Exposed: Professional surfers are poor

Sports Illustrated uncovers the truth!

Sports Illustrated just did a story on how little money action sports stars make. (Read it here!) It is sad. Professional mountainbikers, for example, only make 50k to 200k a year and usually only win 25k in their competitions.

Sports Illustrated says, “The yawning pay gap between action sports athletes—and their mainstream rivals—is rarely discussed publicly. But among themselves, over beers, extreme athletes ‘talk about it all the time.’”

There are many tears in those beers.

Not as sad as professional mountainbikers, but still really sad, are professional surfers. Sports Illustrated says, “Just ask 21-year old Gabriel Medina, Brazil’s first surfing champion, who struggled for years before winning the 2014 ASP World Tour title.”

But then Sports Illustrated doesn’t ask him so I don’t know what they mean. Do they mean Gabs is Brazilian?

John John Florence makes 5 million dollars a year (number 1 on Stab’s “Rich List” in 2013) but he is poor because Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes 108 million dollars a year. Also, the PGA Tour offers a yearly purse of $314 million dollars while the World Surf League offers $5.8 million. The NFL makes 10 billion dollars a year. The WSL sometimes thinks it does too because it is bigger than the NFL (see here) but really makes negative hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Professional surfers should have maybe played golf or football instead of professional surfing.

What sport do you think professional surfers should have played? If there was a Kickstarter for professional surfers how much would you give? Can you maybe make a Kickstarter for professional surfers?

Craig Anderson and Hypto-Krypto
A surfboard that is short with a stubbish nose and such a little tail. More fun that the vigorous operation of your sex glands! A surfboard as a relief mechanism! | Photo: Morgan Maassen

What your Surfboard Says About You!

Are you a Weirdo Ripper, Sub-Scorcher or a Hypto kinda gal?

A surfboard is the most important component of any surfer’s arsenal. Surfboards are conduits that splash brushstrokes on saltwater canvases. They are extensions of our souls. They are muses and swords, trophies and brothers. We give them names like Black Beauty, Mother of Pearl or the Egg. We protect them like fragile infants. When everything goes right, they are magical. Like it or not, the board you ride says a lot about you.

Channel Islands: You are a classic front-runner with no taste. You have been married at least twice. You live in the suburbs; have 2.5 kids, a golden retriever, a mistress and a $1000-a-week cocaine habit.

…Lost: You’ve never had a job that requires a W-2 form. You have a minimum of 12 tattoos. You root for the bad guys in westerns. Idols include GG Allin, Johnny Cash and Aaron Cormican.

JS Tractor: You aren’t exactly gay but would snuggle up with Occy like a koala bear in heat if given the opportunity.

Firewire: You are well-to-do stay at home dad, watch the Oxygen network and fantasize about Oprah wearing black leather. You have It’s Raining Men on your iPod.

Superbrand: You’re an aspiring artist who wears designer T-shirts. You pay the bills by DJing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. You can’t execute a simple cutback but you attempt an air on every wave. One day you will pull one off. You have an Andy Warhol shrine in the basement.

T. Patterson: You have a permenant tan line where your state-mandated ankle bracelet used to be.

Velzy: You don’t surf anymore and but still buy boards at collectables auctions.

A Kneeboard: You’ve never been past second base with a girl.

Santa Cruz Epoxy: You belong to a food co-op and are attracted to European women who don’t shave. You smoke speed on weekends.

Tropical Brazil: Your interests include soccer, Carnival and milking two-foot mushburgers to the beach.

Surftech: You conceived your first child at a Radiohead concert and your wife/girlfriend thinks iPhones are more addictive than crack.

An Alaia: Your’re a disgruntled former pro still cashing checks from a third-tier clothing company. You have a fugazi Jackson Pollack in the living room and dream about opening an Asian fusion restaurant.

Chilli: Your ancestors were petty thieves and grifters before they were and shipped Down Under by the British.

Xanadu: You are a strip club DJ in San Diego. You drive an aftermarket Honda and eat sushi 4 nights a week.

T&C: You went to Hawaii last summer and got a surf lesson at Waikiki.

Kechele: You drive a monster truck. You think Todd Holland was the greatest surfer of all time (besides Slater of course…amen). You have an enormous case of West Coast envy, but routinely tell your friends the East Coast is way better. Your great-grandfather was in the KKK.

Robert August: You are a construction contractor. You sold your Harley Davidson on eBay. You struggle to fit into your 20-year-old Aleeda wetsuit.

Patagonia: You sell Mona Vie acai juice for a living. Someday you will achieve your dream of riding along with the Sea Sheppard crew. You drive your wife’s Subaru station wagon.

Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV): You think Ron Jon is core surf shop and get a 10% discount.

A self-shaped board: You excel at making “will work for food” signs and your current address is under a freeway overpass.

Hayden-Shapes: People who wear Kanye West’s signature shoes as booties.

A SUP: You own a dozen Ed Hardy shirts. You want to commit suicide but don’t own a shotgun.

Exclusive: Kelly Slater on/in Volcom!

We love him. Who doesn't?

We all love Kelly Slater. Nobody doesn’t. And so we hang, like breastfeeding children, on each of his moves. We look for clues. He is our Vladimir Putin. We are his Russian citizenry. And look at the above picture (as seen on Volcom’s Insta). Kelly is wearing Volcom trunks. He is wearing them and totally shredding. Might the King have jettisoned OuterKnown and ended up on Volcom? What a delicious combo that would make! Youth Against Authority and the Perpetual Youth. I love this and I hope it real.

