Ryan Scanlon Need Essentials
What's Need Essentials? It's a lil company fuelled by a desire to make premium suits but make 'em real cheap. And here we see its principal Ryan Scanlon, the former senior VP of Global Products for Quiksilver, modelling his 200 buck 4/3 chest-zip steamer.

Say! Wanna buy a premium 4/3 full-suit for $A200?

Australian surfer cuts out middle-man and gets you straight into premium rubber for peanuts…

Yamba-based surfer Ryan Scanlon, the former Senior Vice President of Global Products for Quiksilver, doesn’t wanna take over the world. He isn’t building his biz Need Essentials up with an eye to slamming it on the counter for a few mill down the line. He isn’t aggressively chasing market share or running hither and yon trying to find investors. Says he’ll even point his profits in a philanthropic direction if, when, the biz lights up.

Ryan’s play is simple. He makes premium wetsuits at around half the price or less of the major brands, with one important caveat, but more on that later. It’s a shuffle of the usual way we buy stuff.

“We are not a brand! So we don’t act like a normal brand,” he says. “We don’t advertise, we don’t brand our products, we don’t do swing-tags and packaging, we don’t wholesale and we don’t pay people to endorse our products. What we do focus on is premium product at a price point and we rely on customer satisfaction and word of mouth to promote our products. By doing this we believe we are helping the surfer that has a day job and a stack of bills to worry about and doesn’t need to fork out $500 for a premium suit to stay warm.”

Ryan started designing for  Quiksilver back in the mid-nineties after punching out his design degree. He’s 38 now, but “was always juggling work and travel. I would take 18 months off every few years and just go surfing all over the world until I had to go back to work. My passion, like most surfers, is finding waves and traveling and in my own life that tends to come before material possessions. I try to live a pretty simple life (he lives on a yacht) and Need is a reflection of that. I wanted to create something that I wish existed but didn’t. A supply chain where you didn’t have to pay for all the excess. You just pay for what you… yeah… Need.”

Hence the name.

“We make only what we believe you need to be warm, flexible and light. We don’t have all the extra components like, printing, textures, useless components, unproven technologies and fashion or fads. So what we are able to offer is a high-end suit below the cost of thelow-end branded wetsuits.”

This means you’ll buy a 4/3 chest-zip steamer for $A200. What’s that in US dollars? One fifty or thereabouts. Cheap. And your suit comes from the same factory in Taiwan (Sheico Group. Read their amazing story here) where Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Billabong and pretty everyone else gets ’em done. (You thought Japan? So wrong!)

There’s a slight sting in the story, and this is the caveat. No warranty.

“We don’t offer a warranty because we are so aggressively priced,” says Ryan. “A two-mm back-zip premium jacket is $60. That’s less than a branded hooded fleece top which doesn’t carry a warranty. So Need approaches premium wetsuits the same way you would approach clothing.”

And the game plan for Need Essentials, who’d sold their entire inventory of stock last time I looked? Wetsuits only or is there more on the griddle?

“At this point the primary focus is catching up to demand on the wetsuits and keeping people warm and happy. There is a lot more stock on the way and an extended summer line that also features one technical board short. Need will always keep away from fashion and fads and only plans to focus on surfers genuine needs… I’m not trying to make an empire with this project, I don’t need that in my life, my life is extremely simple. If Need can provide a few jobs for other surfers in Australia and also provide core surfers with their basic needs and help save them a buck then I think that’s our spot.”

Buy ’em here. (Click!) 

Giant scandal revealed!

The cardinal rule of perpetrating an excellent hoax? Don't get caught.

It probably found its way onto whatever social media feed you favor in the past week, “This Pro Surfer’s Selfless Act Got Him Disqualified,” attached to some maudlin schmaltz about how a surfer took a crippled guy out during a heat.

It’s a stupid notion even if you take it at face value. Who cares if he got disqualified? Even if he wasn’t, it’s not like you’re gonna win a heat with some dude clinging to your back like a limp legged limpet. Why not just wait half an hour and take the guy out then? It seems like a good way to waste your contest entry fee and maybe drown a guy in full view of a ton of people, but that’s about it.

Well, GrindTV, Yahoo’s XTREME! Sports media outlet par excellence, is reporting that it was all just feel good bullshit. Argentine surfing campeon, Martin Passeri, staged the affair, shooting the surfing footage outside competition, then editing in some voice over and footage of the contest area.

Turns out the guy isn’t an idiot after all. Passeri realized that, first, surfing with another person on your back is hard as all hell and, second, he’d probably be DQ’ed.

Now, I love a good hoax. Playing with people’s understanding of reality, manipulating their emotions and getting them to laugh or cry of feel an all encompassing rage, that’s awesome. Because, you know, man, what is real, anyway?

