Extract from the book Walking on water by Andy Martin. 1991, Minerva.
by Michael Willis
"Once upon a time, pro surfing was a tiny seed that needed care and cultivation to come to fruition. It was such a delicate plant that any harsh wind threatened to snuff it out. We protected and nourished it. Then it grew. And kept on going, beanstalking upwards and outwards, until finally, like a mean and hungry triffid, it has gone on the rampage, wreaking havoc and terrorizing innocent citizens of the surf. I believe the time has come for some radical rethinking which would put an end to this menace.
The ASP has become a bullying, dictatorial elite, concerned only with lining its pockets at everyone’s expense. Consider the example of the North Shore this Winter. The ASP rolled into our peaceful town and like a bunch of heavies in a bad western, proceeded to take the place over, shooting up anyone that got in their way.
Throughout the entire month of December the ASP circus sat on the best surf spots and ruthlessly excluded anyone that was not a member of the chosen few. A reign of terror ensued, which only came to an end in January. But like a nuclear bomb going off, the whole incident has left a kind of fallout hanging over the North Shore. The ocean is lethally irradiated with bad vibes.
No one can take seriously any longer the claim that pro events are having a beneficial effect on surfing as a whole. All they produce is a huge publicity bubble. Surfers will continue to surf with or without the ASP. Meanwhile we are being swindled, having the best waves in the world stolen from us.
The water should be open to everyone all the time, not just to those with money and power. There are thousands of surfers in the world. The number of pros is insignificant by comparison. But the influence of the ASP mafia is disproportionately huge.
The current situation is a kind of sacrilege. Jesus kicked the money merchants out of the Temple. On the North Shore it's the ordinary pilgrims and worshippers who are being banished from the worlds great shrine. Surfers should be demanding equity for all, and liberty in the water. But fraternity goes along with those values, too. Just as the pro surfing politburo should be more tolerant towards recreational surfers - who will always be the true soul of surfing - so too we should be tolerant towards pro surfing. Let the contests continue - but not at our expense. The only obvious course for pro surfing to build more wave pools. Let the ASP invest their money in some proper facilities. It’s a fraud to hold contests in uneven conditions where chance plays such a strong factor. Let every competitor have the same wave as every other and then you will have a fair contest. Do tennis players play on different sized courts? Spectators will pay to go and watch the action. And meanwhile, the North Shore will not be taken over by squatters.
Surfers of the world arise and unite! We must struggle to free ourselves from the tyranny of the ASP."
Where do you think surfing should be going?