And so it’s decided. After much speculation, the ASP and Quiksilver officially announced that the sixth stop of the 2011 ASP World Tour will take place in Long Island, NY and go by the name: The Quiksilver Pro New York.
While the decision to hold the first World Tour event on the East Coast since the 1980s (New Jersey’s Garden State Pro was included as a World Tour stop in 1988 as was Florida’s Aloe Up Cup in 1989) may raise a few eyebrows (the wave quality isn’t necessarily as questionable as the locale’s consistency – or lack thereof), Surfline’s Sean Collins prepared a barrage of facts and figures to justify the decision. According to the ASP, Surfline “conducted an independent, long term 15-year wave study” for the area and concluded that the first two weeks in September are “the most consistent time periods for sizable surf in the region.”
“This was a very fascinating study,” said Mr. Collins. “The surf climate in Western Long Island is greatly affected by the underwater Hudson Canyon offshore, which can turn average surf into very high quality surf comparable to many of the best surf spots in the world on the right day. We are also in a La Nina year, so we expect the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season to be a little more active and hopefully we can score great surf with the world’s top surfers in one of the best cities in the world.”
If one were interested in exposing surf culture to the masses, selecting the most populated city in America and the 14th largest city in the world (2009 population: 8,391,881) makes good sense (as does opening a flagship store in Times Square). But location aside, Quiksilver’s unprecedented million-dollar purse represents a meaningful gesture for competitive surfing. While the wager doesn’t elevate professional surfing to the level of sports like golf or football, at least the trade’s currency now bears the same notation: millions. (That’s 1 × 106.) And gestures of this proportion have impact. For instance, remember the guy from the East Coast who won ten World Titles this year? I wonder how he feels about this.
“I’m really looking forward to being in New York,” said Kelly Slater. “This event itself will be unique and kind of an unknown for us. And bringing the ASP tour to Long Island should be fun cause there’s a big surf culture there already and some great surf shops.”
While Slater was careful to evade commitment regarding competition, he made one thing clear: he will be in New York for the contest. Whether he’s spreading aloha to the Big Apple as a Mountain and Wave ambassador or hell-bent on winning an 11th title in ’11 (numerology be damned!), it’s difficult to deny the contest’s appeal. The Quiksilver Pro New York is a first-of-its-kind event, and historical precedent reveals Slater’s predilection for spectacle. It’s a kryptonite, of sorts.
Today marked several important firsts for professional surfing. As such, surf fans around the world (especially East Coasters) will be anxiously awaiting September, when we’ll find out if Quiksilver and the ASP’s gamble on a notoriously capricious Atlantic yields any seconds.