Julian Wilson by Steve Sherman
"Product does not sell itself. It is sold on the backs of stars," writes Chas Smith. "And sport, even more than fashion, needs stars to rise into the popular consciousness. Especially fringe sports. Especially surfing. And Julian has the support. He has the motivation. He has the proper ratio of self-critique to arrogance." | Photo: Steve Sherman (@tsherms)

Prediction: Julian Wilson will be champion of world!

Not Gabriel, not Filipe, not Mick, Joel, John John nor Kelly Slater… 

(Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in a 2012 edition of Surfing. Chas stands by his prediction!)

Julian Wilson, holding a glass of beer in one hand and a fork in the other, sat at the end of a dark, stained table between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing. They were wanting his smile. They were wanting the twinkle in his eye. They were wanting his Sunshine Coast Australian accent. They were wanting to vampire his youth, to suck on his neck, but he said nothing, concerning himself, instead, with the sesame chicken and chow mein in front of him. He ate a bite. He kept his head down and his Red Bull hat down. He was in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the restaurant was not yet crowded and it was dark. Red lanterns hung overhead. The waitress stopped and asked if anyone wanted fried rice. Nobody did.

Julian Wilson. He is the future of surfing, here eating Chinese food sullenly. He is surfing’s next world champion, more likely than not, but more importantly he is surfing’s next face. His will be the visage that the youth of New York City see when they purchase their new boardshorts. His will be the visage that causes their mothers to swoon. Product does not sell itself. It is sold on the backs of stars. And sport, even more than fashion, needs stars to rise into the popular consciousness. Especially fringe sports. Especially surfing. And Julian has the support. He has the motivation. He has the proper ratio of self-critique to arrogance. He is a diva, to be sure. Reports of his petulant behavior surface often. “He is high maintenance.” “He only shoots with certain photographers.” But which champion in any sport has not been a diva? Kelly Slater is certainly a diva. Kobe Bryant is certainly a diva. Tiger Woods was a diva but he kept it bottled up until it exploded into the public eye courtesy of many, many blonde sluts. Julian has Nike and Nike will make sure his image is seen next to Kobe Bryant on Super Bowl commercials. They will make sure his image is seen flying above cities on billboards. He has Nike and he has himself. He has himself.

I was standing on the beach, next to his brother and manager Bart, when he surfed in the Pipeline Masters this winter. He received a 4-something for a drop. A 4-something. For a drop. The wave was massive and lurched and he paddled hard, head down, and it threw him over its lip into the air. He flew down the face, dropping, dropping, dropping, not connected to the water. Free-falling. And then his rail caught at the bottom and he zagged into the tube for a few seconds before coming undone. It was worthy of a 6 but received a 4-something. Still, an amazing score for one drop. I turned to Bart and asked, “When did lil’ Jules become such a hellman?” And he looked over at me with wide eyes and said, “I have no idea.” Julian has himself.

In a matter of months he would fly to the Gold Coast, to his first stop on his second season on the World Tour, but tonight he was in San Francisco. Tonight he was between two attractive but fading blondes and nearing the end of his first season on the World Tour. Tonight his head was down.

His first season had not been a success, as far as success is usually measured. He hovered near the bottom of the pack and even though a late push earned him the title of rookie of the year, he performed below his own expectations. Few ever succeed, wildly, out of the gate in their first year and Julian did not either. But Julian is not just anybody. He is a brand. He is Nike’s knife-edge. He is Julian.

And then he looked up, ignoring the company, and spoke clearly. “At the start of the year I was trying to pretend there was no pressure but I felt a lot of pressure. I don’t know…I didn’t want to do what Jordy and Dane did, struggle to make heats and that. Still, nobody wants to see a new kid come and run the table…”

