The Double-Up Tour

Could the ASP and the Big Wave World Tour join forces?

| posted on June 21, 2012

Greg Long, fishing for the tube of a lifetime in front of a live internet audience. Photo: Glaser

Last year when the Code Red swell was forecast for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, the best big-wave surfers arrived en masse and charged one of the biggest days of the year. It was a spectacle, and Billabong capitalized on the situation by keeping the cameras rolling, and subsequently marketing the footage.

Déjà vu struck at Cloudbreak this year when an enormous forecasted swell arrived during the Volcom Fiji Pro. Thirty of the best big-wave surfers were already in town, and so ensued one of the greatest paddle-in sessions in the history of the universe. Volcom, like Billabong, kept the cameras rolling. The public outrage due to the contest being canceled was totally eclipsed by the media hullabaloo surrounding the groundbreaking big-wave exploits that went down that afternoon.

The sponsors and the people making the hard decisions (contest director, head judge, surfers reps) choreographed both the Teahupoo and Cloudbreak situations, and both had mixed but ultimately positive outcomes. Which gets one to thinking: maybe there should be some sort of ASP ratification of the existing Big-Wave Tour in situations like this. Maybe there should be a size limit, when an event switches over from WT to BWWT. Maybe…

The thinking is that there is already a total media infrastructure in place, but it exclusively caters for the World Tour. If it incorporates a Big-Wave World Tour, the combined media output would elevate surfing as a whole. It could compound mainstream access and would be beneficial to all parties. We hit up Kelly Slater to get his thoughts on a Big Wave World Tour piggybacking the current WT system.

“I think ASP is crazy not to make a specific platform that is recognized around the world as the Big Wave Tour,” said Slater. “It exists but isn’t affiliated with ASP to my knowledge at this point. There doesn’t seem to be the financial backing and support, which seems bizarre to me.”

Slater gets that big-wave surfing, footage of giant waves, and death-defying situations are what hooks the non-surfing public the most.

“Huge waves are the most interesting thing for surfers and non surfers to watch,” added Slater. “It really is the only thing that translates outside of surfing for people visually. They understand man against the elements, and life or death situations. It’s intriguing and exciting and I think it should be a focus in pro surfing but for some reason it isn’t as of now.”

Although not quite as pretty as this year's Fiji swell, the Code Red swell changed the way big-wave surfing was delivered to the masses. Photo: Joli

As for the ASP recognizing the existing Big Wave World Tour, and possibly ratifying the events, Grant “Twiggy” Baker reckons that what we experienced at Teahupoo and Cloudbreak recently won’t happen too often.

“We already have a Big Wave World Tour centered around the biggest waves we can find around the world including Chile, Peru, Mavericks, Todos etc. But I think it would be a great idea to throw some big barreling waves in there as well. Places like Cloudbreak, Puerto, Teahupoo and Pipeline would make it more complete,” says Baker. “The problem with incorporating it onto the ASP schedule would be actually getting a massive swell like that to co-operate with the set dates again. We have been lucky to see two of the biggest swells ever for those venues in two years, but that’s extremely lucky, and I can’t see it happening again.”

The thing is, according to Slater, people really want to see big waves, and sponsors should make use of this more efficiently.

“People want to see 50-footers,” Slater says. “They don’t want to see 5-footers with 4-foot airs. That doesn’t relate to people who don’t surf. A fifty foot wave will make anybody stop and pay attention no matter how tough you think any other thing in the world is.”

Dave Prodan, International Media Director for the ASP, has recognized some significant changes on the horizon after this game-changing scenario that has taken place in Fiji.

“Two of the offshoots I think we’ll be seeing from Friday’s session [the big day in Fiji] are: 1) event organizers evolving their comprehension of what is “rideable” from a paddle-in standpoint, and 2) the ASP Top 34 having the appropriate equipment if such an occasion arises again,” says Prodan.

When pushed on the possibility of a big-wave world tour piggybacking a World Tour event should another mammoth swell be forecast during a contest’s waiting period, Prodan is open to the possibilities.

“The ASP has had discussions with the Big Wave World Tour and see this as a challenging, but important discipline within professional surfing,” said Prodan. “We’re here to assist them in any fashion we can.”

Only time will tell if the ASP will seize the opportunity to bring big-wave surfing into the fold. But the reality is that both the Code Red and Fiji swells aligning with World Tour events were longshot coincidences. Coincidences that, regardless of how they are marketed, made it possible for us to witness history as it happened.

  • matt

    not that i care, but it was volcom, not billabong

  • matt

    Don’t mind me, I was reading too fast

  • William

    The ASP made a mistake by not running the contest in big surf. i’m sure all competitors would have found a big board if they wanted to compete. Seperates the men from the boys.

  • No more grainy video

    Slater’s right – the public are transfixed by watching surfers riding giant waves the size of apartment buildings, particularly if the weather conditions are good; it has to be offshore because when it’s stormy the stoke is not really as great as when it’s perfect / glassy. Fiji was a prime example of this – absolutely huge perfection. I don’t think big wave riding needs ASP-style events. What big wave surfing really needs is more footage, better quality footage from more/ several different angles. The phantom cam used in Tahiti would have been exactly what was needed in Fiji – why not use three or four of them? All the big wave surfers should get together and hire a shit load of film makers to record the day in a lot more detail and quality, then sell the resulting footage through media outlets or dvd and profit from it. Everybody wins.

  • Pat Flanagan

    No more grainy video is right.
    Does the ASP need a big wave tour? Yes. Because it will be a progressive step into the future.
    Does a big wave circuit need the ASP? No. Because ESPN would do it better if they could do it their way. Their way might be a compromise in ways still unseen but it will put a lot of cash into the pockets of the big wave crew and a lot more people would be exposed to surfing.

  • Whamo

    When is a contest going to be held in big Shipsterns?

  • already too crowded

    who cares what non-surfers want to watch? the average surfer loses when surfing gets more popular….

  • ginz

    Big wave pro surfing events have huge potential, Gary and the crew deserve support and financial backing to raise it to the next level not feasible to link with WCT better as a stand alone.

  • Ben

    The World Title should be decided in EVERY KIND OF WAVE, from two foot to twenty. Then and only then can the title holder can proudly claim Best In the World. BTW, if the tour included big waves while also retaining the small waves, the same names would still show up, namely AI and Kelly.

  • Kahea

    well just look at what the ASP rewards at HB US Open first place is $100k and the Eddie at Waimea is only $50k.

  • Pat Flanagan

    To Already too crowded. Throughout the world surf schools are teaching people that have never surfed so that they can experience the stoke. I never want to hide surfing under a rock, its too good for that.

  • Black R

    Kahea, the ASP rewards points and a world title, its the sponsers that choose how many zeros get added to the check. Point taken though, sponsers should find a way to get associatted with these epic sessions.

  • Steve Dwyer

    Several mentions of the Big Wave World Tour and not one mention of its founder Gary Linden? WTF? Where’s the respect?!

  • Andy

    Sorry guys – off topic a little here. I am looking for an answer to solve a difference of opinion I had with a friend yesterday.

    He is a surfer of some considerable ability (so he told me) – when we discussed waves of 40-50 feet he told me that there were probably only 3 or 4 people in the world who could surf that….WTF ?

    I cannot possibly believe that. Surely there are hundreds of surfers who can surf those sort of wave heights…

    Please could someone deny or confirm this for me please…

    Mandy thanks