The 2011 season of surfing started out exactly how Brett Simpson had hoped it would. A couple solid results at the first two events on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour in Australia had the Huntington Beach local pumped. In just his sophomore season on the “Dream Tour,” Simpson was proving that he belonged.
Then the injury happened.
He was forced to sit out one tour event, and once he returned, he wasn't surfing quite up to the high standard he had previously set for himself, resulting in some early contest eliminations. He dropped in the ratings to a point where he was on the qualification bubble, with only two contests before the mid-season shuffle, which brings surfers from the qualifying tour onto the Big Show, and sends underperforming Big Show surfers back to re-qualification.
He would need to redeem himself in Tahiti at the Billabong Pro
at a wave called Teahupoo
, which is considered to be one of the most terrifying and technical waves in the world.
Simpson responded. A guy who got his start and built his repertoire surfing less-threatening beachbreaks near and around the HB pier paddled into two-story tall waves, pulling himself into barrels that could probably fit his lifted truck.
Simpo, as he is known, qualified through to the quarterfinals, which were run this morning in beautiful 8-12 foot wave faces over a razor-sharp reef that has been ripping off pieces of skin and demolishing surfboards all week.
Unfortunately, Simpo's competitor, a South African named Travis Logie, who was inserted into the event courtesy of a competitor withdrawal, came out fast and stroked into a pair of high-scoring waves that left HB's favorite surfing son in an 18.07-0.0 hole within the first eight minutes of the 35-minute heat. Simpo was able to make a noble comeback, finding an 8.77 and a 8.37, both from deep, flawless barrels, but they weren't enough to overcome the deficit.
WIth the result, Simpo has made a significant jump in the ratings points, which will help his hopes of remaining on tour for the duration of the year. The next event begins next week in Long Island, New York: the Quiksilver Pro, which is offered an unprecedented $1 million purse.