His blue eyes appeared wise. Far wiser than his youth would suggest, but tired. But worn. The blondes strained to listen but he was not speaking to them. One picked on her fingernails, her matured body softly molded within tight dark leggings. “As the season went on I had to accept that I deserved to be on tour. That the spot was mine. I had to be smart in the same ways that got me on tour in the first place. That first heat against a top-tier guy is straight into the deep end.” He pushed his plate of chow mein away even though it was only half eaten. “The WT is so different than the ‘QS. On the ‘QS you can surf so many events and so many shit waves. In WT events you are getting the best waves in the world. Everyone gets sorted out. The best guys in the world, right now, are on tour. The best guys have always been on tour and so you can’t just get on and stay on. You have to have the head for it. The ability.” The other blonde tried to interject something about Julian being the best and the cutest. Her lips had been freshly painted red. He ignored her. “Every year somebody gets talked up. The media targets them. When Jordy and Dane came on tour, the pressure to perform, to do what they do in their video sections in a 30-minute heat…that’s not going to happen. That is why Kelly is so good. None of it, nothing, matters until you make the final. You just need to do what you can to make it through a heat. To make it to the final.”

The restaurant had started to fill. An elderly man in a three-piece suit with arthritic fingers was bumping up against one of the blondes, either trying to flirt with her or steal her seat. She glared at him and then turned her attention back toward Julian, resting her chin on her hand. Gazing intently. The other blonde had lost interest and was texting on an old RAZR phone. “You have to know what you are doing in the water. Guys who know what they are doing deserve the victories. Guys who are nervous or shaky, you can see it. At the start of the year I was surfing shaky, so when the judges gave me bad scores I never felt hard done. I deserved to lose. Not necessarily in the way I was surfing but in my headspace. I felt really vulnerable. I would rock up to the beach and take little bits of information from everyone. I wanted to go good so bad. You are supposed to be clear and level-headed but I was scatterbrained. And the judges are there to make sure they pick the best surfers in a 30-minute heat and everybody has an opinion but…Kelly knows what the judges want to see. This year, at the start, after I lost I would pack up my bags and leave. But then I thought I should stay and watch and see what the boys who are winning are doing. So I would sit and watch.”

The waitress had returned and asked if anyone wanted another drink. One of the blondes nodded and pointed at her empty martini glass before looking back at Julian, nodding her head like she understood what he had been saying. The other had finished her text and yawned, covering her mouth with a chipped-nail hand covered in many gold rings. She was bored. “When the tour moved to Brazil I was losing all these close heats. I lost by half a point and had a full dummy spit [which is to say a temper tantrum]. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I stayed four weeks in Brazil to try and figure it all out. I actually made a bet with Wilko that we wouldn’t drink or party until J-Bay. Right there I accepted my spot on tour. I manned up and took on the pressure because the pressure is always going to be there. At the start of the year I was doing what people wanted me to do. Saying what they wanted me to say. I didn’t want to look nervous but in reality I was having a shocker.” The blonde continued nodding. The other scanned the room. “I had to figure out what worked best for me. Which people to have around and which to leave behind. Like Dane said, you have to be selfish to be successful on the World Tour. There is no way you can satisfy everyone and give yourself the time to do what you need to do. It is hard. I’m not a selfish person and I had to tell my friends that things had to be different.”

The blondes were both listening to the music pumping over the restaurant system. One of them had covered her eyes behind oversized Marc Jacobs sunglasses. The other was thinking about rubbing Julian’s back but had done nothing yet. Just thinking about it. Julian kept looking straight ahead and his eyes had lost their worn-out look. He looked fresh. Invigorated. “Things turned around in J-Bay. I felt like I finally got a hold on things, getting a good result. Putting the pieces together and really going for it. I always knew I wanted to do the tour. I always knew I needed to give myself time and it is starting to get fun. I never wanted to be going through the motions at 22. I am learning to adapt to the conditions. There is a certain way to surf every break to get the scores and it is just figuring out what that is. At J-Bay you have to have the best rail game in the world to do well. From here on out no one is going to win Trestles without doing an air. No one will win Tahiti without sitting on the foamball. But that is what is so fun about being on the World Tour. I’ve never pushed myself harder. There is no way I’d be able to push my ability like this freesurfing and being a punk. I’ve pushed myself and scared myself like never before and I think it is important that I waited for a bit. I didn’t want to go to Tahiti and hear about massive waves and not be able to sleep at night. I didn’t want to be there not catching waves. Now I love it.”

