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SIMA: “Be bold! Take risks!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Is Rip Curl's Reign of Conservative Terror officially over?

You, of course, know that the acronym SIMA stands for the Surf Industry Manufacturer Association and you might know that the group, including executive vice-presidents and team managers from across the surf industry spectrum (Billabong, TufLite, Bad Boy, etc.) gathers each year in Los Cabos, Mexico to pretend things are still rad but you probably didn’t know that SIMA’s president, John Wilson, opened the festivities with an impassioned plea.

“Be bold and take risks, stay committed and passionate to surfing and the industry that surrounds it, embrace change as opportunity, and you guys better have fun.”

My heart, for one, could not be more encouraged.

Boldness, risk-taking, passion and fun are pretty much my modus operandi. Ask Zach Weisberg, founder-in-chief of health and fitness blog The Inertia.

And can I assume this dawn of a bold, risk-taking and fun new era means that Rip Curl’s Reign of Conservative Terror is officially over?

That the cloistered, buttoned-up, afraid-of-revealing-any-fun(drug)-truth, passive-aggressive, dull, duller, dullest, bland, lying, boring, paranoid surf industry of the past decade plus has been put asunder?

Has Rip Curl’s Neil Ridgway been pushed to outer darkness? Has the World Surf League’s Graham Stapelberg been slapped from his job by the open hand of good times?

And can I also assume that some “vice-president of global marketing” positions are now open?

May I submit my resume?

Chas Smith

Career Objective:

Bold. Risks. Passion. Fun.

Core Competencies:

Can wax a surfboard above average. Etc.

Professional Experience:

Mick Fanning

References:

Neil Ridgway

Graham Stapelberg

I’m waiting by the phone and thrilled.

Question: Is This Boardshort Racist?

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

On the bright side, it's not like Billabong's stock can drop much more

As you may or may not know, I graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in International Studies and Sociology. I can’t say I’ve used that quarter-million-dollar education to much success, but the investment has recently started to pay dividends.

What do I mean? Well, being a UCSD student grants certain access to otherwise impenetrable swaths of knowledge. No, I’m not talking bout professors, labs, or research databases. I’m talking about Facebook groups.

One such group is UCSD Free and For Sale 2.0, which is a subsidiary of the now deceased UCSD Free and For Sale (RIP). The group is exclusive to UCSD students and is used, primarily, to buy and sell calculators.

Every once in a while though, somebody breaks the code. They post something that is neither free nor for sale, but rather it holds such meaning to the individual that they feel compelled to share it with the entire UCSD populace.

Just recently, a young man posted a picture of an Asian woman with a flag hanging from her backpack. It was a white flag with a red circle and many rays of light sprouting from its center. Something like this:

And if you’re anything like me, your initial reaction is: Holy shit, that is one committed Andy Irons fan. She even went so far as to make a flag out of his signature “Rising Sun” Billabong boardshorts.

You know… the ones that all of the AI marketing is based around? The one from that iconic Pipeline bottom turn? The one from Brucey’s commemorative quiver!

But the man who posted the picture is apparently nothing like me. In fact, he had a completely different interpretation of this flag’s connotation – a very, very, negative one. He wrote:

The Japanese sun-rising-flag is the same thing known as the Nazi flag, which represents massive killings and catastrophe (like the rape of Nanking). She is insulting people form the countries who suffered from those unspeakable catastrophes. If we don’t stop her from showing this racist flag, even if it is as a symbol of pride as you say, how would the people think, even our next generation? That killing is right? Bringing disasters to the country is rightful?

Then later in the day, a new video of the woman emerged. There she stood, obviously disgruntled but still toting her Andy Irons flag, while being spoken to by a library cop (those exist!). Then, out of nowhere, she fled the scene.

According to the post, several students had informed the cop that the woman’s flag was offensive to their culture and asked him to speak with her. The woman wasn’t forced to leave, but it seemed as though she was unwelcome thanks to her flapping accessory.

This incident sparked a heated debate amongst UCSD students. Some of them, mainly the conservative “free-speechers” and Japanese-sympathizers, saw no problem with the woman’s so-called self-expression. Others, mainly the liberal “snowflakes” and Chinese-sympathizers, considered it akin to celebrating Nazi culture.

The debate rages on but some important questions remain:

– Did Andy Irons hate the Chinese?
– Is the Rising Sun issue truly comparable to Nazi Germany, or is such hyperbole simply the product of an exceedingly liberal campus and society?
– Does Billabong sell racist boardshorts? Like… even if we were to assume they’re racist in nature, does anyone buy them anyways?

