The ASP has been debuting its new product line at the Hurley Pro, and among the racy new features is 18-year-old John Florence of Hawaii.
Florence getting called up to the majors is a direct result of the first-ever mid-season reshuffle, which, for those of you not in the ASP complaint department, is one of the hottest of hot-button issues they’ve been dealing with in recent years.
The new operating procedure works like this: twice per year (mid-season and end) the world tour laggards are replaced with fresh legs in order to keep the product offering fresh.
Any world tour members not able to maintain their Top 32 world ranking (based on the previous 12-months of ASP results) are shown the door, and replaced by those in an upward trajectory.
Now, reserving the 32 elite slots for the best performers is a perfectly logical move. That said, even Vulcans like Kelly Slater somehow manage to cloud logic with emotion, and the rest of us humans are far worse. We all ache when a guy like CJ Hobgood gets sent to the bench. And whether you believe Bobby Martinez is idol or idiot, sending him to the showers hurts too.
But this pain will be temporary. And as cruel as it sounds, the healing process gets a little easier when a guy like John Florence starts playing an immediate role in the world title race, like he will on Tuesday when he meets Owen Wright in Round Three.
As Slater so aptly described it in New York, there’s nothing wrong with Wright’s surfing right now. He has very few if any weaknesses, and he seldom crumbles under pressure. Florence, meanwhile, is a rookie who needs no introduction. We’ve been charting his every move since the time he was 8 years old. So that his deep arsenal of moves will be playing a factor on the big stage at Trestles is a nice gift as far as this fan is concerned. Thank goodness we didn’t have to wait another year for it.
[UPDATE: In the most exciting heat of the morning, John Florence took Owen Wright the distance in their Round Three clash before falling in the waning moments. Wright needed a 9.1 in the closing moments. He ripped a wave on his backhand with two lethal inverted hacks. While there's little doubt it was his best score, there was plenty of debate on whether it was deserving of the 9.77 the judges gave him. Florence's total score of 17.13 would have won any other heat.]
Frankly, [especially given the show Florence put on today] I don’t need any more convincing that this new ASP system is working.
That many of the world surfers aren’t as convinced of this should surprise nobody. World tour surfers (of every generation) have fought hard for protection from new threats. Like each of us they want stability in their lives. But stability and job security have no place in sports. Just ask any player in the NFL, MLB or NBA, who, at the end of the day, must justify their spot in the starting lineup on a daily basis.
Surfing is a dynamic act that’s highly fluid. The sport should be too. Granted, a lot more tweaking needs to be done…but so far, I like this era.