"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?


Heroin chic!
Heroin chic! | Photo: Tate MacDowell

Help: “We’re surfing in heroin!”

Come ride with the brave men and women cleaning our playground!

Have you ever wondered why SUPs exist? Like, on a deep, cosmic level? Have you ever thought, “SUPs are super lame and profoundly dumb. Where did they come from and why are they here?” I’ll admit I have. I usually think it when the surf is good-ish and I see one stroking into the lineup all awkward and wobbly. I also think, “Go to hell, motherfucker.”

Well today I am eating those very words. Look at these saints from H2O Trash Patrol. Look at them actually sweeping the sea and making our lives better. All of our lives too from boogies to the mighty me and you. The upcoming film, from the stylish Tate MacDowell, illustrates what you may already know (the water is yuck) but also that some passionate men and women actually care and put time, effort, energy, money into being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If karma was real (it ain’t!) don’t you think these folks are erasing their debt for riding SUPs? I do and I am going to try and think nice things about the ones I see from now on.

What is the most disgusting thing you have ever found in the lineup? A dead body? A piece of Aids? Do you care about clean water or do you bury your cigarette grits in the sand?

Justin Cameron and Lex Pedersen, founders of SurfStitch, the online retailer that scooped up FCS, Stab, among other enterprises. Now this gorgeous coupling has split. Is good? Is bad?

Blood Feud: Surf Stitch vs Surf Stitch!

Gorgeous blond CEO, co-founder quits. Frumpy brunette co-founder left to rock in cubicle… 

Do the machinations of business confuse and fascinate you as they do me? My favourite, at least in recent memory, was Quiksilver emerging from the cocoon of chapter 11 bankruptcy $US600 million lighter in debt.

It’s like a magic pudding! Pour your cash away on any ill-advised venture and it… don’t matter a thing!

A wise business gal once advised me to identify companies throwing cash around and to attach myself to its teat and suck the bejeezus out of it until it dried up. Oowee! Did I ever tell you about the time me and a pal got a company to pay $350,000 (in 2003 dollars!) for a book that fed us a quarter-mill in profit? And that Stab was born with the proceeds? And that we made so many bad decisions we ate up the money in a year?

In the early 2000s, it was Billabong with the blank checks. Lately, it’s been online retailer SurfStitch.

Do you remember last May when SurfStitch spent $13.8 million in cash and 4.8 million in shares buying Magic Seaweed and Stab? Or four months ago when they threw $23 million at FCS?

So much floral extravagance!

And the adventure continues.

Just a few hours ago, the CEO and co-founder, Justin Cameron, quit his gig “to join forces with a private equity group, in preparation for a possible bid for the company.”

Meanwhile, the other co-founder of SurfStitch, the brunette Lex Pedersen, has been left to rock to and fro in his cubicle! Blood feud?

In The Australian newspaper, Eli Greenblat reports: “Left stranded is Mr Cameron’s surfing buddy and fellow SurfStitch co-founder Lex Pedersen, who remains at the company as managing director in charge of its North American online business Swell. The pair grew up together on Sydney’s northern beaches, dreaming of starting a surf retailing business. By December 2014 they joined hands to yank the piece of rope that hangs from the Australian stock exchange’s golden bell for their company’s $83 million initial public offering.

“They were obviously mates, dressed casually, beaming for the cameras with a surfboard leaning against the wall. They had lost none of the enthusiasm or camaraderie born from years toiling away in Mr Cameron’s garage, where the two surfing buddies began building their dream company nearly a decade ago.

“Now Mr Cameron, a finance executive who worked for top investment banks such as Credit Suisse and ABN AMRO before he dumped his classy suits for scruffy jeans and T-shirts, is out and in the hunt for his old company without Mr Pedersen.

“Surfers have been known to get into violent punch-ups over accusations of being burnt, or having another surfer drop in and steal their wave, now at SurfStitch it will be private equity raiders, lawyers and merchant bankers puffing out their chests and bracing for a rumble.

“Shares in SurfStitch rallied 22 per cent on expectations of a possible takeover bid led by Mr Cameron and his new private ­equity buddies, and later closed 13c better, or 11 per cent, at $1.31.

“According to sources close to the negotiations, Mr Cameron and his backers, are preparing to pitch any privatisation bid between $1.80 and $2 a share.

“The move to buy out the company comes amid growing frustration from some institutional investors who have questioned the valuations paid for recent acquisitions.

“Clearly there is blood in the water. Mr McDonald, the SurfStitch chairman and former chairman of department store Myer, told of his personal ­disappointment over the way Mr Cameron handed in his resignation. For Mr McDonald, who will oversee the day-to-day activities of the company until a new CEO is found, there are traditions and standards that matter in the business world.

“SurfStitch said Mr Cameron had resigned within a fixed two-year period and before his contract allowed, possibly opening up a fresh battle over his entitlements that could turn into a legal brawl.

“‘Half the expertise of the company just walked out the door,’ said one fund manager.

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, “The founder and chief executive of SurfStitch, Justin Cameron, appears to have gone rogue. In a bombshell statement on Thursday morning, the company that was floated less than 18 months ago said Cameron had resigned and as a result of a conflict of interest – one which the SurfStitch board soon ascertained was a plan to lead a private equity-backed buyout…

“Until last month, SurfStitch was one of the market darlings – having listed its stock at $1, and then more than doubled that price within a year. But the euphoria bubble burst in February when the company backed away from its bullish full-year earnings target, and told investors instead that it wanted to invest in growth.

“The shares plunged 40 per cent to a low of $1.07. Cameron and his co-founder Lex Pedersen, however, were somewhat insulated from the fall, having sold 10 million shares in August at $1.77 a share – almost half their stakes.”


“The less buoyant share price of recent weeks presented an opportune time for predators to take a look at the company, which had previously been trading at extreme price earnings multiples approaching 50 per cent.  Last April, Cameron said he was aiming to lift revenues fivefold in five years to $1 billion by growing the company’s business in Australia, North America and Europe, expanding into new markets in Asia, and grabbing a larger share of the global action sports market. He even described the company as a kind of niche Amazon.”

And, again, from The Australian:

“It comes as SurfStitch is radically changing its business model, shifting from a pure-play online retailer that sells a large range of boardshorts, surf gear and action sports equipment to a business more focused on content after recently shelling out more than $20m on online portals such as Swell TV and Magicseaweed.

“SurfStitch’s powering share price, which late last year hit a record high of $2.09 against its IPO issue price of $1, crashed more than 40 per cent last month when the former market darling walked away from its earnings guidance and investors dumped the stock.”


What do you think?

Is SurfStitch an Amazon-like juggernaut, merely at the beginning of its upward arc?

Is it a shooting star riotous with brilliant colours but, ultimately, doomed to crash in an ocean of debt?

Or do we see the classic story of the popular blond triumphing over his less attractive mousy-haired pal? Oh I know the feeling!