A New Kind of Contest

Andrew Gesler. Photo: Mack Andrew Gesler. Photo: Ryan Mack

The Cold War was pretty anticlimactic.

Stalin was all, “Marx is magnificent. May his doubters be devoured by bears!” Meanwhile Truman was like, “Ya’ll can’t just be going around and giving people free stuff!” It was a decades long pissing contest, with neither side having the courage to whip it out and let that golden shower fly. Probably for the better, but it makes a boring history lesson.

But who’da thunk it, in 2016 a grizzled group from the American Northeast has rekindled the flame! With surfboards in lieu of battleships and A-frames instead of A-bombs, 16 waveriders from New Jersey and New York have waged war in the most exciting of ways. Donning 6/5/4 suits of armor, the soldiers are due to clash in the arctic Atlantic sometime soon. This is the contemporary Cold War, and here’s how it works:

Format:
• The waiting period is February 27 to March 18th. The contest will be held on the best single day in this period.
• 16 surfers are invited, 2 of whom (Sam Hammer and Andrew Gesler) are the captains.
• Captains will pick their teammates from the remaining 14 surfers, alternating turns between choices.
• Once two teams of 8 are formed, the captains will alternate choosing head-to-head matchups between the squads. The captains must surf against one another.
• Once these 8 matchups take place, whichever team has more victories will be the champion. Except 8 is an even number, so maybe there would be a full team tug of war in the case of a draw? I hope!
• The winning team splits $8,000

Using a 6th-grade-gym-class-esque selection process is already enough to get my vote — being picked last must feel like a thousand skegs to the heart. When you pair this spectacle with high caliber surfers and a strong chance of grinding tubes, you’ve got a real humdinger of a surf comp.

My excitement behind this event got me thinking, why doesn’t surfing have more specialty events with unique formats? The WSL is unlikely to change their format, as it is probably the most efficient way to pick a world champ, ADS haters be damned. But specialty events are fun and innovative. In the case of the Cold War, you’re taking lifelong friends and pinning them against each other in a blood-spilling duel. If you don’t think rivalry and shit-talking is fun, you should just stick to that handshaped twin fin and move to Oregon, hippy! But SURFING, ever the curator of high-octane surf imagery, wants to see paddle battles that end in dunks and noogies, or better yet a bench-clearing brawl, hockey style.

So, here are a few event options to get the competitive juices a flowin’:

1. Just a straight up air show.
These comps swept the globe in the early 2000s and Josh Kerr was the undisputed king. Josh can still punt with the best of ‘em, but nowadays the best of ‘em include 150+ guys from around the world, but mostly Brazil. Those fuckers can jump.

2. Revamp the Cali Rally
Arguably Transworld Surf’s greatest contribution to the world of wave, this multifaceted event brought out the absolute best and worst parts of professional surfing. For those of you too young to remember Transworld’s hilarious antics, they would get surfers from different brands (Quik, Vissla, Hot Buttered, etc.) and have them travel across the Golden State, performing as many hilarious, dangerous, and embarrassing tasks as humanly possible. At the end of the given time period, the team with the most achievements would win. It’s a guaranteed homerun.

3. Titans of T Street
We will literally get all of the BWWT guys and make them surf a mediocre day at a mediocre beach break. Many of these guys (Dorian, Nic Lamb, Gabriel Villaran) absolutely tear the small stuff too. The only condition is competitors must have their life vest fully inflated throughout the entirety of the event. Pufferfish, engage!

4. Brazil V World
It has become wildly apparent that people from historically dominant surfing nations (i.e. USA, AUS) feel contempt towards the sudden outbreak of Brazilian superstars, who seem to have no qualms about hogging all the trophies. So let’s give the world what it wants to see: a straight-up slugfest between Brazil and the rest of the world. Stealing the Cold War format, we would choose 8 individuals from each group and pin them against one another in head to head bouts. I would recommend holding the event at Lowers because of its suitability to all styles of surfing.

Has the Cold War inspired you as it has me?

Do you, our loyal readers, have any superior suggestions to my mostly ripped-off concepts above? Let us know, because there’s a chance we could use your ideas for an event sometime in the future. Entries must induce competitors to shed blood, sweat, or tears. A combination of the three is preferable. —Michael Ciaramella