Where are all the Aussies?

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

At the recent Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa there was a noticeable absence in the winner's circle. The missing surfer wasn't there in the final, nor the semi finals, and they barely showed up in the quarters either.

However, it wasn't one individual that had gone AWOL but a whole nation - the Australians.

Just one Australian, Connor O'Leary, made it to the quarters of one of the most important qualifying events of the year. 1 surfer out of 8.

The round earlier, Round 4, the count was 5 Australians, and 3 of those were CT surfers, meaning there were just 2 legit QS Aussie warriors among 32 surfers.

Perhaps you, like me, are wondering where all the Australians have gone?

It's a complex question, involving demographics, cultural change, plus missteps by Surfing Australia, and Swellnet will endeavour to answer them over coming weeks but for now we'll lay out some bare data that shows our declining competitive attendance.

For this we've counted the number of surfers from each country in the QS top 100 since the tour split in 1992. We chose the QS as we're not trying to measure competitive success as per world titles - the US would take that anyway - but an overall count of pro surfers who comprise the upper ranks.

If there were to be no change in the top 100 after the upcoming World Cup at Sunset, Australia would count just 19 surfers in the top 100 - equal to its lowest showing, which was in 1994. However, the 1994 count comes with a caveat of sorts.

When the tour split into the WCT and QS it wasn't wholly welcomed by pro surfers, especially back markers and 'lifestyle' pros relegated to the QS. No longer were they following the festival circuit where contests coincided with the biggest parties of the year, but they had to grind it out on a less prestiguous tour that travelled to less exotic locales. Accordingly a generation of Aussie pros packed it in.

At the same time a bunch of American surfers were on the ascendancy. The surfers who came to be known as the 'Momentum generation' swelled the ranks, even if only for a short time.

In 1995 Paul Sargeant had his first LMB meeting to rally young Aussie surfers and counter the Americans. The acronym was highly dubious (Lick My Balls), subsequent behaviour from Sargeant even more so, but whether it was due to LMB or some other reason, Aussie participation on the QS rose immediately. In 1995 there were 30 surfers in the top 100, which is just off the long term average of 29.76.

Here's the nationalities of the QS top 100 for the last 25 years:

And here's the same info in black and white (right click and open in a new tab for bigger image):

The most immediate trend is that Australia (blue) peaked just after the turn of the century and has been on a steady decline since. The US (yellow) is in a very similar situation, which is no great surprise as we have similar surfing cultures.

Also, the supposed 'Brazilian Storm' has been simmering all along; they're likely to register their highest number this year - 31 surfers in the top 100 - yet they've been coasting in the mid-20s for many years. Brazil's long term average is 23.50 surfers in the top 100.

The biggest movers are the others. Where once there'd be the odd South African, Brit, or Tahitian, they now collectively rival the other three powerhouses. The 2017 top 100 includes surfers from South Africa, Portugal, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Morocco, Uruguay, Basque Country, Spain, Tahit, Indonesia, and Peru.

Apologies to the nations that fall under the 'other' umbrella for lumping you all together. If I cop enough grief I'll go back and count each one.

Stay tuned for more info...

Comments

crg's picture
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crg commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 1:26pm

Be interested to see the "more info"...

I'd think any multinational sport would have natural peaks and lows for each region.
The last few years of the 'QS have had particularly bad waves so you would imagine those who grow up surfing particularly bad waves would have an advantage.
Other nations improvement would surely be related to increases in surfing numbers and to a small extent ancestry eg. Glenn Hall - Ireland, Leo - Italy but growing up in France etc.
Could you designate this group into Europe and then Others for a less skewed outcome?
Hunger would be a primary differential I'd imagine - ADS getting out of the favela as opposed to Indo's who are happy to stay home.

Stay tuned...

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 2:25pm

Australian surfing was always going to trail the trajectory of Australian tennis by a couple of decades. Believe me, worse is yet to come!

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 2:27pm

What, hordes of Eastern European surfers?

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 3:35pm

Wherever they build the wave pools Stu. Set up a couple of them, run some talent spotting for 5 year olds with high natural athletic ability and off you go. The sequence though is from those, at the start, who are driven by love of what they do and opportunity writ large, to those produced by a highly organised training system, which is where surfing is very rapidly headed. Once that happens it is all about government funding and effective talent identification programs. In those circumstances Australia's natural advantages will disappear just as rapidly in surfing as they did in tennis.

Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:06pm

BB.... yeah naaahhhhhhh...... Becoming a "talented wave pool surfer" in Croatia is a lifetime away from pulling in at The Box ffs lol

Sheepdog

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:32pm

A few months a year in real waves in Indo or wherever will be enough when half the tour, the Olympics and a heap of amateur events are in pools.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:47pm

Bit of a sad and depressing state of affairs really

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:35pm

Ya trippin, BB.... Duck diving big Bells, paddling at J bay, rips....
And your business model doesn't ad up... It aint tennis... It never will be tennis. How much will it cost to build one wave pool in eg croatia, as compared to 1000 cement tennis courts that do not need power, supervision etc etc etc ... the cost of the talent search..... Then how often does this "potential talented croat' get to practice surfing at the pool, as compared to a talented croat at tennis? And what sort of sponsor is going to invest in that pool, invest in that young croat, house him in Indo for 1/2 a year, to MAYBE get a spot on the lesser circuit, where he MAY win a few grand....
That sponsor would wanna sell a heap of Boardies in Zagreb, I tells ya.

Sheepdog

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:37pm

Probably not Croatia but some kid in western qld whose never seen a beach

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 10:29pm

Mere details Sheepy, hold your breath and wait to see. Lots of places, lots of money, I stand by my prediction. Put $100.00 in an interest bearing account and pass it over to my estate in 30 years!

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 3:04pm

Great article Stunet,
Another jem !

dewhurst's picture
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dewhurst commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 3:06pm

Older guys say that there's no young guys surfing but where I'm from there's a heap, and they're competing too, and it's not like the surf is getting any less crowded over the years. More people must be starting surfing.

Couldn't it just be that there are more countries involved which reduces the Aussie quota?

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 3:15pm

You can basically thank John Howard for the decline in Australian surfing.

As you can see, from the early 2000s, shelter (housing) was deliberately turned into bargaining chips for the baby boomer owners, to help fund their upcoming retirements.

This led to ridiculous rents and house prices close to the beach. Australian surfing used to be a "working class sport". You often start off with a "hand me down board". There were no participation fees, no getting the parents to take you to "away games".. You'd just surf your brains out at your local. And being poor made you hungry.. You couldnt impress with the super expensive bmx, or the flash shoes, or the "in clothes".... But A smile and a nod from an elder for making that heavy takeoff or pulling in meant more than any fuckn push bike. You'd all be yapping about it at school.... "Hey did you see Sam's reo?!!?? Fuck yeah!!"

Well, that's sort of gone.... The working class families have been pushed inland. Those that remain are flat out surviving. Only the uber wealthy have THE TIME to put in to get good, real good, world class good.. But these rich kids are also gonna be "pop stars", and instagram celebs, and go to the snow in winter. They are a totally different creature to the shit hot working class surfer of the 1970s/80s/ early 90s, that ONLY had surfing in their minds.
So the talent pool has not only shrunk. It has demographically altered.
The new hot working class kids are taking over, from regions where you can live on the beach cheap, and surf surf surf. Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Portugal, Costa Rica.

Sheepdog

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:40pm

Disagree with some of the info sheep dog . Housing price spike because of population growth from the late sixties to mid seventies . AKA baby boomers kids(generation X ) . I should know I was born in the tail end of 78 and watched housing prices in 2000 ( as a twenty one year old)double within a year from the boomers kids buying first homes .....watched housing prices double within a year.....just again so you understand that .

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:01pm

Look at the graph, Lanky... I was born in 66. Saw it all..
Look at the graph..... Coincides perfectly with Howards first home owners grant (July 2000), "just again so you understand that". ;)

and ps, a year earlier, Howard HALVED the rate of capital gains tax.

Sheepdog

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:10pm

You were my problem lol!

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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:27pm

Re read the comment sheepy
Population growth vs Undersupply of housing will increase cost of housing. Lots of interested buyers in 2000 that were Generation X (66 to 76) . that is around your demographic right. Its also when Auctions really started firing off.(lets put all the buyers together and feed off their emotions. Lets lend them more money than they can afford, Lets let overseas investors buy in. Lets have the Olympics to create awareness. ) The internet was really kicking in , the Olympics happened Awareness Exposure.....how about lets not talk about it on a surfing thread. Except , well is it related?

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 1:28am

@ Sheepy,
I will state that it's a fuct situation that has been created in property markets in Australia. Those BB will also have a hardtime trying to claim a pension if they own more than one house. Locking a generation out of the housing market was very short sighted also.

Willliam's picture
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Willliam commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:25pm

I feel this example could be used in many international sports across Australia.
Rugby / Cricket – not sure if the up and coming superstars have the drive nor need to go above and beyond what is required to be the best. They will earn a fortune through advertising / Instagram etc anyways.

I also think that being able to earn a good income straight out of school has deterred a few people. Making the choice between over $100k in the mines vs I might be a pro surfer one day. And the whole if you are not in the academy at 15 you will never make it attitude.

