The Surfing Life Guide to Watching Professional Surfing

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Words: Wade Davis

You do it, I do it, and according to the ASP there’s a pool of 120 million surf fans wanting to do it. Here at Surfing Life we just can’t get enough of the World Championship Tour. We’ll stay awake until all hours to watch events in one-foot Rio, miss birthday parties for round two and rack up astronomical data bills watching expression sessions on our phones.

We like to think that we are reasonable consumers of our sport. We try and take a rational approach to controversy and to be empathetic with even the most unlikely judging decisions. We don’t believe in conspiracy theories in surfing, in favouritism, nor do we trumpet the incompetence of the ASP or its agents. They have a difficult job and they do it well, we like, we watch, we support and when we disagree we do it with understanding and respect, as do the vast majority of surf fans. Nevertheless, there are pockets of surf fandom who can’t quite act right, who fly off the handle on the reg, and who do it in a repetitive and predictable manner. It is in homage to them that we’ve created this inconclusive list of surfing’s most ludicrous spectators. If we’ve missed any, if we missed you, then please let us know in the comments section.

eagleeyes

Old Eagle Eyes

Old Eagle Eyes knows better than the judges. “There’s no way that’s any more than a 6.5!”, he’ll squawk, as the judges award a 6.7. He’ll take to Facebook after most heats and tell the world what he thinks just went down, and how and where the judges were wrong. “He should have lost at least .25 of a point, due to having his tongue slightly hang out of his mouth on that top turn. The judges are having a shocker!”, he’ll claim, as his wannabe-calliper eyes dissect the surfer’s body language. But he ain’t Brad Gerlach, and this ain’t last year’s Cold Water Classic, and nobody cares a damn for his microscopic appraisal of the surfers’ movements. They just confirm Old Eagle Eyes’ station as a wanker.

Old Eagle Eyes could have been a contender, but after a series of “robbings” in his junior career he didn’t get the sponsorship deals he needed to catapult himself from semi-final finishes in boardriders up to the top 34. Old Eagle Eyes isn’t so different from us, it’s just that we gave up on the idea that we were going to be the next Robert Slater when we were 11 and Old Eagle Eyes held onto that hope until he was 23. Now he’s as bitter as heck and he’s coming for the judges.

thesurfdork

The Surf Dork

The surf dork is the surfiest person you know, although if he wasn’t into surfing then he’d be the cricketiest cricketer, or the stampiest stamp collector, or whatever. He is on par with Japanese surfers for froth levels, surf-culture immersion and excitement. He’s out in the water every day, whenever he can, paddling around and “accidently” dropping in on everyone. The Surf Dork buys all the magazines (thanks, buddy), watches every DVD, and since 1992 has been the sole remaining consumer of surf-brand stickers, which he proudly displays on the caboose of his hatchback. He only wears logo-heavy surf-tees, unless he’s going to a wedding, where he’ll bust out the good “going out” Billabong button-up shirt, combo’ed with Quiksilver denim downstairs and his Rip Curl tide watch, which he’ll proudly and boring present to anyone who’ll listen, boasting of the functions, “And, it shows whether the tide is king, or neap! So I never miss a session!”

The Surf Dork lives for tour stops, although his emotions run high and polarised. The Surf Dork vehemently supports whichever surfer he has the most affinity with, usually the surfer who grew up geographically nearest to him. The Surf Dork is ecstatic when his hero wins, and filled with tragedy when he loses. The Surf Dork loses his grasp of grammar and becomes incoherent when his favourite surfer loses, as is evidenced by his posts on the event’s comments board, his own Facebook page, and by his tweets, that are read by his 16 followers (eight of which are spambots). “CANT BLEIVE MICK LOST,,,, this is to unfair, bullshit everythng!”, he’ll cry to everyone, and no-one in particular. If you know a Surf Dork, make sure you pull the shoelaces out of their Etnies fat-tongue skate shoes at the beginning of round two.

thegrinch

The Grinch

According to The Grinch the ASP is a joke, the judges are jokes, the conditions are a joke, this tour stop is a joke. Everything is a joke, which is ironic, because The Grinch hasn’t laughed since 1994, the year that his eighth-grade squeeze dumped him for a 17-year-old finger-basher with a panel van. The Grinch is heavily active on forums, Twitter, and occasionally on our Facebook page. They never care to elaborate on why everything is a joke, or indeed what it actually means, just that it’s all a joke, and you’re a joke if you don’t agree.

