Tour Talk: Lewy Finnegan.
We continue our survey of some of the world tour’s top competitors on the present and future of proffesional competition. Up next, Aussie yoga freak and W.A. shredder Lewy Finnegan.
What have you missed about competing on the world tour this year?
Hanging with good friends is what I miss most. Some of the other riders on tour as well as the friends I stay with around the world are some of my best friends now! It’s kinda sad that i’m unable to hang out with them this year.
What have you enjoyed about not competing this year?
It’s nice to spend a whole Winter at home in WA. I’ve missed 4 Winter seasons in a row now which is when all the biggest swells of the year hit this coast. For years I missed loads of good days at The Right which always bums me out, so it’s nice to know that I’m definitely not going to miss a Right swell this year!
Has the break from the tour made you reevaluate competing on the tour next year?
For sure it has. Competing on the tour, although it was only for 4 years, became part of my life. Having a year off has given me a taste of some other opportunities that lie ahead outside of the world tour. Competing on the tour obviously isn’t a viable career pathway because there’s not enough money involved in it to be able to survive without generating income from another source, so it was always in the back of my mind that I needed another way to make enough money to live comfortably. I’m very passionate about finding enjoyable ways to earn a living and this year off the tour has given me time to ponder deeply about what I want in life and where I would like to see myself in the future.
Has it affected your sponsorship situation?
I was already in discussion with PRIDE last year about taking this year off the tour to make a new web edit in 2020, so it’s all worked out kinda well for me personally. PRIDE and I developed a plan that hasn’t been too drastically affected by the pandemic which is great.
Do you think that the current world tour model is the best format for crowning a world champion?
With the amount of money, or lack thereof, that’s involved with the running of the world tour I think everyone involved were doing a great job to hold the events that we were having. Every year I’ve been on tour I have seen the top performing rider throughout the year eventually win the world title at the end of the year, so for me it seems to be working well. The cream always rises to the top, I guess.
The only issue I see is that everyone is struggling financially to keep doing the tour.
With the number of events that there are and the amount of time needed to be spent away from home and work, most of the riders are struggling to sustain their competitive careers (if I can call it that) because they’re spending more money than they’re winning. It’s painful to see athletes from other sports winning big money and living the dream when I witness some truly inspirational athletes in bodyboarding, putting in just as much time and effort as any other athlete, literally not even making a ‘minimum wage’ salary and struggling to keep pursuing their dream.
Do you think that the current world tour model is sustainable going forward in a post covid world?
A lot of things changed at the end of last year, with Alex Leon stepping down from his position and different people rising up to take on more important roles. I’m not actually too sure what the model for the world tour is next year so it’s hard to say. The model that was being used in the previous years is probably sustainable, yes, but i’d like to see the tour become something huge and exciting. A tour where millions of people tune in from around the world to watch insane action in pumping waves.
If “No”, how would you like to see a world champion crowned?
Perhaps a few less events per year would equate to bigger and better competitions, with more riders, more sponsors, more money and more exposure to the world of fans and future fans. The tour could drop some of the events that are held in mediocre waves and instead focus on hosting a few big events each year that are held in crazy conditions. I’m pretty sure that would get everyone, the fans and the athletes, frothing to be involved and stoked to be a bodyboarder.