Australia records lowest showing in QS history

Stu Nettle
Form Guide

With the completion of the Vans World Cup at Sunset the 2017 Qualifying Series has concluded and we can look at how the various nations ranked in the top 100.

Recently Swellnet scanned 25 years worth of data, from 1992 when the world tour split into CT and QS up until 2016. This year, 2017, was the 26th year.

The research showed the number of Aussie surfers in the top 100 peaked at 38 just after the turn of the century and has been steadily declining ever since. Our long term average is 29.76 surfers in the top 100.

This year Australia registered just 18 surfers in the top 100, which is the lowest number since the QS began. Just one Australian surfer, Wade Carmichael, qualified for the CT.

At the other end of the scale, Brazilian surfers number 30 in the top 100, which is their greatest share since '92. Up till this year Brazil's long term average was 23.50 surfers in the 100.

American surfers - and for this I've tossed out the US/Hawaii divide and lumped them together - number 26 in the top 100. That's well down on the their high score of 46 in 1992 but appears to arrest the slide they were on - it's their highest number in five years.

The total count is:

Brazil 30
Hawaii 26
Australia 18
France 5
South Africa 4
Costa Rica 2
Peru 2
Indonesia 2
Japan 2
Portugal 2
Spain 2
Italy 1
New Zealand 1
Morocco 1
French Polynesia 1
Uruguay 1

Comments

MP's picture
MP's picture
MP commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 11:37am

Less young surfers are chasing the dream of being a pro surfer. In the 80's and 90's almost every Aussie grom had the dream whereas nowadays most groms are happy to cruise and ride a throwback design rather than push themselves towards the high performance zone. It's just part of a natural cycle of each generation wanting to be different than the last. Look at California pre Tom Curren, the majority of surfers were anti-competition. Where I surf the average age in the water on a good day is 40 plus.

many-rivers's picture
many-rivers's picture
many-rivers commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 1:14pm

Could part of this change also reflect a corporate culture change?
The ASP changed into the WSL , the new owner and top management are all focused on the Americas , both north and south.
This has also been seen in the change in presentation and presenters with Ronnie Blakey holding on as the last aussie full time face on the set .
Barton Lynch used to be a weird "colour" add on but seems to be getting more on air time as an analyst, focused on the outcomes of coaching and strategy.
The commercial need to get funds from the US media market is not going to tolerate the Occys , Hoys even the more unpredicatble guests like Dayan Neves who all gave the show a more aussie flavour .
And more humour and general shitstirring- they did not try to pass off windblown two foot cold slop as " a demonstration of how the modern competitive surfer must be able to thrive in all conditions ".
It is so much bullshit trying to excuse the poor conditions and insults the intelligence and enthusiasm of viewers.
It is perhaps inevitable that an unspoken but pervasive pressure comes to self select through judging decisions those surfers who will appeal to the prospective media audience in the US that is US surfers.
Stider could hardly contain himself during the final yesterday when there were three Californians involved.
As the business is now about money and finding viewers to pay back the Ziff family we should not be surprised to see Australians ,Kiwis and even Europeans further marginalised.A few will be there no doubt but once the large group of thirty + year olds are gone who is going to replace them?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 1:28pm

It may a reflect a corporate culture, but not that of the WSL who have only been in charge for four years. Australia's slide on the QS has been happening for much longer than that.

many-rivers's picture
many-rivers's picture
many-rivers commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 3:05pm

Yes your analysis on the other thread shows that, Australian numbers have been declining since 2000 so perhaps I am more focused on the future rate of decline accelerating at a greater pace .

t-diddy's picture
t-diddy's picture
t-diddy commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 1:14pm

I would speculate the reduction in numbers on the QS/CT would correlate with a reduction in recreational surfers as well....happy days!! Could this be the realisation of my dream of having surfing become uncool like roller blading?!!? Empty sessions for eternity?! best news in a while I reckon. The notion of surfing as sport has always confused me anyway

deep's picture
deep's picture
deep commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 2:18pm

Don't worry t-diddy they are all buying SUPs and taking over a surf break near you!

