SW: You are currently ranked #19 for last season's SLSA surf rankings and you've been SL surfing for nearly 4 years. We understand you have announced your intent to run for SLSA Director this term. What qualifications, skills, competencies, traits, etc. would you bring as a director and why are you running?
AH: This job is mostly about hard work, it is about committing your time for the benefit of the members. It’s always given me a great satisfaction to participate in organizing things in the SLSA and seeing them actually happen… even better - seeing other people enjoying them, too. I have a passion for this job and I’m excited about the opportunity to run for the office on the SLSA Board.
I believe that my previous experience as a director, surfer, surfing coach, head judge or event coordinator, along with my experience with RL large projects, can be a valuable asset to the SLSA. I take this experience as an important lesson about my own abilities and limits, but also about how things should or shouldn’t be done. It makes me pretty certain about what to expect of the job, what kind of tasks I may be assigned to, what kind of issues or problems the SLSA may be facing, and that communication, transparency and being open-minded is the key to success for our organization.
SW: What areas of improvement do you currently see for the SLSA as an organization?
The SLSA has always been a people’s organization and I’m happy that we’re still discussing possible directions the SLSA should head in. There is plenty of good ideas on the SLSA forum, and I believe we should keep implementing some of them.
AH: Of course one of the “hottest” issues to me is a low number of registrations for competitions. Another thing is something mentioned many times: low number of volunteers to work the competitions. It often happens that the same people judge or marshall almost all season. I don’t believe that it’s a good thing. Perhaps it’s a communication issue only and I’ve noticed an improvement in that area, but on the other hand maybe it also requires some changes in our regulations, too.
SW: What do you see as the top issues facing SL surfing in general, and what would be your first priority as an SLSA director?
AH: The main issues for SL surfing is surf sims being declined. There is literally only a few sims the SLSA can have its competitions at, and that is how the problem touches the organization. Of course it is not a good thing for another reason as well: shortage of surf sims = less people interested in surfing in general.
If I am elected, I will start my term basically after most of the preparations for the last season competition are over. Therefore my priority would be to discuss and implement solutions to make the next season a success, and one thing in particular: have more surfers in it! There is plenty of great ideas on the SLSA forum and on the members’ minds, and I believe a lot of people willing to help with the task. Some people would say: “surfing doesn’t need promotion”. I’d say: yes, it does.. in a manner of “hey, there is something like surfing here, and we have competitions, come over and have fun”.
There is also another priority for the Board to focus on before the next season starts: should we use different manufacturers’ surfboards in our comps? Maybe it’s time for the SLSA to open its comps to different and new surfboards. There is a lot going for that solution and there are some “but’s”, too. All worth discussing, but I believe in this matter we should hear more from a larger number of people, which would suggest that an SLSA survey should be organized, much like the one SurfWatch had, maybe a little more detailed, too.
I would also like to organize another Town Hall Meeting, like the one a year ago, which was a great opportunity for the directors and the members to meet live and discuss the most current and important matters in the SLSA.
SW: Why are you the best candidate for this job?
AH: The SLSA is about fun. That’s for sure. I think a director should be a person having even more fun than others when preparing competitions and events Someone once said: “Do what you love doing, and you will be successful”. So I hope me doing what I enjoy doing would help the SLSA and its members. Besides, I believe I have the experience, skills and attitude to be an effective director.
SW: What were you most satisfied with as an SLSA member last season? What were you most dissatisfied with?
AH: I’ve seen a lot of new faces recently. I also noticed they are doing very well in comps. And they are excited about being a part of this group, too. I’m glad that the SLSA is open-minded to new solutions and ideas. And then, like I mentioned before, I’m not very happy about the number or registrations for our competitions. After all there is over 900 people in the SLSA group and only 20-30 surf in our comps.
SW: Anything else you would like voters to know about you?
AH: I love burritos ;-)
Give us a brief statement or opinion on some of the major issues the SLSA faced in 2011 and possible issues moving into Season 2 (listed below):
1. Were you concerned with the low number of competitors signed up for the recent Open comps and what do you foresee for the future of the two-round, two-weekend SLSA competition format? If you are in favor of keeping the two round format, what are your thoughts on how to get more riders to participate in competitions?
