Results from the October Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Board of Directors meeting revealed some interesting changes to take place starting in 2010 when it comes to professional surfing and the sport overall. The ASP World Tour is the leading surfing tour in the world and what it decides has a major impact not only on the sport of surfing and surfers in general (and fans) but many others including sponsors (endemic and non-endemic) advertisers magazines entertainment companies even video gaming producers.

Brodie Carr the ASP International CEO announced “We have just completed a period of intense discussion with the world’s best surfers and the world’s best events which culminated in the unanimous support of the ASP and the commitment to the continuation of crowning undisputed world champions as we have done so for 30 years for generations to come.”

Among the top changes include moving to a one-world rating system and decreasing the number of ASP World surfers on tour from 45 to 32. First the rating system will make things easier for the ASP World Tour plus ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) towards determining a surfers’ rating overall. By trimming back the field according to Mick Fanning ASP World Champion and the “Surfer’s Representative” on the Board it will help allow the best surfers get the best waves and streamline the events.

Prize money increases however have caused debate as usual. Surfing events are notorious for not having equal prize money for women in comparison to say snowboarding events that tend to have more equal shares. The ASP Board announced an increase in total prize money up from $3400000 for the 10-event series to $40000 for the men’s tour. The ASP Women’s Tour will increase also but only from $630000 to $800000 in 2010. Considering that women’s surfing is one of the fastest growing categories of the sport according to Label Networks’ data over the past 9 years and the higher percentages of young women who want to learn surfing and therefore be associated with the lifestyle (whether they surf or not) compared with males in the same age range according to our data for the past 5 years you’d think more sponsors and prize money to the ASP Women’s Tour would simply be a smart investment. Clearly not many brands have figured that out yet.

There’s more: In addition to the increase in overall prize money an additional $100 000 bonus will be awarded to the ASP Champ at the end of the year for men and a $30000 bonus for the ASP Women’s Champ. Again a lot could be said about this but the point is fairly obvious.

The great news from the Board meeting is that the ASP will increase surfer benefits including full insurance coverage as well as a pension plan. Now this is something to celebrate not only for surfing but for action sports in general as many athletes still have a hard time getting insurance because of the former description of such athletes being labeled “extreme” (vs. a basketball player or soccer player who are not considered “extreme” athletes and have a better chance of getting insurance).

Finally the last major change in surfing in 2010 is that the ASP Board will also include a women’s representative making the current 5-person structure of 1 chairman 2 event people and 2 surfers include a female presence on the panel.

“It’s fantastic that the women will become voting members of the ASP Board of Directors ” stated Jessi Miley-Dyer ASP Women Surfers’ Representative. “The current board has done an incredible job in directing the tour and has been instrumental in providing career pathways and tours for both male and female surfers. Having a female representative on the board dovetails perfectly into the positive global response we’re receiving on the ASP Women’s World Tour right now and I look forward to seeing the benefits of such a shift in focus.”

Next up for surfing news stay tuned for Label Networks’ coverage of the exciting Vans Triple Crown series ending with the famous Banzai Pipeline event on the North Shore of Oahu this December.