Kids may prefer to chase fame than trophies.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:15pm

nailed it SD.

SA Wetdog's picture
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SA Wetdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:17pm

Very well sad SD. I think u are spot on and lanky dean I also have a chip on my shoulder regarding the early 2000 house price increase. I was 18 when it all happened, I watched my mum buy a house for $124k in the southern suburbs of Adelaide then sell it for $340k five years later

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:53pm

Just so you know, I am actually not upset about the situation.

GuySmiley's picture
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GuySmiley commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:16pm

...... I hate posting links but here's one in support of SD's comment on housing

http://www.theage.com.au/business/the-economy/australia-faces-housing-ha...

Got some interesting stuff in there Lanky

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:27pm

It's simple mathematics, population growth creates demand. There was undersupply of housing in the late nineties . coupled with a lot of first home buyers on the market. Supply and Demand.

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:42pm

There was no under supply of housing in the late 90s. Where on earth are you spinning this bullshit from, mate? I was there. It's absolute crap. I'd suggest you read the links we have supplied to you, and stop parroting Coalition propaganda. :p

Sheepdog

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:50pm

No more tin foil hat theories from the past . It's 2017 , I want to talk about the current state of as SURFING..........get over it sheepy . Smiley face.

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Lanky Dean commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 4:36pm

There was an undersupply of Affordable housing near the beaches(around the spike 2000) . Sheepy that's where people wanted to live. You would be amazed at the amount of land you could have purchased in rural areas in the late nineties and the lack of price . One hour from the coast (in rural areas and the price drops dramatically). # theories.

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 7:03pm

Supply a link to this "under supply" of houses near the beach in 2000, dude... You can't coz it's bullshit. I was happily surfing my ring off in Coolum at the time. There was HEAPS of houses.

Sheepdog

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Sheepdog commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:03pm
GuySmiley's picture
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GuySmiley commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 8:04pm

Yep good ole Howard, history will judge him very poorly. Could add how he allowed SMSF to borrow to invest (speculative property investment that is). Got a feeling (correct me if Im wrong) he enabled banks to start interest only loans on residential property also.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 8:32pm

Just so you are aware. The paper you are reading is owned by a Hungarian born property developer who is based in Melbourne.
It's also targeting your Demographic . Pays to do research.

Cacadajy's picture
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Cacadajy commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:22pm

Absolutely agree Stu. The hungry, skillful kids are now living 20k's from the coast.
Mid to late 80's and even into the early 90's there were heaps of beach-side suburbs full of poor families and kids that just wanted to surf. Rough places some of them but affordable.
E.g Maroubra, Cronulla, Newcastle, Redhead.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:00pm

"Rough places some of them"
Off hand I can count
Six world titles. Three bells trophies. Two teahupo'o trophies. Sounds like they are more Radical then rough..... Don't you think?

Cacadajy's picture
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Cacadajy commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:50pm

Rough in socio economic terms.
Those coastal suburbs were often full of housing commission units (Bra and Merewether as an e.g.) along with blue collar workers and their families. They weren't well to do places but they were populated by hardworking people, 20 year old pot heads on the dole nd a range of other characters.

Fact is those suburbs were accessible at that time. Now they are hideously expensive and full of cashed up retirees and the well off. The demographic of coastal suburbs has changed.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 4:55pm

Also, choice of board craft has given the hi performance ranks a bit of hit. Logs and every other weird and wonderful board are now popular. Nobodies just riding the stock standard 6'1 short board. If you're a young bloke and you live at crescent or Noosa are you going to surf a shortboard? probably not... but in the 80's 90's you probably would have cause Mal's and logs were considered for the oldies however they're now considered part of your quiver or your go to board

dastasha's picture
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dastasha commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 6:37pm

Same on the Cooly points breeding ground of champions apparently.
Too many on high volume paddlers, retros and hyptos catching the fat roll-ins to get on to the waves early.
People wonder why the pros just drop in and burn them.

Tarasdidyk's picture
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Tarasdidyk commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:39pm

@stu
Add to the demographic study.... the number of free surfers in Oz.
Guys who get paid a motza to just surf and not go in comps.
They may go in the occasional one that their sponsor runs, but no pressure to grovel the QS.
Noa Deane - prime example. No need for comps, 500k to travel and do vid parts.
Jay Davies - Actually kicked some ass when he did compete as a wildcard.
You get my point.

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:01pm

Yep, point taken and I agee. It's a hard one to quantify but I'll ask around.

Hope you've been well...

