Could You Qualify For The CT?
…with no verifiable seed and $43,000 to spend?
Recently we learned, mostly anecdotally, that it costs around $43,000 to qualify for the CT. That’s including travel costs, accommodation, contests fees, coaching, and anything else directly related to your competitive pursuits on the Qualifying Series.
But most of the people who qualify from the QS have one priceless commodity in their possession. Something money can’t (fully) buy. Something you have to earn.
A solid QS seeding!
As mentioned in my previous article, the QS is built around contests worth varying degrees of points. The lowest-rated contests relinquish a mere 1,000 points to their winners, while the highest-rated events deliver a full 10,000. The 2017 breakdown was as follows:
1,000: 27 events
1,500: 10 events
3,000: 11 events
6,000: 5 events
10,000: 5 events
With less than 100 competitor slots at most events and over 1,000 QS surfers around the world, it’s inevitable that people will be denied entry into certain events. Typically, anyone with a credit card and a pair of floaties can get into the 1,000s and 1,500s, but when you get to the 3,000, 6,000, and 10,000 events (the competitions that actually allow one to qualify), the barrier for entry gets much, much higher.
Rather than choosing people through a random lottery or using first-come first-served system, the WSL took a note from capitalism and gave the rights of entry to those with the highest seeds.
A surfer’s seeding is based on their performance in the prior season. The better you did last year, the higher your seed is this year. Though this might seem like an impossible loop, where, due to their exclusive ability to enter the contests worth more points, people at the top of the rankings will always stay above those who can’t gain entry into the 6-and-10-thousand events, this is not always the case. As the lower class have been rich-splained for decades, capitalism is designed for talented and driven individuals to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and barge into the upper class with guns blazing!
Which is possible, but to do that, they’ve gotta win the shit out of some low-level events before the mid-year reseeding.
So assuming you were a QS rookie — meaning you had tons of talent but no discernable seed — is it possible to qualify in one year?* And if yes, how could you do it, financially, assuming you had $43,000 to burn?
Well, you’d have to start in Australia.
The second QS of the year is in Sydney’s rough-and-tumble suburb of Maroubra, home to Koby Abberton and his infamous ‘Bra Boys’. Starting January 18th, Maroubra will host a QS 1,000 event, which you’d use as your “warm up” comp. You may do well, you may do poorly, but it’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself here because it’s the first event of the year.
Over the next few weeks, the east coast of Australia will host three more QS 1,000 events (at Burleigh, Cabarita, and Boomerang Beach), and you will enter all of them. This event pattern — wherein multiple contest are clumped within a small geographic region over a short period of time — is your ticket to success. The less you have you to spend on travel (flights and board bag fees quickly amass), the more contests you get to do, and the more chances you have to increase your scoreline and ranking.
You’ll also want to… you know, win one or two of those events. No biggie!
In my estimation, assuming you’re a surfer from California who has friends on Australia’s east coast (free lodging is also a HUGE help), this four-contest stint could be done for… *drumroll please*
WSL membership fee (annual fee): $250
QS comp fees (4 events): $1,000
Airfare (including board bags): $1,300
Food (assuming you’re eating on the cheap): $1,000
Accom (you’ll mostly stay with local friends, but a few hotel nights were necessary): $500
Rental Car (share it with 3 friends!): $300
Booze/Entertainment (Australia’s prices are astonishing): $500
Coach (you ain’t got no coach!): 0
Miscellaneous (you know how travelling goes): $1,000
Yearly expenses: $5,850
After a month break at home, where you’ll have been staying with the ‘rents and therefore spending only $1,200 in general living fees (total now $6,150), you’ll take off for the magical islands of French Polynesia. A trip of this nature achieves two main goals: 1. It aligns with our strategy of holding multiple contests in the same region, and 2. It feels like an epic surf trip. There’s nothing better than scoring in and around a contest venue, and spots like Rangiroa are a dream destination for most talented surfers.
After these two QS 1,000 events, at which you’ll have taken home one victory and one equal-fifth, you’ll return home with a fresh tan, a few reef scars, and a helluva lot of momentum. Oh, and a lighter wallet. This trip ran you roughly $6,200!
