When Bobby Martinez paddled out for his 2nd round match up with Bede Durbidge in the 2011 Quik Pro in New York, there were no outward signs that anything unusual was about to happen. Well, perhaps his new sponsor, Fuck the World, or FTW as the hat and board lam proclaimed, may just have been something that we all overlooked at the time.
Was this moment somehow inevitable?
Back to 2011 and yes, Bobby was pissed, as were a lot of guys about the new proposal to have a mid-season re-shuffle of the ASP bottom 16, but we all thought at the time it was just Bobby being Bobby. Of course, however, he was on a bit of a roll after purposely missing two events earlier in the year, and the ASP probably had him on a pretty short rope by that time, but that was nothing unusual for pro surfing’s ultimate non-conformist.
Or so we thought.
As an amateur, Bobby Martinez won just about everything, including like seven national titles or something. He was destined for instant success on the world tour and in his rookie year in 2006 he fulfilled most expectations finishing #5 in the ASP year-end rankings, while also earning Rookie of the Year honors.
Yeah, he had a little ‘tude going but that’s why we loved him. That and his unmatched backside attack honed in the point surf of his Santa Barbara homeland. Bobby actually went on to win a few CT events like the Cold Water Classic at Steamers, Teahupo’o (twice) and Mundaka, (also twice), but it was his “no-fucks given” persona that gave Bobby the edge that resonated with those who simply saw surfing in a different way.
Well, Bobby was definitely your man if that was the case.
The more the tour tried to box him in, to get him in line with the program, the more Bobby pushed back. His surfing was at the highest level when the ocean cooperated, but as we know, there will be heats where old Mother Nature simply doesn’t show up and the first rounds of the Quik Pro was shaping up to be just that with small, gutless surf in the opening heats.
Bobby came third in his first heat and was sent to the losers round where he faced Bede, another large-framed surfer, but one that could still perform in smaller surf. It was a close heat, but Bobby squeaked out a win and proceeded to the interview podium for a few comments.
The ASP beach interview man that fateful day was a young, enthusiastic Todd Klein, who was waiting on the beach mic in hand unknowing of what was about to transpire.
Usually, when one wins a heat the mood is upbeat but for some reason Bobby just seemed irritable and Todd remembers it well. “We were just about to go live but they shot to a commercial break real quick and I remember Bobby being all amped up and even kinda angry. I asked him if he wanted to ‘take a minute to chill or whatever’, but he said ‘no, let’s do it.’
Well, when the camera went live it captured a moment that will lie forever in pro surfing folklore as the rawest post-heat interview ever given. The “tennis tour” reference becoming one for the ages.
Bobby pulled no punches nor did he leave many four-letter words out of his mainstage diatribe. All caught on camera live and broadcast over the big screens set up around the venue. Poor Todd wasn’t sure what to do so he just kept the mic in Bobby’s face and let him say what was on his mind.
The look on Todd’s face is priceless still to this day.
Well, obviously it didn’t sit well with the ASP brass and they pretty much DQ’d him on the spot giving Kelly, Bobby’s next round opponent, an easy stroll into round 4.
Before the dust could even settle, Bobby announced his retirement from competitive surfing and the rest is history.
We thought it appropriate that we revisited that day in 2011 as that moment happens to coincide somewhat with where the future of surfing is headed today. The tennis tour reference Bobby was making is in many ways a similar concern today that certain outside interests are having too big of a say over how surfing is portrayed, that the athletes should have more swing on things, etc.
Simply, is where this is going even about surfing anymore or just a means to an end in effort to bastardize surfing one more time?
Interestingly, now 9 years on, maybe Bobby was on to something.