PHOTO: Women’s ratings leader Carrissa Moore in awesome form at Margaret River, and will be hard to catch after Stephanie Gilmore knee injury. Photo courtesy of WSL
As I write this, the last event of the WSL Australian leg is about to wrap up and the WSL has been left without decent waves in two of three events.. The surfing has been of a great standard, but the waves on the Gold Coast and at Bells Beach were considerably less than desired. Bells did score some great waves for one day of the waiting period, other than that, if it were not for the contest you would have failed to see one local surfer out there.
It is a great shame that the world’s best surfers have – for two events now – competed in the world’s worst waves. Not a great way to showcase the sport. As much as Joey Turpell, Martin Potter, and the ever-so annoying WSL commentary team talk it up, the conditions for the first two events were rank. What is the solution? Sack Joey Turpell? Well that might help our ears as we watch the webcast, but will not solve the problem which has plagued the last two events. Even though Margaret River has had some awesome waves, the events seem to run forever.
Can you tell me another sport where you can lose three times and still place second? This is the case with the way that the WSL have set up their events.
In my opinion, the WSL really have to cut back on the time they need to run these events. With half hour heats on the current system the men’s event is twenty-five and a half hours of surfing, the women’s thirteen and a half. That makes for thirty-nine hours of surfing, and with eight hours of surfing per day, that adds up to five full days. Even a good swell on the Gold Coast is four to five days in duration, (the exceptional ones go longer), so it is close to impossible to finish both men’s and women’s events on one swell.
What they really need to do is take out the “Loser’s Round” heats and make it direct progression. For instance the men’s field cut back to 32 surfers, with direct progression with no second chances, this means 31 heats, or two full days of surfing. For the women’s it would mean a field of 16 surfers, or 15 heats, meaning that their event could be finished in one day!
So this means 3 days of surfing to run the event for both men and women. A better package for television, a much better chance of getting great waves, and savings in the costs of running the event as well!
The waves for Margaret River Drug Aware Masters have been awesome, with really solid conditions. Both Jordy Smith and our own Stephanie Gilmore knocked out free surfing in between competing. But still event this event has so many nothing heats, adding two more days to running the event.
For surfing to compete with other major sports for television audiences, a dedicated time slot is needed and the event has to run in these hours – just like football, golf, and all other major sports. Dedicated start and finish time are needed to satisfy the masses. The only way this will be achieved in surfing will be the use of wave pools and wave stadiums. Mr Webber’s wave pool is slated to be constructed soon in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and others are popping up around the world. As Peter Drouyn (Now Westerly Windena) foresaw many years ago, surfers competing in a wave pool stadium may happen. Maybe there will be two tours, the wave pool and the ocean?
For now, to get a better chance of getting good waves for all the event, it is time to lose the loser’s round! Please!