The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Board of Directors met this month and announced some changes to professional surfing effective 2010. Among the top changes include moving to a one-world rating system and decreasing the number of ASP World surfers on tour from 45 to 32. First, the rating system will make things easier for the ASP World Tour, plus ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) towards determining a surfers’ rating overall. By trimming back the field, according to Mick Fanning, ASP World Champion and the “Surfer’s Representative” on the Board, it will help allow the best surfers get the best waves and streamline the events.
The ASP Board announced an increase in total prize money up from $3,400,000 for the 10-event series to $4,000,000 for the men’s tour. The ASP Women’s Tour will increase also, but only from $630,000 to $800,000 in 2010 still leaving a huge discrepancy between men and women’s prize money in the surf industry. In addition to the increase in overall prize money, an additional $100,000 bonus will be awarded to the ASP Champ at the end of the year for men, and a $30,000 bonus for the ASP Women’s Champ.
The ASP will increase surfer benefits including full insurance coverage as well as a pension plan. Now this is something to celebrate not only for surfing, but for action sports in general, as many athletes still have a hard time getting insurance because of the former description of such athletes being labeled “extreme” (vs. a basketball player or soccer player who are not considered “extreme” athletes and have a better chance of getting insurance).