Let me boil this down.
There’s the World Tour – the best 32 surfers
Then there’s the World Rankings – Everyone else.
If you don’t perform well on the World Tour, you’re off. There’s no slacking and every event counts. It’s not like you can just blow your first 3 events and then skate through and compete at the end of the year and possibly pull off re-qualification. There will be 300 other dudes in the World Rankings fighting for your spot.
What this means?
For instance – Taylor Knox, basically a WCT staple for the last 20 years, sits tied with 6 other dudes at 23rd on the WT – aka, the “bubble”; you’re off if you’re under 22nd. But, since he hasn’t competed in any events outside of the WT, he sits at 58th on the World Rankings. Implication? If Taylor doesn’t get his stuff together on the tour and doesn’t compete in WR events, he’s out after Teahupoo.
Finally! I’m tired of seeing can’t hack-its (not referring to Taylor – he can hack it, it’s a matter if he wants to hack it) who rummage around at high teens/low twenties range forever. This gives a chance to talent that is just as good to throw down and make a World Title run (pending TB, KS, MF and friends don’t rampage like usual). It will make these guys work much harder to stay on tour. No blank check for the year.
In all, it’s going to make professional surfing significantly more competitive, which is exactly what needs to happen if they want a bigger audience. I’m not for a bigger audience though – last thing I want is a bunch of bro-has clogging the line-up with their 8ft eggs hooting at each other that they’re Kelly Slater, while launching their surfboard directly at my face because they don’t know how to (and refuse to) learn to duck-dive.
Professional Surfing will be more exciting to watch. They have to work hard to get good scores and they have to work harder to stay on tour. Surfers are notorious for their laziness and lackadasical approach to the sport. Every other sport (NFL, NBA, PGA, etc.) is made up of dedicated individuals who are not only freakishly talented, but highly disciplined too. If surfing wants to take a piece of that pie, then they have to show that they’re ready to do what it takes.
The bar for surfing will be raised by the end of the year. There won’t be any more 4 hacks on a wave, but huge maneuvers – the stuff you want to see – being done on a consistent basis, because if you don’t do huge maneuvers, you won’t do well.
Looking forward to an exciting year of surfing, especially come Teahupoo.