QS comp fees: $500
Airfare (including board bags): $1,800
Food (assuming you’re eating on the cheap): $700
Accom (you’ll have to pay for this one): $1,200
Inter-island travel (boat’s ain’t cheap): $500
Booze/Entertainment (sunset drinks are a must): $500
Coach (you ain’t got no coach!): 0
Miscellaneous (you know how travelling in a non-Western nation goes): $1,000
Yearly expenses: $12,050
Next up is your home event, the QS 1,500 Jack’s Surf Shop Pro in Huntington Beach, California. Feeling energized from your trip to Tahiti, you’ll breeze through the early rounds but fall short against Brett Simpson in the semis. That’s OK though, getting to surf against the GOAT on his home turf will be more valuable than any amount of QS points. Thankfully, this event only runs you $650.
QS comp fee: $250
Airafare (you’re home, silly): 0
Accom (thanks mom and dad!): 0
Travel (bike it): 0
Coach: (Brett will give you a few free tips): 0
Yearly expenses: $12,700
Next comes the mega-leg. You’ll be doing two events in South Africa (March 30 – April 8), three in Indonesia (April 15 – May 13), then three in South America (May 21 – June 10), all without setting foot on U.S. soil. That’s two-and-a-half months on the road, living out of a board bag, surfing eight events. You did say you wanted to qualify, right?
This triple dip will cost you a hefty $20,000.
QS comp fees (count ‘em, 8!): $2,000
Airfare (not bad for flying all over the damn world): $6,000
Food (the dollar goes far in these countries): $2,000
Accom (all cheap places, but they add up): $3,000
Car/inter-island travel (really just making up numbers at this point): $3,000
Booze/Entertainment: (don’t drink the liquor in Indo!): $1,500
Coach (still neggo): 0
Miscellaneous (oh the troubles you’ll face on this trip): $2,500
Yearly expenses: $33,700
Now I know what you’re thinking: Fuck, I only have $10k left. How am I gonna qualify with that much money? Well, little do you know, you’ve just won the Maui and Sons Arica QS 3,000 at Chile’s infamous ‘El Gringo’. Normally you wouldn’t have been able to enter such a highly-rated event, but due to the fear-factor of this spot, hardly anyone signed up. Now you’ve got a 3,000 in your scoreline on top of a couple of 1,000s, meaning you’re in a good position to climb up the ranks after the mid-year reseeding. So go home, relax, and pick up a side-job until the U.S. Open has passed.
Following the mid-year switcheroo, you’ve landed at 86th on the QS. That’s huge, because although you’re not that close to qualifying, you’ve positioned yourself to surf in any event you please. Even the coveted QS 10,000s.
But now you have a decision to make. With only $10k left in your budget and five major (6-and-10-thousand) events remaining — which are spread throughout multiple continents — you need to pick your battles. With 4,000 points gained from two events, and a minimum qualification benchmark of 17,000, you must amass 13,000 points across any three of the remaining events. So what’s the most efficient way to do that?
In my eyes, it’s all about Hawaii.
This is a major gamble, but if your $43k budget is firm, I think you’ve gotta skip Europe and Brazil and put all your eggies in the deep Hawaiian cauldron. The HIC Sunset Pro is first, but also the least valuable points-wise, so you should treat this event as your warmup. A quarterfinal finish will leave you needing only 11,500 points across the last two events to qualify. Next you’ll have Haleiwa, which is probably the easier of the two events to do well at, so you’re looking for a second place finish here. Following that, semis, maybe even quarters, will do at Sunset. Grab your favorite 6’6 and try your best to bury the rail. Throw a crazy end-bowl floater if you really need a score.
This Hawaiian staycation will run just short of $8k.
QS comp fees (your last 3 events!): $750
Airfare (cheap boi): $500
Food (Hawaiian prices are ferocious): $1,500
Accom (Stay with the sponos!): 0
Car/inter-island travel (hitch-hiker lyfe): 0
Booze/Entertainment: (Celebrations in Honolulu don’t come cheap): $1,500
Coach (Get yourself a Rainos for the last three comps): $3,000
Miscellaneous (A few reef-incurred stitches are all but inevitable): $500
Yearly expenses: $41,450
And just like that, you’ve made it! Using your surfing, tactical, and budgeting skills you’ve reached the upper echelon of mid-tier professional surfing, all for under $43,000. While it certainly wasn’t easy, or cheap, you’ve proven it’s possible to qualify for the CT with no discernable QS seeding at the beginning of the season.
So whadya say, readers? Have you got $40k laying around? Could 2018 be your year?
*Yes! Ethan Ewing did this very thing in 2016, basically by accident.
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