On Tuesday, the ASP announced its decision to deactivate the mid-season rotation. The rotation came as part of the changes to the ASP structure rolled out in 2010 to give top qualifying surfers a chance to join the elite World Tour at the halfway point and drop surfers who were not up to caliber.
For the past two years, no one in surfing had been more skeptical and vocally critical of the One World Ranking system and mid-season cut off than 29-year-old Bobby Martinez. Martinez, who was the World Tour Rookie of the Year in 2006, was in danger of being rotated off the tour this year. Via expletive-laden tweets and webcast interviews, he made his thoughts about the new ASP structure very clear. At the crux of his argument was the mid-season rotation. He was fined for some of his outbursts.
"I actually think it's funny how everyone looked at me like an idiot when I put the ASP on blast in New York, but now it just goes to show that I was right. And it took me to stand up and say something in order for this to take place -- otherwise it wouldn't have happened. Everything would've stayed the same unless I broke the ice and let it be known," Martinez said Thursday.
In a post-heat interview at the Quiksilver New York Pro in September, amid expressing distaste for tennis (the US Open of Tennis was held in Flushing Meadows at the same time as the NY Quik Pro, drawing some of the surfers' attention) he said on the live webcast:
"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."
Martinez was still very dangerous this year, even beating Kelly Slater in Brazil. He could have saved his chances with good results in South Africa or Tahiti (where he won twice) but was protesting the ASP by not attending these events. He had already announced plans to retire after the New York Pro, but there has been great debate in the surf community about whether he went about it in the right way.
He explains that he was in the minority of surfers who wanted to do away with the cut-off, but since his retirement, many have come to share his perspective.
"So all those World Professional Surfer [plural expletive] can thank me later," Martinez laughed, "It's definitely a step in the right direction. I believe that, and obviously other people do now too."
The 32 surfers announced for the start of 2012 will be on for a full year.
"Now the surfers don't want it and the ASP had to listen to them. In the previous year surfers and ASP both wanted the cut-off. So I guess they are listening to the surfers now. It's about time," Martinez explained.
The ASP cited "scheduling uncertainties," as the cause of the deactivation.
"I heard that the surfers all were over the halfway cut-off, and the ASP wanted to keep it. But if the ASP were to keep it, the surfers were going to boycott the ASP. So the ASP changed it," Martinez contended.
Martinez, now a professional freesurfer for the FTW brand, also added that he's, "Not doing any events as far as the eye can see."