The blondes were looking at Julian again. His excitement had washed over them and they wanted his attention even though he didn’t give it to them. One of them squealed. The other touched his shoulder. “This next year will be intense. Owen is going to be in the mix. He has the hunger. Mick is not going anywhere. He had bad breaks this year but he’ll be so fired up next year. The Brazilians? As an all-around game I don’t think they have it right now but they are sponges. They learn. Kolohe loves to compete. John John has such a well-rounded game but I don’t know how much he is into it.”

And with that the bill came. Julian pulled out his credit card and paid and then pushed through the crowd into the night, leaving the blondes behind. They were crestfallen. Depressed. One blamed the other for blowing their chances with surfing’s next champion.

Because Julian Wilson is surfing’s next champion.

Racism in surfing
A tear falls on brown skin.

Heartfelt: Readers say no to hate in surfing!

Online petition squashes The Inertia's anti-Brazil campaign, three to one.

This is getting old, yeah, I know, but let me squeeze a little more juice out of its robust tits. If you’re new to the scene, dive in (here )



If clicking ain’t y’thing here’s the story in brief: when Gabs Medina sulked at the Quiksilver Pro and said “fuck” and “Kieren hasn’t done a very good job” most of the surf media  found it a magnificent condition. A fearless post-heat interview from a world champion.

The Inertia thought otherwise and cast a petition to have the kid suspended and fined. (Click here.) Was the petition racist? So many thought so!

“They ought to to be made to stop spreading their anti-Brazilianism in our faces,” one furious reader told BeachGrit. “It’s just a question of how long our patience will hold out.”

BeachGrit, therefore, engaged The Inertia in a war of pointless online petitioning and, at last count, readers who said No Hate-Mongering in Surf Media by The Inertia had flattened those who wanted to tear down the Brazilian world champion Gabriel Medina, at three to one. A  victory for light against brutality and darkness.

Heartfelt reader comments poured in from around the globe and can be read below.

