QS Points Absolutely Should Not Be Allocated According To Prize Money
How about wave quality?
Another year and another HB event has slopped by. Congratulations to Kanoa. Although I didn’t watch nary a heat, I’m sure he deserved the W.
Back-to-back, looking on track to beat Simpo’s record with the CT success rate to back it up. Better than that, he’ll take away the 10,000, putting him in a hot position to double qualify at 17th on the CT and the 3rd on the QS.
But should Kanoa really have taken 10,000 points away from Huntington?
Qualification points are there to determine which surfers join the Tour-formerly-known-as-but-still-pretty-much-the-Dream-Tour.
They inform us as to who will get in the ring at the Teahupo’o rodeo next year, who will lay it on the J-Bizzle line. QS points are what separate the Manlys from the Bells Bowls.
And they can be notoriously difficult for surfers better suited to the CT’s big boy-and-girl-and-gender-neutral waves to obtain.
Look at Wade Carmichael. The flaying wookie laboured on the QS for years, enduring Huntington hops and Cascais crud so that he might have a shot come Hawaii meat and some waves of consequence.
Now he’s on Tour and he’s sitting snazzy at number six in the world. Look at number seven, Will-I-An, whose heft kept him languishing in summer espuma, forcing that hefty frame through Pantin’s tiki-taka when he’d rather be playing joga bonito amongst Peniche’s unpredictable bombas.
On the other side of the equation are the small wave specialists, who breezed through the three-to-the-beach phase of their career, but weren’t equipped, emotionally or physically, when waves of consequence presented themselves. 2017’s Leonardo Fioravanti and Ethan Ewing just weren’t ready yet for the CT’s demands (but they will be soon!). In 2016 Alex Ribeiro won five CT heats in a whole year (each surfer surfs a minimum of 22 heats).
2014 was an annus horribilis for QS alumni, with the Rookie of the Year accolade being skipped entirely due to Dion Atkinson and Mitch Crews’ both failing to make the requalification cut.
So what I’m getting at is this: why should an event like the US Open be such a massive determining factor in who gets to surf against the best surfers in the world, at some of the best surf breaks in the world, when the surf is (should be) at its best?
Because while the WSL may spin their event’s points allocation to be all about Prestige, or competition, or whatever, all it comes down to is how much loot the sponsors can lump up.
QS 10,000s have a total prize pool of $258,000 on the men’s side of the draw. That economic allure is supposed to draw big fish to the event, thus increasing the sponsors’ return on their outlay, and make the competition stiffer.
Fantastic! Throw a quarter mill at an event in summer, in California, or Sydney, or wherever. Great! And watch the big boys come circling in for a sniff at the loot. Marvellous! Brands have all the right in the world to try and get the maximum return on their investment, but don’t attach 10,000 points to it.
A surfers participation in a branding exercise shouldn’t determine whether they deserve to power up a notch.
Instead the big points should be allocated at waves that best represent the standard of surfing we want to see on the CT.
The Volcom Pipe Pro now gave less than a third of the points to Josh Moniz than Kanoa got in Huntington; Jack Robbo got 1500 for getting tubed in Chile.
In Indonesia there are QS 1000s scheduled for Nias and Simeulue in August, Yo-Yo’s in September and Cimaja in October. The winners at those events taking home the same amount of points as a third-round knockout at Huntington Pier.
I can’t speak for us all, but I feel like surf fans would prefer to see the world’s best up-and-comers and hangers-on battling it out in Indonesia’s best wave, while fighting for a chance to surf the rest of the world’s best waves. We’d like to see our top flight forged in waves of consequence, not wind-fed crumbs.
If the brands want to throw money at events that get asses in the sand, that’s their prerogative. It is nice to see the world’s best surf in “relateable” conditions. But if those events aren’t likely to produce waves that are of a standard befitting the world’s next best surfers, then those events shouldn’t carry such a high weighting in points.
If the top 100 QS surfers in the world had an impetus to duke it out in some of the world’s other best waves, we would be provided with an awesome other spectacle while we’re waiting for each of the, too few, 11 WCT events to begin.
Then, surely, the cream would rise to the top.
And let’s not even talk about the women’s Huntington event being a CT.
If there was ever something for the online feminists to sound off on (of which I’m one, I swear!) that would be it.
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