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Does Surfing Discriminate?

30 Nov

Duel for the Jewel - 2010 Pipemasters

Tyler, Steph, Alana & Coco


When the ASP announced the women’s tour dates I thought, how could it go from a heat at Pipeline last year to no events in Hawaii 2011. Yes, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, Alana Blanchard and Coco Ho surfed competitively at Pipe last year. No, I am not talking about Blue Crush the movie, it actually happened.

This year, what are the women’s highlights? Steph posing naked for ESPN instead. I agree that if you’ve got it, flaunt it and I do think Alana looks super hot in her bikini bottoms, but I would much rather watch her surf.

There are barely any women’s surf videos, so I enjoy watching the girls compete. Watching the best female surfers in the world pushing their surfing to new heights is inspirational. It motivates me to go out and surf better, to challenge myself.

And what did a heat at Pipe cost the sponsors? 25 minutes and some prize money, and not a lot of prize money at that. The money put up is most likely less than a contribution to fund the listing of a range of surf branded beanie hats in the Argos catalogue.

The biggest disappointment is that the surf industry itself openly demonstrates considerable bias. This is easily illustrated by the attached chart, with women’s events having to find alternative supporters rather than industry sponsors.

Chart

The reason given that marketing budgets are being slashed during the recession, therefore women’s surfing has to take the hit is a poor excuse, and a short sighted one. An investment made now, however small grows into something much larger. It reassures a younger generation of women that their leisure pursuits are just as worthwhile, and they, of course will invest in equipment and clothing for a lifetime to perpetuate the industry.

Does surfing discriminate? Make your own mind up and let us hope the ASP Women’s World Tour will actually run for a full year in 2013.

ASP Tour Judges – We Are Ready For You

11 Oct

As a result of some very inconsistent judging, we are going to try to make our voices heard today…

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European Premier of New Globe Surf Movie

9 Oct


The European premier of Globe’s new Surf Movie, Year Zero was celebrated in style, with a free party and screening held at a secret location in the forest in Seignosse, near Le Penon.

The event was a collaboration between Globe, Desillusion Magazine and Rockstar Energy Drinks and advertised as ‘The Death of Cool’.

The invite was open to all ‘folks, hippies and kooks’ that had been lucky enough to find the details of the event through the Twittersphere. ‘Suivez les fleches rouges’, or ‘follow the red arrows’ were the only clues to the venue.

Stepping into a clearing in the forest, the view was that of an old skool rave. Vibrations from a heavy dub step bass line coursed through my body, whilst dancers on podiums and fire breathers welcomed new arrivals. A big screen had been erected amongst the pine trees and coloured lights cast unusual shadows into the woods. Alongside the well stocked free bar and DJ booth, there was a chill out area, made to look like a comfortable but well worn front room, complete with Turkish rug. The effect was surreal, an Alice in Wonderland playground for adults. To add to this, Globe had strung a row of a hundred pairs of their shoes by their laces between two pine trees. A sign proclaimed ‘take me’. Whoops of delight were emitted as this bounty was discovered. An Australian QS surfer promptly ditched the scruffy pair he was wearing, purchased for a fiver at Shoe Zone in Newquay, for his new Globe plimsolls.

Gourmet sandwiches were laid out, and the bar stopped serving beer. In true French fashion, barrels of wine in red and white were provided instead. Wine with food, not beer came the simple explanation from the bar staff.

The crowd, well fed and watered danced in the light of the moon to a variety of tunes and the somewhat questionable deejaying. Finally, a countdown started on the big screen, and the lights dimmed. All attention turned to the film.

Featuring Globe team Surfers Taj Burrow, the Hobgoods, Nate Tyler and Yadin Nicol, Year Zero was shot in Mexico and South West France. The film featured the air show that we have come to expect of this calibre of surf movie as well as some excellent cinematography. The defaced World War two bunkers made for an interesting backdrop to the surf porn shown. Before the movie could climax, the heavens opened in that torrential way well known to this part of France and the audience fled.

Thanks for the great party Globe, we will be adding Year Zero to our DVD collection.

