The world surfing championships of South America

Phil Jarratt

Phil Jarratt is a man who wears many hats, he's an author, organiser, commentator, and embellisher. Fortunately for us the headwear is metaphorical because, above all, Phil Jarratt is the owner of a spectacular silver mane and no-one should be denied the sight of it.

Until recently Phil has been Swellnet's Noosa Heads reporter. However, he's decide to ditch the fiction and start opining on the surfing life. Yep, he's gonna blog for Swellnet; welcome to his first installment.

Quick question: does anyone know who the current world amateur surfing champions are? I’m guessing no, even though one of them is an Aussie. South Africa’s Shaun Joubert is the ISA men’s world champion and Sunny Coaster Dimity Stoyle is the women’s.

World amateur longboard champs? Nuh? France’s Antoine Delpero and Saffa Simone Robb. World ISA Junior champ? Josh Moniz of Hawaii. World Master’s? Sunny Garcia and Layne Beachley.

Why don’t we know or even care about any of these champions? Because for the past umpteen years virtually all of the International Surfing Association world title events have been held in South or Central America. In 2013 only the world kneeboard championships (held in Tahiti) and the Hainan International Surfing Festival (China) escaped the Latin net. There is a good reason for this, of course. Money. It seems that in his long march towards the Olympic Games, ISA president Fernando Aguerre has a limitless number of boardroom contacts in Latin America to ensure the financial wellbeing of the large number of “world championships”.

It also has to be said that in the technological age in which we live, it shouldn’t really matter where these events are held because the coverage will be immediate and global. But it does. While the pro tour has moved ahead in leaps and bounds in recent years in terms of webcast and broadcast reach, much of the appeal is that the event happens and the caravan moves on, from the Gold Coast to Bells, from the Pacific to Bali, from Trestles to Europe. We get the full flavour of a “global” tour, whereas ISA’s “world championships” beat a now familiar path from foggy Miraflores to onshore Rio, via various murky breaks in Panama, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not questioning the validity of the events nor the legitimacy of the international champions they have produced. Top Australian judges and administrators like Alan Atkins and Zippy Pearson are in the control room at many of them, and it seems fairly clear from a cursory glance over the winners in recent years that Latinos have no hometown advantage.

It’s just that it’s bloody boring! When are we going to see the green and gold team marching down the streets of Coolangatta in their silly hats, instead of along the cobblestones of some faraway village?

Fernando AguerreFernando Aguerre, co-founder of Reef and a man with deep pockets and a big heart, won the Waterman of the Year award at this year’s SIMA Waterman’s Ball, held in glittering style at the Ritz-Carlton near Dana Point, largely for his selfless dedication over the past 20 years to the Olympic crusade. Not only has Fernando virtually singlehandedly kept that dream alive by finding funding for world championships in all disciplines, he has clawed ever closer to amateur surfing’s goal of global participation.

This is the political imperative of the Olympic Movement, but to a surfer it might seem a little odd to find that at last count, the International Surfing Association had 77 governing body members from around the world, including such well known surfing capitals as Belgium (I’ve actually ridden a wave there at Tony and Bart’s Surfers Paradise beach club, but you wouldn’t want to surf a heat), Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Most of these countries have girls with gorgeous cheek bones but no coast, let alone surf.

Aguerre is a flamboyant, gregarious character who is impossible to dislike, but surely it’s time for him to at least let the ISA World Surfing Games (the old amateur world championships) take flight and become truly international again. Perhaps bringing them back to Australia where they began would be an appropriate way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world titles.

But who would pay? //PHIL JARRATT


helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose commented Monday, 4 Nov 2013 at 1:44pm

What chance a head shot of the famous hair?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 4 Nov 2013 at 2:10pm

At the risk of it overshadowing the content of the column - no.

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Monday, 4 Nov 2013 at 2:39pm

Is the ISA an amateur organisation? And on another topic, who the hell is an amateur these days anyway??

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 4 Nov 2013 at 3:46pm

"......a green and gold team marching down the streets of Coolongtta" I almost vomited! The only way surfing will get into the Olympics is in wave pools. It's a political/business bribefest that results in massive infra-structure distortion. Lots of freeways and stadiums instead of schools, hospitals and decent public transport. Surfing needs to play that game to be in the mix which is where the wave pool comes in. But with the clothing business sunk the parasitical class needs a new way to suck the blood out of surfing.

Laurie McGinness

timmeh's picture
timmeh's picture
timmeh commented Monday, 4 Nov 2013 at 10:19pm

Then I wouldn't be able to clock up frequent flyer miles and look at latin women during events!

trolleyboy's picture
trolleyboy's picture
trolleyboy commented Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 at 9:07am

But you could perv on those classy Barina-driving, tramp-stamped, gum-chewing chicks from Coolangatta.

many-rivers's picture
many-rivers's picture
many-rivers commented Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 at 8:36am

Surfing needs it's own Russell Brand.
This whole campaign is devoid of grassroots support - rich dude decides to glorify himself using $$$ and other people's sport/ recreation to get attention for himself.
Some legacy! The surfing Slovenians will no doubt be upset but I rather we all get together and burn all the Reef wear , old boardies of any brand and all expensive leather thongs /(flip flops for non aussies) that frauds are now wearing to the beach to indicate how connected they are to this sport.
Who wants more surfers? NOT SURFERS!
Wise up people , these corporate types may throw you the odd well chewed left over bone by way of some bogus crap fest at onshore 2 foot Coffs or Manly but
the imperative for them is more money and more surfers.
If surfing was to be a minority sport pursued by misanthropes and those seeking an alternative ( see I'm inclusive - hipsters are still welcome!) I'd be stoked.
This summer if you are going to buy apparel please buy non branded sensible clothing that a sustainable agricultural practice has contributed to.
Even a 100% cotton $10 T shirt from Bangladesh has less exploitation in it that any branded surfing product.And they will carry less antediluvian thinking and cultural baggage re the genders.
It never fails to worry me that these 'leaders" in surfing are usually people who have never been successful outside exploiting others enthusiasm for surfing.
To remedy this self perceived shortcoming they then spend a huge effort legitimising their presence by efforts like this - Olympic status for surfing.
The problem is the last place many want to see surfing is locked in the mainstream.
There is no democratic expression possible for these feelings and thoughts so direct action is needed- thus we need a Brand like figure to emerge and throw the first match or lump of concrete or banner or strange misshapen flag
misappropriated from another culture....

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 at 9:22am

Well said.

Laurie McGinness