Ocean City, MD. 1:45 a.m. EST. Eastern Surfing Association Executive Director Kathy Phillips wakes to the sound of her cell phone blaring and a single, three-word sentence. “We got it.”
On the other end of the line is Surfing America Executive Director Mike Gerard. Just out of what’s been called “a heated, five-hour debate” at the International Surfing Association’s biannual meeting in Ecuador, he’s calling to report the good news: the ISA has officially revoked the United States Surfing Federation’s governing status and given it to Surfing America by a vote of 14 to 7 with one abstention.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said over the sound of his colleague’s whooping in the background. “but it’s done.”
Gerard has good reason to celebrate. Besides getting governing status, Surfing America will now also host the 2005 ISA World Juniors Championship in the spring of 2005, as well as the ISA World Surfing Games in 2006.
So what’s that mean? It means that Surfing America’s recently reunited team of the ESA, the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), and the Hawaii American Surfing Association (HASA) was deemed the true governing body of surfing in the United States. It means that when the time comes to select the next US Team to represent America at the ISA World Surfing Games, we will be picking from the full selection of top amateur talents our country has to offer. And, most importantly, it means that come 2006’s global competition, for the first time in 10 years, we may finally have a shot at bringing back the gold.
Of course, Surfing America’s executive team of Gerard and President Peter Townend and SIMA’s President Dick Baker were still in Ecuador and unreachable for comment, but Phillips captured the group’s emotions in a similarly terse but telling summation: “It’s officially ours [governing status] . Now it’s up to us to make it work.” — Matt Walker