Controversy: Wilko in the Ku Klux Klan?

Matt "Wilko" Wilkinson wears symbol of hate to the WSL banquet! Laughs ensues!

What is our world coming to? Far right/neofascist parties are riling Europe, Donald J. Trump’s message of ethnic purification is resonating in America and fun-loving goofyfooter Matt “Wilko” Wilkinson is bringing the KKK to Australia!

In case you missed it, Wilko dared pair a cowboy hat with with a bow tie and a pocket square at the World Surf League banquet a few days ago. And also a confederate flag belt buckle.

The confederate flag, which is really the Army of North Virginia’s battle banner, has become fraught with ugly in the United States. And do you not know your American history? Years ago this country told England to go to hell and strong, healthy slaves imported from Africa grew its mighty economy. They were put to work in the south, as the southern states had the plantations that required their labor. The years passed and good Christians in the northern part of the country thought, “Mmmmmmm. Slavery is maybe wrong.” And, of course this is all overly simplified, but it lead to a war between the states. The north vs. the south. The south flew the stars and bars over their military brigades and eventually lost the war.

For years the confederate flag was a symbol of southern pride, certainly laced with racism but widely accepted. Did you watch The Dukes of Hazzard? Do you remember the General Lee? There were no protests when Bo and Luke roared around Georgia. I can even recall some episodes where they had black friends.


Well, those days are over. These, the flag represents straight up racism, slavery, etc. to most and so the flag is being scrubbed. I am a westerner (Oregon/California) and white so have no emotional attachment to the thing but obviously get that it is a symbol of yuck and not a joke. Bubba Watson, southern golfer, actually owns one of the General Lees used in the television show and painted over its roof, telling reporters, “All my friends, nobody is offended by it, but now with all of the controversy going on, I felt like it was the right thing to do. Make a statement, make a gesture, whatever you want to call it.”

And Wilko? Was he tone deaf in his sartorial choice, blatantly racist, ironic, celebrating southern pride? No. And I don’t have time to think about it beyond that because far right/neofascist parties are really riling Europe and Donald J. Trump’s message of ethnic purification is really resonating in America. Strange times indeed and those wanting to gripe about a fun-loving Australian goofyfooter should maybe use their energy to house Syrian refugee families instead. Or to take the skinheads bowling.

Speaking of Kerr, his IV preheat for “stomach flu?” Total violation of the WSL's anti-doping policy. I hate to shit on Kerrzy, but rules is rules. The WSL employs WADA guidelines, and they're pretty damn clear on the matter. “The use of IV infusions in place of or in addition to oral fluid intake, such as to relieve severe dehydration caused by gastrointestinal distress during travel, without hospitalization, is prohibited." Will the WSL enforce its own rules? | Photo: WSL

WSL violates own anti-doping policy?

Will the WSL enforce its own anti-doping rules?

Day one at Snapper wasn’t bad. A bit of a letdown, given the jaw dropping perfection that was the recent past, but you cant have it all. Definitely contestable, a few bright moments.

Fanning surprised me, dismantled a few. I figured he’d be surfing distracted, not invested, go through the motions. Totally wrong, man’s a competitor. I should’ve known better.

His part-time tour status is making me a little uncomfortable. Seems like the WSL is saying they’ll wildcard him in next year, should he not requalify on his own.

And that rubs me wrong. Yeah, Slater set a precedent, but he took the whole year off, opened up a spot for someone else. I’m all for allowing sabbaticals, I can only imagine the toll the tour grind takes. But this amounts to special treatment for a top draw, and that’s dangerous ground for a supposedly impartial governing body to tread.

Wade Carmichael, where’d he come from? Have I been living under a rock? Guy fucking rips, love that style, adore that power.

Poor Banting, what a shit way to start the year. First year on tour blasted by injury, first heat for his do-over marred by poor wave selection and an obviously off rhythm approach. You could see he felt it, started to crack towards the end of his heat.

Kolohe almost surprised me, murdered out a 9.1 on his first wave of the year. Then couldn’t back it up, ate a third place finish. That’s gotta be a kick in the ass, fuck with the dome.

Speaking of Kerr, his IV preheat for “stomach flu?” Total violation of the WSL’s anti-doping policy. I hate to shit on Kerrzy, but rules is rules. The WSL employs WADA guidelines, and they’re pretty damn clear on the matter.