AH: I am concerned with that. Recent cancellations of the Open events was the only thing the directors could have done though. One of the main reasons for the introduction of the two-round format was to make competition shorter, so the judges, marshals and other officers wouldn’t have to work non-stop for 10-12 hours and surfers wouldn't have to sit around waiting forever, too, other than to let more people surf in SLSA comps (reminder: before it was introduced the limit of riders in each season competition was 40).
The two-round, or rather two-competition format has its good sides: it lets the less experienced surfers to surf in another competition and get ready for a challenge of facing the “old timers” in the Pro one. It is also not very hard to find staff for those comps, since a lot of trained judges and marshalls are not surfing in the Open. Even though there is no harm in having those comps, they are a bit of a waste of time for the staff since the surfers could automatically be qualified for the Pro competition and the number of the Pro comp surfers would still be 30. Bottom line is that as long as the numbers are low, I’d suggest to have the Open comps cancelled with a notice regarding that sent to the riders ahead of time.
2. With the continuing decline of full surf sims with supporting neighbor sims for specators, and with more and more surf sims set up on Homesteads, what can be done to support the sim owners and ensure smooth running competitions?
AH: First thing we could do is to make title sponsorship free for our competition hosts. Having to pay for at least two sims (including at least one full sim) is a big challenge for them, and then the SLSA makes them pay another $7500L if they want to be promoted. Skip that, and the SLSA budget will lose $37.500L a season, which is not that much for the SLSA. We could also improve our sponsors promotion within the SLSA, or even come up with a project, something like “Save Our Sims” a few years ago, but focused on raising funds for surf sims.
3. The SLSA put into place a stipulation that a rider could miss one comp each season and not have it count against their rank in order to allow more people to volunteer to work comps. Most riders who use it are not using it to voluneteer but to do things in rl. Should this stipulation go back to being for volunteers only or should all riders be able to use this?
AH: Every rider uses the system. Every rider’s worst competition points are skipped when calculating the overall rankings, including the comps they didn’t surf in and got the DNC or DNS points. The system was put in place to let people volunteer. Yet, I see that those who volunteer would most probably did it even without the system. And they lose as much as they would lose if the system was not in place since other surfers use it just to remove their worst result. I am not happy with that at all. On the other hand it is about surfing skills, so rewarding only those that judge with points that are supposed to be given for surfing skills is not a good solution, either. I don’t believe there is a perfect solution for that problem other than perhaps some kind of a regulation that would make surfers volunteer. Of course that wouldn’t be 100% fair, either, since not everybody can judge in a season due to limited opportunities to do it.
4. With all the recent tier shortage notices, do you feel it is necessary for the SLSA to keep a home sim. Why or why not?
AH: I believe that if some miracle doesn’t happen soon, we should let the sim go. Seriously, guys. Last time I went there the traffic was 191. The SLSA has been struggling to keep it for a while now, and we keep asking people to donate, but then what… still not much has been happening there for a long time. It’s nobody’s fault really, but for sure all of the activities that we had there could happen somewhere else… with an additional benefit of promoting other struggling surf sims by having our events there. I know there is a Hall of Fame building at Archi and it is an important part of the SLSA tradition. But couldn’t we have it somewhere else? Most probably a lot cheaper or for free? It’s a nice building, a very clever design from Syx Toshi, approved by the SLSA members in a contest a while back. I’m sure a lot of sim owners would like to have it on their land.
5. There has been some discussion on allowing other board types and wave types other than SSi. What are your thoughts on allowing other scripts into the competition season?
AH: I believe that maybe it’s time to do so. SSi boards will always be my favorite, but I also think that we need some new stuff allowed in competitions. I don’t think we should have multiple manufacturers boards in one competition as the judging would become nearly impossible then, since it is not only about the style to many judges, but also difficulty. And some difficult moves and sets of moves are easier to do with some boards than with others. I think introducing new boards would also help with numbers of registrations for our competition. Like I said before, I think that we need a detailed survey on that for the SLSA members to express their opinions.