MP's picture
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MP commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 8:13am

With the decline in the surf industry there are not that many highly paid free surfers in Oz any more, in fact on average both the number of them and the amount they get paid has steadily dropped off over the past 10 years. Some have rich parents and live the lifestyle with some small amount of support from surf companies. A team manager pointed out to me that nowadays parents income is an important factor in sponsorship deals with rich lesser talented surfers given the nod over poor more talented surfers. The logic is that the rich kids will give them more exposure as the parents pick up the travel costs and the sponsor just offers incentives and free gear.

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 7:19pm

Same as it ever was.

PT73's picture
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PT73 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 5:52pm

I think Sheepdog is right on point here. I wouldn't get much change from a mil if I could even afford a house in the beachside neighbourhood I grew up in on the Cenny Coast. Cashed up Sydneysiders are moving in thick and fast, after selling up in the city, they buy a house a stones throw from the beach, have enough spare change to buy a flash new SUV for themselves, the missus and the kids and a SUP that sees more of the man cave wall than it ever sees the water at my local break.

Into the ocean I go, to lose my mind, but find my soul.

PT73's picture
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PT73 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:27pm

Lanky, I truly think Sheedog is onto something here. I'm 45 and surf nearly everyday with a couple of mates, also my vintage. We have so many surfs, yes, in often less than average conditions, and I find myself asking "where are all the groms?". In my grom days we surfed everything. The beach was our lives and it was where we hung out. The kids don't even "hang out" at my local anymore. What are they doing? Where have they gone? There has most definitely been a shift demographically and I believe Sheepy's comments are totally relevant. Whether you like it or not, politics reflects life and this shit has/is directly affecting me and obviously others.

Into the ocean I go, to lose my mind, but find my soul.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 6:40pm

You're not from umina? What happened to all the young groms down there? Used to be shitloads of good ones coming through... that's a classic for a demographic shift over the last 10 years

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:33pm

There's plenty of kids surfing, I guess they might take it less seriously ? Maybe they are more concerned with being 'lifestyle pro's' rather than WSL pro's?

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GuySmiley commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 8:10pm

Agree, very few groms these days, mostly tradies who seem to only work when absolutely forced to ...

Distracted's picture
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Distracted commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:03pm

Agree with the demographic change in the coastal suburbs but it is also a new generation of kids that get plenty of entertainment from phones etc and have no desire to get out and do much.

PT73's picture
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PT73 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:17pm

So, what your'e saying is they are "distracted"?....Can't argue with an expert's opinion.
;)

Into the ocean I go, to lose my mind, but find my soul.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:48pm

lol

PT73's picture
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PT73 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:25pm

@halfy Na mate North Shell area. However used to spend many school hols down Umina with a friend at their holiday shack. Been years since I surfed down that way. Macs is as close as I get these days.

Into the ocean I go, to lose my mind, but find my soul.

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tubeshooter commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 7:49pm

The QS is load of shit. It should have a national based qualifying system first, before moving to international events. They are being asked to compete on a world circuit in shit waves with little or no backing ,or prizemoney ,and the WSL expects the cream to rise to the top? You're average QS surfer from any nation trying to crack it will need either rich parents, a generous hopeful sponsor , or a fulltime gofundme page to even think about it .

GuySmiley's picture
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GuySmiley commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 8:13pm

Never taken the circus seriously to notice such things.

mikehunt207's picture
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mikehunt207 commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 11:00pm

Too busy eating smashed avocado in their skinny jeans with their head stuck in a phone is my guess

inzider's picture
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inzider commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 11:55am

Don't mock skinny jeans
They are the business if it's stretch denim

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Friday, 24 Nov 2017 at 11:44pm

Noticed about early 2000s in the midwest the local grom comps and surf development shut down and a generation was basically lost to dirt and quad bikes. Numbers increased at spots again when mining boom brought development to the area. No idea what it's like now. That lost generation is now having kids and buying little dirt bikes for them.

Around 2000 when Sheepy's chart shows the house price going vertical, it wasn't Gen X buying the houses, or at least no one I knew. They were struggling to develop any sort of career after the 90's recession, or leaving for overseas - and manic work and opportunity wouldn't come until after 2002; I had qualified geologists ringing up begging for jobs. Graduates labelling samples and packing eskies and they were the lucky ones. Again this was the West, maybe Sydney was different. Nope, it was all BB buying, especially beachside.

Housing market was not undersupplied, in fact, it was not far off seeing every second house for sale on some regional streets and prices falling fast. Apparently that has once again come to some WA regional areas now.

I *just* saw the tail end of that working class surfing era - first board was for free, first mate with licence had HG pannelly, and we were off. Interesting theory Sheepy.

surfstarved's picture
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surfstarved commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 2:50am

Interesting that you've separated the Basque Country from Spain - is that your distinction or the WSL's Stu, and does it include the French portion? If it's the WSL's, it seems kinda similar to the way they've kept Hawaii separate from US in representative categories.