Wooly, do you read BeachGrit? Make this real. Kelly, I know you must read BeachGrit because one time you commented on my Instagram account and it made my heart flutter. Would you please ride Volcom trunks? And if not Volcom, BeachGrit makes the best in the biz. I just rocked them real hard at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Nobody of note goes there anymore because it is owned by Bahrain and they are totally anti gay. I love gay and wearing tiny BeachGrit trunks poolside is my middle finger.

What is your middle finger? Do you want Kelly to ride for Volcom? If not Volcom and if not OuterKnown then who? BeachGrit? Do you really think it is possible?

Matt Biolos
"Every surfboard that is shaped with feeling is a portrait of the shaper, not of the surfer," says Matt Biolos.

Surfboard Design for Morons!

Matt Biolos and the 10 things every surfer should know about their pleasure craft… 

Everyone rides …Lost surfboards for good reason. The sturdy, hairy man who makes ’em (Matt Biolos) has a connection with the average surfer (and so the boards…forgive) but he can also cross the aisle to the complex world of the professional surfer.

Who else you going to turn to when you want to simplify the game?

1. Boards with a straight rocker paddle faster. And, paddling is 50 per cent of the game. If you can’t catch waves, you can’t surf. Even if you’re surfing two-foot windblown peaks with three friends, you still have to compete to get waves. And, you thought it was all about thickness, right? It’s not; it’s how the bottom moves across the water. However…

2. Volume is your friend. You can have a really thick board, but if you put a vee bottom, it rides neutral, whereas a medium-thickness board with concave can ride flat like a plank.

3.Tail shapes don’t matter as much as you think. If the width going into the tail is the same, a square, a squash, a diamond or a swallow is going to behave in a similar way. Round tails and pintails decrease the rail line, so they’re going to hold a little better and shorten a turn radius.

4. I don’t buy into the whole back-foot/front-foot surfer thing. We’re all surfing from the back foot. You’re either a weak back-foot surfer or a strong back-foot surfer. You push hard or you don’t. You’re either Taylor Knox or a flicky little kid.

5. Look at the outline of your board. Straight lines go fast. Curved lines turn. Simple.

6. The straighter the rocker, the further back you need to stand and boards with a continual rocker have a bigger sweet spot. However, and this is a big however, a drivier board will be more forgiving in picking up speed, just less forgiving when you need to turn.

7. Match the curve of the board to the curve of the wave. This is for the average surfer. Everything goes out the window for pros – they can do anything. I travel with a curvy board and a flat board: curvy boards for the Gold Coast and for Sydney shorebreaks. Flatter boards for mushy points or blown out crumblers. On a planky board, it ain’t gonna work when you need to jump to your feet and bottom turn in one quick move. And, when you do get up, all you’re going to do is parallel floaters.

8. There’s a magic number and it’s called your cubic volume. It’s up to us shapers to educate people, and it’s information available, right now, on our shaping machines. Let me explain. One of my team riders, Shea Lopez, was teasing me about how big my boards are. We were down at Lowers, two fat cocktails in hand, and he grabbed my board and said, “Have a fucking look at this boat!” And, I said: “Well, I’m fat, I’m 40, but you know what, fucker? I bet my volume-to-weight ratio is not far from your’s. I’m 30 per cent heavier and have maybe 30 per cent more volume. The difference is, I’m a desk jockey and you’re a professional athlete.” If we know our cubic volumes, all the other dimensions can be left to the shaper. Instead of saying, I ride 6’1”s x 18 5/8” x 2 5/16”, you’d say, I’m a 42, make me a small-wave craft. This does require a degree of trust in your shaper. Which leads me to…

9. There are two types of shapers you can trust. One is the local shaper who knows the conditions and who probably knows how you surf. That’s a certain kind of trust. Then there’s the trust you have for an international shaper. You trust Al Merrick because he consistently makes great boards for great surfers and for the global market. If you live in Santa Barbara, where Al lives, you get local and international knowledge. If you live on the Gold Coast, you get both: Darren Handley and Jason Stevenson. If you live in Sydney, you get both: James Cheal (Chilli). If you live in San Clemente, you get Timmy Patterson and me. But, if you live in, say, Adelaide, you might have to balance the tradeoff between local and global knowledge.

10. Balance in a surfboard is everything and shapers walk a tightrope every time they build you a custom board. If you want a board with a lot of rocker, your shaper has to build everything around it to balance it out. If one element is extreme, the rest of the board has to act as a counterbalance to neutralize the extreme. Greg Webber was a genius on the wire. Everything is balance.

The Winning Team
The Winning Team

Todd Kline: I want to be 5 forever!

Since the WSL doesn't pay, announcers "fish" for money elsewhere.

Remember Todd Kline? Of course you do. WQS surfer/Kelly Slater caddy who parlayed into a career as ASP/WSL sideline reporter?

Remember this?



I didn’t see Todd on the beach in Snapper. He seemed to be replaced by a much better Chelsea Cannell but maybe he’ll come back. Who’s to say? The WSL stopped letting me inside their meetings once Brodie Carr left.

In any case, did you know Todd Kline is also a pro bass fisherman? Here is his website (totally worth a visit). He was back to back Angler of the Year in 2013 and 2014, sponsored by Skeeter Boats, Yamaha, Okuma, Under Armour, Sun Country Marine, Savage Gear, Robo Worm and The Winning Team. I wish I was sponsored by The Winning Team.

He fishes professionally in Lake Havasu, the California Delta, Clear Lake and the Ohio River and likes it because it makes him feel like he’s 5 years old.

If you could be a professional in something what would it be? If you could feel any age forever would it be 5?