Few, if any, sports boast an experience as subjective as surfing does, and attempting to organize competitive surfing during a period of unprecedented growth while accommodating the various (and largely passionate) opinions on the matter boils down to one thing: creating balance. A balance that provides the variety needed to create a comprehensive vetting process in determining an undisputed ASP World Champion – a balance still equaling itself out.
In criticism of this year’s “Big City Tour,” a constant citation is the addition of events in Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and New York. On the surface, this provides weight to the aforementioned label, but upon closer examination, it’s more indicative of a tour attempting to reconcile recent growth in popularity by maintaining status as the vanguard of high-performance surfing.
This season, Billabong and the ASP relocated the Brazil event from Imbituba Beach in Santa Catarina to Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro, and I believe the vast majority of the Top 34 would testify that both Tijuca and the backup location of Arpoador are both wedgier and more conducive to high-performance surfing. There has admittedly been observable backlash for the South American event in western media and forums over the past few years, but it doesn’t change the fact that Brazil has arrived as a major power player in this day and age – in terms of talent, audience and economy.