Ask most Basque people and they'll tell you they're a separate nation, sure, but 44 million Spaniards would beg to differ - actually, it's probably 38 million if you take away the population of Catalunya, but that's another story for another time.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

sharkman's picture
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sharkman commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 7:06am

Ok another slant , Surfing Australia has more money and resources than ever , but no results so to speak of.
Australia's Amateur teams get smoked on a Global level , there are no young Australian prodigys coming thru the system , where are the KPI's for S A , and have we developed bureacratical Surfing system that only produces mediocrity?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 8:20am

Meanwhile they take credit for champs who were nurtured by private development programs - Mick and Rip Curl being the most obvious.

Surfing Australia uses the collective size of Australia's surfing population: part timers, recreational, or competitive - more than three million of us apparently - to justify its funding. Yet less than 20,000 surfers surf competitively.

Think about that: the money meant for every surfer in Austalia gets funnelled to just 19,000!

It wouldn't be so bad if SA upheld their constitution, in particular those clauses pertinent to receational surfers:

  • actively support the preservation and conservation of the environment, and join with or affiliate with bodies or organisations concerned with the conservation and preservation of the environment;
  • recognise surfing values and the implications on surfing in recreational and natural resource planning and management;
  • represent the interests of its Members and of surfriding generally in any appropriate forum in Australia and internationally;

Except SA are absent and silent on everything that concerns recreational surfers, such as sharks, dredging, artificial reefs, overcrowding, new board tech, marinas etc etc.

But that's another story...

sharkman's picture
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sharkman commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:25am

maybe the story should be put to SA and get their slant , and ask what KPI's they are working with to justify the mediocrity of the results they have achieved ?
The whole idea of spending tax payer $'s to support an Organization that is delivering a lot less than no organization, must surely be looked at , as the surfing demographic has changed quite radically over the last 10 years , but we do have a very strong BIG surf Bureaucracy that is delivering Nada!

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 7:10am

Sure looks that way Sharkman.

dastasha's picture
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dastasha commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:04am

Exactly.

Mainstream media have a lot to answer for eg. Summer bay and all the seachangers...
Shark nets... yea we'll use our iPads to control drones and keep the beaches safe for the kids.
This is absolutely about our new coastal demographic.
I see it all the time... sit real deep (priority?haha)... call the wave... then faceplant...

How else are we gonna grow the market?

*edited to remove brand names and personal attacks

Distracted's picture
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Distracted commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:18am

@pt73 , when it comes to distractions, yeah, I’m not the best role model!
I went to school near you at the entrance and if I compare the number of kids that were surfing then to the number surfing or even going to the beach from my kids school now it is just a fraction.

PT73's picture
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PT73 commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:30pm

the good ol' Enny eh... I'm an ex Entrance High inmate!

Into the ocean I go, to lose my mind, but find my soul.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:28am

Yet another interesting Swellnet topic. Quite a bit to think about here. The whole house price thing is an interesting theory. We had the same thing happen where I live here in NZ around 2000. I was fortunate enough to have brought my section in 99 just before it all went nuts. I went halves with my brother and we both built houses. I think my half was only 40k for the land and my house cost me another 150k to build. My dad re-mortgaged his house to help us out, so we were very fortunate there. House prices nearly quadrupled on our street in the following ten years! You can't get anything up here for under 700k now. Auckland's gone even more nuts with house prices doubling up there in the last four years. Bottom line is I feel a lot of sympathy for anyone wanting to buy their first house these days.

Anyway, as it happens There are virtually no groms at the beach these days. It's mostly 20 something uni students learning to surf and middle aged kooks on sups and fun boards. They don't seem to take it that seriously. When I learned to surf there was a rabid pack of groms competing for every scrap of a wave like their lives depended on it. That's completely changed. There are some fairly heavy waves round here and they're all empty now, apart from a handful of us who in our 40s and 50s who still surf them. Bottom line is that it's a lot less crowded compared to 20 or 30 years ago. On the other hand the beginner friendly waves are packed! I'm not complain about the lack of crowds but I can see a future with no-one to surf a lot of the spots round here. Kinda sad really.

In regards to pro-surfing, for some reason NZ has never been able to produce many decent pro-surfers. Ricardo Christie was the only one over the last decade or so, and he's toughing it out on the QS as we speak. My theory is that NZ lacks the consistent, hollow and crowded warm water beach breaks that Australia has. Also I think that on the whole we're not a particularly competitive bunch due to the relatively uncrowded nature of our waves.

