Everything comes from speed in the water. Without it, well, you’re just dead in the water. And no doubt the world’s fastest surfers are in the top 34. This year the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast event will be instituting the insertion of a GPS device into the contest rashies, ultimately allowing a surfer’s speed to be clocked during heats.
Bede Durbidge was the first to test the GPS device out last week and had this to say regarding it: “It was unreal. I was so surprised; I couldn’t even feel it in my rashie. It’s going to be exciting to see who the fastest surfer on tour is.”
Using Bede as the first guinea pig was a good choice, seeing how at last year’s Quik Pro Goldie he put up the highest heat total of the event (as well as the entire year) with a 19.30. They clocked Bede at Duranbah doing a big frontside air at 29.2 kph (or 18 mph). Quiksilver Events Manager Nigel Muscroft says we can expect event faster surfing from the speed tracks of Kirra or Snapper: “The speeds at Snapper or Kirra should well exceed 35 kph [21.7 mph].”
Though the device is not mandatory to wear, surfers are given the incentive of earning an extra $2,500 for having the fastest speed at the end of the event. The device itself weighs less than three ounces and is sewn into the jersey between the shoulder blades. The data from the device is relayed back to a computer that displays the speed in real time and will be relayed live to the broadcast commentary team for analysis.
Ultimately, this gives us another measuring block for the world’s best surfers, as well as enhancing the online broadcasts (which are how the majority watch the World Tour events). Watch any other sports broadcast on television and broadcasters inundate you with statistics out the ass (do we really need to know how many runs Derek Jeter scores on Thursday night games at home in the month of August?). But a lot of times in surf broadcasts we’re left desiring more because things are at such a rudimentary level, but quickly expanding. Surfer’s speeds will add a tangible stat to a broadcaster’s arsenal—one that is actually interesting and creates another measuring block for the world’s best. As Muscroft says, “The whole idea is purely to enhance commentary and broadcast, create some further interest, advance the sport of surfing, and find out who really is the fastest surfer.”
And starting at the 2011 Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast, we won’t be needing a radar gun to figure that out.—Ryan Brower
Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com for our full 2011 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast preview. And head to quiksilverpro.com.au for more info on the event.
Head to the next page for the official press release.