ASP Changes the Rules

Amendments make requalification more difficult for World Tour surfers

| posted on February 11, 2013

Adam Melling requalified for the Tour by the skin of his teeth last year with a victory at the Sunset event. Photo: Lowe-White

At a glance, the road to the World Championship Tour seemed simple enough: take the top-ranked 22 surfers on Tour, add in the top 10 surfers on the World Rankings, throw in two ASP wildcards and you’ve got the Top 34. But many critics think that system was flawed, making it too easy for World Tour surfers to stay on Tour, and it too difficult for fresh blood to qualify through the Prime and Star events. Beginning this year, the ASP have enacted a new set of rules in hopes of leveling the playing field.

The new ASP rules state that World Tour surfers base their One World Rankings on six results: their top two WCT results (13th- or 25th-place finishes will not be counted) along with their top four results in the Prime and Star events. The top 22 surfers on the World Tour will still automatically requalify, but the new rules will primarily affect the bottom 12 surfers on the World Tour.

In the past, Top 34 surfers counted a total of eight results in their World Ranking: their top three WCT results along with their top five results from Prime and Star events. Opponents of the old system argued that even mediocre results on the World Tour offered substantial points in the rankings, and when supplemented with a few decent Prime results, the scales favored keeping the current World Tour surfers on Tour. At the other end of the spectrum, the road to World Tour qualification felt like a Sisyphean conquest for ’QS surfers.

Former World Tour and current ‘QS surfer Nate Yeomans said the new changes to the World Rankings are warranted. “Making one heat in a World Tour event is the equivalent of making three heats in a Prime event. At a lot of times in the Prime events, you’re surfing against guys from the World Tour in the early rounds anyway,” said Yeomans. “There’s also the fact that the World Tour surfers were able to surf in a total of 18 top-tier events to requalify, whereas the ’QS guys are looking at just eight Primes.”

In a recent meeting with surfers from both camps, the ASP opted to alter the system to make it harder for WCT surfers to requalify without producing solid results.

“After assessing the feedback, reviewing the structure, and looking ahead to this year’s schedule, it was decided that an alteration needed to be made to further balance the qualification opportunities for both WCT and Qualifying surfers,” the ASP’s Dave Prodan said. “What we’re working toward is a system that isn’t weighted too heavily in either direction—one that allows WCT surfers to focus on WCT events without having to do 20+ a year, but also one that affords the ‘QS surfers a fair opportunity to crack into the elite ranks.”

On the other side of the coin, some World Tour surfers think the ASP has gone too far in the other direction. “Just qualifying in the first place is a huge thing,” says World Tour veteran Fred Patacchia. “So now that you finally get to the World Tour after grinding it out on the ‘QS, you have to go back and do the ‘QS again to secure your spot. The top six or so guys are always gonna be there, but for the workhorses that make up the rest of the Tour, they’ve now got one foot in each world. It’s like you’ve made it, but you still have to spend the whole year living out of a suitcase on the ‘QS.”

Patacchia went on to say that some cushion is necessary for newly qualified surfers to the World Tour. “I think a lot of the guys on the ‘QS don’t realize how hard it is to get a result (a 9th-place finish or better) on the World Tour, and you’re going to struggle your first year. If you’ve made it to the World Tour, you should have a little cushion to work it out. You can be an amazing surfer but struggle your first year and then be relegated back to the ‘QS. I think if you make it to the Tour, you deserve some time to get your bearings.”

  • Batman

    I’m not naming names but there is some deadweight on the tour that always seem to requalify. I can’t understand how they lose almost all their heats and still are back on tour for the following year. Of course great surfers have failed to requalify, but I am not sure I understand what Feddy P is saying. That it should be easier to stay on tour because if you fall off you have to requalify. Then the best thing is to make requalifying easier for the QS guys. Good on the ASP, this is a step in the right direction.

  • Robin

    @Batman, Tiago Pires?

  • kooks mcgee

    Simpo Pat Gudauskas, Heitor Alves, Tiago, (I hate to say this one) Knox. Some of these guys requalified the past few years when they barely won any heats.

