The Death Of The Dream Tour
A conversation with former ASP CEO, Brodie Carr.
The world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves.
That was more than just a slogan for the organization formerly known as the Association of Surfing Professionals (now WSL). It was a philosophy. A vision.
Something that guided the decision-making and set a motherfucking standard.
Something that may have been forgotten.
Brodie Car was the ASP’s CEO for five years and was a devout servant of the Dream Tour. In his time there, he took the organization’s blood-red books and turned ‘em black.
He left the ASP in 2011, after Kelly Slater was awarded the World Title one heat before he had officially earned it. The mistake came down to a spreadsheet that hadn’t been updated after a subtle rule change, but Brodie decided to take the blame for it. You can read his only interview after stepping down here.
Seven years after his resignation, with the most dramatically new event in the organization’s history about to kick off in Lemoore, CA, we called the former CEO to get his thoughts on the current state of professional surfing.
Stab: So, what have you been up to?
Brodie Carr: After I left the ASP, I moved to France, where my wife is from, and lived in Hossegor for five years. I started an events and marketing agency that is successful and is still going. My family and I have since moved to Australia, where I’ve been working in sports marketing.
How has your surf life changed since leaving the ASP? Is it nice to not have to think about how to steer the whole of professional surfing in your downtime?
I actually don’t surf as much as I used to, but I can blame that on having to spend time more time working in cities. Our family life revolves around surfing, though. My five year old wants to surf every single day — and I don’t even try to push it on him or anything.
Other than that, it’s been nice to talk to people in the water about the WSL without them knowing who I am. You get some really honest insights and opinions.
What’s the general consensus?
I think the general perception is that they’re doing a great job, and I agree. I still love the WSL. I might be critical of a few elements, but I still helped build that house. It would be hard for me to be too negative. There are things that I would do differently if I were still in my former position, but it’s not my reign. It’s Sophie’s.
Do you feel like the vision of the WSL has changed since you left?
When I was there, I was brought up by Rabbit Bartholomew with the idea of the Dream Tour — putting the world’s best surfers against each other at the world’s best waves. We built everything on that model. We knew that if we did a good job at it, the best surfers in the world would always want to compete. And it worked.
I think the WSL should be paying more attention to that model. There are obviously considerations that I’m not aware of, but taking events like Fiji and Trestles off tour seems strange.
“The competition element is greatly reduced in a wave pool. There are no paddle battles, no priority tactics, no interference calls”
When you were CEO, was the focus more on core surfers or the mainstream?
We knew we had a strong core following. And we knew that if we could broadcast our events, the core audience would watch.
But we also believed that if we had pumping waves in idyllic locations with boardshorts and bikinis, the Dream Tour would sell itself to the broader market.
What percentage of ASP employees surfed?
Oh, we all surfed. Everyone. We even had a saying, “Nobody ever got sacked for surfing.”
Everybody worked hard, but we also got our fair share of waves. We had different skill levels, though.
Could everybody screw their fins in right?
I think so. I had glass-ons, though. [laughs]
Do you think hiring non-surfing employees affects the overall product?
To some degree. I feel like I can see it in the way things are going with the waves that are chosen for events. And, as a surfer, there are a few things I don’t necessarily like — whether it’s the way they portray some places or the way they do interviews. But you could point things like that out in any sport.
How do you feel about wave pools in WSL competitions?
I think there’s a place for wave pools somewhere. But, personally, I love the natural environment. It’s unpredictable and more exciting. The competition element is greatly reduced in a wave pool. There are no paddle battles, no priority tactics, no interference calls.
Just look at Tahiti this year. It was not the best Teahupo’o by any means. But the last minute and a half was incredible. You’re watching and you see that Owen’s going to get a wave. Then you see there’s going to be another one behind it and there’s going to be less water on the reef so it’s going to barrel. Then you see Gabriel’s gonna get it and, well… that’s exciting!
You don’t get that in a wave pool.
How do you feel about the possible change of format and the proposed playoff system? [Editor’s Note: This interview went down prior to the 2019 schedule announcement]
I love going to Indonesia and I think it fits into getting the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves, but ending in Mentawais in October seems strange.
I think the Tour should end in Hawaii at Pipeline. It’s the proving ground, and there’s heritage in that — just think about the Kelly VS Andy final.
Years ago, in the ASP days, I remember watching Pipe Masters and in a post-heat interview, someone asked Jordy how he’d want to be remembered if he died. Live, on the webcast, he said something to the effect of “having a big dick.” Do you remember that?
I actually do remember that. And it brings back memories of Bobby’s post-heat interview. When I was in that position, I knew that we needed to cater to a PG audience and I wanted our product to be taken seriously.
But, on a personal level, I can say I thought it was funny. I think you have to see the humor in things. When I was at the ASP, I tried to take things like that with a grain of salt and didn’t take them quite as seriously as they seem to be taken today.
After all, surfing does have a pretty degenerate background. Do you think the WSL should try to strike more of a balance between that and being PG?
Surfing has historically been anti-establishment, and rebellion is a big part of the allure. That’s what attracts a lot of people to surfing and the surf culture. I’d like to think that we were less vanilla back then. It seems more corporate now and less cool. In a way, it’s like a little kid that has grown up and matured, and this is his/her future now. But that doesn’t mean it needs to forget its past.
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