Archive for November 2011

a step in the right direction   Leave a comment

The last week or so in surfing has been marked by a few odd events. The first was the resignation of ASP President Brodie Carr. Citing the miscalculation of the clinching of the world title by Kelly Slater, Carr tendered his resignation and a replacement has not yet been found. I have mixed feelings because I believe the failed math was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. First, you had the controversial heat between Owen Wright and Adriano De Souza where De Souza was “pushed” by judges when he was given an 8 for a floater. Then came the bizarre decision to stop the clock in the heat between Jordy Smith and Travis Logie when Jordy dislocated his shoulder. Then there was the dissent from Freddy Pattachia and the utter melt down of Bobby Martinez for the advocating of the reseeding in the middle of the season. In Carr’s defense, the tour is in a better place than it was six years ago. There is more money. There are more events in quality waves. Each surfer is covered by health insurance. Events run faster. Better heats are surfed by more exciting surfers. Credit is due for being classy and taking the blame. In a day and age where we hardly see any corporate accountability at all, it’s nice to see it coming from the forefront of my favorite sport.

The second stunning event was the announcement that the ASP would introduce drug testing at each event. And no…I don’t think this is a bad idea. It’s a great idea. Clearly, it’s a possibility the tour and its administration had been pondering for awhile. The guys on tour don’t have a problem with it. The organization couldn’t push it forward without their approval. Going back as far as 2007, many of the top surfers were in favor of it. Joel Parkinson told the Sun Herald, “If it’s going to get real serious, I think for sure. If the money goes up in the sport – and the prize money goes up by $600 next year for each place – then there should be testing.” Parkinson has been the model of professionalism coming into each season looking like an iron man resulting from a healthier lifestyle. Others have certainly followed suit before and after him. Whether it’s at the CHEK facility in Australia or the Boar’s Nest in Oahu, surfers are taking better car of themselves via diet and exercise and this latest development has confirmed their willingness to accept that position as role models. “They (pro surfers) are public figures,” he said. “If they’re doing drugs, it’s a bad example. If you’re being paid to be a performing athlete, you can’t have people being stoned. It sets a bad example for the sport.”

Now …LOST may hate this along with the other salty dogs of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Don’t get me wrong. Have a pint or two when the event is over but even Occy couldn’t overcome his demons without dismissing booze for a long while and steering clear of drugs. It’s important to note that the penalties will be slightly different. Bong rips won’t carry the same punishment as coke or heroin. Regardless of the severity of each drug, rest assured this will help dozens maybe hundreds of surfer reach their potential and increase the longevity of their career and the quality of their surfing. Who knows…had this been in place a year or two it may have done the same for Andy Irons.

 

-TP

Posted November 17, 2011 by travstradewinds in Uncategorized

ke11y   Leave a comment

I’m not a huge numbers guy but I did call this stat in the beginning of the year and I stand by it. When Slater wins one of the first events of the year in Australia, be it Manly, Bells, or Snapper, he wins the world title…all the time…every time…100% of the time. He won Snapper and now he’s clinched no. 11. Face it. The guy is like a fine wine. He keeps getting better with age.

For all the Slater haters out there who claim he gets pushed by judges, who think his degree of difficulty in maneuvers is masked by his overly flexible spinal column, and even his peers who resent him for not hanging it up…well, sorry. He’s just better than you. Taj Burrow conceded to that fact when Jimmy Slade lofted a full rotation 360 on what we all thought was a close out in New York. Owen had to face it twice when he realized Kelly owns Lowers with no time left and surfs Tahiti better on his backside than Owen’s frontside. The worst part is that Kelly proved he could still take a lesser finish in Brazil and a 33rd at J-Bay and still be in it. Good for him but now I’m calling out the other thirty something guys at every event with him and I’m saying MAN UP AND BEAT HIM.

Kelly said it himself that he’s not leaving until someone puts him out to pasture. There was a point where I thought this was good for surfing but that ship has sailed. With Kelly on tour, we’re looking at MAYBE two guys who will contend for the title. Now picture this. Without that balding, intelligent, well spoken, all around performer…we’re talking four or five guys going back and forth throughout the year to raise the cup over their head come Hawaii. Ten wasn’t bad for the sport. Eleven the world can live with. Twelve would be excessive and the most gigantic middle finger to the rest of the globe. Streaks are great but it’s time for parody and that doesn’t come until the king falls.