Kanoa went up against a horny Taj and an under the weather Kerr, and got smoked. Welcome to the big leagues. Frontside revs won’t win heats, gotta start slamming down that back foot.

Speaking of Kerr, his IV preheat for “stomach flu?” Total violation of the WSL’s anti-doping policy. I hate to shit on Kerrzy, but rules is rules. The WSL employs WADA guidelines, and they’re pretty damn clear on the matter.

“The use of IV infusions in place of or in addition to oral fluid intake, such as to relieve severe dehydration caused by gastrointestinal distress during travel, without hospitalization, is prohibited.” Click here. 

(And go to 26:18 on the YouTube clip below)

Will the WSL enforce its own rules?

Will we see a suspension for Kerr?

I doubt it was an intentional violation, but it doesn’t need to be, something Raoni Monteiro learned in 2014.

Monteiro tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the 2014 Billabong Pipe Masters event. Subsequent investigations by the WSL Discipline Director have received full cooperation from Monteiro and his representatives. The investigation, inclusive of discussion with the athlete, determined that while the use of a Prohibited Substance was “unintentional” and prescribed by a physician, Monteiro still violated the WSL Anti-Doping Policy. 

Monteiro got knocked out of competition for twenty months, gotta wonder if something similar is in the cards for Kerr.

Or will the WSL ignore it? Only time will tell.

"It torments me to see you and then have to surrender you…"

Cute: Mikey Wright meets Rosy Hodge!

The world's new favorite surfer meets his dream girl!

And we’re underway! The World Surf League! Snapper Rocks! Ronnie Blakey! Etc! Dane Reynolds who? Because now we are living in Mikey Wright’s world! The most exciting surfer since Randy “Macho Man” Savage!

Mikey dropped a hammer on ADS and Kolohe Andino in the dying minutes of his heat which was good because he gets to shuttle on Round 3 but, more importantly, got to shuttle right next to Rosy Hodge!

Remember when Mikey told the world that he couldn’t wait for his post heat interview with the world’s third favorite South African? Maybe he didn’t know she is attached (hello blood feud). Maybe he didn’t care. What ever the case, you could cut the tension with a knife. Rosy tried to be icy, distant but how could anyone resist Mikey Wright?

He stood there with the biggest shit-eating grin since Kim Jong-Un tested his first nuclear bomb. xf3wIh1

Just look at it! Look at that smile! Look at adorable, adorable “shucks me?” expression! Look at that nervous stance! It seriously don’t get cuter and Rosy must have been melting inside. How could anyone resist?

And what do you think Rosy’s boyfriend, Electric’s Ian Foulke, is doing? Is he punching his pillow at home?

Is he shouting “Why me?” at the universe? Is he texting Rosy bogan-sounding phrases like “Oi, mate, let’s go have a snag and pash!”

Stay tuned!

Parker: “Death to the Surf Shop!”

I'd love nothing more than to see every retail empire burn to the ground…

I’m a nightmare of a consumer. Buy my clothes at Ross or Costco, bargain shop for hard goods, haggle ruthlessly on big ticket items. I view every dollar I spend above cost as money wasted, and I’ll be damned before I let some middle man swine swindle me with a keystone product.

By and large I fucking loathe the merchant class. No pride, no point, only there to stand between you and the manufacturer, vultures looking to wet their beaks by disrupting the supply chain. A pre-internet necessity, the modern surf shop serves no real point.

Better boards can be had buying straight from the shaper, making sure the most money possible actually lands in the hands of someone of worth. Surf apparel is boring and ill-fitting and overpriced and, apparently, made by actual slaves.

Fuck ’em all, I’d love nothing more than to see every retail empire burn to the ground.

Derek sent me a great interview today, some guy named Anthony Wilson, owner of a chain of shops, whining about online competition. Too funny.

Wilson is very concerned about what he sees as unfair treatment of “core”shops. He likes the word “core,” uses it a few times over the course of the interview. What exactly “core” means is vague. I’d expect it to refer to surfing, since he’s bitching about the business practices of surf brands.

Not so much.  He’s knuckle deep in two chains, Stormriders and Saltwater Wine, one of which has nothing to with the grand practice of wave sliding. Zero. Stormriders is about “Skate+Clothing+Scooter+Footwear+Eyewear.”

