Every movement has an end, I suppose. It is just a true bummer that our Volcom, our Youth Against Establishment, has turned fully and completely into Middle-aged for the Establishment. Not fun uncle middle-aged either. Depressed, penny-pinching, balding-due-stress middle-aged.
Shit and grouchy and smug middle-aged.
It has been whispered/rumored through the channels that the brand cut or released the bulk of its surf team a few weeks ago. And then rumored that they may be chasing Noa Deane.
But Noa Deane ain’t coming from what I hear. And now, allegedly, Alex Grey, the very cute Quincy Davis, the even cuter Parker Coffin and others are gone, gone, gone.
A brutal and heartless gutting.
And Volcom today represents the very worst of what has happened to surf over the past decade. The dream was sold. Great for those who cashed out on IPOs etc but not for the labels left behind to groan under the weight of unachievable growth.
One by one the brands that have gone public or been bought by holding companies have faltered and Volcom has fallen all the way down, pissing its chinos on the floor. If you recall it went public in 2005 and raised $89 million. Six years later the French luxury group Kering tendered a friendly takeover bid essentially purchasing the Stone for $600 million.
It has since turned into a wheezing old bastard. A goofy invalid forced to do strange dances for its French overlords who neither know or care about anything but profit. “Why pay kids to slide on snow?” they ask and nobody has a good answer because there is no good answer. It was a miracle that anyone ever got paid in the first place but that’s what made it fun right? Snow, surf and skate are nonsensical! They are weird little kicks practiced by kids who aren’t team oriented enough to play real sports!
They are the fucking derelict dream!
And the riders, surfers, skaters always represented this better than anyone else. Cutting their heads off to save some money here might make fiscal sense on paper but it counters the essence of the dream. And giving up on the dream equals middle-aged cubicle bullshit.
It equals the Establishment.
Volcom is now officially what it was once against. It is true to nothing but greed. Fuck it. Not the 1991 version but today’s ugly French shell.
Do you believe the world is divided between the brutally oppressed and the privileged, the division mostly based upon colour lines? Oh, I don’t. But I’m white (actually the nuttiest brown) and perhaps blind to the mechanisations of prejudice.
Jadson Andre, a Brazilian who is five-feet-seven and ten stone (a little man), is the world number twenty five and represents, if you’re into that sorta thing, the struggle of the poor, of the coloured. This ain’t a kid who grew up in the privileged surf ghettos of southern California or south-west France or Australia.
But he has form!
Do you remember in 2010 when he famously beat that year’s world champion Kelly Slater in Brazil to win the Billabong Pro? Relive that here.
Earlier today, the WSL published an interview with Andre, who faces relegation from the WCT tour, unless he can swoop into a semi-final at Pipe.
Andre is no natural phenomenon but his story is startling and honest.
On losing to Julian Wilson, round three, Portugal: When I heard he got the score he needed I started crying. I didn’t know what to do. I went to the judge’s tower. I wanted to ask them. But as soon as I went to them I couldn’t even talk. I was just crying. I just wanted to ask them why…but I just left. After that I took a shower and called my girlfriend. When I woke up the next morning and I was okay. I don’t take things too personal. For some reason, I had to lose that heat.
How many hours did you cry for: I was so upset, I cried for like four hours straight. But I think it was good because after that everything went away. I’m sad, but I’m okay with myself.
On poverty: My parents had me when they were really young, so they didn’t have any money. I really wanted a football but they didn’t have enough to get me one. When my Dad got a job he saved enough to buy me a football. It ended up getting a hole in it and it deflated. My mom said that my dad came home crying because he didn’t have enough to buy another one. She said that was one of the saddest days for them, when they were younger. But now I surf and I have given them a better life and I can buy lots of footballs, so I should not be sad for anything.
I really take that as – whatever happens, I’m going to be fine. The ball was $2 and they weren’t able to buy it. This is all a blessing. I’m not going to complain about anything. This is the journey. I love what I do and I love this tour. I’m really grateful for what surfing has done for my family and me.
On not-getting the injury wildcard (presuming they go to Bede Durbidge and Owen Wright): Everyone on Tour knows about my injuries. But there’s no more room for injury replacements next year. If I don’t qualify, I’ll try somehow to be a replacement or something like that, but I’m not going to take someone else’s spot if they are ready. That’s their spot. It wouldn’t be fair if I took their spot, I wouldn’t be happy with myself. I wouldn’t surf happy. I would be shy, almost, if I wasn’t supposed to be there.
Beaten by rollerblading (of course!) but trumps X-treme Unicycles and snakeboarding!
It’s a banner day in the BeachGrit world. After months of toil in my basement laboratory I’m finally ready to unveil a groundbreaking discovery in the world of action sports marketing.
Drawing upon the expertise of cutting edge mathemagicians, statisticians, instagram celebrities, and cultural czars I created a proprietary algorithm that assigns values to each sport’s respective enjoyability, culture, skill, danger, and spectator appeal, then uses science stuff to calculate a score I’ve decided to label “RadFactor™.”
Unfortunately, it keeps returning grizzle bear rodeo in the top spot. Which would be rad, if it actually existed. Because it does not I’ve decided to scrap the entire project and make up a list off the top of my head.
Behold my rankings, from most rad to depressingly lame. The results may shock you!
Skateboarding: No debate here. Skating’s been the best since the moment it shed itself of its aquatic forefathers and took to the streets.
Squirrel suit flying (or whatever it’s called): Coolest way to commit suicide ever invented.
Mountain bikes: Expensive as fuck, but there’s no radder way to obliterate both your collarbones than getting pitched over the handlebars after an ill considered cliff jump.
Bodyboarding: What surfing could be, if you took away the pretension and money.
BMX: Basically skateboarding where the ground is too fucked to roll.
Whitewater kayaking: I don’t know why this is here.
Rollerblading: The stand-up paddlers of the skateboard world.
Surfing: I’m, honestly, surprised it ranked this high.
Skim boarding: Skateboarding for people who want to surf but don’t know how to swim.
X-treme Unicycles: Mountain bikes for guys who hate their dicks.
Skiing: Why is this ranked higher than snowboarding? Because fuck snowboards.
Freestyle motocross: Wealthy desert trash with tattoos and meth habits.
Pogo-sticking: The Magic cards of X-treme sports.
Snakeboarding: Snowboarding for kids who can’t afford snowboarding.
Parkour: Only made the list because of the near infinite number of videos of stupid kids wrecking themselves.
Snowboarding: The golf of boardsports. Rich white kids whose parents are willing to piss away ridiculous amounts of money on lift tickets and dork-ass looking gear.
Wake surfing: Like real surfing, only the wave sucks and it requires a $60K boat that costs a million dollars an hour to run.
Wake boarding: Strapped in river garbage knee explosions.
And maybe Hossegor and Trestles for the 2024 games?
I’m not here to throw shade on Kelly Slater or his miracle of technology. I want to explain the reasoning behind the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s decision to hold surfing in the ocean.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) proposed Olympic Surfing to be held in a wave pool or at Shidadhida Beach. They didn’t specify if the pool was to be Kelly Slater Wave Co, Wavegarden or another company’s design.
Both committees watched the jaw dropping videos of Surf Ranch, visited the Japanese beachbreak in winter, and went with the latter.
The committee that spends billions erecting stadiums around the world wouldn’t budge throw a little green at a pool? Surprised me too.
Surfing Magazine went as far as to write a opinion piece entitled “Olympics Surfing Should Be In Wave Pools”. Much of it based on a popular assumption that surfing didn’t qualify as an Olympic sport because the ocean is an uneven playing field, and therefore you can’t crown “the best surfer in the world” after one surf contest, even it is in pumping waves.
While I agree with that statement, judging or crowning the world’s best surfer was never a concern to the IOC according to ISA President, Fernando Aguerre.
“It had nothing to do with judging, but rather the ability for there to be waves in future host cities. The IOC decision was to approve surfing for 2020. For 2024, Los Angeles and Paris have expressed their interest to have surfing included. No talks between those cities has been about man-made or natural waves”.
(Lower Trestles and Hossegor, although not in the city of LA or Paris, are proposed sites for Olympic Surfing in 2024.)
It all seemed to coincide perfectly. Kelly Slater releases the video of the artificial wave on December 5th, 2015. Same year the the ISA grows to having 100 Surfing Nations with Iran’s inclusion. I thought both were equally important for the successful IOC bid in Rio de Janeiro on August 5th,2016.
So why did the IOC decide to go with Shidashida over Slater’s synthetic perfection?
At the heart of it, wave pools aren’t a proven return of investment.
“More than anything”, says Fernando Aguerre , “it must have a proven business sustainability model”.
The Surf Ranch is mouth-watering and the interest surrounding the technology is very real, but Kelly Slater Wave Co and the World Surf League (WSL) haven’t built one for commercial use yet.
The likelihood of Kelly Slater Wave Co/WSL sanctioned events at a casino or resort are probable. Only a matter of time until an investor makes it happen. Fingers crossed it won’t be Trump but until the kinks are worked out, the IOC can’t justify building one. Kelly’s wave pool is like the 11-time world Champion, without equal. But much of the financial side of his pool is unknown.
Kelly Slater hasn’t given an outright price for an elite-level wave pool. In an article with BloomBerg, Kelly Slater says that his prototype could be scaled to fit any body of water, for a price.
“The cost of a system will depend on many variables, most obviously the size of the pool and the foil. “If you said $2 million you wouldn’t be wrong, and if you said $20 million you wouldn’t be wrong either,” he says. “It’s like a buffet.”
Let’s imagine the IOC was drop 20 million dollarsforthe barrel buffet. The Surf Ranch sits on 20 acres of dust in Lemoore, California. The cost to clear that much land in Tokyo might be more than the pool and technology itself.
But unlike a buffet, Kelly’s pool isn’t “all you can surf for $14.99”. We don’t know a price per wave estimate or even if Kelly’s pool is a 2 million or a 20 million dollar version. We do know that it’s solar powered which aligns with the Olympics stance on sustainability.
Let’s imagine the IOC was drop 20 million dollarsforthe barrel buffet. The Surf Ranch sits on 20 acres of dust in Lemoore, California. The cost to clear that much land in Tokyo might be more than the pool and technology itself. But costs aren’t the only concern.
In the videos of Surf Ranch, the wave is a dream, not a drop of water out of place. But we don’t know what it would be like to run a live event in one. For instance, after each wave, the foil needs to be reset. How long does that take? How long does it take for the turbulence in the pool to settle after each wave?
Let’s say, to make the wave all perfect and glassy like we see on the videos, that there is one wave every ten minutes. Would a heat consist of two waves apiece and last 40 minutes? Downtime between waves is bad enough in the WSL viewing experience. Imagine waiting for the bubbles to go flat in a pool.
And we’ve only seen Kelly’s pool offered as a right. Would we expect the IOC to award backside and frontside gold medalist or to build two pools adjacently?
Tokyo 2020 runs from August 7th to the 23rd. Surfing will have the duration of the games as a waiting period for swell. With only 40 allocated competitors split evenly amongst the sexes, Olympic Surfing will take only two days to complete.
The odds of getting two fun days at Shidashida during early typhoon season are good, (it was pumping this year) and if need be, the event could go mobile. There are plenty of options close by on the Chiba peninsula. Shidashida is renowned however, for being Japan’s most dependable beachbreak.
Located one hour from Tokyo by car or train, Shidshida has held World Qualifying Series contests and Pro Junior events since the 1990s. A wide beach, the location is ideal to handle crowds of visitors.
Fortunately, for those competing and spectating, the waves for the Olympics could be fun. Check out this WSL clip of a Qualifying Series event at Shidashida during a typhoon swell. Conditions look better than Huntington Beach did for the US Open of Surfing.
Surfing being voted into Tokyo 2020 Games was a monumental shift, but it doesn’t secure a permanent slot to future games. Kelly’s wave pool is our ticket to landlocked countries and that’s exactly where the IOC should build them.
Introduce surfing to a place where it wouldn’t be possible. Building a pool when the coast is an option, sets a precedence for host nations to uphold. Olympic Surfing might be considered too costly to run if that’s the case. The IOC has to be certain that what they build will benefit the host nation’s economy and Japan’s history tells them that the wave pool craze doesn’t last.
Until Slater showed off the Surf Ranch, the wave at Ocean Dome, part of the Seagaia Resort, was the internet’s most sensational wave pool. This video of Owen Wright and Julian Wilson, was the only glimpse we saw of Ocean Dome’s potential, but nine years later it never stops looking like a good time.
But what the video doesn’t show is that Ocean Dome was expensive to operate and close to a good surf spot. Both were factors for the pool going flat forever in 2007 due to bankruptcy. Slater’s wave is better, but without proof of its commercial success, it’s too big of a financial risk to the Japanese economy, and that’s the ultimate decision maker when it comes to Olympic politics.
It says on the World Surf League’s website that John John Florence has won $389,500.00 so far on his championship run. And what do you think has he has purchased? Maybe a single family home in Tulare, California just a short drive away from Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch? Maybe a bottle of Chateau Margaux from Thomas Jefferson’s personal stash?
Do you think he wishes he won packs of cigarettes instead of money? That is what Australia’s Daily Telegraph reveals that the country’s first women’s champ won! Packs of Craven A’s! The champ, Phyllis O’Donnell is 79 now but not bitter about her unhealthy gift.
“I used to smoke so I didn’t mind so much. But I gave that up 30 years ago now…” she tells the paper.
Do you think the World Surf League will draw inspiration from the past and award future champs cartons of Camel Blues once Samsung officially implodes and the Ziffs get bored?
Or do you think they will award Camel Crushes instead?