Notes From the First Morning at the Quik Pro France…

5 Oct

The eagerly awaited swell has hit early and the contest organisers have made the call to start the competition. The air is cool and fresh, but the sea mist is now melting away. The growing crowd on the beach has started to peel off layers of clothing, all eyes transfixed on the water. Although a gentle breeze can now be felt, the waves are glassy, as yet unruffled by the wind.

The second heat is underway. Jadson Andre has caught the first barrel, a long tube ride scoring 7.5. The cosmopolitan crowd, comprised of a collection of all surfing nations, cheers.

When not watching the surf, a big screen replays the last waves caught and the organisation of the Quiksilver Pro France really stands out. We have spent the last few days travelling up and down the beach, witnessing the contest area unfolding. From the multiple camera towers, contestant areas, stages and a huge skate ramp being constructed in the Place Des Landais, it is apparent that this is one of the biggest ASP spectacles. Most importantly, the surf has turned on!

It is the now the third heat of the day. The Quiksilver buoy marking the outer reaches of the contest area disappears, a sign that a set of waves is on it’s way. Tiago Pires takes off on a bomb, but doesn’t make it. Mick Fanning, the defending champion answers by taking off on the second set wave. He threads through a tube and then carves his way right to the beach to the applause of the crowd.

The tide is starting to push towards high, and the breeze is stronger now. The offshore direction of the wind is holding up the wave faces, and Brett Simpson tail slides across one for a 7.33, putting him in the lead. With 90 seconds to go, Mick Fanning slips skilfully into a barreling wave and disappears from view as he is enveloped inside. He bursts out through the curtain of the wave, and the crowd erupts. Mick scores a 9.37 to win the heat.

Due to the amount of water moving around, and the impending high tide the forth heat is restarted. The water running back from the beach makes the waves fat and hard to catch. Owen Wright breaks the stand off between competitors and conditions taking off on an ample wave. It breaks too quickly, closing out around him. Owen catches another wave arcing out of a deep bottom turn and pulling a huge floater across the lip. Dane Reynolds answers, but does not secure a good score despite completing a big turn.

The sky is now cloudless and the temperature is climbing steadily. The set waves are scarce and the clock counts down. A final exchange takes place between Owen and Dane. Dane pulls a frontside air reverse in the closing seconds for an 8.33. Not quite enough to win but a dignified finish to a slow heat.

Heat 6, Kelly Slater’s heat has just started. The crowd have repositioned themselves, ready to pounce as soon he leaves the water. Kelly gets a reasonable right hander, nothing special and is scored accordingly. Notably, the majority of spectators here are better versed in the idiosyncrasies of the judging criteria than the crowd in Hawaii at the Pipeline Masters last year. Hopefully this means Kelly will get scored fairly, if not more critically than in the other events we have witnessed this year. Perhaps it is because he is in front of a European crowd rather than an all American audience?

Kelly is undoubtedly surfing the best in this heat, although the high tide is providing the worst conditions of the day so far.

Freddy P Jr pulls a frontside air, the most exciting manoeuvre of the heat for a score of 6.83, although Kelly wins by one point. As the air horn sounds, a huge set of waves rumbles through unridden. The crowds mob Kelly.

A Tribute to Andy Irons

3 Nov

 

Andy Irons was my favourite surfer.

Not because he was 3 times World Champion or his poster boy good looks, but because of his brilliance and passion. 

It was Jack McCoys surfing documentary, Blue Horizon, that opened my eyes to Andy Irons.  Whilst  it portrayed Dave Rastovich as the über-cool soul surfer,  it was Andy Irons’  competitive, hot-headed and paranoid anti-hero that stood out to me.   I could relate to a person so ruled by emotion.  It made me understand the passion in his surfing.

From then I have followed Andy’s career closely, its ups and its downs, and it gave me immense pleasure to watch him win the Billabong Pro Teahupoo this August. 

Brilliant but flawed, Andy was a true hero in my mind.  I mourn his passing with the rest of the surf community.

Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters