Do we dream the same dream Mr. WSL CEO Paul Speaker? Do we?
Do we dream the same dream Mr. WSL CEO Paul Speaker? Do we?

Rumor: WSL CEO Paul Speaker is a diva!

Or maybe a poet! Or maybe an opera star! Or maybe Beyonce!

Have you heard of celebrity riders? They are the lists of requirements the rich and famous demand from the service class. Some are normal, like water bottles and Butterfinger candy bars.

Others are honorable. Jack Johnston, surfing minstrel, insists that his music venues change all their lightbulbs to the energy saving sort and staff bike valets.

Still others are grandly bizarre. Iggy Pop stipulates that there must be seven dwarves at each of his shows dressed up like the famous Disney Snow White troupe. Katy Perry, a person to wash and cut her vegetables. Eminem, a koi pond. Dustin Diamond, that no person in his presence call him “Screech.”

What about World Surf League CEO Paul Speaker? Rumor has it that he requires two roses to be sitting on his limo/Towncar seat and two more in his hotel rooms.


The hell?

Totally amazing!

It it wonderful that Mr. Speaker has a rider at all, don’t you think? In his mind he must be a powerful lord overseeing a robust and thriving business. Or maybe in his mind he is a precious pop star whose every emotional whim must be catered to immediately.

Or maybe in his mind he is a renaissance painter and needs reminders that life is both beautiful but fragile always by his side.

Or maybe he is a li’l freak?

Do you think his favorite song is Poison’s Every Rose Has its Thorn?

Take my hand, dear Mr. CEO, and look into my eyes…

We both lie silently still in the dead of the night
Although we both lie close together we feel miles apart inside
Was it something I said or something I did?
Did my words not come out right?
Though I tried not to hurt you
Though I tried
But I guess that’s why they say

Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn

Yeah it does

Their names are Stab, Swell, FCS and MagicSeaweed! They clean up after themselves!
Their names are Stab, Swell, FCS and MagicSeaweed! They clean up after themselves!

Oh Shit: SurfStitch trading halted!

Where have you gone Justin Cameron? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

Stab/Stitch was the hottest thing going just months ago. How could a company combining lit AF magazine Stab, ultra-winning fin company FCS, British wave forecasting website Magic Seaweed and online retailer Swell lose? It couldn’t!

But then it did.

This morning The Australian reported:

Shares in underperforming online surfwear and action sports retailer SurfStitch have been placed in a trading halt pending an update from the company on its expected earnings for fiscal 2016.

Investors are bracing for further possible bad news that could include its third profit warning this year.

SurfStitch said in a brief statement to the Australian Securities Exchange that it needed a trading halt on its shares until Thursday as it provided the market with a “further update on its anticipated pro-forma EBITDA for the year ending 30 June 2016’’.

In May SurfStitch shares plummeted 60 per cent after it issued its second profit warning this year, following the shock resignation of SurfStitch co-founder and chief executive Justin Cameron in March.

At the time SurfStitch chairman Howard McDonald said the CEO’s departure had left one of the businesses SurfStitch acquired “exposed’’.

Under Mr Cameron’s watch the company made a string of acquisitions, spending tens of millions of dollars, to grow its business in sports media and publishing and other related sports apparel ventures.

Mr Cameron left to team up with private equity to work on a potential takeover bid for the company, but so far no bid has been sent to the SurfStitch board.

The profit downgrade in May was triggered by a slowdown in the US surf and action sports apparel market, which had forced SurfStitch to engage in discounting, further eroding margins.

It was forced to scale back earnings guidance to $2 million-$3m in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for 2016 against an original forecast of EBITDA of $15m-$18m. SurfStitch booked pro-forma EBITDA of $7.7m in 2015.

SurfStitch shares last traded at 40.5 cents, against an IPO price of $1 when the company floated in late 2014.

Well hell.

Surfing's creative director Pete Taras goes over architectural plans. Should there be a glory hole? Why yes!
Surfing's creative director Pete Taras goes over architectural plans. Should there be a glory hole? Why yes!

Rumor: Surfing Mag to launch surf shops!

Stalwart surf publication to open physical location! In this market! Warren Buffett says, "Brilliant!"

Is there anything doing worse, in our beloved surf world, than media?

Why yes!

Yes there is!


The consumer has completely changed her habits over the past five years. When he used to see something he wanted, say a pair of Mick Fanning beer bottle sandals from Reef, he would shuffle down to his local surf shop and purchase. When she used to see something she couldn’t live without, say a Roxy boardshort, she would beg her mom to drop her off down the street but end up at her local surf shop and purchase.

Now it is Amazon. Sorry surf shop!

But God bless Surfing Magazine because rumor has it they are jumping into that depressed space with both Mick Fanning beer bottle sandal from Reef feet!

Do you remember only a few short years ago when Surfer opened a bar on Oahu’s North Shore?

Now there are multiple franchises and the money is pouring in.

I mocked the idea when I first saw it but it was only from jealousy. Surfers are drunks and bars a great idea.

But retail?

I suppose it could make great sense. Surfing could highlight product, etc. and then direct traffic directly to brick and mortar locations. Buy today! Like Stab/Stitch except good.

Plus the Surfing name has history and mean something.

Anyhow, the great Warren Buffett once said, “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”

Opening a surf shop today is super greedy. And maybe wonderful! Surfing magazine’s creative director Pete Taras is going to be rich!