The Grinch is an unhappy person. He sets fire to puppies and steals his elderly neighbour’s newspaper every morning. The Grinch doesn’t surf anymore, because the surf is a joke, they don’t go to the beach because it’s a joke down there. You ask them why they even watch the events, and they go, “It’s because it’s such a joke.” The Grinch will probably comment on this article, about how much of a joke it is, which is great, but it’s be nice if The Grinch would occasionally elaborate as to why it’s a joke.

It’d be nice if The Grinch would stop labelling everything as a joke, and start laughing again. Get over Jessica, man, that was nine years ago.

tin-foil-hat

Aluminium-Foil Hat

Beady eyed, and hawkish of nose, Aluminium-Foil Hat is a highly intelligent guy whose brain is wired incorrectly. We don’t know how he got like this, but if you stumble across him on Twitter you might initially say, “Wow, this guy’s interesting”, then very soon after you’ll be all like, “Hey, hey, relax there fella”, and then you’ll be like, “You’re a fucking idiot, bro”, and when you are like that you’ll block them and they won’t exist anymore, for Aluminium-Foil Hat only exists on Twitter, to the disenfranchised follow people who fuel his messianic delusions, and the few rational folk who stick around to argue with Aluminium-Foil Hat, and to bash their head against a brick wall.

Aluminium-Foil Hat goes, ”Pro surfing is just a conspiracy run by the Knights Templar, Dan Brown and Monsanto. It’s just a false flag operation that exists to make you buy more surf branded, neoprene pencil-cases. If you don’t know, then you are a mental midget. You have to get educated, and the best way to get educated is by reading my blog. I know, because I am smarter than you, and that is why I have written a blog about it, and your point isn’t valid because it is different to mine. Corporate surfing is to blame for absolutely everything from drug abuse in Kirgizstan to the epidemic of people stubbing their toes in Williamsburg. There is no proof, just take my word for it. In fact, don’t just take my word for it, take my scores of daily tweets as conclusive proof that you’re an idiot.”

Aluminium-Foil Hat doesn’t just hate pro surfing, he looks upon it with total disdain. But it’s the frequency by which he looks upon it that is most baffling. If you don’t like it, turn it off, right? If you ask Aluminium-Foil Hat why he wastes his time religiously watching surf competitions he’ll tell you that he is acting as a film critic acts, and that the critic doesn’t shy away from bad movies even though he knows they stink. This is true, but the film critic also doesn’t watch 50 First Dates 10 times a year, every year, and give it the same amount of thumbs down for each viewing. Just saying.

The Tourist

The Tourist has no idea what they’re watching. They followed a surf brand on Instagram, because Soul Surfer, that’s why. Then they saw a post of a nice looking wave and followed the link to something called the Reef Hawaiian Pro. When they got to the website they saw four guys in four differently coloured rashies, just sitting in the ocean. It was weird! And then one of them thrashed around and stood up on a knee-high wave and shook around like a Christmas beetle trying to climb up a windshield. Then everyone just went back to bobbing in the water again, for like five whole minutes. And all the while some American guys were talking about building houses, and for some reason they wanted to put their feet in the wax? And then guy in a hat asked another guy in a hat about some waves, but it seemed like the second guy in the hat didn’t speak much English! And the first guy in the hat didn’t speak the first guy’s language! And all the while hyperbole, so much hyperbole! The Tourist is confused, and soon after The Tourist leaves.

If The Tourist was fortunate enough to stumble past the broadcast at a different time, maybe this Saturday, or maybe when Pipe is on, then they might see some hugely sizey and hugely exciting waves and performances, and even if they aren’t as intimate with what’s going on as we are, they’ll know that it’s pretty darn impressive. Then the tourist will take note of what they are seeing, and will return. Because if the waves allow it, The Tourist will be impressed.

 

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