We certainly produce plenty of decent athletes here as our Rugby, Sailing and rowing teams show.
Not much of a loss for us though, other than the pride of having a guy doing well on the world tour pro surfing doesn't really affect you're average recreational surfer. That's why it's a bit of a joke that the comp heads get all the funding, although I guess you gotta hand it to them for being organised enough to get the government to cough up!

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 12:22pm

NZ has produced a heap of talent over the years but a lot of it came from poor families who couldn't afford to send their kids anywhere.
The local NZ surf industry supported Fuck all as it was largely at the mercy of the OZ controllers who would hardly want to back young kiwis over their own OZ kids. trans Tasman rivalry and all that.
As for the youth well go to your local skate park and count how many are on scooters.
A lot of young people want instant gratification and surfing takes resilience(something lacking in the cotton wool helicopter kids) and years to get good at. So they think Fuck that I'm going to upload a scooter clip of my triple tailwhip.

Snuffy Smith's picture
Snuffy Smith's picture
Snuffy Smith commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 10:29am

Spot on Sheepdog the Eastern seaboard elite have a talentless no desire pool to go the extra mile.Even Hurley's high performance center's performing chimp's won't be able to save them.

Balls of fire

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 11:59am

In the time I have been surfing the average age in the water locally has gone from south of 20 to north of 40. One of the reasons we were so passionate about surfing was that we owned it. There were no adults involved at all unless you were entering events at district level and even then they were pretty thin on the ground. I often think that if I was a kid growing up here now, I might surf a bit, but it really wouldn't hold the attraction it had then. There has been a huge change in opportunity also, if you were competitive on the northern beaches in the 70s, you were close to world class and the same could be said about quite a few other regions. These days? Well, it's a long way to the shop!

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 12:52pm

Not that I disagree with a lot of it but could these charts also demonstrate the international growth of surfing with more than just the US, Oz and Brazil competing. And by comparison Australia does have a pretty small population. 1 thing that has definitely changed is you can’t make the tour by just being a good surfer. 19 in 20 Of the 95 tour wouldnt be in the top 100 today.
Also property prices near the beach are more expensive in every country especially Brazil.

mikehunt207's picture
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mikehunt207 commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 1:08pm

Could be the "soccer mom" mentality driving kids away from surfing , I see the competitive parents pushing the fuck out of little jonny or mary ,the grommet comps where everyone gets a prize, lots of fun I,m sure but kills the hunger / drive a bit.In the long run parent interest and support/push will drive many groms away from any sport. As mentioned above when we were younger surfing was largely something we did away and out of sight of adult intervention ,even in the board riders club set the "adults "were more likely late teen early 20,s rather than someones mum or dad. The peer group was super competitive not to mention all the other sub groups from the other end of the beach or the beach around the corner. If someone got a good tube or did a hell reo it was news, today its back to the house to go over the session recorded by dad for analysis, pointers and tips about how you should have done one more pump or another turn.
Somewhat on the same topic I had the misfortune to surf with a travelling thru family of surfers from qld at the point the other day, dad barking instructions "get deeper over there, you could have done a reo etc etc ,mum on her hytpo crypto getting in the way, yelling stuff out and 2 groms maybe 15 yr old son and the androgens 12 yr old maybe a boy with long hair or maybe a girl matching wetties and boards, both snaking and paddling in front of people ,dropping in a lot,pretty much being encouraged to be cunts, horrible fuckers the lots of them, cmon dad better to teach your kids to show some etiquette and manners in a new spot rather than do some manoeuvre that their talent level is miles away from it will take them a lot further in surfing than just how to be a cunt in the lineup will.
Nothing above about Jack Robinson ,best young surfer i,ve seen since i surfed with a 12yr old Bruce Irons at Gland, loaded with talent, gets invites to comps at Pipeline, earning top coin by the sounds of it without even being on the tour (and why would he at that rate?).

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Saturday, 25 Nov 2017 at 9:09pm

There is a hundred plus guys surfing everyday in every nation that could smoke anyone of the top QS guys. The format and structure isn't for everyone, and the prize money and incentives just don't cover the costs of competing on the lower end of the QS table, and theres many potential world class guys out there choosing a more a stable work related platform, especially those guys starting families.

Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 3:55am

I think there are more kids frothing over Futsal and soccer nowdays. Their dads are on the receiving end of dumb home shows. Possible solutions could be to have beach futsal comps, combined with grom surf lessons. Our kids and their friends might just get hooked on mother nature again.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 10:59am

What's futsal?
Ok, I stated something recently in another thread -
Moved to Vic in late 2001 , surfed quite regularly at the surfcoast, Mornington, PI , the almost coast.

