In what can only be seen as a wink and nod to its fiercest critics, the World Surfer League (WSL) has adopted a new contest format for its cadre of professional wave riders. It’s called the “scrum” format.
For years critics, who are also, oddly enough, usually also fans of professional surf contests, have complained (or whined) of organized events that only test participants in a rarefied environment. Two to three contestants surf against each other in perfect waves (sometimes) while the beach is completely closed to any other surfers. The critics wonder how well these contestants would fare if they had to surf in crowded, competitive conditions “like the rest of us.”
So, here is how the scrum works.
At 4:30 am, all 34 pro contestants simultaneously receive a text message on their phones telling them the scrum is on, along with the wind and buoy reports. They must then race to the Cristianitos parking lot, drop their bikes, and ride like crazy down the trail to the beach. Those who happen to live closeby can ride their bikes directly to the beach. But, no headlights allowed for anyone.
There is only a single 3-hour heat, all in. Last man (this is the men’s contest) standing wins. They can bring their best game faces, but the rules are the local rules. No such thing as priority. You’ve gotta earn it through tactics learned through years of experience. Mad-dogging, blocking, shoulder hopping, back paddling, rail bumping; it’s all legal, if you can get away with it.
Some of the new contestants will try to work their way to the peak by giving a few set waves to the veterans, hoping for some scraps or nuggets. They may even try chatting it up with the vets, but there is not much hope for the nice guy approach in the scrum.
In some cases, disputes over priority may have to be settled on the beach by individuals or “teams.”
Longboards are allowed, but are generally discouraged.
That is the scrum. Sound familiar? Here is a photo, courtesy of the Surfline Lower Trestles live stream. Scrum in progress. Anybody keeping score?
We hope you enjoyed this fictional story about a zany idea that has no basis in fact or any relationship to any real surf industry persons or organizations.