  • larry mannetti DEL MAR, CAI
  • It’s ridiculous and absurd so why wouldn’t I sign.
  • Prashant Samant SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CA
  • Fish and hate mongers get lumped together. No fair.
  • chase pittman VIRGINIA BEACH, V
  • Aim signing this because the inertia is the carlton banks of the surf media
  • Luiz malaria MIAMI, FL
  • No hate
  • Rodrigo Dalcol PATNGUA, BRAZIL
  • I don’t like what inertia is doing!!
  • Henrique Gomes RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
  • This petition started from The Inertia has no sense.
  • luiz bueno pereira SãO BERNADO DO CAMPO, SP
  • Por que tudo que estão fazendo contra o medina esta errado e não concordo!!!!!
  • The Inertia website is a surfin website sign this because The Inertia manipulates people, trying to transform peoples mind int their beliefs.
  • Rodrigo Rocha AUSTRALIA
  • This petition created by Henry Highton is pathetic. Lets share the love and say no to racism!
  • Everton Pech SO JOS, BRAZIL
  • Against haters!
  • Gustavo Macedo RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
  • stop hating
  • Rodrigo Trajano Gomes da Silva AUSTRALIA
  • Medina just said what is a favourite word for Australians and Americans, F…k is what Glen Hall said first, a lot of prejudice again in this small world of surfing …..
  • Leticia Fleck PORTO ALEGRE, RS
  • Hating in surf media or any media is like fanatism! Medina is a great surfer and person, he does not deserve to be treated like that! Brazilians need to be respected as any other! Aloha!
  • Joao angelo RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
  • I agreed that violence is not good for the world, but … Suspension is too much.
  • Tales Hartmann GAROPABA
  • Precisamos de mais tolerância!
  • Marcos de souza RIO, BRAZIL
  • Hate need to stop !
  • Marcelo Garroux FLORIANóPOLIS
  • say no to racism!!!
  • Fabio Mariutti SãO PAULO, SP
  • Disgusting! !!
  • Rodrigo Mascarenhas PORTO ALEGRE
  • Haters are loosers…stop racism and hate!!
  • Kevin Damasio SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
  • Signing this ’cause hate speeches must cease. Only insane-brainless-unhappy-dignityless-unreasonable-nonsense-and-other-things-like-that people thinks prejudice, racism and disrespect has a place in the world.
  • Marcos Gusmao PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL
  • racism has no place in surfing!!!
  • santos fla RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
  • hate haters
  • Lucas Jimenez SAN CLEMENTE, CA
  • The Inertia proves itself once again as the lamest surf outlet on the web
  • Ian Chartrand SANTA CRUZ CA
  • why waste your time being appalled by curse words, when you could be appalled by people killing in the name of what ever they want. You could be offended by corrupt companies/individuals destroying natural resources. Let the young men say “fuck”, let us surf. Once united we can become offended by things that are worthy of feeling such energy draining emotions. Let’s get some love-mongering going!
  • Túlio Fernandes SãO PAULO, BRAZIL
  • Medina tlaks for itself, let’s surf!!
  • Rafael Moraes JOãO PESSOA, BRAZIL
  • No hate-mongering in surf media by inertia. It’s an absurd, Specially about the last promoting suspension of Gabriel Medina from the Tour because of his interview.
  • Haters gonna hate…
  • Lucas Castanheira SãO PAULO, SP
  • The inertia implements hate articles on surf community
  • Ryder Thomas SAN FRANCISCO, CA
  • it’s the right thing to do . . .
  • Tyler Matthews BILLINGS, MT
  • Duh… Beach Grit > Inertia
  • luciano Almeida ARARANGUá, BRAZIL
  • …love surf and soul surf maniac!
  • Daniel Beltrano BROOKLYN, NY
  • Enough hate propaganda
  • robert barras ARLINGTON, TX
  • Cuz hate is toxic.
  • Adam Lever AUSTRALIA
  • Beach Grit wins over Inertia
  • I’m signing beause surfing does not need the racist rhetoric of poet/surf scholar/ocean activists.
  • Cosmic Bandito PAVONES, COSTA RICA
  • The man must not win. The Inertia is surfing’s version of The Man.
  • Surfing is a world wide sport, beloved by humankind – not a nation or specific group of owners. Judgement in surfing has a great amount of subjective bias – and all subjective reasons are trully inffluenced by thoughts, gossips, intentions spread around by the media.
    We, honest man who love this sport, only ask for honest, true evaluation.
    Do not consider a man’s “race” on your judgement – only surfing matters…
  • Taylor Moir APTOS, CA
  • Fuck the Inertia!
  • Jeff Haber BELMONT, CA
  • I trust passionate people – they are authentic. Waves are gifts from far away distant places.
  • Dana Valdez SAN DIEGO, CA
  • It’s either sign this, or do my taxes…
  • Esperamos tantos anos para ter nosso campeão, e ele veio com mérito, por merecimento sem ajuda de nenhum juiz. E incomoda muita gente o fato de ele ser Latino Americano. Em 2015 não poderia acontecer isso.
  • marcelo pallotta SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
  • i agree with hate doesn’t represent the sport
  • Não gosto do ódio que está sendo incentivado por certas mídias do surf. Como exemplo Stab Magazine e outras revistas australianas.
  • paulo fernando DIADEMA, BRAZIL
  • sou contra o odio e qualquer tipo de racismo
  • alexandre henrique pires de araujo
  • SO PAULO, BRAZILSomos todos iguais!!!!!!!!! E viva as diferenças!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Becki Zimmerman FRESNO, CA
  • When any surfer besides the Brazilians act like toads it is whitewashed and made to appear cheeky, but if a Brazilian does something cheeky the screeching can be heard on the moon. Bigoted behavior does not belong in any sport, and the bias against the Brazilians, for being Brazilian, is clear. The Brazilians are the most exciting group of surfer to watch because they don’t have an entitled attitude about winning, they are hungry to get out of poverty, violence and corruption to be met with hate by the surfing fans and media. This does not seem to go on between the surfers themselves, but those watching and the media reporting on it.
  • Luis Farina SãO PAULO, BRAZIL
  • I fucking hate The Inertia
  • allan smith ZIRCONIA, NC
  • The war is back and I am picking sides.
  • simon keiver DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN
  • By the power invested in me by the mighty Duke K…this world needs aloha, not hate
  • Pedro Pelicano MRSTA
  • Written rules/laws in surfing could end surfing as we know it.
  • Thomas Boucheau MARTINIQUE
  • I’m signing because… Fuck yeah Chas Smith!
  • Michael Kocher SAN FRANCISCO, CA
  • The Inertia is why I’m signing
  • Ali Klinkenberg AUSTRALIA
  • The Inertia is a larger than average boil on the blemish-ridden face of humanity.
  • Tracy McGuire OJAI, CA
  • I don’t want to read any more hate articles about surfers
  • Robert Fazio RED BANK, NJ
  • I’m signing this because “Poet/Surf Scholar/Ocean Activist”
  • Stirling Howland MIAMI, AUSTRALIA
  • interia is silly
  • Seaman Staines AUSTRALIA
  • I’m signing because I am a mindless sycophant incapable of independent thought and desperate to be accepted by the cool guys like Chas Smith and Derek Reilly even though I probably wear my shorts too long.
  • Fahking Haole KOLOA, HI
  • I need something interesting to boost me over that way too high pay wall.
  • Electric Moon OAKLAND, CA
  • It’s not electric…funky woogie boogie woogie.
  • Kaius Potter AUSTRALIA
  • Inert – HA!
  • Rory Parker KAPAA, HI
  • We should be nurturing smoothly shaved Brazilian boys, not bullying them on social media!
  • Blasphemy Rottmouth ASTORIA, OR
  • It is my honor and duty to not foster hate in surfing. It’s what Jesus would want.