Taj looked off to another promising start but cannot finish to save his life let alone in a place where he won last year (Snapper) and a punchy beach break (his bread and butter) against a warring, stumpy, allegedly roided out garden gnome who claims threes. That’s not passion by the way. That’s idiotic. Joel rebounded from an early exit to claim the bell but realized he still can’t surf small waves. Mick…wait, where was Mick this year? Aside from a finals finish in terrible J-Bay, did Mick make the cut? Is he still on tour? It’s frightening to think how insignificant he was considering he’s one of two guys to win not one but two world titles with Kelly on tour. Jordy lurked around somewhere in the background after an effortless performance against Mick but one controversial decision at Tahiti and a few broken ribs later and his year was effectively over. And that garden gnome…I mean Adriano…well, Adriano is Adriano and he can claim like no one else but he should probably take a page out of Gabriel Medina’s book and surf BETTER and claim less. Furthermore, I’m pretty convinced that without a little pushing from judges he doesn’t even make finals because let’s face it a floater does not earn you an eight. Clearly, I have little to no faith in the last four guys.

Owen Wright is our Luke Skywalker. He is the last hope. NO ONE has drawn Kelly three events in a row and come that close each time to beating him and even taken one from him. The kid has it all. Style, grace, power, speed, quickness, competitive savvy to navigate through the world’s best, and the repertoire to find himself in LOST ATLAS. He’s the equivalent of Andrew Luck: talent ridden, unflappable, and a gem of a person. Owen had his shot to catch Kelly in France because Hossegor is Kelly’s Achilles heel. It has been since the dawn of his career. He’ll make quarters and semis but he’ll never win it. But, alas, my dream was dashed when Owen ducked out in round five and Kelly made the quarterfinals.

At some point, Kelly will start losing. Gravity will take its toll. His kryptonite will be revealed. There will be blood in the water and sharks will feast BUT…someone has to do it. Someone needs to take him to task. Someone needs to get quarters or better everywhere in the world. Someone needs to axe him at Lowers with a wave that would make it impossible for him to come back from. The problem is…the way he’s looking now…I have no idea when that will happen.

 

-T

Posted November 17, 2011 by travstradewinds in Uncategorized

An old dog and the value of old tricks   Leave a comment

I consider myself a pretty old school guy when it comes to surfing. I don’t use a deck pad. All of my boards have glass on fins. I even employ the use of a back zip wet suit. Technology? Ha! That’s just what appeals to me in the art of riding waves. I marveled at Occy’s rail burying turns and his facial contortions that accompanied them as if it caused him pain to push that hard. I admired Tom Carroll’s courage when he gouged a huge snap in the pocket at massive Pipeline en route to his world title. I got lost in watching Curren weave through corduroy like J-Bay and holding his lines through the powerful offshore bowls. Call it what you will but no one can deny its place permanently cemented in surfing.

So when the rest of the Quiksilver Pro France contest concluded there was something else that caught my eye. Yes, I commended Julian Wilson’s well-rounded approach and his refreshing blend of carves and aerial blasts. Yes, I was mesmerized by Gabriel Medina’s seemingly effortless boosts and the fact that he seemed to use his entire board. My favorite part is when he stuck a gigantic reverse on a left with his front foot nearly at the nose and he somehow managed to distribute his weight evenly enough to ferociously blast the lip one more time. Who does that?! No, check that…who CAN do that?

Yes, the freak show is entertaining. There’s no denying that. It’s viscerally pleasing to people that don’t even know what good surfing is but I get bored after the first ten minutes in “Lost Atlas”. So while I will congratulate Medina I was even more delighted to see the handle bar moustache laden Taylor Knox taking names with his old school but powerful, quick, and decisive approach. At age forty, he’s still throwing more spray than most of the top ten. He may not be the guy to look to for the most tweaked out air reverse but he still sets the standard for the most buried rail and, this includes Slater, potentially the most technically perfect style in the world. There’s not a raised arm or bent knee or extended leg that seems out of place and did I mention he’s 40?!

While Knox isn’t expected to contend for the title this year or maybe even an event this year, he is contending for the iron man award. I’m not sure he’s consciously trying to break Occy’s record but when you look at how much work he’s put into taking care of his body and his mind he’s probably going to. It’s a mystery to most why Knox doesn’t own places like J-Bay, Bells, and Lowers where his style and skill set translates almost too well. However, it’s more rewarding to see him schooling the next generation in punchy beach breaks where his approach doesn’t fit in but he’s capable of making it work. He gets a third in Brazil last year and a third in France this year and both come at the expense of the ultra competitive, overly prepared, silent assassin that is his white haired, fast twitched good friend Mick Fanning. Fort Knox over the White Lightning? Interesting.

This time next year Owen Wright will be attempting to ward off the new generation of Smith, Wilson, and Medina and fans will be enamored with a potential Kelly-less tour and much more parody. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be paying close attention to that but I’ll still be waving that Bear flag and pulling for the guy sporting amber alert provoking facial hair and sickening man hacks. Party on, Knox!

Posted November 17, 2011 by travstradewinds in Uncategorized