So it’s a mall shop. No different than PacSun, a gross chain staffed by sullen teens, focusing on high margin garbage. No point to it, if it died tomorrow the world wouldn’t notice.

Oh my, I so hope it will.

Because the self righteous nonsense this bozo spews gets me riled.

You know, brand websites should be a tool for us retailers to use but for the most part, there’s no way. Why would we refer a customer to a brand website when there is a banner ad for 40% off sitewide or a gift with purchase, or a pop up encouraging them to sign up for a newsletter and get a free voucher?

It’s the same with surfboard manufacturers. Their websites hold a wealth of information on the models, volumes and dimensions and should be a selling tool for us in store. But now there’s “buy now” and “build your own” buttons everywhere. Of course we aren’t going to refer anyone to their sites or social media networks.

Which is great, and might be reasonable, if he had anything to back it up. Better to ask, “Why should a consumer spend time and money with us, when there’s a better alternative elsewhere?”

But that won’t happen, merchant-leech mindset is too strong, he wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Don’t compete with us for our customers online, actually, don’t compete with us full stop. Give us tools. Give us segmented product that allows us to differentiate. Give us first release product for 6 or 12 months. Rather than just asking us to repost brand content and linking to brand social media accounts, how about it goes both ways? How about posting some of our content and sharing some of those customers with us? 

Too funny. “Support my obsolete business model, please! Capitalism is great when it benefits me, but I shouldn’t have to actually compete!”

The bozo is looking the wrong way. Should be thinking about what he can offer the consumer, rather than what he can snatch from the supplier.

Because as stupid and meaningless as the term “core” is, there are actual shops that fit the definition. I was recently back in Hermosa Beach, swung by ET Surf. So happy to see they’re the same cavernous place they’ve always been, oodles of surfboards and wetsuits, the best selection of skate gear in the South Bay. Actually bought some stuff from them, rather than just shoot the shit with the employees I knew and bounce empty handed. The place has heart and soul and an actual stake in the game.

Unlike Stormriders, a brick and mortar with a me-too mentality, trying desperately to earn a buck from an industry in decline. Or Saltwater Wine, which my online investigations point to being more of the same, albeit with a slightly moister spin.

Wilson’s biggest gripe is with SurfStitch.

SurfStitch keep talking about “online shopping habits are changing and consumers are buying based on content and engagement rather than just on product and price” but I think that’s all bull. The only way they compete is on price.

Right now, they are the single biggest threat to core retail. They have been non-stop promotional since Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Last week, they had another 50% off sale that has been extended for the fourth or fifth time or take an extra 25% off sale items or something. It’s all churn and burn, there’s no story telling or brand building going on. We see it playing out in-store all the time with customers wanting us to price match or even honor a free voucher SurfStitch has given away.

Ha! Stupid customers, why aren’t they willing to overpay for product? It’s almost as if they have an existence beyond being enriching the entrepreneurial (gag) type.

Fortunately, I can take solace in the knowledge that all his moaning is for naught. His business model only really works when surfing’s riding the crest of the hot fad wave, which, currently, it most definitely is not.

Hopefully we’ll get lucky, the die-off will continue, and everyone can move on to a better and brighter future.

Which consists of driving to the shitty light industrial part of town to order your board from a wild-eyed lunatic who’s spent the last few decades marinating in resin fumes, and ordering your gear online from independent companies that put a premium quality rather than shareholder happiness.

Surfer at the Cayucos Pier is what Wikipedia says...
Surfer at the Cayucos Pier is what Wikipedia says...

Mystery: Who is this man?

An international puzzle!

I have been a crack surf journalist for over a decade now. In the trenches. Smoking out those hard-hitting stories you have come to depend on. Who could forget Blood Feud: Two Pretty Instagram Boys? Or A Response to Mr. Smith: Thank You and Welcome?

But there is a mystery I cannot get to the bottom of and need your help. If you Google “surfing” or “surf” and then click images the above picture will appear as either the first or second one. It is also the image that graces Wikipedia’s surf entry and litters the rest of the Internet too. By virtue of its popularity it is basically becoming the image that defines what surfing is to most people in the world.

But who is it? And is he really sponsored by …Lost and Azhiazam and Sector 9 or is his board just stickered up? What has he gone on to become? Is he proud of being the international face of surfing?