Winning is for squares. Dane Reynolds has never won a contest in his life and he's so hot right now that the sun would be scared to touch him for fear of getting burned. Kelly Slater, on the other hand, seems to be coasting toward a new alphanumeric moniker, but when he gets to the podium, gives a back-handed compliment to everyone he beat, and closes with a good ol' heartfelt cry, most of us will be yawning. Not to say that the World Tour is uninteresting--it may in fact be peaking in intrigue since the fiery Andy vs. Kelly days of old. It's not necessarily because of the surfing, or the blossoming Owen vs. Kelly rivalry, but more a result of the controversial big-city stops, the perplexing mid-year cut, and, of course, the judging. Oh the judging!
The World Tour has never looked so scripted, which is probably why my Fantasy Surfer team is flying high and glorious like a golden hawk right now. (Tip: Just ask yourself who you think the judges want to win, put those people on your team, and BAM--you're winning right there with them!).
You may wonder why I would celebrate favoritism on surfing's grand stage, where points and glory and livelihoods are on the line. The truth is that I wouldn't if it weren't for the fact that those underdogs are actually stealing the show. We all remember Owen's defeat at the hands of a floater more clearly than we remember Adriano's win in the final. Julian Wilson can pull a no-grab rodeo flip and still come up short the score if he's against Joel Parkinson. And Heitor Alves is a goddamn hero but will never win the hearts of the judges because he don't speak English good. Right now Travis Logie's heat against Taj Burrow in Round 3 of the Quik Pro France is streaming with a vengeance to the masses who find intrigue in all things World Tour.
Travis tweeted shortly after his heartbreak on the beaches of France, "That was the worst call of my career. I'm seriously over this sport, just watched the footage. I'm gutted. How do you stay positive after that?" Though sincere, it was a risky move since tweets of dissent have become the a major source of income for the ASP (Just ask Freddy P. who was fined $1,000 yesterday for questioning the judging). Don't worry Travis, tweet or not, we were watching. "French police report that Travis Logie has been robbed in broad daylight," is what one particularly clever Tour fan had to say this morning on our message boards. Between said robbery and his dramatic rise from wildcard entry to semifinalist at Teahupoo, I'd say that Travis has kept us pretty captivated lately, which counts for a lot when your career waxes and wanes to the tune of public interest in you. And once the public takes an interest in you, the judges blindly follow suit, which means things have to start working out for old Trav Logie pretty soon. The conclusion: As long as fans are engaged in the jersey-clad circus, getting screwed by the judges is the new black.
Read more about the ASP's current state of confusion in our November issue on newsstands now.