I’m not sure where Rip Curl’s Search is going to take the WCT. But if surf fans had a say in it, the good folks in Torquay would put down the map and pick up the wallet and start searching for an appearance fee to pay Kelly Slater.
“He’s the best in the world,” said Jake Paterson during a verbal en garde with commentator Peter Mel during Slater’s quarterfinal match against Andy Irons at Sanpper Rocks yesterday.
Not that he needed to, but Kelly Slater firmly established what we already know: He is the best in the world. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Tiger Woods of surfing. He is the one everybody else chases. He is the one everybody else watches. He is the reason difficult moves such as a foam climb or a sweeping wrap around cutback are now merely "transitional" moves, to be swept aside while we wait to see what spontaneity follows. No disrespect to World Champion Mick Fanning, but it is clear, Slater is a dynasty. He is our dynasty. The dynasty has not ended. It will not end. He is our 1980s San Francisco 49ers, our '90s Dallas Cowboys, our 2000 New England Patriots. He is Jordan, Ali, and Schumacher all wrapped up into one fast and stylish wave-riding machine.
And what is a World Tour event without Slater competing in it? Well, it will produce a champion. It just won’t produce the champion. It’s left wanting, even with icons like Fanning, Irons, and Parko on tour. A tour stop without Slater isn’t really a competition, it’s more like a practice session, a warm up, an exhibition. Competitors and fans alike are left wondering, “what if?”
Here’s hoping Slater shows up at Bells. And the appearance fee? Kelly can give it to charity!
WEBCAST PRODUCTION; NO MUNDAKA; QUIK DRAW MCKLINEY
The best things to come out of Quiksilver Pro webcast production was Jake Paterson’s candor. He pointedly disagreed with his colleagues on a number of occasions and he did so with polite yet unquestioned authority. The big bomb shell Paterson dropped was that the Mundaka event had been cancelled. He said it early in the broadcast during the weekend, and he never mentioned it again, nor did Martin Potter elaborate. This leads me to believe that somebody at the ASP put the kybosh on Paterson. Control is the name of the game.
Potts, Todd Kline, and Peter Mel did a great job. Sean Dougherty is always good, offering more than a touch of Australian surfing colloquialisms for us Seppos to digest. Overall the commentators were informative, they were insightful, they were themselves. The pretty girl in the tower didn’t offer much and she seemed nervous. If you are after equal opportunity I’d go directly to Layne Beachley. She is a fabulous speaker, she is very smart, and she is opinionated. Commentating a surf comp is very, very difficult, especially when conditions are boring. Overall the Quik crew did a great job with a difficult situation.
I’m not so sure about the Jet Ski cam. Okay, I get it. It’s a unique angle. But is it useful? Does it add or detract? I could do without it. More often than not, it did nothing for me. Now I applaud the effort, but I challenge the webcast crew at ASP to rethink or retool that concept. The only enjoyable Jet Ski commentary came from Troy Brooks when the Yellowfin tuna started to boil. However, I do not need to be told at full distorted volume that “over there is where the surfers takeoff.” Frankly, the Jet Ski camera angle itself isn’t as good as the beach angle. I think the Jet Ski cam, as an asset to the webcast, can be of use, but its use needs to be reassessed. The quality of the audio fluctuates, and the director of the production should put his best "color" guy on the ski, not the "B" squad. Going to an iffy audio asset with an iffy commentator puts the production in double jeopardy. In short, when they cut to the ski, Kliney should be their man.
The use of the "Quik Draw" teleprompter was an added plus. These poor souls have hours of downtime to deal with, and this production asset was just that: an asset. When pros like Potter are breaking down turns in slow motion and have a graphical tool to do so it is a good thing. Bravo. I think they could have a lot of fun with the teleprompter, not just in the water, but on crowd shots and lineups, too. Potter and Kline could have diagramed receding hairlines or the micro blend lycra breakdown of certain bikinis.