was a historic event. It was the perfect drug. The rest was a just bunk batch of heroin. If you want to keep surf fans interested you have to keep them high.

Hurley Pro Final Day

20 09 2009
Fanning and Reynolds Celebrate while Machado Drifts in the Background

Mick and Dane celebrate while Machado drifts in the background

Wake me when it’s over.

It was the afternoon of the last day of the Hurley Pro, and halfway through the quarterfinals it was as exciting as watching Tiger Woods sink a five-foot putt at a miniature golf course.

The main problem was the uncharacteristic lack of swell for a break that usually pumps in September. The other problems were the short waiting period (due to state park restrictions) and a bad call by the event organizers—choosing not to run at least some of the event mid-week, instead of hoping and praying for a swell that in typical Southern California fashion didn’t show up on time.

Twenty minutes into the quarterfinal heat between Kelly Slater and Heitor Alves announcer Dave Stanfield said, “It sure is great when there’s waves.” The unintentional comedy factor of the typical ASP announcer’s everything-is-rosy outlook is off the charts. Terrorists could have detonated a bomb killing ninety percent of the crowd, and Stanfield would probably said something like “at least Kelly Slater survived and good news folks…looks like there’s a set on the horizon.”

Meanwhile, the ocean sat bloated and weary like an overweight dog sprawled out on the kitchen floor on a scorching summer day. Every 15 minutes or so the Pacific Ocean drooled, offering up a set wave or two, and an occasional leg to hump. Earlier in the week I saw Slater pumping gas at the San Clemente Chevron and it was a more thrilling spectacle than his semifinal heat against Mick Fanning.

Adriano de Souza sits at third place in the ratings and may finish higher than any other Brazilian in ASP history, but for my money Heitor Alves is the best Brazilian surfer on tour. He’s also clearly the most underrated surfer on tour. But Slater sent the Brazo home early in yet another wave-starved heat.

Dane Reyolds whips his tail around at Trestles

The Future is now. Dane Reynolds whips his tail around.

Taylor Knox versus Dane Reynolds was the heat of the day and also featured the day’s best exchange. Knox dropped in on a head-high where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from right and just destroyed it, getting an 8.0. Then Dane picked off the very next wave (9.7) and made Knox’s eight look ordinary in comparison. He buried the rail of his 5’7 Merrick and out-Knoxed Knox in the process.

Before the semifinals the VIP area was buzzing in free beer and mental masturbatory hopes of a Dane versus Kelly final. Meanwhile, former world champion Mick Fanning was quietly winning heats after miserable heat, one Ambien off the lip at a time. During Mick and Slater’s semi Dane was battling exhaustion and dehydration. The medical staff on site gave him an IV, while the Hurley staff provided the VIPs with Bud Light to keep them entertained and hydrated. No needles required. Slater’s come-from-behind 10th world title aspirations may have ended at Trestles, unless he wins two of the three events of the European leg (which is in the realm of possibilities). So in reality, the race is now a threesome between Joel Parkinson, Fanning and Slater. With Slater as the third wheel who holds the video camera, watching mostly, waiting for the perfect moment to join the fun.

At the halfway point of the WCT season, Dane Reynolds was sitting in a regulation spot, at 34th in the ratings. After his equal third in near-perfect conditions at JBay, he jumped to 20th. Now, after and second at Trestles, he sits comfortably in 11th place. Any person who is not brain dead and/or tipping back  Tooheys at an Aussie pub would admit Dane is a better surfer right now than Fanning.

Last year, every story I read about Dane Reynolds mentioned Jordy Smith as if they were Siamese twins sipping juice boxes, rolling around a cul-de-sac in a two-seat baby stroller. At Trestles, Dane not only separated himself from Jordy, but from the rest of the ASP pack as well. He’s the present and future of competitive surfing and everyone knows it. When Julian Wilson arrives, the surfing world may just implode, scattering swatches of Diamond Dobby boardshorts in the process.

Slater may have said it best shortly after the final while Fanning was popping the champagne. “I thought Dane was the surfer of the contest. I don’t even think Mick would argue with that.”

With a shot of honesty and a humble dose of reality, the circus heads for Europe and a three-event run before the climax at Pipe.

Day 1 Observations From Trestles

14 09 2009
Kelly Slater Trestles

Slater won his heat with ease Sunday on two nines. Morris/ASP

1. Conditions were horrible in the morning. A south wind was blowing and the tide was too high. The swell was mostly from the northwest.  The rights were fizzling out. Ninety percent of the waves ridden during the first 6 or so heats were lefts. Hurley Trestles Pro organizers made a bad call and should have waited until at least 11 am to start. My guess is if the waiting period started on Monday they would have done just that. But it was Sunday and event director Pat O’Connell wanted to utilize the first of only two weekend days in the waiting period.

2. Heat 2 may have been the lowest scoring heat in ASP history. Damien Hobgood beat Drew Courtney and Dustin Barca with a total score of 7.27. Embarrassing.

3. The HD crane cam was pretty sweet, but I didn’t see it utilized much.

4. Spotted Bobby Martinez walking down the trail. He was wearing his wetsuit with socks and white Adidas tennis shoes. Must be the new gangster look.

5.  I ran into Dan Reynolds and Mick Fanning on the walk. Dane Reynolds was rocking his usual hobo chic look…adjustable golf hat and sagging khaki floods. He had three Merricks under his arms. Dane rode a super-wide 5’7’’ in his heat. Mick, on the other hand, had only one board with him. Dane even called him out. “Just one board mate,” he said with a mischievous smile.

6. Slater was clearly the top of the class Sunday. He was just flowing through sections. He glided to the highest heat total of the day with two waves in the nine plus range.

7. Brett Simpson won probably the best heat of the day against Dean Morrison and Taj Burrow. And his backside 270 nose-pick disaster was the best turn of the day. He looked like he was sliding down a handrail on a skateboard. His knuckle-dragging Geico caveman style still needs a little work though.

8. As usual Bede Durbidge was under the radar, but put together what I thought was one the top three performances on the day. He was throwing buckets of spray while Timmy Reyes looked rather pedestrian in comparison.

9. I once read about an old woman in the Midwest who saw an image of the Virgin Mary on her toast. Today, I saw a kelp patty on the beach that looked just like Rob Machado. By sheer divine intervention Rob Machado beat Taj Burrow in the second heat of Round 2. Tonight, Hurley will build a shrine on the sand and sacrafice a chicken and Pat O’Connell’s Birkenstocks.

10. Joel Parkinson looked mortal today. The halo that usually surrounds his head was even faded and worn by the Southern California smog. Kai Otton got the best of him early, but luckily he sent Kai Barger back to the Nike No Tell Motel a little earlier than he would have liked.