Maybe you’re the exception, and you’re currently shaking your fist at this page with an American flag wrapped around your shoulders, but—and sure, this is anecdotal—I’ve yet to meet a fellow American who follows pro surfing and cares which country their favorite surfer on Tour hails from. In all honesty, do you?
Perhaps the most telling cultural difference between surf fandom in America and the rest of the world is that despite the fact that there are only a handful of Americans in the elite competitive ranks, most American surfers don’t seem the least bit concerned.
The roundtable group pointed out that Brazilian fans will spill into the water at Trestles by the dozens to celebrate a Medina victory, which isn’t a scene you’re likely to see replicated by American surf fans if Andino wins an event in Rio (or even at Trestles, for that matter).
Maybe the fact that American surfers don’t need competition to find career success and adoration is why countries like Australia and Brazil so radically outpace the USA when it comes to Tour representation.
Hobgood agreed and wondered aloud how many Americans would make the Brazilian SURFER Poll, if there were such a thing—the presumed answer being “zero. ” On the flip side, two Brazilians—Toledo and Gabe Medina—made the 2016 SURFER Poll held by an American publication, voted on mainly by American surfers.
This is especially true when it comes to explaining the recent success of the “Brazilian Storm. ” Surfing magazine held a roundtable discussion on the state of American surfing last year, featuring Slater, Brett Simpson, C. J.
California still sets the pace when it comes to American surf culture, and despite a robust NSSA participation level in Southern California, the Golden State has long celebrated the local surf hero, or the unknown guy quietly ripping down the beach away from the crowds, more than we have the jersey-wearing trophy collector.
The common refrain was that “Brazilians want it more” than American surfers, with “it” meaning competitive success, and that has created a nationalistic bonding that American surfers don’t enjoy.
Tom Curren, who was basically Dane before there was Dane, just without the hyper-inflated self-awareness, arguably became more iconic in American surfing for walking away from competition and tripping the planet as a freesurfer than for his three world titles.
Read more here: Surfer Mag