Everything comes from speed in the water. Without it, well, you're just dead in the water. And no doubt the world's fastest surfers are in the top 34. This year the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast event will be instituting the insertion of a GPS device into the contest rashies, ultimately allowing a surfer's speed to be clocked during heats.
Bede Durbidge was the first to test the GPS device out last week and had this to say regarding it: "It was unreal. I was so surprised; I couldn't even feel it in my rashie. It's going to be exciting to see who the fastest surfer on tour is."
Using Bede as the first guinea pig was a good choice, seeing how at last year's Quik Pro Goldie he put up the highest heat total of the event (as well as the entire year) with a 19.30. They clocked Bede at Duranbah doing a big frontside air at 29.2 kph (or 18 mph). Quiksilver Events Manager Nigel Muscroft says we can expect event faster surfing from the speed tracks of Kirra or Snapper: "The speeds at Snapper or Kirra should well exceed 35 kph [21.7 mph]."
Though the device is not mandatory to wear, surfers are given the incentive of earning an extra $2,500 for having the fastest speed at the end of the event. The device itself weighs less than three ounces and is sewn into the jersey between the shoulder blades. The data from the device is relayed back to a computer that displays the speed in real time and will be relayed live to the broadcast commentary team for analysis.
Ultimately, this gives us another measuring block for the world's best surfers, as well as enhancing the online broadcasts (which are how the majority watch the World Tour events). Watch any other sports broadcast on television and broadcasters inundate you with statistics out the ass (do we really need to know how many runs Derek Jeter scores on Thursday night games at home in the month of August?). But a lot of times in surf broadcasts we're left desiring more because things are at such a rudimentary level, but quickly expanding. Surfer's speeds will add a tangible stat to a broadcaster's arsenal—one that is actually interesting and creates another measuring block for the world's best. As Muscroft says, "The whole idea is purely to enhance commentary and broadcast, create some further interest, advance the sport of surfing, and find out who really is the fastest surfer.”
And starting at the 2011 Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast, we won't be needing a radar gun to figure that out.—Ryan Brower
Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com for our full 2011 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast preview. And head to quiksilverpro.com.au for more info on the event.
Head to the next page for the official press release.
COOLANGATTA/QLD (Wednesday, 9th February, 2011): The rapid rise of technology will see surfers speed levels monitored at the upcoming Quiksilver and Roxy Pro's presented by Land Rover to determine who is the fastest competitor on the planet. For the first time ever the opening 2011 ASP World Title and ASP Women's World Title events will offer surfers the choice to embed a GPS device powered by 'VX Sports' in their contest jerseys and record their speed on each wave.
The site set-up has commenced at Snapper Rocks on Australia’s southern end of the Gold Coast for the world tour event from February 26th – March 9th. ASP World no.6 and former Quiksilver Pro runner-up Bede Durbidge (Currumbin, Qld, Aus), 27, tested the innovative device and was impressed with the technology stating it will bring new excitement levels and be beneficial to training as well. "I got to test drive the GPS unit and it was unreal," said Durbidge. "I was so surprised; I couldn't even feel it in my rashie. It's going to be exciting to see who the fastest surfer on tour is."
Surfers will wear a small device that weighs less than 3 ounces, which is sewn into the jersey and sits between the shoulder blades. The data from this device is relayed back to a computer that displays the speed in real time. "It's going to be great for the spectators to add that excitement factor," said Durbidge. "It'll blow people out how much work surfer's are doing in their heat and how fast their going through their bottom and top turns and in the air. It's going to be great for surfing."
"Bede (Durbidge) was clocked at 29.2 kph [18 mph] while doing a massive front side air," said Nigel Muscroft, Quiksilver and Roxy Events Manager. "The speeds at Snapper or Kirra should well exceed 35 kph [21.7 mph]. There are a lot of fast surfers on tour, but my money is on Mick (Fanning) or Taj (Burrow), or even Dane (Reynolds) through his turns." In a world first the device's data will be relayed live into the broadcast commentary team for analysis, a first in the ASP world tour history. "This is a first for a World Tour event," said Muscroft. "The whole idea is purely to enhance commentary and broadcast, create some further interest, advance the sport of surfing, and find out who really is the fastest surfer.”
It isn't compulsory for the surfers to wear the device, and surfers will get the opportunity to try the units out with blank jerseys before surfing their heats for peace of mind. A daily leader board on quiksilverpro.com.au and roxypro.com.au will show who's in front with the fastest male and female surfer at the end of the event winning $2,500 each. Durbidge, who has been a consistent performers at the Gold Coast event however a win has eluded him so far and he is hoping 2011 is his year. "It would be a dream come true to take Snapper out," he said. "Mick (Fanning), Joel (Parkinson) and Dean (Morrison) have all won so it would be good to get a win at home. Durbidge also added that 10-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater (USA) may find the competition tougher this year but the Floridian will be out to win again. "It's such an amazing that Kelly (Slater) did by claiming his 10th world title," he said. "Being that dominant in the sport has been unprecedented. To backup it will be a little bit tough for him. He can't sit on the fence and I'm sure he'll be there trying his hardest."
The opening ASP Men's World Tour event will be staged in conjunction with the Roxy Pro presented by Land Rover on the southern end of the Gold Coast, the opening event of the 2011 ASP Women's World Tour. The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro's presented by Land Rover will be webcast live from various camera angles with post heat interviews with the world's elite surfers. Log onto quiksilverpro.com.au.