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 2:23pm

nothing to do with outside forces outside of Australia , its the career path from the Boardriders clubs to the Surfing Australia model , too many coaches, too much regimenting of repertoires, a system that is producing less than nothing ..

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 2:46pm

Weet-Bix Surf Groms™, Surf For Life Project, Woolworths Surfer Groms, Rip Curl Gromsearch, Hurley HPC, meanwhile 'surf coaches' fill the first five pages of a Google search, surf coaches are at every suburban beach, surf coaching as holiday babysitting, surf tours running up and down every inch of coastline.

And on and on and on...

Last week my eldest came home from school and told me about some BMX tracks that were supposedly up in the bush behind our suburb. I took him up there to check them out and was astonished by what I found, there must've been 30-40 well made gap jumps, berms, downhill tracks and assorted dirt enginnering. All of it was made by kids. The level of industry they'd shown was admirable, and none of it was done in view of adults. No sanctioned programs, official T-shirts, or divisive talent scouts. No parental monitoring. Just kids and their own ideas.

My kid thought he was in heaven. I knew I was intruding.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 3:27pm

Ain't nothing wrong with a good ol BMX track.....sounds like they made a pk ripper of it !
Nothing wrong with the ocean either, sometimes it's the people that spoil it !

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 4:40pm

"surf tours running up and down every inch of coastline"

VJ's Deathwish Nature surf tour of the Bight(TM). All the surf and nature you could wish for. Hours in the water in places people don't surf - so no crowds. Professional guides who will bravely stay on the beach and film you.

Great description of the BMX tracks :)

Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 8:43pm

let me guess.. in beacon hill?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 8:47pm

The BMX tracks?

Nup, Thirroul.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 3:04pm

Some many factors I believe.
What about population? Brazil and the states have way bigger numbers than us? Plus junior sport diversity is huge in Australia. Winter you have 4 codes competing for numbers, summer there is cricket, slsc, baseball etc So many options....
Board craft has changed over the years as well. if there was a twin fin or single division at the wsl nobody would beat us

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 3:33pm

Just did a quick head count on the women's qs 32 Australian ladies in the top 100. Go getters !

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 4:16pm

So if Surfing Australia doesn't operate as any benefit to competitive surfing and it doesn't operate to benefit recreational surfing, then who does it's existence benefit ?

I may as well ask who the 2 new stadiums in Sydney are benefiting as the answer is the same : Sporting business and sporting bureaucracy, of course !

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 5:51pm

@Blowin. BINGO!'

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 6:42pm

It's more accurate and less generous to their attempts at obfuscation when you just label it business and bureaucracy.

4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 7:12pm

I don't really see the big deal here... If we wanted to see a full Australian field, we can go to a beach and watch a free surf at snapper.... I welcome the international competition as it will mean that a) viewership goes up b) wsl is strengthened and becomes more marketable c) the world tour stays around for longer... its in bad shape, lets welcome the Brazillian and US markets and the money and sponsorship that comes with it..

And lets face it, how good is the competition and surfing level now? There is a whole generation of rippers coming out of Australia and in particular, Cronulla.. How do we get more kids like Eli Hanneman though? Bring surfing back as a cult "roots" culture and get these kids pumped to rip the shit out of waves all day, every day.. Life situation plays a huge part in all of this... Anyone follow Axel Irons (Lyndie Irons) account? How about Jackson Dorian (Shane Dorian) and look at the history and life of JJF and the whole Hawaii crew (Asing, Lau and the younger ones)... these kids live and breath surfing, that's all they do, that's all they know.. There life is a surf trip and all of their lives are consumed by stoke...

Then look at Sydney (for example) - Australia is a land now of mortgages and stress, a generation of kids who are given everything and aspire to nothing in particular.. Family life is at an all time low in most cases where mum and dad works to pay for the 2 BMW X6's in the front drive and a huge fucking house... They don't hang down the beach, they don't play in the park and skate with their family and friends anymore.. They don't go on train trips down the coast or camp to search for waves...