Started noticing that I was the youngest surfer in the line up most sessions, started to wonder why there wasn't any younger surfers. Started to think about it.
# theories
1 most waves I surfed on the surfcoast you needed a vehicle.
2 most breaks on the surf coast were reefs.
3 most breaks on Mornington were heavy , tide dependent. Some were really sketchy to access. Some needed boat or ski .
4 Phillip island , fickle ,sharky, tide dependent, remote, vehicle necessity.
5 Almost, remote, fickle, sharky, almost .....
Was a great place to surf as a young adult with a 4x4 vehicle, plenty of free time, stable employment.
Two of the big four were started and still run here. Yet in forty years Victoria has produced two ct surfers (fulltime).
As kid ..... I am guessing it would be pretty tough place to grow up surfing ?Cold water ,fickle waves, sharky, limited time schedule?
Any Vic surfers care to comment? They should have a world champ by now ...........

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 11:20am

Kids starting too late to learn the required skills to be elite world champion surfers. In qld kids are starting at 5 yrs old but down here it’s too cold for kids to want to play in the water.
Up north you just want to be in the water because it’s hot. Down here kids aren’t just going for a swim after school to cool down. They only go in the water if it’s for a surf, which means putting on a wetty and booties etc. (in winter anyway)
It’s so much easier up north

Of course over summer kids love the water but realistically that’s only for a few months each year

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 11:45am

From what I see the local groms rip, there's a strong family backing behind the surfing too and the clubs are healthy. This is Gen Z, not so much 2001, but I noticed that generation get siphoned into dirt bikes in the West, like mentioned above. There's definitely a career path for young rippers but it seems to be within the companies based here themselves, design or other areas and this can be a stable and ongoing career path, recent events nothwithstanding. There's surf industry work too, from a young age catering to many traveling through the area for its attractions. There's an athlete performance centre being mooted for the area now, wonder if we could include a heated wave pool?

In our fam the cold is enjoyed, the solitude is enjoyed, the Nature was the attraction point, the 5yo stage was walking rockpools fun & games and developing a knowledge of the inner reef which paid off later. The focus is being out there experiencing it, not so much the perfection of moves, so it's more about the Nature and that doesn't really lend to world championship points. Snow is a great side pursuit in winter and is within a typical WA drive distance, which is easy.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 11:14am

“Somewhat on the same topic I had the misfortune to surf with a travelling thru family of surfers from qld at the point the other day, dad barking instructions "get deeper over there, you could have done a reo etc etc ,mum on her hytpo crypto getting in the way, yelling stuff out and 2 groms maybe 15 yr old son and the androgens 12 yr old maybe a boy with long hair or maybe a girl matching wetties and boards, both snaking and paddling in front of people ,dropping in a lot,pretty much being encouraged to be cunts, horrible fuckers the lots of them, cmon“ - quote from mikehunt..

That’s disgusting

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 1:38pm

Some shifts going on. Fewer groms due to more distractions and I bet the shark factor is playing on mum and dad's minds. The house price scenario for close to beach locations is definitely a factor. Surfing ain't as cool anymore. Body boarding died.

Personally it is great . The surf is on average less crowded. What seems to happen though is that the prime spots on well forecast swells and conditions can get totally overloaded as everyone from grom to old fart targets their favourite spot and makes an effort to "not miss out".

The pool of competent to sort of competent surfers today is huge compared to say the 70s. So when they all dust off their boards to hit the prime swell it can get ridiculous at some spots. But day to day at an average beachy or when the forecast is a bit suss or the wind swings it can be quite light on for crowds.

To make a career out of surfing is now a much higher risk, low probability of success option. Without sponsors throwing cash at the up and comers like years ago even the option of a few years fun on the circuit at the surf brands expense is less likely.

National pride will take a hit but I forecast more waves for me!

Frogg

Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 6:59pm

Another factor is design. Australian shapers were always at the forefront, from the shortboard revolution, through to Mr's twinnies, through to the great man Sir Simon Anderson.
It has stagnated. Now it's all about sales.... You even see ads here for retro designs. And shapers now have "fancy names" for models you can order online.
The whole thing's turned to shit...

Sheepdog

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 7:26pm

I was going to mention design, but in another way. If you look at the boards pros were riding in the late 70's they weren't far removed from what the layman could ride. I look in my classic rack and would be quite happy at middle age paddling out on an early Energy thruster, or mid 70's HB - enough float to ride.

Early 90's it went radical on tiny volume and either the layman found it too hard, or went off for the more floaty older shapes as I did. Longboards came back in a big way, including comps, & championships. And thus the schism developed between what the laity were riding and what is de rigeur on the professional shortboard path. Combine with the gentrification and coastal Australia has gone into cruise mode.

