Stab Magazine | Why are there only two Hawaiians on tour?

Why are there only two Hawaiians on tour?

Words by Tom Freed Well, it’s not like there were ever a lot. In comparison to the populated nations of Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Mainland USA, two or three qualifiers is pretty well-representative of the 1.2m peeps inhabiting those eight little islands. In the last eight years, Hawaii’s seen no more than five of their […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Words by Tom Freed

Well, it’s not like there were ever a lot. In comparison to the populated nations of Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Mainland USA, two or three qualifiers is pretty well-representative of the 1.2m peeps inhabiting those eight little islands. In the last eight years, Hawaii’s seen no more than five of their own on the CT, averaging about three. The eight years before that? Four to five qualifiers, consistently. And that was with 44 spots on the CT.

A mere two guys just on the 2016 rosters (John John and Keanu Asing) sounds… depressing. Clearly, just focusing on the men’s here – the women’s tour is currently 30 percent Hawaiian. So what’s the deal? Surely the talent’s there, but why aren’t we seeing more of it via webcast?

“It’s probably a combination of things,” former-CT competitor/current WSL commentator, Ross Williams, tells Stab. “There’s no one main reason for the lack thereof. I mean, Hawaiians have a relatively good amount of events in our their backyard. Our amateur program is more than adequate and the competitive scene is healthy and energised… The QS tour has just always been challenging for Hawaiians due to the lack of beachbreaks in Hawaii. It’s not until the CT where surfers from Hawaii can truly shine. Also, you have to recognise the influx of young, hungry Brazilians. They’re occupying a good chunk of both the CT and QS realm. But two guys? This is just a good wake up for our young pros.”

Freddy P and the double hand stall. Photo: WSL

CT-vet Freddy Patacchia has another view on the matter. “When I was growing up, I looked up to the Sunny Garcia’s, Kalani Robb’s, Tom Carroll’s and Mark Occhilupo’s. Everything was competition based. There was none of that freesurf-video-guy or grow my hair out and be a groovy-guy. There just weren’t those options to get paid to be ‘that guy’ back then. But there’s options now, especially with Pe’ahi pumping, a lot of kids can just stay at home in Hawaii and wait for it to get big, watch that purple blob show up and then go there. I think to Hawaii kids, it’s a lot more enticing to be that kind of pro surfer, than to chase QS points and hassle with guys at beachies.”

“We’re actually really lucky to have John John on tour because he could totally stop doing the tour and just do video parts and would still be getting paid big… Hawaii got lucky with that one,” Freddy laughs. “The fact that he’s stoked on competing and doing events is great, because it’s not like he has to.”

“When it comes down to it, I think that not only in Hawaii, but on the Mainland too, kids are less competitive these days,” Mr Patacchia continues. “Like, Australians are bred competitive. Americans, they can kind of do whatever they want. Brazilians have to be competitors. There’s no other option for most of them. In Hawaii we get a little bit of both, but I think I see more guys here gearing toward freesurfing than competition. I mean I’ll just say it: We’re spoiled. We have good waves at home, so why leave, and if the companies aren’t forcing us to and we’re getting paid a good amount… like, why would you wanna be at Newcastle right now or go surf some crummy beachbreak at the wrong time of the year just for points? Kids want to be inspired, not forced to do anything these days. If you’ve got 100K followers on Instagram, to the kids, that’s way better than being 20th on the QS. And that’s kind of the world today, right?”

This sentiment can’t be indicative of ALL kids in Hawaii, though. Certainly, there’s some young guns that want to bring the title back to the Rock(s)…

“There’s some guys out there, like Zeke Lau, who’re really hungry and talented and want to make a push on Tour, “ continues Fred. “And then you’ve got the Moniz brothers who are also really well-rounded. So there’s a new generation that wants to compete, but I think between my generation and theirs, there was a gap. But some of these kids really are just kids. And, they’re getting paid a good amount of money to do what they do. Maybe they need to get their heads out of their asses (laughs). That goes for Hawaii kids, Cali kids, everywhere. Guys should realise that it could be over in a heartbeat. The guy that’s getting paid less than you, or isn’t as ‘cool’ as you or not getting as much love from the mags, wants it more than you do, so watch out.”

Zeke and the power of rotation.

“But also technically-speaking, making the QS is that one special thing that stays together and builds your confidence and you hope that thing doesn’t break. Bede Durbidge will vouch for that; a lot of people will. Also, the QS isn’t necessarily fun, and you have to deal with that. You’ve gotta pretty much surf like a drone and then once you qualify and get on the CT, that’s where you can really surf to your potential.”

“I guess until 2017, we will have to settle with our two, lonely, brave Hawaiian soldiers,” says Freddy. “One of which will probably land a 540-oop in-heat this year anyway, so… could be worse.”

Five Hawaiians Ross Williams would like to see on tour:“Zeke’s powerful, motivated and well rounded. He has the potential to be a Top 5 campaigner and he could be an awesome representative for Hawaiians to really energise the future.”

Dusty Payne: “One word: Justice. I want to see Dusty make it back on tour and destroy people. He’s too good and too young to not get back there and reach his potential. I think it could happen easily.” Sebastian Zietz: “Sebastian is a great surfer but maybe more importantly, he’s an amazing representative for Hawaii. I love the way he handled himself last year despite having a very frustrating year. Like Dusty, Seabass has many years left in him to capitalise on his talent. He just needs to get through the QS again.” Mason Ho: “Mason’s the ultimate X-factor. I think a lot of the top CT guys don’t know what he’s going to throw at them. They have to put off any kind of the normal control they would typically have against a wildcard. Also, his personality is amazing. He’s funny, humble and original. If he could get through the QS ranks he would be celebrated by everyone on the CT.” Tanner Hendrickson: “Tanner’s a great underdog story. He came so close in 2015. He’s super light and quick on his feet making him a real contender on the QS tour. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him qualify this year.”

And a bonus from Freddy P:

Josh Moniz: “I think that Josh could really stir the pot and with a young guy like Kanoa Igarashi making it, I’m sure Josh is asking himself, ‘If he made it, why can’t I?’ He’s got the confidence in bigger waves but can also do all the airs and smaller-wave maneuvers, too. He’s already had a full year on the QS now and knows the ropes. Personally, I’d be watching out for him, then shortly after, his brother, Seth, and also Imaikalani Devault.”


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