Pro Surfers Are Taking The 'Work From Home' Movement A Little Too Seriously - Stab Mag
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Mikey Wright, one of several surfers who's calling it quits (for now). Photo: WSL

Pro Surfers Are Taking The ‘Work From Home’ Movement A Little Too Seriously

Here’s who’s off the tour next year, and who doesn’t plan on coming back.

news // Aug 28, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Covid 19 pandemic forced businesses around the world to adjust their worker requirements — most notably, so that employees were no longer obligated (or allowed) to work from a centralized office. Such is the nature of a world plagued by a highly contagious virus.

While it’s too soon to see the full effects of 2020/2021’s mostly remote workforce, we are able to study how the workers themselves feel about the situation. For example, would they like to continue working from home, or do they yearn for the artificial lights and stale coffee convos of a corporate compound?

According to Business Wire, 85% of workers want to return to the office in some capacity. That doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be there eight hours a day, five days a week, but they want the option to work shoulder to shoulder with their peers at least some of the time. Reasons for this include: socializing with colleagues (52%), having access to proper work equipment (44%), and getting out of the home (44%).

As it turns out, not all Championship Tour surfers feel the same as their office-dwelling counterparts. This year, we’ve seen more retirements and “step backs” from competitive surfing than any year in memory.

To date:
Julian Wilson, Mikey Wright, Bronte Macaulay are done with competing for the foreseeable future.
Jeremy Flores and Adriano de Souza officially retired from the CT.
Ace Buchan is undecided on whether he’ll return to competitive surfing.

So what’s the deal? Are these surfers just lazy? Is Covid really that big of a burden? Or is the WSL just no longer a “dream tour”?

In truth, it’s a mix of things.

Julian’s decision appears to come in large part from his transition to a family man. The year-long travel paired with Australia’s stringent return policy (mandatory 14-day quarantine) makes the Tour less than appealing to a guy that has two kids and a wife at home and whose fortune and legacy are both frimly cemented.

Mikey Wright seems to have realized that competitive surfing is not the best use of his talents. He could either be a mid-ranked tour surfer or one of the top-3 freesurfers on earth. If he’s getting paid the same either way, it’s an understandable decision.

Bronte Macaulay has been through a lot this year, from the devastating passing of her brother, Jack, to narrowly missing requalification in Mexico. Rather than remaining abroad chasing Challenger Series points for the next few months (which, if she were to do well and requalify, would only mean more months away from home), Bronte has decided to return WA and spend some much-needed time with family and friends.

Jeremy Flores and Adriano de Souza both did well enough to requalify for the 2022 CT, but after a combined two decades on tour, these well-decorated gents are departing on a high note and leaving it to the next gen. Highly commendable.

Ace Buchan’s future likely lies in the hands of the WSL. If they were to give him a wildcard onto the 2022 tour (as one of the few injured surfers this year), my guess is he’d take it. If they choose not to, well, I don’t see him chasing the Challenger Series. The man has won a final against Kelly Slater at Teahupo’o, he doesn’t need to end his career forcing blowtails against teens in HB.

So, while six surfers “choosing” to step down from the Dream Tour might seem like a lot, when you take the time to look at their individual circumstances, it all makes sense.

On the bright side, we still appear to have Kelly Slater on board for one more go-around. The guy is turning 50 in February, and that is simply remarkable.

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