When ZoSea took control of the ASP, they promised to take professional surfing to a new realm. That by 2014, we would begin to see some major changes take effect in professional surfing. For a year, we patiently waited. And finally, in the months leading up to the dawn of the Quik Pro Snapper, ZoSea lifted the curtain on their project, unveiling the new ASP. Here's what's changed since they took control:
Cut One World Rankings: The controversial One World Rankings, which proved to be quite a pain for some World Tour surfers (remember Bobby's rant?) have been culled from the Tour, making the road to qualification immensely smoother for fans—and surfers—to understand. Top 22 from the World Tour, plus top 10 from ‘QS, throw in a pair of wildcards and you’ve got the Tour. From where we stand, this was a wise move.
Bali's Out, J-Bay and Margaret River Are In: After sitting on the sideline for the past two years, J-Bay, arguably the world's most perfect pointbreak, has found a home on the World Tour roster once again. But at a price. The Bali event has been axed from the schedule. While we're looking forward to seeing Supertubes, we're going to miss Keramas. Also new to the schedule is the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, which has been a staple ‘QS event in the past.
New Women's Events: Perhaps some of the biggest changes to the ASP have happened to the women's tour. For the past few years, the ladies have seen a fledging schedule, with events dropping left and right. From the outset, ZoSea made it clear that they have big dreams for women's surfing and have reinvigorated their Tour, adding events in Fiji, Honolua, Trestles, and Margaret River.
Increased Prize Money: The prize purse for all of the men’s events has been raised to $500,000, and the women’s to $250,000.
New Tour Sponsor: This one's big. Samsung, the largest tech company in the world, has ponied up to sponsor the entire thing, though the price they paid has yet to be disclosed. From the outset, ZoSea has made it clear that they wanted to introduce non-endemic brands back into the sport in hopes of pumping some new cash into the Tour, alleviating some of the financial pressure facing the surf brands. This isn't a groundbreaking move by any means, as non-endemic brands supported surfing throughout the '80s and '90s. It was also announced that GoPro has signed on to sponsor the WT and the BWWT as well.
New Commentators/Static Web Team: With the webcast serving as the primary portal for fans to follow along, it has to be polished to be successful. In the past, the commentators varied from event to event, and the quality of the webcast at Brazil was a far cry from the one at Pipeline. All of this created a lack of cohesion. Last week, the ASP announced that they curated a new team of commentators, aided by regional guest commentators, to call the heats throughout the entire season. Plus, there's going to be a single production team responsible for every event, adding consistency to the webcast and raising the overall quality.
The Big Wave World Tour: Earlier this year, ZoSea advanced into the big-wave world, bringing the Big Wave World Tour under the ASP umbrella. With the acquisition, the ASP was able to up the prize money for the Tour and open up the field to World Tour athletes as well. (In the past, ASP surfers faced penalties for surfing in non-sanctioned ASP events.) They’ve also included new events like Dungeons and Jaws, but the Maverick’s comp won’t be a part of the BWWT.
The ASP Commissioner: This new position, filled by Kieren Perrow, will see the commissioner take on a variety of roles to uphold the integrity of the sport. According to Kieren the position is “a pretty broad role. It's about looking after the sport and, really, the integrity of surfing as a sport. Dealing with rules and regulations, scheduling, formats, and the overall structure.”
New Media Partnerships: In an effort to expand the reach of pro surfing to new audiences, the ASP forged a three-year domestic partnership deal with ESPN to broadcast the sport. Facebook and YouTube will also be working with the ASP to showcase World Tour content to their respective audiences.
Facelift: The new ASP World Tour website now hosts a variety of content. And they’ve got a new logo.
At this rate, standby for more changes. Just be sure to set your Fantasy Surfer team before the first heat hits the water at Snapper.