But the cardinal rule of perpetrating an excellent hoax is “Don’t get caught,” and Passeri blew it big time in that regard. Now he’s gonna be treated as some nefarious charlatan by the online community, when he could have made a video that’s pretty much the exact same thing, just not put in the contest part. Because, again, that was just stupid, even if, especially if, it’s true.

Long Read: Come swim in a gorgeous blond stream

The best three brothers that anyone could ever have.

There is something magical in California’s sunlight, oh yeah. The way it is gold and the way it filters down to earth, through leaf and smog, so warm and breezy. The way life looks through it.

Blonde girls spread out on sandy towelettes just taking it all in. Brunette girls walking down hot sidewalks in the shortest of shorts just sipping ice cold Coca-Colas. Sippin’. Time lasts forever in California’s sunlight. No one ever gets old and nothing ever changes, no not ever, and a Mamas and Papas soundtrack dances on those breezes so warm. Ahhhhh, yeah.

So close them tired eyes of yours, child. Close them eyes and open that mind. Picture palm trees and sand and driving with the top down. Driving past the Chateau Marmont and up to Hollywood Boulevard and you go right ahead and call in Hollyweird. You get right on in there, dig?

Breathe deep that Golden State, that Hollyweird. Smell the sweet. (and we all know what that “sweet” is, yeah?. Ahhhhh yeah. It Mary Jane. It that Indian tobacco. Squares call it marijuana but we ain’t square so we call it weed). Stay awhile. Ain’t no hurry ‘cause ain’t no one hurrying. Just keep them eyes closed and keep breathing and just roll. Head back on the greenest grass. (We call it grass too.) Let it be, babe. What is and whatever may be and maybe ain’t no more Mamas and Papas soundtrack. Maybe now it’s that ol’ Jefferson Airplane and maybe now we slippin’ on down the rabbit hole.

Woah! No fear. It’s all happening now. Ride it out. Kaleidoscope, brother!

Who is that man with crazy in his eye and a swastika on his forehead sitting up under that Eucalyptus tree? What’s he saying about the system? Let’s listen.

“You made your children what they are,” he’s saying. “These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. You can project it back at me, but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you.”


He sure don’t live inside of me! His hair is a wild rat’s nest! Let’s beat it! Let’s find another corner of this totally golden state. Let’s go down to the beach.

And that’s better. We needed some salty spray. We needed some bouncy bikini. We needed some all bared to the world skin.

Wait. Who are those boys with each the same straw-coloured hair and each the same white-as-light teeth sitting on that beach blanket cross-legged and tan? They look like Mormon angel paintings. They look like they live in heaven and they’re talking about something. They’re moving their hands and really digging on something, man. Getting to the meat. What is it? Let’s get close. Let’s get right on in there. What is it? Ahhhh they talking about the surf. Waves, friend. Not metaphysical ones either. Real liquid waves. Waves that break in the ocean from storms a million miles away and waves that they ride. The surf.

The tallest of them is smiling as he speaks. They call him Dane and his hair. Wow! Like, Wow! His hair looks like the fruit sitting under the Eucalyptus tree with the crazy in his eye except it is the colour of straw, like the rest of them, and it is chopped at the fringe. His jaw is strong. All their jaws are strong but his is the strongest. And he speaks.

“Hoooo, it is a blast. Surfing is a blast and I could do it all the time. I do do it all the time.”

And, it becomes clear that all three boys not only have the same straw-coloured hair and the same white teeth but they have the same mother and the same father and “brother” is not being used metaphorically either. Real waves and real brothers. And, furthermore, the one they call Dane has the same genetic code as the one they call Pat. They are twins. Twins, man. Woah!

And Dane continues his thought. “I love travelling with my brothers because no matter what the situation is, we turn it into something fun. And it’s cool to share those experiences with people you’re stoked to be with. We aren’t travleling as much together now but they are always in my heart. Right down in there. In the middle of it.”

And, he looks at both of them sitting on that beach blanket and smiling broad. Then he looks at me. Like, right through me. “But, I’m not the one you should be writing about right now. You should be writing about Pat. You must write a story about Pat but call him the Banana King and don’t pull any tricks on the young maestro and write something else. The Banana King is your meat. There sits the Banana King.” He points a long finger right at Pat who has the same bones as Dane, the same eyes, but not the same hair. His hair is cut short. Almost similar to the way squares wear it. Twins, man.

And, I tell him I don’t really give a damn which of them is on tour. I’m not about all the rules and regulations and hierarchy but Dane ain’t having it. He ain’t having none of it. “Until you learn to realise the importance of the Banana King you will know absolutely nothing about the human interest things of the world” he tells me.

