Tears of a Patriot

| posted on July 05, 2011

Don't let all the red, white, and blue fool you—these medals slipped through the fingers of American surfers. Photo: ISA/Rommel

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER’s Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

Well, it happened again, and it becomes more difficult to digest every time: At the ISA World Games recently completed in Panama, Team USA finished a deplorable 8th place.

We really did.

Aren’t we supposed to be only challenged by the equally talented Australians? Or the recently emerged Brazilians, who are now about as threatening to us in competitive surfing as China is in the global economy?

A Top 3 finish should be a given.

Yes, “K-Hell” Andino was busy videogame surfing his way to a US Championships title at perfect Lowers. And “Goldy” Geiselman was relaxing between big-budget boat trips to the Mentawais. But c’mon man, we are the USA! Our shores are chock-full of exceptional talent from the past, present, and future that could have/should have been drawn from to be competitive in Panama. Sure, the team had some fine developing talent, but not nearly the experience needed to grind out multiple heat wins from the doubl- elimination format held in marginal conditions, while up against an international field of patriotic, do-or-die competitive machines.

Just looking at my nearby waters, here is a solid team: Gorkin, Asher Nolan, Kyle Garson, and Benny B. One of them would have had an excellent chance at an individual gold, and the cumulative results to match any of the other teams—especially considering those four surfers know all about mushy, junk surf from a lifetime of East Coast sessions. Not to mention they have all traveled countless times to Central America, surfing those same waters since they were groms. It makes sense to think of these things when selecting proper representation for our country.

Maybe it wasn’t the surfers of Team USA’s fault. Every guy on that team was a solid human, but not known for their small-wave skills. Proper preparation would have confirmed the mushy bay as the site for the Games in Panama, and the proper team could have been fielded accordingly. That reminds me of when Shane Beschen spoke with me regarding his desire to coach the USA Team a while back. With Shane as coach, you know the USA squad would have consisted of Kolohe, Evan G, Conner, and Luke Davis—our four best young competition surfers right now, and all are friends of Shane’s. Shane himself would have been a good choice to compete in Panama. Heck, he’s waxed Hedgey, Cambo, and Courtney a million times.

Not to worry though, the future of surfing in the USA is looking better than ever—you just have to ignore the results at the ISA level…uh, and the WT level too actually. Once you look past Kelly on the World Title Rankings, Bobby Martinez is the top US performer at the WT level with a current ranking of 14th, tied with Alejo Muniz and Wilko, while just ahead of Ace and the Hobgoods. Bobby on the OWR (One World Rankings) is fairing much worse however. He currently sits at 44th, and without two more good results or one big banger, he will be cut after New York.

Yeah, the future’s so bright.

As long as the well-tuned Andino machine keeps leading by example, forcing his friends to set their sights at similar levels, we may be looking at a collective group of American talent, the likes of which haven’t been seen on our shores for some time.

  • DownTheLine

    Too bad Slater didn’t step up. Kolohe, Gieslman, et al would definitely follow Slaters lead. Event scheduled during WT break for a reason. Very similiar to Davis Cup scenario in pro tennis.

    It certainly is understandable why our big hitters are not there. The reason are valid.

    But when Slater looks you in the eye and says, “The USA needs you, I’m surfing in it, I’m committed, will you join me?”

    How can Kolohe Inc. say no?

  • Brad Macaul

    No one cares about the ISAs. Surfers get pelted by rocks (Drew Courtney in Peru) and judges throw out 2s and 8s for the same waves (Panama). It’s a total joke.

    What’s more disconcerting is the overall state of US surfers not giving a shit. These surfers are more concerned with their looks, their blogs and the moisture level of Kai Neville’s balls. American surfers (like American everythings) have grown fat (figuratively) and lazy, and are spoiled well before they mature to the international stage. Once there, they’re greeted by battle-hardened Australians, Brazilians competing for the well-beings of themselves and their families, South Africans raised in heavy, sharky waters and Europeans looks to validate themselves in the surfing world.

    The motivation of the US youngster is entirely lacking. Even when Slater was coming up, he used to say he was “competing for furniture” (referencing that each heat made was another piece of furniture for his place). When today’s US surfers have fully-furnished homes and have traversed the world several times over by the time they’re 18, why bother putting your rep on the line? Sad state of affairs….

  • Paul

    Come on, Andino is so overhyped.

    Dont put everything in Andino´s hands.

  • chris

    I totally agree with brad. Kids are spoiled now days to the point where they think they deserve stuff and dont have to earn it. some of these kids arent even in high school and theyve been around the world, have the photos in mags and make more money than their teachers. and you wonder why youre ranked 8th?

  • tom warnke

    I’d like thousands of American surfers to read this message from Shea and comment. For a few important reasons that will become known soon, we can expect our team results at the ISA level to improve dramatically. It will be an exciting time for USA surfing, both at the amateur and pro level. I know the distinction between the two no longer exists, but you know what I mean. Andino and Evan G should be leading the charge with KS right there with them. And don’t forget the new crop of young Hawaiians in the next few years, or Floridians like Nathan Behl. It would also be great to combine the Hawaiian and US teams to represent the US, but that needs work.

  • Chris ward

    Blah blah blah blah…….