"Gossip is just news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress." -Liz Smith
Rumors. That's what's been started by every surf penman's web coverage of what's being called ‘Kelly Slater's new tour’ or ‘The Champions Tour’ or my favorite, ‘the rebel tour.’ With more questions being raised than answered to date, we're left wondering what the f-k is going on with this thing?
Since no one is dispersing concrete details of the dreamy dream tour yet, here's the crux of what's been 'discovered' to date on computer machines via surf media outlets across the globe. -Ryan Brower
*Editor’s addendum: Upon arriving in the office the morning after posting this puppy, STAB released an exclusive interview with the ‘rebel tour boss.’ New standards for investigative journalism have been set. See their post below for the latest update.
Slater For World Tour
Phil Jarrett started this whole ugly mess a few weeks ago as the surfing world was focused solely on Joel Parkinson's victorious J-Bay campaign. Jarrett brought up the ideas that a serial last place finisher would get $320,000 prize money for the year, Kelly's manager Terry Hardy being the mastermind behind it all, and of course, ESPN offering the television coverage. He dropped these bombs and the shit spread quicker than those nude pictures of Rihanna. You saw those, didn't you?
Slater Leads Rebel Surf Tour
Rebel Surf Tour Leader 'Very Confident'
Fred Pawle over at The Australian has done a good portion of the legwork in keeping this rumor mill up and running. In his first article, Slater Leads Rebel Surf Tour, Pawle somehow got his hands on an e-mail Kelly sent out to fellow competitors and gave us further ‘evidence’ that ESPN might be involved. Quoted from the article as Slater's e-mail saying: “ESPN has signed on to support and fully back a tour to potentially start next year. This would include a ‘new’ tour based on what the surfers want to have in terms of judging, locations, formats, etc …" But has ESPN come out and confirmed this? No.
And on further note, Pawle's second article quotes Mick Fanning as saying, "There have been claims of companies outside the surf industry supporting the tour but I wasn’t shown anything in writing."
Revolution Is In The Air
Rebels Behind Closed Doors
Rebel Tour Boss Talks To STAB
Fred Pawle once again appears as the voice of another 'rebel tour' gossip session. Man, the Aussies really love that word rebel don't they? These guys laying the foundation for this fantasy tour sure are rebels, alright. Rebels surely seek mainstream media exposure, sponsorship from non-industry corporations, and give powder puff answers to the media – ultimately revealing nothing. Fred's also the one who let us know about the imaginary eight events, sixteen surfers, and $1.5 million in prize money for each event.
*Editor’s addendum: That bloke Fred Pawle has out done himself. Seems that someone left a comment in his Rebels Behind Closed Doors piece consisting of the entire interview with an anonymous insider of this deal, which somehow turns out to be Matt Tinley (the former boxing promoter who is apparently the boss here). Being the resourceful journalist he is, Fred decided this comment was worthy for an entire feature on STAB’s site. And it just so happens that it matches GrindTV’s ‘insider interview,’ word-for-word. Journalists the world over now have new resources for their own articles and interviews. At least he didn’t confuse us and kept to the official tour title, ‘rebel tour.’
Australian Surfing Life
A Dreamier Tour?
Smoke And Mirrors
Kelly Slater Speaks About New Tour
Respected Australian surf journalists Tim Baker and Nick Carroll have been the most spot-on throughout this entire debacle. In Nick's piece, Smoke And Mirrors, he reveals exactly what is known about this whole thing: that there is no validity to any of it at the current time.
Following this piece was Tim Baker's long-awaited e-mail from Kelly Slater himself. It's the most Kelly has talked about this whole predicament since the media fire began. But ultimately, it still reveals nothing more than Slater's feelings on the shortcomings of the ASP.
Kelly Slater Speaks
Seems that Surfer's Brendan Thomas also liked the phrase 'rebel tour' to kick off his exclusive interview with Kelly – maybe that's what this seceding tour should officially be called. The dialogue did reveal a longtime issue with the ASP – that they don't own all their own media rights. That's been common knowledge for a long time, and part of the reason the big brands are so reluctant to change anything – they've got a sweetheart deal under the current system because they own the media and web broadcast rights themselves. The ambiguous interview fittingly ended with a strong foreshadow from Slater though: "It will be a long process."
The Plot Thickens
My New Jersey brethren over at ING, Andrew Lewis, got in the mix when he named the sixteen surfers he wants to see on this “tour that should/could be.” Wily of him to create this imagination land and not stick to the fluffy bread-and-butter pieces that the ‘new tour’ has warranted. And earlier this week he posted an update, well he blogged about it actually. So that goes to show you how much validity he's put in what's been 'revealed' so far.
Surfline summed up what they learned by using the following quote from Matthew Tinley (former boxing promoter who's been rumored to be one of the ‘key players’ for his knowledge of television broadcasting) as their illustrative pull-quote for Marcus Sanders's piece: "It’s best if we have a view of the whole system rather than piece bits of it out — it’s best to lay it out to everyone in detail all at once."
Inside Sources Separate New Dream Tour Fact from Fiction
This GrindTV article takes the Pulitzer Prize of this whole group – and all of action sports in fact. They say they've separated fact from fiction for us, and the article actually does provide a bit of depth. But when the sources for their answered questions are listed as the following we see why surf journalism gets mocked: "To separate myth from reality we managed to locate some of the key players involved at the highest levels of this project in their secret underground bunker… and got a couple to speak on condition of anonymity."
They (no writer attached their name. Damn. Who gets the Pulitzer then?) would've been better off if they had just made the answers up… wait, maybe they did.
Kelly Slater Developing New Tour?
Of course I couldn't exclude ourselves from the surf media water wheel that's fueling this rumor mill. When we originally published this piece it looked like the groundwork was set and it was only a matter of a few more signatures here and there. As we've all found out, this is not the case.
What have we learned about this hypothetical digression from the ASP’s Dream Tour? Is this the death of the ASP? Will Marlon Lipke and Phil MacDonald (both tied for last on Tour if you discount the injured Luke Stedman and Gabe Kling) be sitting atop the ASP next year while the upper half of the Tour runs over to ESPN's supposed 'Champions Surf Tour'? How much money are the top surfers really worth? What will happen to the Brazil contest? Will we have two World Champs or will the 'rebel tour' and the Dream Tour merge into one super mega tour to take over the world?
As you can see, more questions have been raised than answered. Anonymous sources and hearsay have been the powdery additive that keeps this snowball rolling down the hill. There's no denying that something is in the works – if not, Kelly Slater wouldn't be agreeing to 'talk' about it. And it's no coincidence that the most recognizable surfer in the world is getting pinned as the face of this whole scheme. We're hitting the trail hard on getting the solid answers, and when we do you'll be hearing it first on transworldsurf.com.
As is always the case on transworldsurf.com, sound off in the comments below. Have you heard any new rumors? Please join in on keeping this ‘story’ breathing. The floor is your’s…