To Be or Not to Be (Inspired by the ASP Aussie Leg)
By Col Bernasconi | 10 February 2012
(anti-clockwise from left) Juliain Wilson, Midget Farrely winning 1964, Manly Beach and Dane Reynolds.
Lovers of surfing could do a lot worst than take a bit of time out to cruise the coastlines of Australia to catch the world’s best competing on the ASP calendar.
Still some question why anyone would want to hang around a concentrated group of hungry frothers (competitive surfers), to them I say this; you can’t tell me that when the US Open of tennis is on in New York it doesn’t inspire the locals to hit the courts? I’ve seen the Australian Open of tennis here inspire non-tennis playing work colleague’s to create an impromptu lunchtime round-robin-knockout-comp.
Inspiration – it’s the corner stone of our lives as surfers. From youngsters striving to progress thanks to the mentorship of a local legend, fathers inspiring sons and daughters, charging one eyed knee boarders inspiring everyone and anyone and even so called soul guys inspiring us to get off the beaten track.
The freedom we feel from being in the water alone inspires many of us to resist the temptation to take a shotgun to work and, well, you know – clear house. That’s inspiring.
And as for actual wave riding, all surfers, and I don’t care how soul you think you are or how early your dawn patrols are – you’re included here too. All surfers have been inspired in one way or another by those wave-riding humans that have come before. Fact!
Josh Kerr's surfing to win the 2011 Drug Aware Pro in WA was nothing short of phenomenal. Pic: ASP
As much as many hate to admit it, the bulk of those surfers that have inspired have surfed on the ASP tour or a domestic equivalent. If they didn’t, they were at least inspired by surfers who were mates and or rivals with someone who was. It’s six degrees of separation in effect.
Take old school legends Nat Young, Phil Edwards and Miki Dora. All competed (some more than others) – Miki for example decided he hated competition and gave it away early. But he did compete. In fact his disdain for competition inspired many, especially those on the beach one day at Malibu in 1967 when he famously mooned the judges and later called them “senile surf freaks”. It could be said that his quest to ride waves without the distraction of crowds was spawned that day leading many to believe that for them seeking a similar solstice was a sure bet to having a good time.
Any one that's dealt with the Bell's shorebreak knows just how mental this floater from Jordy Smith is. PIc: ASP
Michael Peterson and his surfing is another great example of a person who competed and inspired. While free surfing footage of him at Kirra (and that cutback frame grab) from Morning Of The Earth is the romantic image we all hold as the holy grail of an alternative surfing lifestyle. Still the fact remains he was a competitive animal who would out-paddle and out-surf his competitor’s to the point of humiliation. His surfing was a glow-worm of possibility. ”Really? We can go there? We can put our board on that much rail?” He made the impossible possible and with his modified sticks inspired others to play catch up.
Do you reckon this bloke an inspirational character? Pic: ASP/ Kirstin
My point is this; you may not be inspired to compete but you will be inspired. Don’t live in the past, as there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in the blood of young surfers doing the rounds today. Modern day equivalents to Miki and MP can be found everywhere... Josh Kerr, Dane Reynolds, Jamie O’Brien, Julian Wilson, Taj Burrow, Gabriel Medina, Kolohe Andino, Owen Wright, Yadin Nicol, the list goes on. Their profiles, and large sponsorship deals, can be directly attributed to their appearances in these very events... but it's equally their incredible free surfing that’s inspiring young and old around the world.
The lines have blurred – whether you’re a self-confessed purist or a two to the beach comp hound the next few months are a good time to be in Australia.
Like America’s debt crisis, the Australian leg of the ASP calendar has grown in girth considerably in 2012. While no new World Tour events have magically appeared [where would you put it?] the two big stalwarts – The Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks and The Rip Curl Pro at Bells – are locked loaded andset to be bigger than ever.
Much to the delight of both domestic surfers and those who make the trip out to Oz from places like Brazil, Japan, America and the like, the World Qualifying Series has also been boosted with good news in 2012.
Taj Burrow and fan. Pic: ASP/Morris
Not only has The Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River Western Australia maintained its 6-star Prime rating, The Toyota Pro at Newcastle has been elevated in value from a 4-star rated W.Q.S event to a 6-star. Surfest days of glory are back.
And then there’s the cherry on top – Manly Beach will host the Australian Open Presented by Hurley and Billabong. A six star event worth over one hundred and fifty grand in prize money Not since 1999 has a world rated mens event been staged at the iconic beach and it’s set to be a festival for the masses with music and skateboarding all a part of the proceedings.
Yes, I said it, masses. It’s been a wondrous road, this exploration to stage World Tour events at far-flung reef breaks around the world, but it’s my opinion that staging events like the Australian Open at popular breaks is equally as important.
– Col B
Note: Tracksmag.com will be covering all events mentioned with daily blogs, galleries and video.