As soon as competitive surfers get out of the water, they seem to be pushed through a World Surf League filter and they all become the same boring person. In times like these I wish we had Mick Fanning’s alter ego Eugene on tour!
As long as the surfers of the world championship tour are surfing I am completely entertained. I feel the need to stay up all night and watch the heats unfold. John John is the king of the barrel, Toledo flies to new heights, I hold my breath as Kelly paddles out, and am in awe of the fresh surfing from the rookies. Out of the water? Different story. They all give the same boring answers to the same boring questions. Where’s the passion? Where’s the excitement of enjoying what you do in live? Where is Eugene?
Everyone who has been following the world tour for a while has probably heard of Mick Fanning’s alter ego Eugene. Not only is it Mick’s middle name, but he’s also Mick’s silly side who would come out and play whenever Mick had to blow off some steam. Those of us who had the privilege of meeting Eugene would not likely forget this encounter. Eugene has a reputation of partying hard and being able to withstand great amounts of beer. He even made an appearance in the surf movie ‘Mick (the professional surfer), Myself (the spiritual freesurfer) and Eugene (the fun loving youth)’. After a while though, even Eugene had to make way for the professional attitude that is demanded by today’s sport of surfing. And we haven’t seen Eugene since. Even a fairly recent freesurf video title says ‘Mick Fanning, The Freesurfer, The World Champion’. A seriously good video but where did Eugene go?! Come back mate, we need you!
It’s not at all that I need to see the competitors party hard all the time. On the contrary it’s not about the drinking or partying at all. I just wish we would be allowed to see more of their complete personalities. If you had a tough loss, you should be allowed to be upset in your post heat interview. You had a win, go bananas! Need to argue a bit? Do so. At the moment though, I feel as they all need to behave in a certain way because the WSL determined that’s the best thing for the sport of surfing. But isn’t surfing a connection between mind, body, and soul? Shouldn’t we be allowed to witness the soul of surfing, rather than a scripted vision of the WSL?
Sure Eugene is a party animal, but he also has a symbolic meaning. He stands for being yourself, letting yourself go if you want to, or need to. He puts things into perspective, takes the seriousness off of things, and creates a bond between people. He allows you and the people around you to get to the essence of it all, to enjoy what you do, to enjoy life!
Mick Fanning probably had his craziest year on tour, perhaps even of his life. It’s no wonder he takes a personal year and opted to only participate in a handful of events. The striking thing for me however, is his reasoning. He said that he want’s to surf new places together with the people he loves. He wants to re-discover his stoke for surfing, be an exciting freesurfer, and really get back his passion for the sport. To me it sounds like he’s just looking for Eugene…