  • Jay

    This is one step in the right direction for sure – hopefully many more to come.
    Last year a total of 4 new guys qualified through the QS?! – That’s ridiculous considering how much talent is going to waste.

    Make way for a fresh faces and let the cream rise to the top.

  • Kevin curran

    I agree with Freddy P. just look at Brother Andino one of the best surfers around and he really struggled but now he is coming around. I also agree with the sort of comment above ^^^ Tiago Pires??? How does he contunue to requalify every year??? Maybe the asp should add surfers to TGE tour because there always seems to be a few guys left out. Another thing I don’t get Sea Bass on your basically because he had 3 good event on waves he surfs everyday.

  • Steve

    Who really gives a crap contest surfing is not watchable at the moment because of all the poor judging, commentating and waiting. They can change the rules as much as they want it’s all still amature and as a fan you can’t get too into it cause once they give a victory to a surfer competing against your pick because of a claim (Julian Wilson, Portugal) or a floater (Andriano de-poostance, Rio) then you realise it’s unwatchable, unless your not really that into it. But before they change this give a title to Taj.

  • new blood is good blood

    This system is a bad way to go and they are just fiddling with it.. hoping to work out the kinks. I appreciate their effort to try new things and to make changes when something doesn’t work but I think they are still on the wrong path. I agree with both sides of the argument above. The Top 32 shouldn’t be thinking about other events.. they should be focused to do their best in the elite contests. On the other hand we have people not performing who need to be cycled out of the Top 32. I’d say make it a two tour system again. Kick the bottom 6 or 8 surfers off the Elite tour no matter what. Replace them with the 6 or 8 best Non-Elite tour guys. Period. Simple for everyone to wrap their heads around. I do like that they dropped the tour down in numbers to 32/34 from 44 but the rest of this has been a misadventure. The one up side has been that the prime and star events get Elite tour guys… I see this advantage.. but i’m not sure it makes up for the confusion and wasted effort.

    The other option is to completely merge the two tours. Forget about Top 32, WQS, qualification, all that. One tour and every contest is manned with whoever is top ranked. From one contest to another you’d see new blood. And, the One World Tour rankings would decide everything.. even the ASP World Champ.

  • kooky monster

    wow, which way did they go???? well, heres my stoner philosophy of all competitive sports, they are all controlled by product sales. the sponsers are literally the lobbyists of any sport, football, soccer, swimming, racing especially, surfing, sponging which Im into…. So I hafta give credit that when a sponser makes an investment in a player, ie surfer, they want to be paid back in product sales…. and then they expect a nice profit margin, why else invest if theres no profit…. thats why its hard to get in especially in a tight economy…. hell, jobs are scarce everywhere…. Therefore we should absolutely expect to see names for a period of time, before they dissappear, not withstanding injuries of course…. So , and as I’m not a “surfer” but I am a fan, I simply watch the surfers surf…. I score them as I saw the wave, and Im pretty darn close to the judges most of the time, but I have seen where the judges, all 5 of them, way overscored many waves that became financial gamechangers…. So, I see the payoffs that infect every sport, I expected these, they are inevitable, its like, how many of us can play football in the backyard and i mean old school tackle in jeans, no pads, lots, but we didnt get drafted…. pro surfers are drafted by sponsors who see financial profit potential…. I love watchin the old dudes my age surf, I love the psychobatics the kids are pullin today, but only stuff I havent seen a hundred times each event…. I wish there was a Super big dudes only event…. like entry at 300 pounds and up….. i wish there were like pride fighting style surfoffs when 2 surfers score so closely, maybe even some down and dirty crash up derby surfing or mouthy semi-pros takin on local badasses at breaks the locals dont allow others to surf at all, JACKASS STYLE….OH, WHY NOT INVEST IN STEVO TOO…. what about the kiddos i always see running and jumping on skimboards launching themselves high and landing in inches of water? big air only events…. old school kickback of the paddle to the bouy for priority events, full contact of course…. OVER 40/50/60 ONLY EVENTS…. respect for our heros huh…. the smartest thing I believe has happened to surfing is womens events…. now surfer chicks are so perfectly beautiful, they are gonna sell product, and to the most financially spending output demographic, women, cause all us dudes can do is drool all over…. but soon those hotties will be selling stuff guys want need…. its just a matter of money…. peace!!!! oh, and Im absolutely positive there are better surfers than Mr. Kelly Slater that nobody really knows, and who cares, they obviously dont either if their that good…. pay your dues like everyone else does…. bakka da line haole…. hehe…. aloha