Luke Stedman
"I am not someone who likes cocktail parties or large dinner parties," says Luke Stedman, "but I have to attend them often. I much prefer very small dinners with close friends. I eat at the same restaurants in London most nights: Scott’s, No. 35, J. Sheekey, Mark’s Club, Harry’s Bar, or Cut at 45 Park Lane. If I am meeting someone for drinks first, I always like to go to the Fumoir at Claridge’s. My favorite evenings are actually spent at home. My lady is a great cook, and I love dinner in the kitchen with just the two of us and the dogs."

Exclusive: 24 hrs with Luke Stedman

And you thought it was easy being the king?

Big Shipwrecked Tanker With a Smiley Face Anchor from Francesco Thilo Sili on Vimeo.

Ex-professional Luke Stedman has left the glamorous world of contest surfing for the even more glamorous world of high fashion. His brand, Insted We Smile, is equal parts chic and playful. I want almost everything he makes and someday I will have it. Being so in demand, though, is equal parts exhausting and fancy. Tuck in to a day with Luke and then go buy whatever you can afford (here).

4:30 A.M. I never really sleep much and often start my day at this time. When I am very lucky and sleep through the night, I might get up at 7:00, but that is rare. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is weigh myself. I do this every morning, and if I have gained more than two or three pounds, I try to eat fruit and vegetables exclusively for a couple of days until my weight is back to my ideal. I make myself a tall glass of iced espresso (I don’t like warm drinks), get into a hot bath, and slowly sip my drink as I come to life. Often I lie in the tub for a half hour and just let my mind wander. I find a bath meditative and usually prepare myself for the day in this manner. Once out of the tub, I throw on my gym clothes.

8:00 A.M. Typically, I answer my e-mails. On average, I get about 100 per day. Then I do a bit of work before working out with my trainer at 8:00. The home page on my computer is set to StabMag.com’s While You Were Sleeping, Bite Sized! section, an excellent summary of the news of the day from different surf publications around the world like BeachGrit and The Encyclopedia of Surfing. I work out at a gym at home with Pilates equipment, cardio equipment, and free weights. I usually do about 30 to 45 minutes of cardio and then a half hour of crunches, push-ups, stretching, and other exercises using my own body weight, as I can tend to bulk up quickly if I use weights more than occasionally.

