New Changes in Professional Surfing

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...

ASP Changes Rating and Qualifying Standards

The ASP announced drastic changes reintroducing its old format. The world’s Top 16 surfers will automatically receive second round seeds in the main event, giving them an advantage over the surfers in the rest of the 48 man field, who will start in Round One. Both Round One and Round Two will be comprised of 32 surfers, made up of 16 man-on-man heats. Round One at each event will include the surfers rated 17-27 on the world tour, the Top 15 from the WQS, plus three injury wildcards and three event wildcards. The 16 advancing surfers will be then reseeded as they head into Round Two, where each will be paired up with a member of the Top 16. The new format will shorten the running time of events from 4 days to 3. Because the average length of a swell window is three days, the change will improve the chances events will be able to run in high quality surf. Most surfers at the top see this as a very positive step. The reformatting plan is optional for event sponsors in 2009, but already Billabong has agreed to utilize it in all four of their events: Teahupoo, J-Bay, Mundaka and the Pipe Masters. Longer term this new format, which could be mandatory in 2010, will be a central part of the return to a one-world ranking system, which the ASP hopes to re-implement. It would mean all surfers competing in ASP rated events at any level will be given a ranking next to even the best surfers on the world tour. FULL ASP PRESS RELEASE BELOW COOLANGATTA, Australia...