Regular Footers – bet on them to be ASP world champs

Slater_Rio2014Recently a friend from South America asked me, “Why do you think the majority of ASP world champs have been regular footers?” This surfer being a goofey footer himself, obviously had been reflecting on the history of the sport and seeing the odds for winning a ASP world crown are stacked against the goofey footer brigade

This got me thinking – what is it that makes regular footers more suited to becoming a world champ in the big time.

Since 1983 [the start of the modern era in the ASP] there has been 31 men’s world champs crowned, with 23 of these being regular footers. Making a 74% winning ratio. In the women’s ranks, it’s even better for the regular footers, at 80%. Since 2000, its got even worse for the goofeys, with only one surfer from both the men’s and women’s divisions [C.J. Hobgood, & Chelsea Georgeson[Hedges]] winning crowns. That’s a 92% winning ratio for both men and female regular footers. Sure you have Slater, Andy, Mick, and Layne through this period, but what happened to the fine goofey surfers participating on the tour during this period?

In the junior ranks, at the ISA world titles since 2000, the percentage difference for winners between goofeys and regular footers is much closer. Out of the 36 world titles contested in the boys and girls under 18 and under 16 divisions, regular footers drop down to a 61% winning advantage, much less than their ASP professional counterparts. So what happens between the junior worlds and the professional worlds. Why do the regular footers step up to the plate more often than their goofey counterparts in the big tim

Could these results be attributed to the ratio of regular to goofey footers in the general population. There are more regular footers, so they have a mathematical advantage just from sheer numbers.

Could it be that the ASP tour favors the regular footers by choosing to hold events at predominately right hand breaks like Snapper, Bells, Trestles.

Or is it the surfing approach of the regular footer world champs that suit the judging system more than their goofey counterparts?

Without hard evidence, but from my years of observing elite surfers, I believe its this third one that sets up world titles for the regular footers. Its their ability to perform rail turns and to flow between each that sets them apart. Look at the top men and women right now – Slater, Mick, Joel, Jordy, Carissa, Sally, Steph, Tyler – they all surf with more rail in the water than most of their counterparts. And all are regular footers. Driving through a turn with the rail totally buried is really appreciated by the judges, and doing combinations of these turns really gets the judges excited.

I believe this is the answer. That’s the point of difference for the top guys and girls. What do you reckon? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Having said the above, goofey-footer Gabriel Medina is currently leading the tour after event 5 of the 2014 tour. Could he do it for the goofeys? He sure has the talent and surfing confidence. But he now also has the expectations of the Brazilian surfing populations on his shoulders. To be the first Brazilian surfer to win a world title will be huge for Brazil and the whole of South America. Is he good enough to carry that expectation for the rest of the year. We will see.