Byron Bay's Kieren Perrow is one of those surfers often described as "smart". Kieren Perrow is also a Pipe Master. There has never been any correlation between the two terms previously, hence why, when the Association of Surfing Professionals/ZoSea crew went hunting for their first ever Commissioner they didn't have to cast their eye a mile to find the man they needed.
Retiring from World Championship Tour duties in unceremonious style at last year's Pipeline Masters – dislocating his shoulder mid-heat to end it all at the wave where he enjoyed most success – KP will be back on tour in 2014, serving as an omniscient eye at every event on the 'CT; bridging the gap between the surfers and the system, and overseeing the many ASP tours, from big wave to longboard and all points between. Sounds pretty good, eh? Time for a quick chat. —Chris Binns
Alright Kieren what's this commissioner gig all about?
I'm heading up the Commissioner’s Office, which is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the sport of surfing, managing elements from the tour structures to schedules, formats and judging. In my office there's tour manager Renato Hickel, deputy commissioners Jessi Miley-Dyer and Pete Mel, representing the women and the big wave tours, and Al Hunt who's tour manager for the 'QS. Then there's the judging panel. We'll constantly be looking at the format of the tours and making improvements, seeing what changes can be implemented across events and a range of other things at the heart of what the ASP is focused on.
How did your role come about?
Incoming CEO Paul Speaker has a great vision of how everything should be structured. It's all broken down departmentally, like any professional sport should be. There's a unified broadcast crew going from event to event so we now control and own the broadcast and production. There's the sponsorship and marketing, and there's our division, concerned with everything involving surfing and working with the athletes. All of the departments are focused on making things better for the fan and the athletes, ultimately with the general betterment of the sport.
Will you be working closely with the contest directors on when the event runs and whatnot?
There will be many changes on this front, which we are finalizing now. We all want to see the same thing though; putting the best surfers in the world in the best waves possible.
Commissioner Gordon was right there with Batman in the fight against crime, is Commissioner Perrow going to be bringing the hammer of justice down on the surfers?
Well, the Commissioner's Office will be involved with the ASP Discipline director, and obviously with Jessi, Renato and myself at every event we'll be called upon in certain situations, but I don't think it's like I'm a cop or anything, no!
The One World ranking system came and went in a hurry. What happened?
We tried to put in a system that worked well in a number of other sports, but it didn’t quite fit surfing. The surfers were never really that stoked with it, and it was confusing and complicated for the fans.
Did it get canned due to the lack of fresh blood coming on to the 2014 WCT?
No, it wasn't really that at all, I just think grouping them together was a waste of two fantastic tours. We've run a few models over the years and I think everyone agrees that this is the best way to ensure the best surfers qualify. I don't think we'll necessarily see 10 new surfers get on every year, even in the past you'd only ever see between six or eight new qualifiers at the end of a season, and that was back when the top 16 on the QS made it. There are always guys on the WCT, like Adam Melling, Kolohe Andino and Alejo Muniz last year, who are good enough to come back down and win primes. I think it's fairer with two clear tours to have two distinct sets of ratings. There's more balance for everyone.
Tell us a bit about the Big Wave Tour?
The Big Wave World Tour will be part of the ASP family going forward, which is really cool. Those guys are fearless and we all believe there is so much to show about what they do and how they approach surfing waves like that. There will be some really good announcements coming out about their tour soon, and with the ASP investing in the broadcast, event structures and prize money it will only grow and become more exciting.
You're at an event and someone doesn't show up… how keen would KP be to slip the colored vest back on?
Ha! Yeah, that sounds like a great idea! I promise I have not even thought about that. I will definitely miss competing, but I am really happy with my new role and the opportunities it has, and will, provide me.
Okay we believe you. Finally, what are you most excited to see in 2014 on this so-called New Tour?
Everything! But at the pinnacle will be how good the title race is this year! All the men and women are pushing the performance boundaries, and are hungrier than ever to be World Champ. Can't wait.