  • Macelo de Colon

    The rules are unfair to Brasil and all South America surfers. We need more 4star events in Brasil and Chile to get points for WCT. Good for ASP changes.

  • http://none steve briggs

    Unfair to Brazilian surfers?!…. Really? If any country is exploding on the competitive Surf scene it is Brazil. Do you need names here? On BOTH QS side and World Tour Elite side Brazil is well represented. It is the USA that needs a new surge of Elite talent that can compete at the upper reaches of the Tour. Think of the Top 10 in the World and without Slater the USA is somewhat lost. Hawaii claims John John and the mainland has Kolohe. Who would you take on your Team? Go futher and for results alone Medina and John John look to be the serious young threats on Tour. The ASP is broken and their leadership is seriously lacking. Who is making the decisions there? To have a 2-tiered Tour decide placement on the Elite Tour is a flawed decision. It is time for more creative ideas within the ASP as this new idea is not a good solution.

  • Batman

    Does anybody know of any radio podcasts that are concerned with surfing (competitive or not) available on the internet?

  • bender

    most of the below comments are from people who clearly dont understand the tour system or basic mathematics. its really not that hard to work it out.

    I think this is a good step forward, makes the lower rated CT surfers work all year round for results rather than hope for a gift in Hawaii (Adam Melling, Seabass). I also think adding a few surfers back to the top tour would work, maybe increase the number to 36/38.

    And to the guy saying there is a disadvantage to Brazilian surfers – have you actually looked at the schedule? Brazil have more prime events than Australia. It is not bias on the ASP’s side. They dont run or fund the events, so if people in Brazil want more then they just need to get someone to sponsor them.

  • SurfJunkie

    Re:”radio podcasts concerned with surfing”

    Down The Line Surf Talk Radio, AM 1360 in SD.

  • Marcelo

    DON´T ANSWER TO BRAZILIANS, PLEASE. (I am brazilian and most of the idiots from my country don´t know what they are talking)

  • Batman

    Cheers surfjunkie, I’ll check that out!

  • Ian

    What baffles me with the whole WCT is dropping the worst 2 results at the end of year. WTF? there has to be a bit more accountability, call me old fashioned but isn’t the world champ kind of like a best and fairest? If we count all 10 results do you think someone might fluke it? Give me a break. Like in the conversation earlier its clear cut who is the top 10 and who is scratching to stay on tour? Shouldn’t consistency and durability count for something. Take last year for instance. Parko obviously just a kook who should never of been there. Cant even win a contest against yet almighty Slater can miss a whole contest placeing 3rd and now he’s a front runner. Dont get me wrong the guy is a GOD but really??

  • Ian

    Adding a couple more surfers back onto the WCT would be a good idea. “We need to reduce it down to 34 to be able to run a comp in 3 days. Yeh tell me the last time that happened even since the drop from 44. Maybe we should all start doing 3 day 5K surf trips to the other side of the world. Give me 2 swells over any 10 days anytime, where do I sign. As far as the webcast goes…. Fuck yeh I will be locked to my computer watching the whole108 hours.

  • ginz

    just my humble opinion. WCT only top 22 surfers and two wild-cards. thank you

  • ginz

    WCT should be the top 22 surfers plus 2 wildcards- 2 day contest in good waves

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I hate watching four man heats, but the set up at the pipe masters is really good, with two two man heats in the water. During some competitions there is too much time between waves, and I would like to see this format in all the early rounds of the competeion, with the obvious exception of the three man heats.