The Founders’ Cup Paradox

Founders are honored with a competition that promotes the exact opposite of what they looked for


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It will take place this weekend at Lemoore, California, 200 kilometers away from the nearest beach, the first open event in history to take place at Kelly Slater’s pool, also known as the Surf Ranch.

"National" teams (three nations, one continent and the "rest of the world) will compete in what is dubbed the Founders Cup, and will be, according to a note published in the WSL website, in honor of the men that were responsible for the beginnings of professional surfing, namely:  Ian Cairns, Rabbit Bartholomew, Fred Hemmings, Randy Rarick, Mark Richards, Shaun Tomson and Peter Towned.

What do they have in common? That they either are legendary athletes and/or event organizers and circuit professionals.  These human beings were fundamental in the creation of the World Surf League as known today.

They were part of team events as competitors and/or coaches but are not devoted to this kind of tournaments, as those carried out by, for instance, the International Surfing Association (similar to the Founders Cup).

Hemmings co-founded IPS (International Professional Surfers) and created the Pipe Masters and Triple Crown. Rarick also co-founded IPS, which then turned into the ASP that Cairns shaped and then was presided by Bartholomew during years when the relationship between the ASP and ISA could not be qualified as tender.

The attempt by the World Surf League of honoring its founders with a style of competition from which they expressly decided to turn away when they started professional surfing, is striking.

It’s like like organizing a party for a heavy metal band and play Beethoven.

It would definitely have been a better reverence having ten surfers tearing each others’ eyes while disputing first place and a heavy check, instead of sharing a comradeship prize among team companions.

This tournament seems farfetched, an excuse for finally using the pool and the stadium modality, while charging from 300 to 9,500 dollars for tickets and practicing for whatever future brings.