Yesterday, Samsung and the WSL released “Without You, I’m Nothing – We Are Greater Than I”, a minute-and-a-half ad that “emphasises the courage of surfers who risk their lives to follow their passion, despite doubt and obstacles.”
If you were able to shelve your cynicism (it was an ad for a South-Korean multinational conglomerate, after all) you might’ve watered up a little. Who doesn’t love it when serious money, and good creative, is thrown at our little game?
Isn’t it what we’ve all dreamed about? Having our bank accounts inflated every month because we surf good and our image moves trunks or headphones or whatever trinket is delivering profit that season?
Most of us, at least those who have the talent to take a serious shot at turning pro, stumble on two hurdles: contest results and being lost amid the tens of thousands of other surfers with the same desire and roughly the same ability.
Very few surfers understand that being a professional means making yourself marketable. And marketable means you being a figure of influence. The surfer others want to emulate. But, how?
1. Become a ruthless networker
As anyone in the sales game knows, relationships are everything. Make yourself known to print and online editors. Introduce yourself at industry parties. Be witty. Charm. I know a pro surfer who can make you feel like you’re the only editor on earth. BFFs! Even when you see the same schtick aimed at someone else, this surfer’ll throw you a little glance or a text. Like a cheating girl who’ll keep reeling you back in. But whenever a trip or a story comes around, he’s always there at the front of my brain.
2. Attach yourself to a filmer and a photographer
If you’re Jordy or Mick, this is easy. You hire ’em. But for a kid on the make you’re going to need to get tight with someone who has already made a name for themselves. You might start off just as pals, maybe you live close, but work tightly together, you as the performer, he as the auteur. Once you start getting him spreads in mags or vision on websites, the relationship is set. He works for you, you work for him. Like Julian (Wilson) and Jimmy (Lees) below…
3. Be available for everything
Push your sponsor on Instagram, on Facebook. There’s a trip going but it’s your buddy’s birthday? Too bad, you have to go. Go to in-store promos. Never miss a company party (but don’t turn into boozy the clown unless that’s your schtick). I knew a surfer, dull as London in winter, who squeezed out a five-year career purely because he was the dream team rider. If a company is paying you money, it’s your job to pay ’em back in kind.
4. Develop a style with personality
Pretty much anyone with two legs and an online connection has worked out how to throw fins. Air reverses? You can buy ’em at discount stores. It’s how you link those turns, with what panache, that determines your value. Craig Anderson. Jordy Smith. Dane Reynolds. Their styles… sing.
5. Get an opinion
Surf mag editors have heard it all. You’d be surprised how many journalists do their banking or work on other stories while doing phone interviewers with the latest teen sensation. But a surfer with something to say? That’s rare.
Surf, glide, shred, rip, tear, pump, surf…there are many different verbs used to describe the physical act of riding a wave and I was under the impression that I knew them all.
Oh how I was wrong!
CNN, leader in global news, unveiled a word on their website today that I have never heard.
ANDREW COTTON: SURFING PLUMBER PIPES THE WORLD’S BIGGEST WAVES
He pipes them.
Let’s go piping.
Anyone up for a pipe?
We should pipe before the wind gets on it.
I am piped out.
The story is very nice and I am glad Andrew Cotton is being lauded for his pursuit. Nazare has become a favorite storyline of CNN and that is nice too. You can and should read here. You can and should watch Andrew Cotton below. Me? I’m gonna go get my pipe on.
Miguel Pupo, a perennial fav of Tour Notes! Watch him lovingly stroke his pal MIchel's broken hand. Friends, we all need 'em.
"My life was a mess. I cried every day," says Michel Bourez
I think of the filmmaker Peter King as a crossover act like, say, Kendrick Lamar or, in an earlier epoch, Nine Simone. But where Compton-born Lamar’s hood-jams strike a chord with white Lexus-driving fans in Hollywood (and Simone with the bourgeois of Paris) King’s tour clips hit…everyone. All surf fans.
How can you not?
From angry commentator-guy with a hard-on for Alana B pounding the keys in the online forums to the surf industry maven doing the dance at Agenda, we all get a little thrill when we see a new drop of #TourNotes.
This two-minute hit comes in the days preceding the J-Bay Open 2015, the event once owned by Billabong.
In King’s words, “Bourez is back, warmup sessions, cliffside high-stakes UNO and some free surf slicing…waiting for da big show to start!”
It’s better than that.
Brett Simpson describes J-Bay as “sharks, cactuses and… good waves.”
What does King like, love, adore about Jeffreys Bay? “I love it’s length! Who doesn’t? She goes forever. You can rip, smooth out, longboard…enjoy the fancy homes and vast African openness as you glide along. Surprising is that it’s still here… still looks like 1976. I keep expecting Shaun Tomson to pop out of the barrel.”
The forecast is crummy, by the way. Watch Filipe shear off the small little runners at the end and tell me he ain’t gonna win.
I went to AGENDA today, the massive action/extreme sport retail tradeshow, in Long Beach, California. The last action/extreme sport retail tradeshow I had been to was MAGIC in Las Vegas maybe ten years ago. It was the same, or that is what I thought as I was approaching. Same people, same fashion, same look, same feel. Nifty hair, tighter pants, canvas shoes, t-shirt, tattoo. Lame. And then I realized that I looked the same as everyone I had just mentally called “lame” (minus the canvas shoe and I’m wearing my denim less tight these days). And then I realized that I knew every single one of them. And then the rock that I had unleashed came whirling back around and hit me in the head.
Mahalo, you fucking surfers.
You goddamn nerds.
I’m just kidding.
We’re all part of the tribe.
And it is a great great tribe.
In any case, there were wetsuits at AGENDA (I assume) and then I saw this on the Internet under the heading “tech.” “Top 5 Best Wetsuits for Surfing.” I clicked because I was curious and then became very confused. (click here to be very confused)
I would say “Top 5 Best Wetsuits for Surfing” are:
1) A Japanese brand that you have never heard of.
2) A Japanese brand that you have never heard of.
3) Narval wetsuits.
4) A Japanese brand that you have never heard of.
5) Whatever is in your garage.
Now you will fit in with the tribe better. If you have tattoos. And two cuffs on your pant leg. And canvas shoes. And a t-shirt that says something but not too much. And facial hair. And nifty hair.