Last month, 29-year-old Bobby Martinez announced that he would be retiring from surf competition after the Quiksilver Pro New York. On Wednesday, the Association of Surfing Professionals suspended and disqualified Martinez from the competition for his outburst in a live webcast interview following his Round 2 heat.
Martinez, who failed to show up for the Billabong Pro Jeffrey's Bay and the Billabong Pro Tahiti events, won his heat Wednesday against Australia's Bede Durbidge. But upon returning to the beach, he unloaded on the ASP, its new system, his fellow competitors and his apparent disdain for the sport of tennis.
The disqualification means that instead of a marquee matchup against Kelly Slater (Martinez beat Slater when they last met, in Brazil), Slater will cruise straight to Round 4. This presents a significant loss in momentum to an event that has been embraced by a new audience in New York but has faced less-than-ideal weather over its first two days of competition.
The statement and suspension are the culmination of several months of Martinez's dissatisfaction with the ASP and the surf industry overall.Martinez's quote, in its entirety, reads:
"First of all, I'd like to say, and the ASP are going to fine me, 'cuz I don't want to be a part of this dumb [expletive] wannabe tennis tour. All these pro surfers want to be tennis players. They want to do a halfway cutoff. How the [expletive] is somebody who's not even competing against our caliber of surfers ahead of 100 of us on the one world ratings. They've never been here. They've never [expletive] made the right to surf against us, but now we're ranked upon them. Come on now. That's bull---. That's why I ain't going to these stupid contests no more. This is my last one, because FTW, my sponsors is here and I just tell it like it is. This is my last one, and I don't like tennis. I don't like the tour. Who gives a [expletive]? You know what I mean?
"I've been here before. I love this city. I'll tell you right now, if my sponsor wasn't here, I wouldn't be here for this dumb contest. ASP? The [expletive] surfing's going down the drain thanks to these people."
At the crux of Martinez's complaint is the ASP's new world ranking system, in which surfers who perform well in star and prime events replace surfers who have not produced results on the World Tour for the second half of the season. Martinez and all of the World Tour surfers had an opportunity to vote on these issues in 2009.
The ASP Rules and Disciplinary Committee has repeatedly warned and fined Martinez for similar (although less extreme) comments in webcasts and via his Twitter account. Surfing's governing body has cited Martinez's actions as a violation of Articles 151 and 147 of the International Rule Book. Article 151 states: "All Surfers shall not at any time damage the image of the sport of Surfing." Martinez will be unable to collect any prize money from the ASP until he pays these fines.
The ASP seemed most concerned about his language. In a letter to Martinez, the ASP stated, "The interview was conducted on the event live webcast being watched by a global audience, which includes many young children."
Martinez would have been dropped from the World Tour if he hadn't made the finals of the Quik Pro New York.