New surf stats can take you deep down professional surfing rabbit hole. And that’s a good thing.
I often lay awake worrying what surfing needs. I also worry about hemorrhoids, whether my game theory knowledge is sufficient to establish the chances of nuclear extermination arising from Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un's pissing competition, why my left elbow is hurting today when it wasn’t yesterday and why I haven’t done a single fucking piece of exercise, the stalling of wax comb technology and why I’m always nervous on my backhand in barrels. However it is the burning question of just what surfing needs that mostly has me staring into that early morning abyss.
Until yesterday that is. Because yesterday an email pinged with a Trestles based newsletter from the mystery men at Surf-Stats. It turns out what surfing needs is not the removal of the threat of global warming, or more Brazilians surfing the Superbank, but data. Big, fat, juicy, meta metrics that have been boiled down to tasty morsels of bite-sized sexy surf analytics.
These Surf-Stats guys, and I confess I know nothing of their upbringing, location or tax brackets, sure do love their surf stats. Like Pauline Hanson loves her ignorance. Like Torren Martyn loves his twin fins. Like the Editor loves his Bondi closeouts. When I click on the email a dazzling array of Hurley Pro Trestles numerics, from the year 2014 to the present, jizzed all over my screen.
Did you know, for example, that Julian Wilson’s event average heat score (EAHS) at Trestles stands at a puny 11.18? That is well below both his 2017 average heat score of 14.54 and last three year career average of 12.95. Nope? Neither did I. Or perhaps you were unaware that Michel Bourez has the greatest discrepancy of any surfer between his heat average at pointbreaks (13.35) and at beachbreaks (10.50). That’s a whopping 2.45 points!! Stick to the points Spartan!
Of course the potential to drop down these mathematical rabbit holes is endless. I kept squirming through to the point where I found myself rocking back and forth and slapping my face with a wet contest singlet autographed by Guilherme Herdy. That is, doing a fair impersonation of Al Hunt. So in the interest of brevity, we will stick to numbers that might help predict what could go down at Trestles in a few days.
Unsurprisingly it is Filipe Toledo’s digits that jump, Magic Eye 3-D style, from the grid. His Trestles heat average over the last three years is a ridiculous 16.56, more than a point above Mick Fanning who is next. Of the World Title hopefuls, only Medina (15.17), Smith (14.97) and John John (14.49) are in the top ten. The numbers have to make Toledo the unbackable favourite.
Fanning too is worth a closer look. Despite currently being ranked 12th in the world and, by his standards, having a shocker, his overall numbers are right up there. Not only is his the second best average at Trestles since 2014, he also has the third best average heat total for 2017. It suggests a man in form, but who has slightly unlucky. He’s been posting big scores in losing heats, and the numbers suggest it’s only a matter of time before he cracks a win.
At the opposite end Wilson’s poor Trestles return is surprising, given how much his surfing suits the wave. The only man below him, excluding the rookies, is Seabass, another surprise given his talent. Wilko too hasn’t fared well on the cobblestones, his 12.36 leaving him in the bottom eight at Trestles.
Of course I could go on, spiraling into some Tracks equivalent of a Beautiful Mind, just without the intellect or Russell Crowe. Now also I can’t verify all the facts from the Surf-Stats guys, but I firmly believe that no one could go this deep into the sticky, stenching maw of professional surfing and make this shit up. I advise you to check em out. I sure did sleep better last night. Now if there only there was an analytical equivalent for hemorrhoids.....