I am wholly ignorant to recent Asian history so any insight on the matter would be appreciated!

#TourNotes: Mediocrity begets Mediocrity!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

It's a masterpiece of nothing!

Oh, Peter King what have you done? #TourNotes, as if I ever had to remind you, was the crude, but matter-of-fact mini-documentary series that gave the world tour events their sweetish perfume.

We watch the heats on the WSL; we get the story from #TourNotes.

Today’s episode of #TourNotes, final day of the Oi Rio Pro, is a lesson in what happens when caution unseats what was once a wonderful, yowling discharge. Access. Humour. Candour.

To be overly generous, the Brazil event was as much fun as dying of typhus in the Amazon. God bless Adriano and Ace, but you don’t stay awake all night to watch shamelessly risk-free top turns.

The highlight of the event? Filipe Toledo, who by rights should’ve won the damn thing with his legs crossed, expressing all sorts of threats to the judges after losing in round three on an interference.

But do we see in #TourNotes? Do we examine the elephant stomping through the “area”?

No, no.

Peter King, who is fifty years old but presents with all the honey dew of a vibrant little girl, has created a masterpiece of nothing.

Mick Fanning admits to being very bad at arranging his plate at buffets. We watch as a piece of vegetable lasagne almost slides off his paper plate.

We go freesurfing with Ace Buchan, who says, “I’m really impressed by the waves.”

A nice man offers to have Joel Parkinson’s Instagram account verified. Parko is pleased. Mick Fanning laughs.

Owen Wright comments upon the height of the scaffolding’s steps to Wilko.

Some sort of trainer explains the “dynamic activation” training of Kanoa Igarashi and Wilko.

And more.

Watch here.

 

Meet: Filipe Toledo’s Jet-Set Shaper!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

If a surfboard shaper builds a global empire, does that make him a baby-blue-collar worker?

Wanna talk surfboards? Of course you do! Let me introduce you to my friend and world renowned shaper, Marcio Zouvi.

Born and bred on the not-so-poor side of Rio de Janeiro, Marcio was a studious little bugger with grand aspirations. So much so that, as a young man, he left his beloved homeland to attend university in America’s finest city — San Diego, California.

While studying to become a computer engineer, Marcio couldn’t fight the pangs of nostalgia for his childhood passion. His heart lied in surfing, his hands in foam dust.

You see, as a young boy, Marcio would not only surf but also salvage dilapidated longboards. He’d strip their glass and grab a hacksaw and create art!

“Those boards were rough,” Marcio admitted. “They were so hard to shape because the foam was bad and I didn’t have the right tools, but that’s how I started building boards. I was just a kid.”

While attending university, Marcio picked up side jobs as a sander, glasser, and ding repair guy. It helped pay the bills and, more importantly, it was better than pushing punch cards.

“Back then, we were using those stupid punch sheets to run computer programs.” Marcio explained. “At that point I didn’t know how far or how fast computers would develop. If I did, maybe I would have stayed in school. But here I am.”

Just two years into his degree, Marcio called it quits to start building surfboards full-time. Sharp Eye Surfboards was founded in 1992, and in just about a quarter-century, Marcio has built a small empire.

“We’re not one of the top surfboard sellers,” Marcio said. “But we do have significant global recognition.”

As of now, Sharp eye is licensed in Australia, Brazil, Spain and Peru. Including the American factory, that’s four different continents with Sharp Eye production teams. Marcio said these licensees help him design superior surfboards.

“I develop all the models, but oftentimes guys from different regions will tweak them slightly to suit their local conditions. This happened recently with some of our Australian shapers. They changed a certain aspect of one of our models and it had such a positive impact that we now make all the boards in that fashion.”

With some of the most performance-minded boards in the sport, it makes sense that Filipe Toledo would fly under the Sharp Eye banner. Widely regarded as the best aerialist and small-wave surfer in the world, Filipe came to Marcio with lofty aspirations.

“Filipe is so innately good at airs,” Marcio said. “It’s just very natural for him. We built the Holy Toledo model with airs in mind, but learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t helping him win heats. Most CT events are held in pretty good surf, so this flatter, wider outline was impeding his ability to get the board on rail. Once he rode that OK to victory at Snapper in 2015, everything changed.