They get mum and dad to pay for a coach and when they get bored, they give it up and just cruise: why should they bother right? When they don't need to. Kids in Australia in general don't give a shit cause its too hard....

The Hawaiians and South Americans, for them, it is a way out of poverty, it is a goal driven by hardship, driven by sheer will to be respected and provide.. The Dorians aren't exactly short of a crust BUT they have it in them, they want to be the best, their life is surfing and being in that culture can only produce quality surfers.. The Hawaiian grommet base is insane now..

4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 7:17pm

ps. You cant blame Surfing Australia for it..... its an absolute shift in mindset, economy and culture from the old glory days of 80's-90's Australian Surfing...

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 7:29pm

Once professional surfing became accessible only to the highly trained from 5 years old, Australia was always going to fade away as a force. We cannot compete on population or funding so even with the best possible talent spotting, we will struggle. Next step is for the sports scientists to identify the exact physical qualities necessary for pro surfing and start testing non-surfing areas for potential talent. This already happens in a lot of sports. The kid doesn't need to have any previous experience, just the right build, muscle composition, speed of movement etc. I find it all a bit sad. There were a few hyper-competitive sporty types in the70s but the most interesting ones, Nat, MP, Wayne Lynch, Rabbit etc were basically feral non-conformist groms who grabbed an opportunity. These days conformity is the way to go. Listen to your coach, do the training, plan the manoeuvre sequence. A few real talents slip through, but the average WSL surfer, in contests at least, comes off as a clone.

4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail's picture
4kinkrail commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 10:09pm

but that again puts it squarely at the feet of Surfing Australia.

Its a culture change, its got nothing to do with finding the next big thing... Its all to do with the changing culture. Its the same reason why kids now feel so entitled.. they don't have to work for anything because Australian society tells them they don't.. directly or indirectly, that's the way it is.. The cultures that are dominating are ones where there is a sincere drive... The mainland US is a bit of a falsehood, but more often than not, the Hawaiians are basically the US team.. (And more often than not, mainland US surfers spend most of their time in Hawaii anyway)..
Australia is the most wave rich continent in the world, we produce the worlds best surfers due to conditions, but they are less and less due to cultural changes.. I cannot for one second, believe this coaching/training/planning thing.. You cant get blood from a stone. If kids don't want to, they never will no matter how they are coached..

We can also say, the glamour of competitive surfing is gone.. Why spend years grinding away training when you can live like Creed McTaggart and the rest of the crew that parties/drinks/and lives the dream, yet still makes money... Kids see the whole Kai Neville/Dion Agius movement and switch off to being judged... If a kid could pick column a) being a freesurfing, groupy loving wino earning serious coin, to column b) an over criticized, over judged comp machine that eats kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner so he can travel all over the world getting yelled at by coaches and parents, to ultimately fail (if you consider percentages of who actually makes it to Dream Tour and stays for years and has competitive longevity.. Its very, very few..

Id be standing on my head, on my third beer bong with a groupy sucking my choad all day long, living the dream and earning major money from sponsors for doing this, rather than the WQS/Dream Tour route...

:)

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 9:07pm

It’s a bit doom and gloom, I think we’ll be right, probably not the same numbers as 15 yrs ago but there’s always a resurrection in Aussie surfing

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 9:58pm

Yeah once the parents started to live their lives through their children it went down the toilet. A family down here have a good young surfer and decided to sacrifice the entire family for his career as a pro surfer. They moved the entire family to Sufers philistine, so the kid would improve. No pressure and you wonder what happens if he is a dud competition wise. Also seems tough on the other kids. I was brought up to believe everyone was equal and you made the best of what you had. This bullshit era of doing everything for the kids sport is nuts. Let em battle it out and if they display the killer instinct mixed with talent, all good. If they don’t , all good as well. Let’s face it, there are a lot more important things in life than surfing. Stu, your story of the BMx track is what being a kid is all about: Creating your own fun and dreams, and not getting driven around to a million sporting events, in the hope that you will keep out of trouble. I think most of us here can own up to getting in the back of a divvy van when we were young. Need to get into a bit of trouble to grow up. Old mans rant for the day.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 12:26pm

