Paul Speaker: “I can ski backward!”

Come get to know the World Surf League's CEO!

Bloomberg Business is, like, the holy grail of business news. Founder Michael Bloomberg was once mayor of New York City and outlawed big sugary drinks. The publication, both in print and online, features investment plans, money stuff, and people who make money. Also, Paul Speaker, CEO of the WSL.

He was featured in the “HOW DID I GET HERE?” segment and here are some quotes:

“I was class vice president, editor of the yearbook and newspaper, and head of the float and prom committees. I played football, basketball, track, and some baseball.”

“They’d done some official Olympic winter sports videos. I wrote them letters saying I could ski backward and hold a camera.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“Everybody would be like, ‘Oh great, the idea guy’s here. Let’s let him come up with some ideas.’ I was 29 and didn’t know it was a stupid title.”

“I saw that the surf tour needed help, so I flew to Australia to meet with the board of the Association of Surfing Professionals. It was almost a year of negotiation.”

“We’re the governing body of professional surfing—we changed the name to WSL last year—from junior programs up to our world championship tour. It’s incredible fun.”

Which is your favorite? I like the part about incredible fun.

I also like how handsome he was in high school.

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Go HERE for a complete timeline of the man’s career and inspiration like, “Know when to adjust and when to stay the course.”

P.S. Do you know what snowboarders call it when skiers ski backward?

Meet Hardcore Dan!
Meet Hardcore Dan!

Miserable: How committed are you?

Are you committed enough to brave freezing temperatures? Icicles on your thick wooly beard?

Do you live in California? Australia? Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Florida? Is the thickest rubber you ever climb into three mil by four mil? Do you complain when your toes get numb? I do! I dislike booties and so never wear them but cry like a baby when my feetsies get chilled.

I grew up surfing the Oregon coast but have surfed southern California, and Bali, Mexico, Australia, warm, nice, etc. for the past two decades and don’t know how I’d react, once again, to instant frostbite. I’ve gone soft.

Which brings me to my point. How committed to surfing are you? Let’s say you did not have enough money to get on a flight to a warm locale but lived on the banks of Lake Superior. Would you brave literal freezing temperatures for a little head dip like Hardcore Dan in the video here? He says that people who don’t surf in the winter are dumb.

“I like the fact that I can go play in the water and catch waves and not just have to be in regular life on flat ground. It’s like a giant washing machine. It picks me up and throw me around. I feel like a little kid and the lake is my parent just playing with me in the water, you know?”

Are you that committed to surfing?

Witness: Stunning Lifeguard rescue!

Does Hawaii have the best water saviors in the world?

Hot god damn, do I love our lifeguards here in Hawaii. Other places… eh, it’s a little more complicated, but these guys are true heroes. Literally risking their lives every single day, saving countless people. Underpaid, under-appreciated, but never hesitating to put themselves in harm’s way.

According to the video description, this was shot shortly after a guy paddling out was accidentally run over, knocked unconscious, and drowned. Watching the guards’ training kick into gear, struggling to save a life, is awe inspiring. Also intense, and not exactly happy, but worth a watch.

Ozzie Wright Israel
Ozzie Wright, as WSL surfer, with Joel Fitzgerald twin-fin, in Israel. What an enigma he is! | Photo: Derek Rielly

Historic: Ozzie Wright Joins WSL!

And flies to Israel to compete in first-ever WSL contest there… 

What kind of dull individual would turn down a free surf trip to Israel, that brave middle eastern democracy with Syria, right there, on its eastern flank?

Not Ozzie Wright, the Australian surfer-and-artist who may have thrown away the pro contest dream twenty years ago, but who recently agreed to compete in Israel’s first WSL contest (along with the equally dazzling Australian Otis Carey) in return for airfares and a room in a beachfront hotel.

Tel Aviv to Damascus? Two hundred clicks. Think LA to San Diego. The armies of ISIS are a day’s gallop away.

What a sight it is to see Oscar bent over a telephone trying to navigate the complexities of the WSL’s entry system. First, the surfer must register with the WSL and pay $US50. Then he must find the contest he wishes to enter and complete an entry form and pay the required fee.

But the $US150 entry fee won’t be accepted until an insurance premium of $US320 is paid.  Total, $US520. A round one win will net $US200.

The process takes three hours and a drive to the WSL’s temporary base on Netanya beach, just north of Tel Aviv.

“This is why I gave up surfing in contests,” he says.

This little cloud of gloom soon lifts, however, for Oz’s five-foot-five, almost three-inch thick Joel Fitzgerald twin fin eats up the windswell while those on two-and-a-quarter-inch thick thrusters get bogged down in a glutinous style.

So textbook! Oz in Israel.
So textbook! Oz in Israel.

And if you thought Oz’s contest skills might’ve vanished forever you would’ve seen the almost forty-year-old scooping a wave on the hooter, squeezing its teat dry, run up the beach, do the same, grab one more, again with vigorous lines and bombastic hits, and come in victorious with five minutes left.

(Otis will also win, two heats later.)

Meanwhile, in the country that has produced six Nobel Prize-winning scientists since 2002, with its world-leading solar energy and space programs, cutting-edge stem-cell research, three of the most prestigious universities in the world, a country for whom equal rights between men and women is a no-brainer, where homosexuals don’t live in fear of murder or imprisonment, the intifada of knives reigns and the ideology of ISIS spreads like cancer.

On the day we arrive, a woman is stabbed to death in her home and in front of her six kids by a Palestinian terrorist. Shortly afterwards, a pregnant woman is stabbed, her life spared by a civilian with a gun.

Since September, there have been 120 stabbings, 46 shootings, 30 car attacks and 78 fire-bombs. Twenty eight dead, nearly 300 wounded.

The Jews, so brave, so misunderstood.

But there are more important things to consider right now.

For example.

Ozzie, is this the start of a qualifier campaign?

“If I win, I might probably go in the next one…”


“No, and it’ll be a miracle if I get through one more heat.”

Josh Kerr wins Todos event!

Is he the world's most complete surfer? Well?

Who would have ever seen that coming? I mean, like, years ago when Josh was surfing air shows? Could the argument be made that Josh Kerr is the most complete surfer on earth? Well, could it be? More after I sober up. And until then, read Rory Parker’s investigative action here!


I’m sober!

Josh’s win was very fine and his after heat quote was the best of all. “To walk away with a win — I feel like one of those dogs with his head out the car window, I was smiling the whole time I was paddling around in the final.”

Bravo and I wonder if he will continue to compete in that game.

Which raises a larger question. What will happen to the Big Wave World Tour? That Jaws jam is going to be very hard to beat and Todos, on its best day, ain’t super wow. I would be very curious to know how many people tuned in and what the kick from Jaws was, if any. With money not exactly flowing in to the WSL coffers and maybe actually running out the door (upcoming hot rumor on the boil for tomorrow!) what will they chop?

P.S. Why hasn’t the Eddie run yet?