You Are Here: Mike Parsons

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Words and photo illustration by Nathan Myers


You Are Here, Nathan Myers

It only took me about a year to wrap my head the new ASP ratings system (okay, I’m a bit dim and lazy), but I gotta admit I’m still struggling with the why of it. (Is it something to do with tennis?)

So, they made it shorter…and also longer.
Guys can qualify faster…except it’s virtually impossible.
It’s become more elite…at urban beachbreaks.
And there’s a new judging standard…at every event.


The ASP surely has the best intentions at heart, but there’s definitely been a lot of chatter this year about whether all the improvement are actually improving anything.

In a recent interview with Guinness big-wave record holder and longtime contest director Mike Parsons, the subject came up as an unrelated tangent (we were actually talking about Charlie Sheen…I mean, Bobby Martinez). Just thought I’d share the outtake.

As a former contest director and longtime world tour competitor, Parsons is uniquely qualified to comment on the subject. And as full-time coach to future title contender Kolohe Andino — who’s just now dipping his toe into a full-bore World Tour campaign – Parsons has been studying the system from the inside out and trying to crack the code.


SURFING: Is Kolohe trying to qualify for the World Tour now?
MIKE PARSONS: Right now we’re just building his seed for next year, but he’s doing it so fast he’s really only one big result away from qualifying. It’s kind of insane.

It can happen pretty fast with the new system, right?
Technically, yes, but they’ve made it almost impossible. Only three new guys made it on in this cut-off. Gabriel Medina won everything in sight, and Miguel Pupo and Yadin had amazing runs. The system’s a bit too catered to the guys already on tour right now.

How is that?
Well, between the WT events and the big Primes, those guys have double the chances to make big points. Thank God it was John John who got on when Yadin got hurt and not one of those more stalwart guys.

So, you’re not a fan of the recent changes?
I like parts of it. I like that in theory guys can get on sooner. But I think the points are all wrong. What you get for winning a prime [6,500 points] versus what you get for a 9th on the World Tour [4,000 points]. Some guys have only made two heats this whole year, but they can stay on tour with one result. Meanwhile, someone like John John made two prime finals, a 9th in the US Open, and a semi-final in Hawaii and he still wouldn’t have made it unless Yadin got hurt. If you do that math, that’s making it through about 25 hard heats versus other guys make two or three and stay on the World Tour. Someone explain to me how that’s fair?

What would you prefer?
I just want to seethe most exciting guys on tour. I mean, it kind of works right now. Five new guys made it last year in Hawaii, but this time it was only three. In my opinion we should be seeing six or eight new guys every cut-off. If you’re only making a couple heats a year, that’s not good enough.

Why did they make the change?
I was still contest directing when they decided to cut the tour from 45 to 32, and the whole reason was that they wanted one less day in the waiting period. We were doing events like Mundaka and J-Bay where it’s super hard to do the contest on one swell. But after they reduced the numbers, they added another round where no one loses, which effectively turns it back into a four-day event.

So, it wasn’t just to make it more elite?
That was part of it, which is cool. But nowadays there are just too many good guys to only have 32. I go to all the Prime events now and they’re actually more exciting than the ’CTs. There’s more talent out there than people realize, and we’re not seeing it in the World Tour events. In my opinion there are 10 or 15 guys off tour who are better than 10 or 15 guys on tour.

What’s the solution?
I think they need to take a hard look at those points. Look at how many guys made it and how many results a guy needs to make it. I’m confident they’ll eventually sort it out. They’re smart people and they have the right intentions, it’s just not quite working yet.

If you could put three competitive guys into the Top 34 right now, who would it be? (Not counting Kolohe.)
That’s a good question. I think Tanner Gudauskas would be one. John John would be another — but he just got on because of the injury. Those would be the top two, for sure. After that, well, maybe this is the best argument in favor of the system, because the other two guys that jump to mind are Miguel Pupo and Gabe Medina, and they just made it. Beyond that, there’s not really a glaring person getting hosed by the system. So maybe it is working.

Wait, now I’m confused again. Is it working, or isn’t it?
Bottom line, the cream will rise to the top whatever system they make. The best guys will always find a way.


So, uh yeah. It’s not like the tour is broken by any means. Teahupo’o and NYC were epic successes. The ASP should be very proud of themselves and not write me an angry letters or anonymous comments. I’m just saying…the people are talking…some of them mad Latino rebels, others very civilized and educated insiders…

Mike and I talked about it, and then we went back to talking ‘bout stuff we were really supposed to be talking about.

Oh, and speaking of tangents, I mentioned to Mike that aside from his recent Lost Atlas appearance, I feel like I haven’t really seen that much of Kolohe’s surfing on video so far. Plenty photos. Plenty contest results. But where can I watch more waves?

Parsons let slip that Red Bull had been hard at work on a full-on, high-end Kolohe Andino signature film, that we’d see dropping within the next couple months. No title yet, but he said it would be a Who Is JOB?-style production, with all the bells-‘n-whistles.

Then we talked about some other stuff.

So, by the way, here’s your current Top 34. Want to comment? Okay, comment. Who do you think should be here and who shouldn’t? —Nathan Myers

1. Kelly Slater
2. Jordy Smith
3. Mick Fanning
4. Owen Wright
5. Taj Burrow
6. Jeremy Flores
7. Joel Parkinson
8. Adrian Buchan
9. Bede Durbidge
10. Michel Bourez
11. Adriano de Souza
12. Julian Wilson
13. Damien Hobgood
14. Josh Kerr
15. Alejo Muniz
16. Gabriel Medina
17. Kieren Perrow
18. Raoni Monteiro
19. Matt Wilkinson
20. Jadson Andre
21. Heitor Alves
22. Chris Davidson
23. Brett Simpson
24. Dane Reynolds
25. Patrick Gudauskas
26. Daniel Ross
27. Miguel Pupo
28. Dusty Payne
29. Kai Otton
30. Taylor Knox
31. Tiago Pires
32. Fredrick Patacchia
33. Travis Logie
34: John John Florence

1st Alternate: Adam Melling
2nd Alternate: C.J. Hobgood
3rd Alternate: Tom Whitaker


And just ’cause it’s Friday and Fridays are fun…

Snips on Bobby: “I think Bobby’s one of the best surfers in the world, and I do think he should still be on the tour, but he hasn’t had a result in a long time. Not since the start of the previous year.”