Richie Vas
Doomsday comes to Cape Fear! Richie Vas, pictured here, likes bare-knuckle fighting and bare knuckle surf. Does your blood pressure rocket when you study this photo? | Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Bare-Knuckle: Red Bull Smashes WSL!

The morning's headlines scream: Give us more Savages of the East!

Yesterday there were two surf competitions being broadcast at the same exact time. One featured the world’s best surfers in pleasant, crystalline waves. The other, mostly insane children of children of children of convicts throwing themselves onto the rocks of Botany Bay.

Did you know that Botany Bay, just south of Sydney’s CBD, was the site of James Cook’s first landing in Australia? There he saw wild plants and, to his European eyes, strange people. He called the aboriginals “Savages of the East.”

And maybe Red Bull should rename the Cape Fear event Savages of the East. It has a ring, no?

Whatever the case, it was wild. The unsinkable Derek Rielly was there in person and the attention spans of the world were upon it across all seas and continents.

This morning’s headlines scream:

Australian Storm Sees Daredevil Surfers Risk Lives! –Huff Post

Des vagues mutantes en Australie! –L’Equipe

Cape Fear smashes big wave riders after Sydney storms! –Australian Times

There’s an insane surfing competition on right now! –Business Insider


The morning’s headlines for the Fiji Pro?

Fanning stumbles on return to tour –Gold Coast Bulletin

But Mick won his heat didn’t he? Maybe the writers at the Gold Coast Bulletin don’t know because they switched over to Savages of the East and stopped watching. Like everyone else.

And of course it is very unfair to compare a one day specialty event with a day of round 2/3 action. Apples to oranges. Except is it? Both featured surfing. One just featured the sort that is easy to understand. Man vs. man. Big waves. Consequences.

The problem for the WSL is that the apparent broad appeal of Savages of the East is exactly the type of audience it is trying to capture. CEO Paul Speaker needs non-surfers, like himself, to watch, buy jerseys, cheer on favorites.

But just look at yesterday’s Fiji judging. It was almost impossible, even for seasoned and crusty vets, to understand the scores being posted. Ross Williams said at some point, “At the end of the day they (the judges) just try and get the result right (for the entire heat).”

i.e. it is all nonsense.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love wild outliers like The Eddie, Savages of the East, etc. but, at heart, I’m a WSL man. I enjoy the slog, the arbitrary weirdness, Tweeting with Matt Warshaw about the arbitrary weirdness. I also love test cricket and extra innings’ baseball.

And that’s the thing. Professional surfing will only ever be for a tiny few. To pretend otherwise is to be an asshole.

CEO Paul Speaker is an asshole.

Russell Bierke
The 18-year-old Australian Russell Bierke has his hair finger combed by the great gusts of spit at Cape Solander. | Photo: Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool

Doomsday comes to “Cape Fear!”

Twelve-foot Cape Solander aka Cape Fear rockets your blood pressure. Day one!

Surfing as a tale of two sports, was evident today in the contrast between the WSL’s Fiji Pro and their one-time energy drink foe Red Bull. 

While Fiji swam in bath-water warm four-foot lefts, with losing competitors appearing shirtless at the bar minutes after a losing heat, Cape Fear, as Cape Solander is called, was all rage and fists and knots and quivering hearts.

For a moment, we’ll study the press release.

Red Bull Cape Fear, Sydney’s one-of-a-kind invitation-only surf competition ran through two hours of battles in extreme waves on the edge of Botany Bay today. Competition was put on-hold for the first few hours of the day as contest officials waited for the out-of-control conditions to relent enough for surfers to take to the water.

After Red Bull Cape Fear was called on a selection of Australia’s best slab riding specialists went to work in the biggest waves ever ridden at this infamous break. The paddle-in portion of the event was cancelled as it was deemed impossible to surf these waves without being towed-in by a jet ski.

“I think everyone in the event would agree this is the biggest the Cape has ever been surfed,” said Thornton. “I was really nervous before the event started, then once I got out on the back on the jet ski I was pumped up and ready to go. I didn’t want to wait too long before I got my first wave because I knew the nerves would build again, and thankfully managed to get a good one early. Even though I got absolutely smashed at the end of the battle it’s going to be a surf I remember for a long time, with one great wave and one of the worst wipeouts I’ve ever had.”

After two battles the event team re-assessed the conditions and confirmed the event would be postponed until tomorrow.

At the halfway mark of competition Justen Allport is leading with a score of 15.25, ahead of Russell Bierke and Evan Faulks in second and third respectively. Allport was taken to hospital for assessment after a wipeout at the end of his heat, but is in a stable condition.

The ledge at Cape Solander, on the southern tip of Sydney’s Botany Bay, straightens up and glares at you. Your blood pressure rockets. You’re paralysed by the doomsday import of the threat.

You watch it and you can see yourself accepting the rope and… today… with the rarest of twelve-foot north east swells slamming shut the usual escape route into the channel, oh you know how it ends.

And did you know the very famous film director and skate brand maven and actor Spike Jonze was there, on the very tip of Cape Solander, absorbing the thrills? I turned to a pal, the art director of the wonderful Monster Children, whom I figured would’ve gone to Spike’s sell-out speech at Sydney’s Vivid Festival and asked how he went and he turned on his heels a little to reveal the infinitely precious object himself.

Hello Mr Jonze!


Click here to watch the highlights of Day one, Red Bull Cape Fear.