So, now, I am right in the middle of it. Right down in there. No longer an observer of this freaky beach scene but, instead deep down that rabbit’s hole. Engaging. And I ask Pat, the Banana King, what it is like on tour and he tells me, “Ahhhh bro, it’s fun. It’s a blast. Just cruising, you know? There are so many good guys on tour, so many friends, and my brothers don’t do it so we don’t travel together as much and all that but it is real fun. I’m all requalified up so I’ll be doing it next year too and Tanner is charging so he’ll be here soon, too.”

Positive thinking. Idealising. Manifesting the good.

But, he is alone right now. Alone on tour. So I ask him about the latest tour event at Teahupoo.

“That wave seems unearthly. We are accustomed to looking upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there in Tahiti, at Teahupoo, there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It is unearthly and the men who paddled out, all the men who paddled out including my brothers, seemed inhuman. But, no they were not inhuman. They would drop down and pull into huge barrels and howl and leap and spin and get totally shacked and make horrid faces, but what thrilled me was jut the thought of their humanity. The thought of our kinship with this wild and passionate uproar.”

His brothers are all grooving on this beat. Getting in to this rhythm. And, he keeps riffing.

“Teahupoo is my favorite wave in the world. It is so sick. During the big tow day I sat in the channel on my board and took it all in. I was thinking about giving it a go but just sitting there and watching it was amazing. And, of course, it fired for the contest. So sick.”

Sick. And what a heavy thought. Kinship with the uproar and riding a free monster. Kinship with the other two sitting right next to him. Whoa.

And I ask him who he likes on tour. Specifically, what he thinks about Matt Wilkinson because Matt Wilkinson was totally inhuman at Teahupoo. And Pat, the Banana King, looks at me and his smiling face grows serious and he says, “Wilko was doing things out there, man. He was getting after it like no one else but he has hydrocephalus or some manner of lymph disorder I believe. His head fills up with liquid.” Heavy.

And, they all sit and ponder this for a moment. The youngest one they call Tanner and he hasn’t said much of anything yet. Tanner is a good-looking young man two-and-a-half years younger than his twin brothers and he also has a square cut and he is also handsome. He has just been soaking in his brothers’ words and sucking on them like marrow. I want to know what is in his head and what it feels like to have these two twins above him, clearing a path. Do they make him a better person? He answers thoughtfully. “Yeah, definitely. Dane and Pat push me in all things I do. Patrick is a great coach because he has the knowledge of surfing the CT heats. I am super stoked ‘cause he genuinely wants to help me get back to the Tour, so I really cherish his advice. Dane and I always push each other as well. He is the most positive coach, so I am really lucky. But I would do the same for them.”

Dane nods and agrees. But, Dane isn’t interested in competing himself right now. He is on his own trip. Getting after the big waves. Surfing the unshackled monsters. He travels a different path chasing the storms but he is always locked in to what his brothers are doing.

A full-on brotherhood. A totally now collective of enlightened youth just living in the moment and living without the jealousies and negativity of society. Tied together with the thickest of knots but each doing a different version of the same thing. Pat competing full time at the highest level. Dane riding the huge. Tanner coming up the ranks. A full-on hip crew separated most of the time, these days, but never separate.

Pat says he thinks Dane always does the single best manoeuvre of every contest he is in and now he is not talking about his twin brother Dane, but rather Dane Reynolds. Every conversation about competitive surfing these days ends up floating around Dane Reynolds and what he is going to do and what he is doing. Pat really grooves on Dane’s surfing, like everyone else. He says he is psyched to watch Dane surf in any conditions and Tanner smiles. Tanner likes watching Dane too and just likes watching surf, in general, and psyching on surf, in general. He says that surf psych is alive and well in San Clemente.

They all love the surf. They are always surf stoked. Surf psyched and it makes them famous everywhere they go. The great surf psyching Gudauskas brothers. Yeah, just dig on that for a minute. Their last name. Just say it, man. Let it roll over your tongue. Gu-daus-kas. Goo-dows-kiss. Good-ah-skis. I ask what it means, Gudauskis, and Dane answers, “It is Lithuanian. Our pops is Lithuanian and our mom is Irish so we get drunk and then we get drunk. A Lithuanian car bomb.” Tanner adds, “When we travel in Europe we’ll meet girls and tell them our last name and they know our roots are Lithuanian. It’s a pretty common last name over there…” Heavy.

I ask when they first got in the water, when they first graced Mother Ocean with their blonde genetic similarities. They all look at each other and remember the past. And Pat, the Banana King, finally speaks. “I think Dane and I were surfing by, like, four but Tanner didn’t pick it up until he was seven or something. He used to bodyboard all the time, doing doughnuts in the beachbreak. Dane and I were baffled by why he wanted to do that but then he picked up surfing so it was all good.”

