It took nearly a decade of what many would term squalor, it took long hours of closed-door meetings, it took international flights to South American countries, it took an all night filibuster in front of the International Surfing Association, but American Amateur surfing has a new future–one that in the coming years may heavily influence the impact of mainland surfers on an international competitive scale.
On Monday, March 22, after a lengthy, heated, five-hour debate, the ISA, by a 14 to 7 vote, officially deemed Surfing America the National Governing Body for United States Amateur Surfing. For years, the United States Surfing Federation had been the regulatory board for surfing, but following the past languishing decade in American amateur surfing, change was all but inevitable.
The vote that took place in Ecuador was the culmination of a process that has been spearheaded by 1976 World Champion and Surfing America fixture Peter Townend. PT and the folks at Surfing America were able to bring together the amateur associations of the NSSA, HASA and ESA, all of which groups committed to supporting Surfing America’s bid to become the NGB. The only group left in the dust was the USSF, the group that had previously held the governing license as America’s preeminent amateur association.
What does all this mean? Well, it means that America may soon be a presence on the world stage at amateur events like the ISA world games, given that the U.S. will now be able to choose for their team the best young amateurs in the country. Further, it means that we may soon be hosting ISA world games in the Northern Hemisphere. And, in long-term speak, it means that there may soon be a clear-cut path for American surfers to qualify for the WQS and the WCT. But more than anything, it means that there is a solidified infrastructure to American amateur surfing, something that has been visibly lacking in the recent past, and something that has contributed to a boom of young talent from countries like Australia, where a solid amateur system is in place.
Despite the fact that long hours of work have gone into this deal, there are long hours still ahead, and plenty of work to be done if the group is to succeed.
For further details on the developing story, check back to www.surfermag.com.