It must contribute to the amount of crew who say they care little for the pro version of surfing.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 8:00pm

Californication?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 9:34pm

Yes, I think so. While I know some Brazilian surfers, I don't know much about Brazilian surfing - are they in "comp mode" as opposed to cruising?
& Californication to the extent that hi volume rails in board's like Lost's V3 rocket have headed back to 1970s volume and the Cali company is killing it here in Oz...

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 7:46pm

California's waves are in the summer, pretty soft. You would definitely need a board like that for most of the small wind swell & summer days. (East coast Australia also lends it self well to shapes like that.In the summer time. ) People just have diverse quivers now days.

tubeshooter's picture
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tubeshooter commented Sunday, 26 Nov 2017 at 8:42pm

The QS needs a full on shake up. It's the most mismanaged side of the WSL. Putting on new events at a last minute notice at venues that weren't officially on the programmed tour makes it hard to plan a schedule for these blokes. the CT guys don't have to deal with those fluctuations.

ant-shannon's picture
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ant-shannon commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 7:44am

We have a lot of great free surfers, but the QS is gruelling and expensive from down under.
And then for what? a chance at limited spots and prize money on the CT.
Imagine if Tennis limited their main events to 25 or so Pro's.

You just don't see many Frederico Morais's going straight in and holding their spots.
E.g. Ethan Ewing wins junior & QS titles and fails to requalify for CT

I'd like to see something like Snake P. as head of Aust Coaching and Barton as head of the Sport

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Monday, 27 Nov 2017 at 3:22pm

How about Luke Egan(as head coach ) . Big congratulations to him and Connor o'leary. Then again John John's world title wouldn't have happened without Bede. .....

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 8:37am

Brazilian surfers do the QS on the smaell of an oily rag , Australians usually have sponsors to help , its not about changing a few individuals the whole system is broken , and everytime we tip more money into HPSC 's/ Surfing Australia's, results get worse for our next generation of competitive surfers!

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 at 4:11pm

Totally understand you point sharkman.

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dastasha's picture
dastasha commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 6:31pm

Judges pay the flips and twirls and Brazzos are hungry

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 2:06pm

Wholly agree with the above sentiments...the 'QS needs a massive shake up. How many out of the hundreds on tour get the promotion up to 'CT each year? 6 or so...that's ridiculous for the cost and time of an whole year campaign.
If they're going to an Olympic Games model why not strengthen the domestic circuit in each country tipping money into more events with better and cheaper access and more comparative prize money. Better exposure for local sponsors and regional businesses. Each national tour winner gets automatic promotion to CT and next place getters go into international contest for remaining guaranteed positions.
Or something like that...just some random thoughts...

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 2:45pm

From the less intense waters of Victoria, ours is an interesting case study. Lorne produced some world-class surfers back the early 80's, with Warren Powell and Greg Brown (Mr Gash) and even on the Mornington Peninsula we had Garry who now lives up the snow. Over on PI they even had a QS rep who surfed in this years Bells (a 90's man). You cannot get near Lorne now for under a mil so the place is dead as a doornail in winter, whereas when I was young there were groms all over it. The whole west coast is now a holiday home. On the MP, prices have gone through the roof, the kids are smarter. Sure they enjoy surfing, however they can get $80k first year if they get drafted into the AFL, and they pay for everything. PI is still relatively low key, has affordable prices and seems to have the healthiest scene. Bells area has never produced anyone of note. The only surfer in recent history to do anything competition wise was Adam Robbo and he came from Portland. Sign O the times me thinks: More options, more money elsewhere, not a cool thing anymore, and the surf industry pissed away there ill gotten gains. I for one do not want my tax money pushed into supporting potential surf stars as I think of the waste of money which goes into Olympic swimming. Who really cares and there are far more important things than watching a bit of top level sport. I love it but when you see people living rough it is bullshit we put tax money into elite level sport. And fuck the olympics, can we possibly get any more shittier mainstream than that? It is a fucken embarrassment to surfing.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 5:14pm

Troy Brooks was from bells mem and he toweled up Andy Irons a few times

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 5:20pm

I thought he was from Angelsea?

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 6:43pm

Grew up within a k or 2 from Bells.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 at 4:07pm

Totally correct goofy . Make that three wct Surfers . thanks memlas and goofy for responding!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 3:12pm

Viewed through the prism of what surfing has represented to the vast majority of core surfers since its modern inception , the Olympic surfing event held in a privately owned pool will be the absolute bottoming out of the spirit of surfing.

Yet most will still tune in to watch it !

And it's not like democracy and the primacy of the commons is inherent in surfing's DNA .

The best waves were reserved for the Hawaiian royalty originally.

Full circle.

Fuck the Olympics/ Go Australia !