The real World Tour, in gorgeous Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, will end this weekend and the title race will tighten. Adriano and Joel and Kelly and Taj and Jordy (Smith not Spencer) all locked in a battle at the top. Michel Bourez thinking about becoming the first French Polynesian champion. Tiago Pires thinking about the Peninsular War of 1808. Drama, so much delicious drama! Mick Fanning!
And all of it will come straight, like an out of control locomotive, to Huntington Beach, California, for the US Open of Surfing in less than two weeks! Nothing will be decided in Huntington Beach, but the actors in this drama, and the drama in this drama, will be there and, for surfers, what could be better than the Association of Surfing Professionals?
I say nothing.
Of course, right now, many internet commentators are whinging and crying about how shit it all is. "Kelly didn't even bother to show up!" "Dane never bothers to show up!" "The waves are little!" But those internet commentators are fat and slovenly. The only activities they regularly participate in are anger and masturbation. And as such, their opinions matter not because what could be better than the Association of Surfing Professionals?
It is a fascinating combination of personality and skill and exotic. When the waves don't break for days and days on end it only highlights a great reality in surfing: sometimes it just don't break. And we all share this together, from the most amateurish young man who insists on surfing in boardshorts that run mid-calf to Joel Parkinson himself.
There are storylines galore. Skirmishes, infighting, cattiness. Men who just don't like other men. Men who are fast friends.
The rise of some nations (Brazil) and the fall of others (Santa Cruz, California). Matty Wilkinson's wetsuits.
And exotic locations like Torquay, Hossegor and Trestles. Those names alone!
In the water, all that raw talent is undeniable. Fun to watch. Fun to kill the hours. Fun to look at the heat draws and wonder, "Will Josh Kerr beat Taj Burrow?" And, "Who looks younger, Josh Kerr or Taj Burrow?"
And when the waves don't break for days, Ronnie Blakey's hair is amazing.
This year's tour, with offerings in Rio, New York and San Francisco, might be my favorite ever. Those locations provide ample opportunity for surfers to get into big trouble with drink and women. Fun.
What's not to love?
Nick Carroll wrote a fine piece for Australia's Surfing Life about the tough position the ASP is in, juggling the different aspirations of its major partners, the brands. Nick Carroll is a fine man with crazy-looking eyes and a wide smile and skin that has seen so much sun and so many waves. The finest of men. But I digress. Nick highlights the minefield that ASP CEO Brodie Carr must navigate, which navigate he does. With aplomb. Brodie Carr, who is even finer than Nick Carroll and mostly because he has hair and is tall, does an amazing job of wrangling an impressive product out of many and varied un-wrangleable elements. Like that flippant slut Nature. And Kelly Slater.
And at the end of the day, what, specifically, are those internet commentators crying about? Could it be better? Everything on earth can be better. Except the ASP's World Tour.
It is as perfect as surfing itself. —Chas Smith