Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Surfing [Print without images]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Bede Talks Tour


/photo/2009/0915/as_surf_bede_200.jpg
Bede's considered opinion is ...

Despite positioning operatives in bell hop costumes at every hotel along the Orange County coast, we still managed to miss Sunday night's double top secret meeting between principles from the proposed "Champions Tour," surfers in town for the World Tour event at Trestles, and the ASP. What we do know is that roughly 20 surfers were on hand, most of whom got their first chance to ask questions about how the new tour might work.

We caught up with Bede Durbidge right after the neck-snapping he administered to Davie Weare in the waning minutes of their Round 3 heat. Durbidge prefaced his comments by assuring us he didn't have a lot say on the matter for the time being, but in the absence of any real news, opinion—even really general opinion—will have to suffice:

We spoke last week and you said you couldn't even talk about the subject because you knew so little. After Sunday's meeting, do you feel like you know a little more?

The meeting went on for about three hours and it was kind of hard to digest everything. But, yeah, we learned a lot more. Like, now we know how we would qualify for it—it's not going to be hand picked. It's all based on ratings. The ASP is meeting with them this week, so hopefully they can work it out, because that's the best scenario. But a lot depends on what the surfers will do.

Either way, really good stuff is going to happen in surfing. It's a good time for pro surfing and things will get better for the sport, the surfers, and the young guys coming through.

The new tour seems primarily concerned with three things: the number of guys on the current World Tour, the quality of the webcasts and lack of a broadcast TV deal, and the prize money. Do agree those are major issues?

For sure. Everyone knows that already. The prize money compared to other sports is nowhere near where it should be, and the media as well. It's not a mainstream sport like it could be. So it's good all this is happening, because it will take the sport to the next level.

You seem pretty positive about things, generally.

Well, you know, maybe no one will even decide to follow this new proposed tour, but it's still making everyone think. We can make the sport better. The ASP wants to make the sport better, so maybe they can take the ideas off these other guys and use them. So I think whatever happens, it will be good. It's going to be interesting.

The LA Times had a piece that quoted Brett Simpson, who was pretty candid about how the proposed tour could negatively effect surfers on the WQS who are trying to reach the World Tour. Have you heard any negative backlash from amongst the surfers?

I can understand Brett saying that. He's been left in the dark—all those guys on the QS don't know what's happening. And still, nothing's for sure. We've only just started getting told their ideas. Nothing's been decided. The ASP needs to make some decisions and come back to the surfers. It's still really early with all of it.

After Sunday's meeting, where do you stand on the idea of a new tour?

I haven't had enough time to think about it. After we find out where the ASP stands, I'll have more of an opinion. But until then, all I can say is there should be stuff that comes out of this that will be good for the sport.