Surfing no longer belongs to just you and me

Say what you want about the growing Americanisation of the WSL as an organisation, but as a platform for showcasing just how far surfing has travelled in this day and age, it’s unrivalled.

Watching the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro wrap up at Manly over the weekend, I was taken aback by the sheer diversity that existed in the later rounds of men’s competition.

Of the sixteen surfers left in Round 5, seven different nationalities were represented.

Of course the healthiest proportion of these were still from surfing superpowers Australia and Brazil, but there was also a Peruvian, a Uruguayan, a Japanese surfer, a Kiwi and a Hawaiian.

If you count the fact Soli Bailey is proudly representing the Indigenous Australian population (and you should), then there’s another heritage to add.

And this was a QS6,000, only two shades shy of CT-level competition, a high-rated event by any surfer’s measure.

Looking at the CT this year too, there are ten countries being represented, six in the top ten alone.

Ricardo Christie ensuring there is a strong Kiwi presence at the elite level of professional surfing. WSL/Dunbar

And that’s only the smallest sample of all the places around the world producing world-class talent.

Indo, the Philippines, Morocco, Portugal, England, Mexico — even some of those German river surfers shred for Christ’s sake.

And that’s a modest and hastily put-together list.

Then there are all the venues around the world hosting events.

Israel, the Canary Islands, Argentina, Chile, Sri Lanka and Barbados have already or will host Qualifying Series events this year.

There’s one going on in Senegal as we speak.

But what does all this mean?

That surfing has grown exponentially, as it was always going to, and that in recent times at least, the WSL has been really driving that growth.

But is introducing the best past-time any of us have ever come across to people in far-flung locales necessarily a bad thing?

Portugal's Teresa Bonvalot maneuvering through a post-heat interview. WSL/Tom Bennett

I guess it’s all about perspective.

You can take the Trumpian, build-a-wall-and-make-surfing-great-again attitude and despise anyone who poses a threat to the way things are and should always be.

Or you can embrace your inner Buddha and see our potential to connect through common ground.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind going for a surf with some of those river rats in Munich and sharing a couple of cold steins afterwards.

But that’s just me.