5 September, 2013 5 September, 2013

‘The Grind’ Keeps Grinding – Tough Luck for Saffas at SATA Airlines Azores Pro

The World Qualifying Series (WQS) is often referred to as ‘the grind’. It’s where every pro (in the whole world) with ambitions of making it into the big leagues are dueling it out for a precious few spots – most often in waves they wouldn’t bother paddling out in back home.


Add to that the fact that these WQS shredders are predominantly in a place where they hardly know anyone (except the same guy they competed against last event); can’t speak the local tongue; their boards are lost in transit; they’ve caught the wrong bus and have ended up further inland; the list goes on…

It’s a tough slog and many burn out before reaching their goals (or realise that they’re never going to make it), while others chip away for years and finally achieve their target – World Championship Tour (WCT) qualification – then they go over-the-falls at Restaurants and are out for a huge chunk of their supposedly dream season – like what happened to Aussie/Irish warrior, Glen Hall, at the 2013 Volcom Fiji Pro.

Still, it’s better than a normal job, right? Indeed!


Thousands of kilometres for fifteen minutes of fame.

The 6-Star Prime SATA Airlines Azores Pro is currently underway in the Azores, with Day 4 having just kicked-off. If you scan through the results you’ll notice that it did not go so well for the Saffa contingent that made the long voyage to the volcanic archipelago in the Northern Atlantic.

Shaun Joubert, who earlier this year was crowned the ISA World Champ in Panama, lost out in a low-scoring first heat. Meanwhile, Beyrick de Vries secured one heat win then got knocked out in the second round.

All over for the Saffas in the Azores.

Beyrick collected 700 points for his equal 25th place (which improves his WQS total to 7800 points by replacing his lowest counting result – 318 points), and just by showing up to the event Shaun managed to replace his lowest total of 250 points, with his 380 earned in the Azores for equal 73rd.

Shaun's ISA World Surfing Games title earlier this year in Panama helped ease the sting of a tough year on the grind.

Shaun’s ISA World Surfing Games title must have helped ease the sting of a tough year on the grind.

Beyrick currently sits at 37th in the world rankings, while Shaun finds himself at 95th.

Being a Prime event, only the WQS’ Top 96 qualify to compete – which is why getting a result (or no result) in the Azores can improve a WQS surfer’s position in the standings.

The ASP Women’s WQS has already ended for 2013, and the good news is that Bianca Buitendag has secured her spot on the 2014 Dream Tour by finishing 10th. The Vic Bay local has been having a great rookie season in the big leagues this year, so she may also qualify via that.

Bianca got her Rookie season on the Dream Tour started with an impressive 5th place at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast.

Bianca got her Rookie season on the Dream Tour started with an impressive 5th place at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast.

Then the world turns a little more, the next event gets contested on another continent, and the grind begins again…

But that’s okay, because 15 September will see the kick-off of the Hurley Pro at Lowers, and the surfers on ‘the grind’ will watch as Kelly, Dane, Jordy, John John and co. explode – which should give them all the motivation they need to take the next step towards their goal – to join the big boys club.

Get the results, photos and highlights from the SATA Airlines Azores Pro here: http://aspeurope.com/azores2013

Or view rankings, results, schedules, and read more about the WQS here: http://www.aspworldtour.com

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