The OK model, designed for fellow team rider Oliver Kurtz, has a slim figure and with plenty of curve. It’s designed to fit turns in the pocket of steep, punchy surf. Filipe quickly fell in love.

“The way he could bury the rail was amazing. If you look back two, three years ago, Filipe was like a whole different surfer. Granted, he’s put in a lot of hard work over that time to improve his strength and technique, but the board change has helped his rail game immensely,” Marcio stated.

Then there’s Filipe’s newest model, #77  — the name of which derives from Toledo’s WSL jersey number.

“The 77 is basically a mix between the Holy Toledo and OK,” Marcio explained. “It seems to be the perfect combination for his style of surfing. It’s got plenty of rocker.”

“But what about the average surfer?” I asked. “Would most guys even be able to ride one of these things, or would they just sink?”

“Well, the stock dimensions are definitely not the same as Filipe’s,” Marcio told me. “Typically we sell beefier versions to the general public, because most people wouldn’t have much fun on a board as chippy as Fil’s. That said, people seem lost when it comes to buying a surfboard nowadays. Oftentimes they ask, ‘can I get an epoxy with 30 liters?’, and I’m just like…  ’30 liters in what model? What about the width, the thickness?’ People get caught up on trivial aspects of board design.”

Marcio continued:

“Board construction is a perfect example. Construction is important, yes, but design comes first. You hear guys talking like ‘Oh my god, this epoxy stringerless blah blah blah’ — it doesn’t matter. You design a board and then choose the construction. We can do epoxy or anything but that’s not what makes the board go. People need to understand that design is primary.”

But mainstream surfboard misconceptions isn’t the only concept Marcio grapples with. As a fan of surfing, Marcio loves to see passion and progression toward the future of the sport. Unfortunately, he believes there’s been a major decline in American youth surfing.

“Kids don’t want to surf today, not competitively at least. Even my son, you know, he likes to surf, but he likes soccer better. Most kids around here just want to surf for fun, which means fishes and longboards. That’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s completely different from progressive or competitive surfing. I think we’re a bit unbalanced nowadays between surfing as a sport and a hobby/lifestyle. In order for surfing to thrive, those things need to be balanced.”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Well, I think it’s because nobody is coming in with exciting design ideas,” Marcio replied. “I want to see more young shapers trying to reinvent high performance surfboards, but nobody seems to do that, at least not around here. Maybe it’s because America is such a bad place to be a shaper, economically speaking. All the restrictions in California make it nearly impossible to compete with foreign manufacturers.”

So yeah, Marcio’s got some gripes, but it’s important to take his cynicism with a grain of salt. When you get down to it, Marcio’s disappointment comes from a place of love — love for surfing, love for shaping, and the hope that both will continue to progress long after his last hacksaw swipe.

Until then, well, at least he’s got Filipe.

Metamorphosis: SUP to Alaia!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

French stud uses SUP and manservant to whip into stand-up tubes on his homemade alaia!

The things that occur to people! Most of my surfing times are spent remembering to crouch (ass to board not ass to mouth, as one famous surf coach told me), shimmy my front foot off the back third of the board and, simultaneously, swinging hips, dutifully bobbing up and down and waving arms and so forth.

I never, ever, think to express my bona fides with outrageous behaviour.

Unlike Fred Compagnon, whom we’ve seen before being towed into waves on what appeared to be a snowboard. Here, in this short, we see the full metamorphosis, from SUP, which is handily collected by Fred’s manservant Remi Arauzo, to wooden alaia to high-style tube.

“Two of us are on it,” Fred told GrindTV (What, I’m going to eat up international minutes on filler?). “The one on the back is lying down paddling and kicking with flippers, the one on the front is standing up and already strapped into the alai, paddling with the paddle. This gives you have a lot of speed and you can get into the wave really early. This is crucial because it gives you different options to start your line, optimizing all the benefits of the board to surf the waves.”

Fred, who is forty years old but as agile as an eight year old child bride, learned to shape the alaias eight years ago when the Australian aficionado David Rastovich, visited France.

And, now, with SUP, and straps, he can conquer very good Hossegor. There are several waves contained within the video that give me pangs of genuine pleasure.

And doesn’t Mr Campagon look tremendously pleased with his contraptions!

Here’s what it looks like from the camera stick.

No issue back shot

A post shared by Fred Compagnon (@fredcompagnon) on

And here’s the little board. “I build board for barrel,” says Fred.

Building New board for barrel

A post shared by Fred Compagnon (@fredcompagnon) on