It’s a rivalry that began long ago. There’s Carroll vs. Curren. Young vs. Nuuhiwa. John Witzig’s California bashing and Occy’s ‘80s claim that all American surfers are “seppo wankers.” Australia and the USA have been at each other’s competitive throats foryears and the next generation of surfers has already begun to put their stamp on this storied rivalry.
The 2008 Nike 6.0 Pier Pressure event saw an eighty-man field, with only four Australians doing battle at the Huntington pier. Three of those Aussies made it to the final and those three finished one, two, three with young gun Julian Wilson taking first, followed by Stuart Kennedy and Chris Salisbury respectively. So what’s the deal? Why are we getting stomped on by the Aussies in our own backyard?
“American Surfers can easily get in a bubble here surfing Trestles everyday with their bros,” said Dylan Slater, head of marketing at Rip Curl. “They need to realize there are kids overseas that are being groomed to beat them.” Dylan then stressed the fact that the Australian contingent isn’t more talented, they’re just better prepared for the next level.
“It’s definitely a wake up call for the Americans,” he said. “Sooner or later they are gonna have to face these kids full time.”
Former Bronzed Aussie himself Peter Townend knows a thing or two about marching onto someone’s turf and smoking them in competition. He practically made a career out of it.
“They aren’t scared to take their game on the road,” says the 1976 World Champ and former USA surf team coach. “There is a tremendously strong junior program in Australia, and they’re patient. They wait for only the best wave, and when they get it they rarely screw it up. They manufacture eights.”
Andrew Doheny –– the only American to make it to the final –– had other ideas. “They came in with a more relaxed approach,” he said. “There was less pressure on them since they had nothing to lose.”
While that may be true, it does seem like our guys need to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to step up their game. “Our guys need more experience against better competition,” Townend says. “They don’t realize how good the rest of the world is since they primarily compete against each other. They don’t realize that they need to be better.”
Stuart Kennedy beelining in Indo
So was this the seed for another chapter of this legendary rivalry? Should we expect revenge from our juniors?
“I’m always looking to win my heats,” Doheny said. “Aussie or not.”
I guess we’ll have to wait and see but for now, they’ll have to be think about their Laker-like buckle against the little Aussie contingent that could.