Yep got bounced & bundled in the pannelly one night. All I wanted was one of those roadworks flashing lights

maxe's picture
maxe's picture
maxe commented Monday, 4 Dec 2017 at 10:04pm

If you grow up at Manly or Bondi today you probably have near 0% chance of becoming a tour surfer as the breaks are so crowded you are barely catching enough waves to better yourself surely. You need to live out of the major cities IMHO to have a crack these days, also a basic electrician or plumber probably earns as much over there career as a tour surfer without the competitive stress, obviously not quite as fun though but certainly more secure and they can still surf whenever they like many days, meanwhile in Brazil if you make the tour your entire family is set for life, the motivation to succeed is on another level to here.

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 8:54am

The whole idea of having a system to produce World Champion surfers as their goal falls over, when you start seeing no discernible results and there is a major component missing in their training/systems ?
how from a young age do you harness and maintain the passion that is needed to become the worlds best surfer?
The Aust System currently does not allow for any potential surf prodigy's and has become a business first and foremost for the people working as coaches , etc , mediocrity breeds mediocrity , and that's what we have !

johnson's picture
johnson's picture
johnson commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 1:00pm

I wonder if it can be attributed to one very specific change: The reduction of the Pro Junior age limit from 21 to to 18.

In previous years Australians were a dominant force in World Junior Surfing, and by the time a surfer seriously made a qualification attempt he was competitively honed, and a mature surfer. He was also likely coming onto the WQS with a renewed contract following a successful Junior career, meaning he had a good three-to-five years of trying to make the big leagues. Guys like Mick, Joel, Owen, Julian, Stu Kennedy, Wilko, Jack Freestone, etc are all beneficiaries of this strong Junior heritage - and interestingly, many of them didn't qualify until their early-mid 20's - a stark contast to the Brazilians who often qualify as teen supergroms.

Looking at todays situation, a WCT hopeful graduates to the WQS when they are basically still a child. The junior series is basically irrelevant, and they've not yet had a chance to really make a competitive impression (thus reducing sponsorships & job security), so if they don't make it in their first year or two, they may very well find themselves sponsor-less and giving up by 20/21. Of course other countries are dealing with the same age changes, but this higher turnover favours countries with more numbers who have a larger pool of new supergroms to throw at the WQS each year.

It probably doens't help that the only two Aussie QS events that matter in a qualification campaign - Manly & Newcastle - favour Brazilians rather than locals. When Margaret River and Burleigh were on the calendar an Aussie could have two good results on the board without even getting their passports stamped, and at locations where they had a local knowledge/conditions advantage.

Six board quiver's picture
Six board quiver's picture
Six board quiver commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 9:20am

It all comes down to the desire for success and the Brazilian kids have it in spades.

Prime example: 2 foot slop, euro leg, close round 1 heat, last 30 seconds. A Brazilian kid will hit the lip in complete desperation (sacrificing style) as many times as thought possible but yet the ozzy kid will kick out in disinterest before the closeout unprepared to scrap.

The ozzy kids, much like the Americans have the talent but lack the tooth and nail approach when things get grindy. The majority look to have taken the social media, surf trip, video part or trendy free surfer approach over QS warrior . I actually don't blame them, hell of a lifestyle travelling with a bunch of mates drinking beers and getting tubed. At least while it lasts, then it's too late to go back cause a new 16 year brazzo prodigy is doing 1080's at the US open.

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 9:51am

Jack Freestone is a classic example , of winning world juniors x 2 , finally 3-4 years later he qualifies , can't get out of a heat , came through the Australian system and now ......his career is just about over , as he makes a lot of $''s from sponsorship , but didn't requalify , didn't worry about the QS , looks like he has incredible talent , but too much too young , or do we blame Alana?