The exciting news from Puerto Escondido, site of today's X Games 11 surfing competition, was the heated exchange, complete with, according to an anonymous source, "f'n f-bombs", between NSL The Game creator Brad Gerlach and the East Coast squad. Kelly Slater withdrew from the games at the last minute and Gerlach is not allowing East Coast team captain Matt Kechele to fill the roster with an alternate. Gerlach's decision led to the heated verbal jousting. Gerlach held his ground, as Kechele and others grilled Gerlach and the chat allegedly escalated.
According to sources, Kechele planned to call in Asher Nolan to surf in Slater's place. Nolan has been on
a flurry, winning the last five East Coast pro events. Gerlach denied Kechele’s request.
So now, at least as of this time, the East Coast will only have nine guys surfing
while West Coast has 10 — a
sure advantage when using alternates at crucial times in during the competition. In the grueling Zicatela beach break, conditioning will play a factor, and having a fresh guy on the bench should prove, at the very least, beneficial, and at the most, highly crucial.
According to sources, most of the expletive filled contention was as much about banning Nolan as it was about the West coast team being allowed to substitute Peter Mel, known big wave charger, for Tim Curran, certainly not my #1 draft pick for 10-foot Puerto Escondido. The reason for allowing the West Coast Mel/Curran switch? Curran called in sick three weeks ago. Nevertheless Curran was seen flying high in Huntington Beach during the US Open just three days ago.
On a historic level Gerlach should be commended for laying down the law. But more than that, swift and powerful consequences such as these will help define the sport's new format. It adds a new dimension to this event's media coverage, and it gives Gerlach credibility as the de-facto commissioner of the National Surf League. This format, as with any sport, needs contention, rifts, and real drama. It looks like a group hug won’t happen, and that’s a very good thing.