Reflections on the ASP Changes

When the waves are good during ASP events, nothing else seems to matter to fans and competitors. Mick Fanning pulling in at Kirra, a possible venue for the Quik Pro when the swell increases. Photo: Joli

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER's Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

1: The Dream Tour is now the Show-Me-the-Money Tour. WT surfers dreaming of record setting payouts are allowing the World Title to be decided by giving equal points to the winner of events in Rio, New York, and ????, as Teahupoo, J-Bay, Snapper, Lowers, and Pipe. Those big city beach break events are great for surfing and a blast to attend, but shouldn’t the point scale be adjusted to reflect wave quality?

2: The Prime Tour (WQS of years past) has made it a pay to play game. In the past, Prime status was granted to 6 star events that were held in quality surf locations, and that worked marvelously. Now, there is a set of requirements that need to be met for Prime status to be granted; most notably is an extra 105,000 dollars in prize money.

3: The mid-year cut is great in a perfect world. One that only exists on paper or in your dreams. But as we saw last year, this cut is brutal on any surfer not already on the WT. And for 2011, if a Prime surfer doesn’t qualify for the WT at the mid-year-cut, there is virtually no way to get into the top 32 by season’s end with the few prime events remaining on the schedule for the second half. This likely means the same surfers that finish on the WT in 2011 will remain on tour for the start of 2012.

4: The reduction of surfers from 45 to 32 has homogenized the make-up of the world’s best surfers by eliminating a young surfer’s easy path into, and ability to stay on the World Tour. While also keeping developing surf nations – both their surfers and fans – from finding a home on the WT. Be prepared for numerous repeat match-ups in 2011.

This is nowhere near a complete assessment of the 2011 tour formats, as there are many positives for the changes being introduced as well. I just can’t help but think there’s a better way to run the tour, and many signs point towards what was working fine before the changes.

What is still working fine is a swell forecast that keeps getting better and better with every update of the models, likely resulting in the Quik Pro at Snapper Rocks morphing into the Quik Pro at Kirra. Then all the ASP’s headaches will go away during a few days of mesmerizing surf at a hugely successful Quik Pro. It’s funny how perfect surf can make everything better…even if just for a moment. While the ASP is still trying to wrap their heads around all this change, I’m positive more changes are still to come.