If you are new to surfing and have no idea what I’m talking about, you may want to read this…
The Quicki Pro is short for Quiksilver Pro which is the opening event of a series of surfing competitions as part of the ASP World Championship Tour. The ASP World Championship or ‘the tour’ as it’s called, is the crème de la crème of pro surfing events. Think of it as Formula One amongst the surfing comps or the Tennis thing Federer always wins. In surfing, it’s the thing that Kelly Slater always wins…sorry almost always…but more to that later.
I personally never got too much into watching ‘the tour’ as it’s mostly on at impossible times i.e. office times and you can only get away with watching so many heats or surf time …or sleepy time. When I first got into surfing though, I did follow it with some interest only just because I thought that’s what you do when you surf (and I had heaps more time on my hand when I was still at uni). Not quite as complicated as the cricket rules which I still can’t comprehend after almost 10 years in this country, it’s not too hard to grasp how it works but it still took me a bit to get the hang of that whole thing without anyone explaining it to me.
So here’s your ‘Tour Crash Course’, so you know what to say when someone in the line up asks you what you thought about Kelly’s 10 at his last heat at Chopes…
When is it on?
The season usually kicks off late Feb with the Quiksilver Pro at the Gold Coast and finishes off at Pipeline, Hawaii in December.
If you’ve missed out on the Gold Coast one, the next event is at Bells Beach in Victoria (yes, yes, that’s the beach from the movie ‘Point Break’). The girls actually have another event in Oz…the Margeret River Pro.
Where can I watch it?
Unless you have Foxtel or the opportunity to watch it live, you better have a good internet connection. Most events are streamed live so you don’t miss a heat (that’s not a typo, I explain the heat thing in a bit)
How does the whole competition thing work? How can you win? What’s a heat?
Surfers compete in ‘heats’. They usually send two surfers out in a heat (ok in round 1 it’s three but don’t want to overcomplicate) for a certain period of time…forgot how long but think it’s 20 minutes or so. They both surf and who ever scores the best two waves in that time, moves up to the next round. If they surf more than two waves (which they usually do), the two best-scored waves are counted towards the overall score. So say, you are in a comp and surf three waves scored 3, 9, 7, your score in the heat would be 16. Clear as mud? Really it’s winning by elimination.
There are some other rules like the priority rule which makes it a bit of a strategic game too. I.e. surfers have alternate priority. If you have priority, it’s your turn and the other surfer can only take the wave if you don’t take it. This rule can be a bit bitch if you are under pressure to score higher and your competitor has priority and with that the choice to ride the next best wave.
Who comes up with the scores?
The judges….just like with figure skating or synchronised swimming. There is a whole set of judging criteria to bring a bit of science to it. They range from difficulties of maneuvers to flow of maneuvers. 0 means poor and 10 being excellent. Anything from 8, the guys are usually pretty stoked. But every wave is different and conditions are different. So an 8 in one event may not be comparable to an 8 in another one. Also, because judges are only people and as such – subject to subjectiveness (what a mouthful), you can imagine some of scores in the past have been a bit controversial – which always makes for a good conversation in the line-up.
Names you need to know to talk the tour talk:
Kelly Slater, the surf king, he’s won the most titles ever…I think he’s up to 12 or so. He would have had even more if it was not for Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson who interrupted his run between 2005 and now. He’s now 40 me thinks but he’s still killing it.
Andy Irons, Hawaiian legend…I guess, he was the best known surfer on tour other than Kelly and probably the biggest rival he’s ever had. Andy passed away a few years ago.
And you need to know about Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, they’ve been fighting it out with Kelly over the last few years and proudly representing Australia as a surfing nation.
If you are Aussie, you also need to know about Occhy aka Mark Occhilupo. He’s as Aussie as it gets. World champ in 1999 and everyone just loves Occhy. Rumour has it, he would have been Oz Kelly Slater if he would not have been ‘sidetracked’. Tom Carroll is another Aussie legend you should have heard of before. Two time world champ I think but back in the 80ies…
When it comes to the women, you definitely need to have heard about Layne Beachley. Not only because she’s Australian but because she used to dominate the ladies for six years in a row. The equivalent of Kelly on the women’s circuit. Hot on her heels is Steph Gilmore, the reigning world champ. She’s counting five world titles so far. Only Carissa Moore wrangled the title of Steph in an off year for Steph.
Other stuff you may have picked up but you are not sure what they mean?
What does ASP stand for? Association of Surfing Professionals
What’s the waiting period? The event organisers have more time to run the event than it actually takes. i.e. it only takes a few days to run the comp but the event is scheduled for a week so they can pick the best conditions within that period of time.
Hope it all makes a bit more sense now. Enjoy watching the first event. Check it out here >>