9:15 A.M. After working out, I have a breakfast of whole-grain muesli or bran cereal, half a banana, and several slices of pineapple. Then I take another bath, this time with soap, and wash my hair. Naturally, I use my own beauty products; I wash my face with either my cream cleanser if my skin feels dry or gel cleanser if my skin feels particularly oily. I then trim my beard and brush my hair into place. I use my daily moisturizer and take my small makeup brushes to touch up any skin blemishes or dark circles with stick foundation (color no. 7). I put on my “uniform”: a white shirt, a dark tie, a gold collar pin, a black or dark-gray single-breasted peaked-lapel suit, and black cap-toed shoes. I wear a variation of this look every day that I am in a city. (My other uniforms are for Santa Fe, Mustique, or a ski resort or Venice, California or Bondi, Australia.) I carry my computer and other work to the office in one of my black leather bags. Because I rarely walk in Venice, I never wear a coat. Actually, I tend to walk much more in New York. In L.A. and Santa Fe, I drive. I have a driver in London because I am slightly dyslexic and cannot drive in the U.K., even though I am Australian. After all, the traffic runs the opposite way to that in the United States. I think. An International Herald Tribune is always waiting for me; I find it the perfect newspaper for me, quite condensed with a quick global perspective on the news. Reading, or skimming, the paper usually takes me precisely the same time that it takes for me to get from my house to my office. I don’t carry a phone with me because I hate talking on the phone and especially hate talking on cell phones. I do have an iPhone, but I use it primarily for music and as a camera. In an emergency, of course, I use it as a phone. I am not really even sure what my number is. I have an iPad but use it just for reading books or screenplays, and I carry my MacBook Air with me everywhere.

10:00 A.M. I usually arrive at the office by 10:00. I have a weakness for doughnuts and often completely ruin my diet by eating a doughnut or two when I arrive. As president and CEO of the company, I spend a good bit of my day in business and design meetings. These might be women’s ready-to-wear fittings, men’s fittings, handbag-prototype reviews, footwear fittings, jewelry-design meetings, cosmetics meetings, or eyewear meetings. I tend to work on several different product categories on the same day. My executive team is scattered around the world, in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Florence, Hong Kong, and Tokyo offices. Consequently, our meetings are often via Skype.

1:00 P.M. I hate going out for lunch during a workday because it slows down my pace and ruins my rhythm. I prefer to eat at my desk. Actually, I wander around the design studio with a plate in my hand as I dine on, for example, salmon sashimi and a salad of tomatoes and mozzarella. I often have a bit of dark chocolate after lunch.

6:00 P.M. Most nights, I work at the office until anytime between 6:00 and 8:00, depending on whether or not I have to go out to dinner. If I do have to go out at night, which I do about four nights a week, I try to take a 45-minute nap, have another hot bath, and put on a clean shirt.

8:00 P.M. I am not someone who likes cocktail parties or large dinner parties, but I have to attend them often. I much prefer very small dinners with close friends. I eat at the same restaurants in London most nights: Scott’s, No. 35, J. Sheekey, Mark’s Club, Harry’s Bar, or Cut at 45 Park Lane. If I am meeting someone for drinks first, I always like to go to the Fumoir at Claridge’s. My favorite evenings are actually spent at home. My lady is a great cook, and I love dinner in the kitchen with just the two of us and the dogs.

10:30 P.M. When we come home from a night out, my lady and I walk the dogs around Grosvenor Square and then head up to bed. Believe it or not, I usually take another hot bath and wash my face. Then we watch a bit of television (usually things we have recorded) or read and go to sleep. I don’t wear anything in bed. In fact, I rarely wear clothes at all when I am at home.

MIDNIGHT I am usually in bed and with any luck will get a few hours of sleep!

The author (seated on ground) and the subject.
The author (seated on ground) and the subject.

Kelly Slater Firewire
Hello French surfing fans! See what happens when you ride a regular PU board? Wouldn't happen if I was on that scramble of styrofoam, wood and epoxy called Firewire. | Photo: WSL / Damien Poullenot/ Aquashot

Just In: Kelly to own Firewire in nine days!

Sale of third-biggest surfboard co in world to proceed in time for Easter… 

On Thursday, April 2, on exactly the same day the prophet Jesus Christ ate his last supper (Maundy Thursday) almost 2000 years previous, Kelly Slater and, one suspects, some kind of consortium, will take full control of Firewire Surfboards.

A few more signatures with a deadline of April 2, y’see, and the deal is sealed.

