Does the non-ASP event ban protect surfers?

February 6, 2013 | Surfing
Surfboards: closed in the locker room in the off-season period

Professional surfers are being forbidden from participating in special events that are not sanctioned by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP).

Several surfers have pulled out of important local and regional competitions, in the last minute, simply because the new ASP rules say so.

The issued has raised a few questions. What will surf sponsors say? When can a pro surfer train in competitive mode, in the off-season period? What does surfing and spectators, as a whole, get from this strict rule?

Two surfers have already suffered the power of the ASP guidelines. Kelly Slater couldn't compete at the Mavericks Invitational and Tiago Pires pulled off from Rip Curl Capitulo Perfeito, a tube riding contest held in Peniche, Portugal.

"It was sad to hear that I would not be able to participate in this event where I really wanted to compete for the opportunity to surf Supertubos. It would be good training for the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, in October", Tiago Pires.

Both surfers have acquiesced to the ASP rule, but the surfing is still not convinced. While it's perfectly understandable that all Dream Tour surfers should be fit and available for the ASP World Tour commitments, the spirit of surfing is axed. And sanctions are tough.

"The surfer (...) who has not been granted a waiver by ASP (...) may (...) lose seeding and rating points for the next surfing season and/or not be eligible to compete in the current surfing season", the ASP Rule Book tells.

Fines can reach $USD50,000 (Men) and $31,000 (Women) for the damages. What is somehow bizarre is that many off-season event sponsors are the ones which support the ASP World Tour, all year round.