The 2011 ASP World Tour – Year End Review, Part 1
Youth Movement, Brazilians, Beachbreaks, Controversy, and Kelly Gets 11
As 2011 comes to a close, it brings an end to a year that was marred by criticism and controversy for the ASP World Tour. Never have so many fans been able to speak their mind about the way they felt the tour was going. With the proliferation and improvements to contest webcasts and social media, the voice of the average surfer can be heard loudly alongside the industry experts, top pros, and web commentators. While there was certainly a lot of complaining going on about the state of the ASP and the World Tour, 2011 can be looked back upon as a stellar year of competition and progression.
The Format Change
The year started out in an uneasy state as it was the first full season that the ASP would implement their new Mid-Year Rotation and competitors felt the heat to stay on tour from the get go. With an additional Prime and Star series of events, the world’s best pros would have to accumulate enough points on a One World Ranking system to make it to the Top 34 and compete on the World Tour series of contests. Young upstarts and veteran competitors slugged it out on the lesser events with hopes of the big leagues. But many surfers in the upper echelon of the rankings were vocal in their disapproval of the new format. And they had a point. Why should relatively untested surfers be allowed to surf the World Tour elite events just because they battled in beachbreak slop and got enough points? The ASP claimed it was to keep the talent on the tour fresh and to keep progression on the forefront of competitive surfing.
By late August, it was clear who was going to make the Top 34, and who was going to be cut from the tour. After all was said and done, the rotation seemed to work well. Superstar surfers like John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, Miguel Pupo, and Yadin Nicol (injured) made the Top 34 as lesser competitors fell off the list. It was all a bit confusing to the diehard fan, the competitors, and even to the haters that chimed in on the web. But in actuality, the system worked out well.
There was a catch though. While the first half of the year was filled with several Prime and Star events that a surfer could accumulate points from and make the cut, the second half of the year had only 2 Prime events and a handful of Star contests. This made it mathematically impossible for a surfer to qualify for the 2012 season and made the second cut-off point irrelevant. This essentially just moved the rotation point from the end of the year to the middle of the season, instead of having two rotations. Hmmm. . . . uh, what was the rotation’s purpose?
After operating for over three decades, the ASP received the most criticism in it’s history in 2011. The Mid-Year Rotation, the One World Ranking, the new beachbreak events on tour, the judging, you name it, the ASP got hammered by the press, pros, and fans from every angle. After a huge scoring miscalculation that gave Kelly Slater a World Title a heat too soon, something had to give.
That something was ASP CEO Brodie Carr. The Aussie wheeler dealer resigned immediately following the fourth grade mathematical mistake to the relief of many of the sport’s true fans. Although no one had been named to take his place, the ASP strung together a series of improvements in quick succession. With or without the help of some of the event sponsors, the Quiksilver Pro New York and the Rip Curl Search were canned. The O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz was added, along with a previously added Volcom Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak (A left on tour? Now there’s an idea!) And finally, just last week, the ASP announced that it would no longer have a Mid-Year Rotation for the World Tour. It seems that instead of looking towards the corporate sponsors for direction, the ASP has turned to the fan and the pro for advice. Expect a few more changes for the better in the weeks to come before the first event in late February.
Check out Part 2 of the review coming soon!
All photos courtesy ASP Images.