Firewire, if you didn’t know, is a surfboard brand that builds boards in Thailand, sells ’em for almost $1000 apiece, and counts Michel Bourez as one of its surfers, and Matt “Mayhem” Biolos and Daniel “Tomo” Thomson among its guest shapers.

The original technology contained within those signature Firewire boards that Taj turned the world onto around 2008, was a styrofoam, epoxy, wood veneer sandwich, developed by the Western Australian shaper Bert Burger (Surfing magazine’s shaper of the year in 2007; now the owner of Sunova surfboards).

It was taken to the world by the Western Australian-born shaper Nev Hyman under the Firewire label.

When Clark Foam shut its doors in 2005, Firewire saw a biz opportunity to take the technology to a world suddenly starving, if briefly, of PU blanks. Firewire had the muscle to do it, counting former Billabong GM Dougall Walker and the brains behind the Billabong float Matthew Perrin (although this brain has had its glitches, including pending charges for fraud. Read here) among its original investors.

So it got big. Real big.

Who’s bigger than Firewire? Channel Islands, yeah, Lost, JS, maybe Hayden shapes, and that’s it. I’m saying it sits in third behind CI (who’s way ahead) and Lost.

Ask around the various store chains, industry players, and you’ll get a figure of around 20,000 boards sold a year at just under a grand apiece. Sell ’em wholesale at around 600 and you’ve got a 12-million a year biz.

After costs, let’s give it a profit of $1.5 million. Street value of the biz? Around four mill. At least, four mill, if it were a bank or Warren Buffett doing the buying.

But then there’s Kelly who has the unique ability to really take the brand somewhere, to give it a legitimacy it sometimes struggles with. If the 12-mll a year biz turns into a 30-mill a year biz, it wouldn’t be out of shape to imagine Kelly (and pals) dropping five or six into the can.

Anyway, in just under two weeks, the press release will drop.

Tell me, does the spectre of Kelly Slater zooming hither and thither on his segway around the company’s south-east Asian factory, iPhone 6 Maxi holstered on his belt, as he refines the Firewire product, stir its finger in your vitals?

Just you plus 1.59 billion of your closest friends!
Just you plus 1.59 billion of your closest friends!

1.5 billion people watch-ish professional surfing!

The world just can't get enough of Jack Freestone.

SwellNet’s Stu Nettle, who might be a good looking man though it is hard to find many online pictures of him, just did a post-Snapper state of professional surfing’s union and it is great. (read here).

There are many nuggets but the best is that the Quiksilver Pro creates “approximately 19 million in tangible media value,” according to the World Surf League. $10,131,631 is attributed to “social media buzz value.”

“$10 million in social media buzz value?” You ask, nose scrunched all cute like maybe Stu Nettle scrunches his nose all cute (again, difficult to say since lack of online pictures). “How did they arrive at that number?”

Easy! 1.6 billion people love watching, or reading Twitter feeds, about surfing! 1.6 billion, or as Stu Nettle points out, over 1/5 of the earth’s population. Eyes are glued in Tibet, Yemen, Mongolia, Bolivia. The people can’t get enough. The people crave Nat Young’s stylish goofy-footed attack. The people must know that @Mick_Fanning thinks “Bells!! Some people love it and some people hate it. Personally I love the feeling of going really…instagram.com/p/0ittynEnf.”

1,600,000,000 people.
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And this 1.6 billion was calculated after last year’s Margaret River Pro, so it can be reasonably assumed that a few extra million checked in on the new season.

1,637,000,000 people.

A company named Repucom figured out that 1.6 billion people consume online surfing. Repucom’s head of US Consulting, Michael Lynch, used to be the World Surf League’s Chief Marketing Officer.

It is truly an amazing number and I am sorry for every poking fun at the World Surf League’s revenue projections. Professional surfing is the world’s 4th largest sport. Barely smaller than basketball but lots bigger than tennis. The NBA recently signed a 24 billion dollar television deal. The WSL’s upcoming television deal might be a touch less but not by much.

Do you think, when the WSL inks their upcoming television deal, Graham Stapelberg will buy me a Winston Cocktail (one part Cognac Croizet 1858 one part Grand Marnier) or will he buy one for Stu Nettle instead? Do you think Stu Nettle is better looking than me?