Ask The Expert – Making The WCT

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12, Pancho Sullivan, Eric Baeseman

I want to be a pro surfer. I surf in the ESA and the NSSA, and do other small amateur contests around my area. But I eventually want to take things to the next level. How do I make it to the World Tour-and what’s the difference between the WQS and the WCT?
-Gordon Johnson, Jacksonville, Florida

Countless young rippers hope to one day succeed on surfing’s center stage, the ASP World Tour. But many fail to fully understand its dual components: the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the World Championship Tour (WCT). In short, the WQS is the gateway to the WCT. The WCT is often referred to as the “dream tour,” as it hosts the tour’s top 45 surfers in eleven events at exotic breaks around the world, during each spot’s peak season. In contrast, the WQS is called “the grind” because of the grueling number of contests (46 are scheduled this year) and competitors (approximately 800), as well as the fickle wave quality found at any given contest. But if you do well on the grind, the reward is getting a spot on the ultra-elite dream tour. WQS Tour Manager Al Hunt explains what it takes to navigate the most important career journey any aspiring contest pro will take.

“You first need to fulfill membership requirements with the ASP regional office in your area (go to for locations). From there, start entering ASP-sanctioned Junior Series and small WQS contests. The ASP holds events in nearly every major surfing region around the globe, so they won’t be too hard to find.

“Assuming you get good results, you’ll gain all-important ASP points-the better your contest placings, the more points you rack up. Those points calculate your rating on the WQS, and your rating will determine whether or not you make it on to the WCT during any given year.

“Each WQS event is also rated-from least competitive to most-1-star to 6-star. If you’re just starting out on the WQS, it may not be possible to get an entry into the major WQS events, such as the U.S. Open, as there are only a certain number of spots available and always way too many competitors. So you need to concentrate on entering smaller events or head off overseas to bigger events with smaller entry numbers. Those are the places where a first timer can gain points. Once you have a good enough rating, maybe after two to three years, you’ll able to get into all the major WQS events (those 4- to 6-stars with the big points). From there, you can make an attempt at the WCT.

“Each year, the top fifteen surfers from the WQS move up into the WCT Top 45, while the bottom fifteen of the WCT drop back down to the WQS. Quite a few WCT surfers know they need to cover themselves in case of a bad year on tour, so they also compete on the WQS to ensure enough points. Of the WQS top fifteen, usually around ten are newcomers and five are returning WCT surfers.

“And one last thing to always remember: Life on the tour, no matter how glamorous it may seem, is a struggle. You must be truly prepared to work hard, adapt, and get along with your fellow competitors in and out of the water.”

Al Hunt Bio:
Australian Al Hunt has worked on pro surfing’s World Tour since the 1970s as a judge, a head judge

CATEGORIZED: How-To | Ask The Expert