By Jay Vilarrubi-Smith
The world tour is something that I’ve grown up with, and it has always seemed to me as the most important thing in surfing.
From the days of seeing the latest write-up in the Magazines, to catching a glimpse on the internet of Russell Winter battling the big boys in Hawaii – competitive surfing has always been the thing I have looked up to.
Even with the boom of free-surfing and the fashionable attitude that surfing isn’t about competition, I’ve stuck with the attitude that the dream tour is the benchmark of who is the best surfer in the world.
But this year is different.
“All of the surfers I have grown up with are starting to retire. And with it goes the era of surfing that they represented”
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Wilko take out the first two events of the year. It really caught my imagination and I thought it was a great thing for the image of the tour.
But even that was not enough to mask the obvious changes to the sport.
First thing’s first, I really don’t blame the WSL for commercialising the sport to try and compete with the major American Sports. If you see an opportunity to make more money and reach a higher audience then by all means take it.
But does that mean I have to watch three minute’s worth of the same Samsung advert every time there is a lull in the action?
I don’t bloody want a Samsung Galaxy S no matter how many times I have to watch that bloody advert!
I think the reason this season feels different is because of the changing of the guard. All of the surfers I have grown up with are starting to retire. And with it goes the era of surfing that they represented.
Losing Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, the Hobgoods, and probably soon Kelly and Joel (just to name a few) immediately diminishes the romance of the tour for me.
Unfortunately, waiting to take their place is a hundred and eighty five Brazilians, who can all do an air reverse in their sleep.
I don’t want to sound like an old man clamouring for the ‘better years’ of the past – things move on and sports develop.
Yet I’m finding it increasingly difficult to stay up late to watch someone do a cutback, stick an air and produce a claim.
I think the claiming of waves is something which needs to stop immediately. I can’t take it anymore. Seriously. Just stop.
“I don’t want to sound like an old man clamouring for the ‘better years’ of the past – things move on and sports develop”
I even used to able to consume the ‘commentary’ of the likes of Martin Potter and enjoy the webcast.
Now it makes me want to throw my laptop out of the window and never again hear the expert analysis of how ‘Adriano is a great kid and a smart surfer’. Aaarrghh.
I will still carry on watching the world tour, and still root for the likes of Matt Wilkinson and John John who I feel still have some character about them.
But it’s becoming increasingly less tempting for me to stay up late and watch the events.
I don’t even want to go into the debate about how highly airs should be scored in comparison to some stylish power hacks.
I just wish the World Surf League would make their mind up about what it is they want to see and what direction the scoring criteria is going.
Maybe I’m just getting old, but I certainly feel a bit more emotionally detached from the tour this year and it makes me worry about where the tour is heading .
Hopefully I’m proved wrong.