The Association of Surfing Professional’s chief executive is a fresh-faced, freshly married, Australian goofy footer who calls Capbreton, France, home these days. In between attending every second World Tour event and managing the growth of surfing’s sporting side, Brodie Carr is in constant negotiations with the surfers, the sponsors, and potential industry backers to do all he can to develop the ASP and its various tours. With surfing appealing to so many different people for so many different reasons, and with enormous growth in online commentary/endless-anonymous-mudslinging, pleasing the mob is never going to be easy. When ASL got a hold of Brodie on Skype he was fresh from a breakfast of pain au chocolat, was about to take off for the US Open in California, and had just announced to the press that as of next year, Fiji will be back on the World Tour thanks to new event sponsor Volcom. Interesting times.
Ah Mr. Carr, we meet again. Tell us about the last couple of weeks. You guys were getting blasted from all angles, then the competition stepped up at J-Bay and everyone backed off again.
I think we copped a hammering after Rio, the fans out there are vocal on certain issues and certain points. You know, everyone wants us to go to Fiji and Tahiti every stop of the tour, but we have to strike the right balance between that, and getting media coverage. We can’t rely 100% on the webcasts, so we need to build our mainstream media market coverage as well. So this year we added more suburban beachbreak kind of locations. But then we’ve been working for three years with Volcom to try and get the Fiji deal sorted, and it has come at a great time. The pendulum had maybe swung a little too far with the beachbreaks, and now this will be the start of it getting back to the middle. We need one more quality wave location and hopefully we’re getting there.
Do you think the six week break in the tour is poisonous?
Yeah, I think some of the fans get a little, er, the natives get a little restless, y’know. They haven’t seen Jordy Smith or Adriano De Souza or Mick Fanning surfing for a while and they’re wondering what they’re up to. That June break is six weeks, it’s too long. So that’s where we’re going to slot Fiji, and it’s in a prime swell window too. I’m interested to see how things play out starting in Tahiti, when we have a massive second half of the year. We’ve got three to four months of just absolute back-to-back competition and I’m really eager to find out how the fans react to that. Maybe we should see what employers think of that too, as some offices’ productivity will plummet when certain events are on. We need to develop an app that hides the webcast from employers.
You say the Volcom event has been three years in the making. How does it work, do the sponsors come to the ASP, or do you say to potentials, “We really want Fiji on the schedule, who’s gonna pony up and do this?”
Volcom and the ASP and myself have been talking about Fiji for a long time. Some things take time. I’ve been talking to Nike for a long time about a World Tour event, we got close and we’re still talking, so hopefully one day soon that will come about. Some events happen without any fuss at all, others take time to get right. There are some things we do strategically. We put out a release about wanting G-Land back on the tour a few days before I flew to Cabo in Mexico, to attend the SIMA Surf Summit, basically the industry’s biggest annual convention. That release obviously got the brands talking, and then when I arrived the idea of taking events back to quality locations was already in the back of everyone’s minds. I had three or four brands I wanted to talk to, and Volcom was one of them, about Fiji. So Richard Woolcott and I spent some time together and nutted it out. Was the right time for them, with their recent acquisition, and it was the right time for us with the need for another Dream Tour location, and we pieced the deal together pretty quickly once we’d both agreed on what we had in mind.
What do you say to those who think the G-Land release was merely an attempt to distract people from the judging issues that came out of Rio?
(Laughs) The G-Land release had always been earmarked to go out a few days before I went to Mexico. The actual timing, from a fan’s perspective, was far from ideal, and we knew we were going to cop some heavy artillery after Rio when the waves weren’t Dream Tour waves. And to put that release out just after the Rio event, when everyone was already saying they want to go to better waves, well, we do too, and we know that, but the purpose of that release was to get into a few of the brands heads that we didn’t have many licenses left, and that they should step up.
How many licenses are left?
Ideally we would have 12 World Tour events and 12 Primes, and have them balanced six in each half of the year, with J-Bay as the mid-point.
Would Teahupo’o move back to May?
Yeah we’re working with Billabong to see if we can make that happen again. We think that May is a better time, and it was great when we used to have the Tahiti-Fiji Pacific leg. Billabong want to move and so do we, and that would definitely help get the balance back for our six and six split. It’s tough for Billabong in that Chopes is in the last quarter of the year now, and to do it six months later is a significant cost, and it requires a hell of a lot of work. Both parties want to do it though, so we’ll somehow make it happen.
Back to Fiji, that press release couldn’t have been better timed.
Wooly and I were laughing about that. Kelly Slater was there and it was pumping, and we would love to have put out the press release right then and there, but we have an agreement with the events that they have our focus while they’re on, so we waited until the day after J-Bay before we announced Fiji.
Speaking of Kelly, was he doing some reconnaissance for you at Cloudbreak or what?
Look, Kelly obviously saw that massive swell coming and wanted to surf it. He’s good friends with Jon Roseman who runs Tavarua, so maybe he was already over there. Then he tried to make it to J-Bay but we ran round two and he wasn’t there in time.
So what’s the procedure, does Kelly get fined?
