submitted by Abel Halderman
Abel Halderman: First of all, welcome back to SL surfing, bro! You make me remember the old times. How do you remember them?
Pova Rustamova: I miss them mostly. I was fresh to SL and was messing with my first sims and (laughs) the community came and gave me some great tips. In fact Thor (author's note: Thor Bishop, a supporter to SL surfing; died in 2007) was instrumental in how I developed my first sim and then in me joining the SLSA. I met Desne (Aabye) and Thor, and they got me on the water. (Laughs) My first practice board was pink. But what I know is, it was all about family back then.
AH: How is it different now?
PR: Well, lately its been getting back to some cameraderie. But for a while it seemed to get a little political, get segmented. At one point, and it’s what kept me surfing, is I decided not to worry about it all, just surf and have fun. If I did well, great. If I didn’t, then great, I could go party quicker. And it's kept it fresh for the most part.
AH: Many people remember you as an SLSA champion in 2008. What did the championship mean to you?
PR: I had a good year that year and it was fun. I'm a competitor so I was pushing myself to stay on top, trying to develop a nice style, and one of the old timers told me one day it's not about all the tricks and jumps. It’s about the ride - you have to paint the wave. So since then, I have just been trying to paint my board all over its canvas.
AH: I remember people always said you had the best style. I tried to beat you. I didn't succeed.
PR: Awww, you ain’t so bad, buddy. You’re one that I had to worry about every time out.
AH: Only if you crashed :-)
PR: I also remember that season as being a really, really hard one to complete. Havoc4 rolled in in the back half of that season and really did cause some havoc (editors note: see Interview: Sidewinder Linden, April 24, 1008, by Tauri Tigerpaw). Everyone was having to learn how to surf all over again.
AH: That's true. Everybody had problems at first. Now back to the present. What do you think of the current SL surfing, especially the competitions? Is it still fun?
PR: Yes, for the most part it is, but the comps have gotten so long that that makes it a bit less enjoyable. No one has six to eight hours to devote to surfing. Just too many things to interfere, SL and Real Life (RL). I hate to say it, but that’s why I personally haven’t competed much in the past year and a half. I couldn’t commit to a full day. I hated that several times I made it to finals but pressures of RL took me away, and I couldn’t even finish. But since I have been back, I think there is a small interest in trying to get it back to where things are fun with reasonable times to complete a tournament.
AH: What ways do you see to reach that? I know you're full of ideas.
PR: Well, micro tournaments, for one.
AH: Like mini-comps once offered by the SLSA and Vibrations Surf Alliance (VSA)?
PR: There are some grassroots organizations out there trying new things. And more or less putting on a two to three hour surfing party on the weekends, or you can break down the quarters and respect some time zone issues. Now granted for the finals that can’t be done to accommodate everyone, but we can surely break it down.
AH: Yes. There were people unhappy about having comps in times good only for American surfers. But now, there is the ASA (Australian Surfing Association).
AH: You were a marshall in their last competition.
PR: Yes, I was.
AH: You rocked, man.
PR: (laughs) I did my best. Hope I kept it running. Only seemed to be a couple glitches, but we move through them with good speed.
AH: Three hours, that's what it’s taken.
AH: As for the number of surfers, not bad at all!
PR: It was a fair showing. The big thing I seemed to notice as it was on a homestead sim is that the format didn’t tax the sim too much. I didn’t have or didn’t hear many complaints about lag as such. Also, it seemed to have more surfers get in full runs, no bellying, so it made the judging really tough. Close scores all around, proof being that we had a three way tie for 3rd. We ran four surfers per heat, three waves per each, and only had one issue pop up that we allowed a surfer redo because of a failed wave. And we know what caused it: another avi crashed on the sim while that surfer was on the wave, and it cause enough disturbance that the surfer fell right through the wave. It basically collapsed on her. So in the head judge's eyes, and more or less a consensus, we decided to allow a make up run. But besides that, it ran really smoothly.
AH: That's true. Another thing: for years there've been questions about teams and how they should work and participate in the SL surfing. What do you think?
PR: Oh, like individual teams like, say, Tsunami, Wave Riders, Misfits and so on?
PR: Well, I think of a team concept as more of a family concept as it started in the beginning. People joined a surf community primarily to get to surf the spots that had waves. A lot that are gone now. But they became their homes. Then there were some competitions thought up, more on an individual basis. So we were having some friendly comps and awarding trophies and developed a points system to determine a champ. The individual teams were more of a cheering section of which the Misfits were the loudest in my opinion. Big Dawg and crew could hoot it up.
AH: “Go hard or go home!”.
PR: Yep, GO HARD OR GO HOME! But now this is were it got sticky. We all tried to bring teams into the fray and develop a way to boost or reward a team. And some individual I think saw the teams as a threat to the individual championship: if one team had more people on the board and more judges and such there was gonna be some bias, and it got political. I think a lot of feelings got hurt and egos bent. There seemed to be a lot of static in the SLSA. That’s when I told myself, I’m just a surfer out to have fun. So I love the teams as a cheer group, and you can have some bragging rights if your team members win some torphies or do well in them, but just cheer.
AH: They often practice together and try to reach their common goal: do as well as possible in team ladder.
PR: Yep. But as things are set up it competitions are for individuals and always will be.
AH: Surfing is an individual sport, so doing well as a team takes it back to teams being like families - supporting each other.
PR: Yep. And a way to pass on knowledge, support them youngsters that wanna surf, bring them into the family with a party.
AH: I see it as a huge part of team's activity. At least it's like that on my team (Tsunami)
PR: Teach them up, down, right, left, page up, page down, and let them beat your butt in the next competition.
AH: Okay, now let me ask you this, because many people are interested…
PR: Hides under the table waiting…
AH: Are you going to compete?
PR: Yes!!! I will compete again. And it will be in one of these smaller comps first. As I said, my commitments of time have changed, and I love to party.
PR: Just ride. Get a feel for the waves and, as I said, paint your picture. Don’t worry about beating your keyboard to death to do a flip or curl. Just move up and down the wave and get lost in it. Then go party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We always have to keep the relationships going and that will keep the community alive. People search out cameraderie, and I think we have one of the best atmospheres there is in SL in the surf community. Everyone loves everyone, for the most part.
AH: Champ, thank you for the chat.
PR: You're welcome. Now grab a board and shut up and ride, as my buddy, Doxx Drake, always says.