Did they ever fight? They all speak. “Nah. We’ve always just been cruisy. Easy.”

The non-fighting, all-surfing Gudauskas brothers. I say they look happy. That they look so totally happy and Tanner says, “Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”

And with that I turn and walk away and leave them Gudauskas brothers sitting and smiling in the sunlight and still talking about the surf and the psych and the stoke. Good things happening in California down by the beach.

As I’m walking away I run into an old Indian with a weathered face and wise eyes. “You ever hear of the Gudauskas brothers?” I ask him.

He looks at me all deep and said, “I saw those young people, the two with short hair and that one with the long, crazy hair and the Great Spirit told me they will have no greed. We waited a long time to find white men without greed. But we knew there would come a time when we could get together as brothers.”




California magic. California gold.

Jack Robinson portrait
The signing of teen Jack Robinson is just one of the smart commercial decisions made by Billabong in the past two years. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Buy: Billabong Shares. Now!

Hit bottom, maybe! Room for growth! Grow rich!

Who doesn’t want to be just a little rich? Who doesn’t want to worry about money ever again? No more rent. No more car  payments. No more stressing when the electricity bill is jammed into your mailbox and you open it and it’s $500 and all you’ve got is a few shekels in your account.

Not you? Oh, you lie! 

Anyway, we like cash as much you do (at least deep in your heart) and, right now, at sixty Australian cents per share iconic surf brand Billabong is looking like one helluva buy. Yeah, don’t shake your head. This isn’t an emotional thing.

Let’s do the numbers and you’ll see.

First, Billabong has been through the ringer. The tough days, the hard decisions have been made.

A few years ago, four hundred or so retail stores and some crappy acquisitions they paid through the nose for were eating ’em alive. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the gear (although it is a taste thing, this I accept) and it was selling well.

There was even a time only two years ago when the company’s debt had swollen so much it was fifty-fifty whether or not the administrators were going to be called in.

When Billabong listed as a public company in 2000 the shares sold for a little over two bucks. Fast forward a few years and they were $16 and climbing. Analysts were calling it the new Nike and predicting numbers in the high twenties. If you’d bought, say, 50,000 shares when it listed (a $100k wedge), you were now worth close to a mill.

So why buy ’em now at sixty cents?

Billabong have halved the number of retail stores and sold off a few of their biz’s, reducing debt, but, tellingly, a couple of hard-nosed US private-equity companies have bought hard into Billabong.

And the CEO is Neil Fiske, who was instrumental in driving the fortunes of the king of US retail Les Wexner, turning Victoria’s Secret and A & F into the dirtiest of money spinners.

On the creative side, Billabong has hired Roxy’s head designer to help drive Billabong gals, RVCA is starting to soar and Tiger Lily is still an unfulfilled buy.

Most interestingly, Billabong’s founder Gordon Merchant recently dropped $2 million upping his share parcel from 8 to 10 per cent. It’s a move that hints that he is finding the price too good to refuse.

As soon as the market works out the new management with their PE Backers have a plan to restore their old margins and and with Billabong still turning over one billion a year hit makes a share price of little over a dollar likely.

Is it worth a punt? Yeah, if you’re going to stick around for a few years. It’ll jump around, as shares do, but don’t torture yourself by watching the share price on your phone every few hours. Take a long-term view.

Set, forget, and come back when it’s around a buck. Then sell.

Note/warning: I ain’t rich so don’t’ wah…wah… and start pointing fingers if the sharp price goes south. My advice is pretty high end… but yeah… ain’t no guarantees.

JOB is a Ke’iki man

Bravest of fools!

I’ve spent my entire life in the ocean and experienced near pants-shitting fear on more than a few occasions, but there’s really no place on Earth I find quite as terrifying as Ke’iki Beach.

Located on the sandy stretch of Oahu coast between Log Cabins and Sharks Cove it’s a shoulder separating dry sand closeout 90% of the time, capable of sending you to Kahuku ER on even the smallest of days (sidenote: if you get wrecked on North Shore and have to choose between the Kahuku Medical Center and Wahiawa General- head to Kahuku. Far fewer junkies lining up with fake injuries in the hopes of scoring an opiate scrip. Better yet, suck it up and make the trek into town for Queen’s.)

When it gets bigger it moves offshore into much deeper water. Which would be great, if it weren’t for the giant stone anvils lurking beneath the surface.

Heading out into that insanity on a pink foam pseudo-boogie at the behest of JOB would be a fools errand. Luckily for us, there seems to be no shortage of fools.