On December 1st, 2005, the ASP plans to open its new international branch office in Southern California with the intention of stimulating mainland WQS growth. In a region that has been desperately in need of a well-developed and viable feeder system leading into to the WCT, this decision by the ASP to play a more active and involved role in the United States could prove beneficial for mainland competitive surfing. In a recent interview conducted via email, ASP CEO Brodie Carr checked in with Surfermag.com to explain some of the implications of this move, and to answer a few questions about the issues this new office will address.
SURFERMAG.COM: Brodie, how will this affect the dynamic between the ASP and Surfing America?
Brodie Carr: It probably won't. If anything, it will allow both businesses to focus on their core activity. It was difficult for Surfing America to deal with both the ASP events and the ISA. Now they can focus purely on amateur surfing. My background has always been in amateur sports, so I believe in, and support the career path structure that exists there for an athlete. Surfing America has done a good job of getting some focus back into amateur surfing and is working to cement the US where it belongs, up with Australia, Brazil and Hawaii. And if amateur surfing is strong in the US, it will lead to better surfers coming onto the ASP WQS and WCT, so it has my full support.
SURFERMAG.COM: So, just to be clear, the main focus here, for the ASP, is to provide a better professional competitive foundation?
Brodie Carr:Well, the ultimate goal of this change is to hopefully grow, or at least maintain, the number of mainland USA surfers on the WCT. To do this we need to provide the best platform for them to get WQS points, and this is done by lifting the profile of the WQS in the United States.
SURFERMAG.COM: So, is money the solution?
Brodie Carr:There are some that feel the ASP doesn't care about the US, and that we're too focused on Australia and the WCT. This isn't the case, but I understand why they may have that view. The WQS in the US hasn't been given the attention I think it deserves. But now, our branches in California and Japan have become my main focus. The US market is massive and it can't be ignored. Our next major sponsor will most likely come from this region, so ASP International is serious about it. That's why we've opened a branch there, so we can give the WQS one-hundred-percent of our attention. We've employed the most capable person in the US to run our office, Meg Bernardo, and have invested money in a sponsorship manager to chase the bucks. I've already had two great trips to the US this year and plan on spending more time there in the near future. Things aren't just going to turn around overnight, but we believe this is the best structure to make it happen.
SURFERMAG.COM: Will all this lead to more contests, higher prize purses, better 'QS-star ratings points and possibly actual waiting periods at some events?
Brodie Carr:One of the aims is to grow the number of WQS events, so yes. Our branch doesn't officially open for another week or so, be we've already secured an additional WQS event for next year and are working on others. But it's not just about higher ratings points. We need to think about both the lower ranked surfers and the surfers that are contenders for the WCT to grow the WQS. As far as actual waiting periods; that's a tough one. We're at the mercy of the permits we get from the local authorities. Just look at the WCT event at Trestles. We hardly get one there at all. But a proven solution is to put events in a swell window that is most likely to provide good, quality waves. On prize purses; we're always trying to grow there, but there's a need to balance this across all our WQS events worldwide, not just in the US. We know its tough for the WQS kids, and we know most of them need to invest money to chase their dream of being a world champ, but I have the same motivation to get a Japanese surfer on the WCT as I do in fostering pro surfing in the US. The idea is to allow the best platform worldwide so the best surfers end up on the WCT. Our motto is, "the world's best surfers in the world's best waves." The Dream Tour. I want all kids worldwide to have a chance to chase that dream. It isn't easy to achieve, but if we provide the platform, then it's up them to go battle it out.