Will the ASP World Tour and the Big Wave World Tour join forces?
When the famous Tahitian Code Red swell was forecast for the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo, the best big wave surfers came and charged one of the heaviest days of the year. It was a real spectacle and Billabong took advantage on the situation by keeping the cameras rolling, and later marketing the footage.
Déjà vu hit at Cloudbreak this year when an mammoth forecasted swell got in during the Volcom Fiji Pro. 30 of the greatest big wave surfers were already in Tavarua and so resulted one of the heaviest paddle in sessions in the history of surfing. Volcom, like Billabong, kept the cameras rolling. The public outrage due to the contest being called off was completely overshadowed by the media excitement surrounding the groundbreaking big wave exploits that went down that day. The sponsors and the folks making the arduous decisions choreographed both the Teahupoo and Cloudbreak situations and both had assorted but in the end positive outcomes. Which gets us thinking – perhaps there should be some kind of ASP ratification of the present Big Wave Tour in situations like this. Perhaps there should be a size limit, when an event switches from WT to BWWT.
The idea behind this thinking is that there’s already a media infrastructure in situ, but it exclusively caters for the World Tour. If it integrates the Big Wave World Tour, the joint media output would promote surfing as a whole. It would combine mainstream access and would be advantageous to all. Kelly Slater was contacted on his opinions on a Big Wave World Tour piggybacking the current WT.
“I think ASP is crazy not to make a specific platform that is recognized around the world as the Big Wave Tour,” said Slater. “It exists but isn’t affiliated with ASP to my knowledge at this point. There doesn’t seem to be the financial backing and support, which seems bizarre to me.”
Slater realizes that big wave surfing, footage of monster waves and death defying maneuvers are what lures the non-surfing public the most.
“Huge waves are the most interesting thing for surfers and non surfers to watch,” added Slater. “It really is the only thing that translates outside of surfing for people visually. They understand man against the elements, and life or death situations. It’s intriguing and exciting and I think it should be a focus in pro surfing but for some reason it isn’t as of now.”
As for the ASP acknowledging the existing Big Wave World Tour, and possibly joining the events, Grant “Twiggy” Baker reckons that what everyone witnessed at Teahupoo and Cloudbreak lately won’t happen that often.
“We already have a Big Wave World Tour centered around the biggest waves we can find around the world including Chile, Peru, Mavericks, Todos etc. But I think it would be a great idea to throw some big barreling waves in there as well. Places like Cloudbreak, Puerto, Teahupoo and Pipeline would make it more complete,” says Baker. “The problem with incorporating it onto the ASP schedule would be actually getting a massive swell like that to co-operate with the set dates again. We have been lucky to see two of the biggest swells ever for those venues in two years, but that’s extremely lucky, and I can’t see it happening again.”
According to Kelly Slater, the masses really love to see big waves and sponsors should capitalize on this more efficiently.
“People want to see 50-footers,” Slater says. “They don’t want to see 5-footers with 4-foot airs. That doesn’t relate to people who don’t surf. A fifty foot wave will make anybody stop and pay attention no matter how tough you think any other thing in the world is.”
Dave Prodan, International Media Director for the ASP, has acknowledged some substantial changes on the horizon after this game changing scenario that took place in Fiji.
“Two of the offshoots I think we’ll be seeing from Friday’s session [the big day in Fiji] are: 1) event organizers evolving their comprehension of what is “rideable” from a paddle-in standpoint, and 2) the ASP Top 34 having the appropriate equipment if such an occasion arises again,” says Prodan.
When pressed on the idea of a Big Wave World Tour piggybacking a World Tour event should another gigantic swell be forecast on a contest’s waiting period, Prodan is receptive to the possibilities.
“The ASP has had discussions with the Big Wave World Tour and see this as a challenging, but important discipline within professional surfing,” said Prodan. “We’re here to assist them in any fashion we can.”
Now everyone will have to wait and see if the ASP will take the opportunity to progress big wave surfing. Still, the chances of both the Code Red and Fiji swells hitting during WT events was a rare coincidence, a coincidence that made it possible for surfing fans to witness history.