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Beach Grit

Blood Feud: Surfer vs. WSL!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

The World Surf League plagiarizes one of our greatest artists! Will there be legal ramifications? Slaps?

Creative juice is a damned thing. Flowing in the ficklest, indeterminate stream and no one ever knows, when bottled, if it is fine or foul. The only thing to do is push a cup before the public and watch their looks of satisfaction or watch a cringe or, worst of all, watch indifference.

Matt Warshaw, when he was at the helm of our world’s flagship publication, Surfer, tapped a spate and thought it would be wonderful to put six 1988 title contenders on the cover behind the bold word SHOWDOWN!


It does look a little busy, maybe in retrospect, but not terrible? According to Matt, though, it tasted bad. “(It) was the worst-selling issue of the year for us.” He tells me from his gorgeous home atop Queen Anne Hill.

Today, some 27 years later, the World Surf League has used without credit borrowed Matt’s creativity and put the six current contenders on their cover homepage behind the words Countdown Is On: Inside World Title Race.


I am, first, totally partial to exclamation marks! And so applaud Matt for his bold use! I am also partial to Oakley Razor Blades but, mostly, I am partial to properly appropriating another man’s work!

Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal, bad poets deface what they take. That is something I always say* and it looks like the WSL stepped in it twice over, here, by imitating (notice the lack of exclamation) and defacing (notice the lack of Oakley Razor Blade) at the same time. I am very certain that Matt Warshaw is sitting in his gorgeous home atop Queen Anne Hill and readying his legal team for a showdown!

The countdown is on.

I ask him how furious he is at this egregious act of vandalism. He says:

“Semi-furious at myself. I had the chance to trademark the Grim-Faced World Tour Six-Head Grid, and didn’t take it. My mistake.”

Before dropping this bomb:

“Seven-Mile Miracle? I invented that phrase. For real.”

WHAT? I stole that phrase up one side and down the other for my award-nominated book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell. I suppose that makes me a very mature artist.

*I also never say this. I stole it from T.S. Eliot. I told you. Very mature.