There’s a procedure in the rulebook and it’s like going to school, if you miss a day you’ve got to have a reason… … a little different, I don’t know how many pro surfers attended school with any sort of consistency (Kelly being, naturally, the exception).
What about Dane Reynolds, where was he?
We’re waiting to hear from Dane, on his injury. I’ve got a meeting with his manager next week in California, to find out what his deal is. I think he’s got a few things going on, but hopefully he’s okay.
And Bobby Martinez just seems to be yelling at the world via Twitter. What’s going on there?
Yeah, I’m meeting with his manager in Los Angeles too. I’m meeting with all the bad kids at school’s managers at the moment. Not in a bad way, but they’re our athletes and we want to see them succeed. We need to meet up and see where their heads are at and find out what’s up, and see if they still want to be a part of the tour. We’re never going to force anyone to do the tour, so if guys are looking at going off and taking the freesurf path then that’s their prerogative. Of course we want to see Dane and Kelly and Bobby on tour though. Obviously.
Back to the events. Are you happy with the balance of Super Surf events in great waves compared to the Grandstand type contests that are going to pull in the crowds?
We’re getting there. We’ve still got a few things in the works. Some people seem to think that San Francisco for the Search is going to be another beachbreak event, but I’m not sure why, it has the potential to be amazing. It’s going to be epic, I love the Search and it’s always taking us somewhere different and unique. Even though San Fran is a big city, the Search has taken us to places where everyone has surfed: Bali, Mexico, Portugal. It’s a great way of the World Tour touching surfers all over the world and I’m a huge backer of it. And Rip Curl have already said next year we’ll be off to the tropics again, so for one year what’s the big problem?
Take off your ASP hat for a second and hang with us punters, where do you want the Search to go next?
I always want to go to Macaronis.
Has the ASP looked at the Mentawais?
Yeah, we have. That could be the next little press release we put out, “Who Wants The Mentawais On Tour?” I think the Ments could be an amazing venue. Look at somewhere like Playgrounds, which has Rifles, then on the other side there are No Kanduis and Bankvaults. There are heaps of waves and we could go to a different place every day. Our issue with the Mentawais is always going to be infrastructure, it’s getting boats secured, it’s getting internet so the fans back home can watch the action on the webcast. It’s not an easy one, but it would be amazing. We’ve looked at it with a few partners and hopefully one day we can bring that to the tour. I think G-Land would be incredible, we’ve looked at Desert Point, but again it’s so remote that it’s not really feasible. Fiji was a no-brainer for us because we needed another lefthander. I mean we’ve got Chopes and Pipe, and then Trestles and France and Supetubes can all have lefts, but predominantly we’ve got high performance rights and I think we all agreed we needed another left. This year, four events for four winners and the title race is wide open.
You have to be happy with that?
I was just looking at the results. Kelly can still win, easily, so that’s the top six all in the hunt, how exciting is that? Imagine how much it will throw the cat among the pigeons if Kelly comes back and wins Tahiti? Jordy Smith was so focused at J-Bay, Taj Burrow still has a great set of results so far, and all the guys have one bad throwaway, so it’s a fairly even spread. As we get to the back end of the year, every result is going to be crucial. Having a Brazilian number one for the first time ever was really exciting for us, and then Jordy really storming back into contention for another crack at a title he really wants. We’ve got a good spread of Aussies and Americans, and some young guys starting to stand up too, so it’s all really exciting.
Is the ASP any closer to getting ratified by the World Anti Doping Agency? Is that always a goal of yours?
Yep, we’re in that process but it’s a really long one. We reported to the board at J-Bay that we’re well on track with it. We’ve taken our time with it as you need to be 100% from the start once implemented. It should all be in place by the start of next year, but it depends when WADA come back to us. We’ve had a policy in place for 10 years that has been WADA approved, so now we’re just waiting to hear back confirmation.
You must be excited to have a new women’s world champ in Carissa Moore?
Absolutely. How good was that Nike clip! Carissa’s a great ambassador for the girls, and she’s already reached out and offered her support if we need it, to get more events or whatever. And Steph Gilmore was the same, just a fantastic role model for young women. Any sponsor meetings they’re happy to attend, they just want to help. And for her age Carissa is really cool.
The Nike influence seems even more pronounced with the women than the men.
Oh yeah, their movie, Leave A Message, was great and they’re really stepping up. It’s harder with the guys as most of the top guys are locked up with companies already. They’ve run a couple of great men’s events and now it’d be nice if they could do the same with the girls. And I’ll meet with them in Los Angeles too.
Carissa’s got a 10 in a men’s event before too, don’t forget.
She has! She’s sick. Hopefully Carissa can now convince Nike to come on board with a girl’s event. The women’s tour is looking good for next year, there are a couple of new events we’re working on, and hopefully that all comes off too and they have a stronger program.
You’ve got a busy few weeks coming up then huh?
Definitely. Off to the US Open next week for 10 days. It’s a great event, I love the US Open. It’s chaos, it’s mayhem! Nike and Hurley do such a great job, it’s awesome.
Ah well mate, enjoy it over there and good luck with it all.
Thanks. Gotta rock and roll, looking at a house before flying out.