#TourNotes: JJF’s Fantasy to Reality!

A return to form for #TourNotes as we follow JJF towards his date with destiny!

Three weeks ago, I wrote that fatigue might be seeping into Peter King’s usually fabulous #TourNotes. Read the analysis of that episode here. 

But how could King not return in a convulsion of confidence when his charge John John Florence (#TourNotes was a Hurley initiative afterall) won the world title with a contest to spare?

In this episode, we are gifted an astonishing degree of candour as we follow the world’s best surfer on his date with destiny.

It’s a wonderful spectacle!


Do you remember the excitement when Nike swung into surf?

The 5 Best Failed Surf Brands!

Five wonderful surf brands that fell on their swords!

There was a ruckus last October when it was revealed the money vultures were circling the debt-stricken surf icon Quiksilver. Do you remember? (Click here if y’don’t).

But surf companies, even good ones, that fail ain’t a new thing. Here are five labels that fell on their swords for various reasons.

1) Depactus: A lot of start-up cash was burned through at a remarkable rate trying to create a brand that never could find an authentic identity. Ya can’t buy that shit. An underlying message here is that we will most probably never see the traditional, wholesale model attempted again on that scale. The days of big surf brands using a brick and mortar, wholesale-only model are done. There is probably quite a bit of ‘right-sizing’ still to come as the direct to consumer model takes over. Other reasons for its failure?

  1. Big salaries right out of the gate.
  2. Branding that was tone deaf to the consumer. Depactus came in high-end and expensive where Salty Crew, who is killing it, came in low, came in blue-collar. Same waterman-fisherman-surfer vibe but more authentic and value oriented.
  3. Bold spending. Big ad agency employed, designers, staff and the most delicious trade show fit-outs seen in a while.

2) Gotcha yes, but for completely different reasons. They got over their skis when there was a sudden shift into rave/streetwear in the early nineties. Gotcha was on fire but was also one of the first brands to become overly dependent on big box retailers who suddenly shifted away from surf, leaving them with a warehouse full of clothes and no where to sell it. They tried to rush back into the surf shops but it was too late by then. Michael Tomson was a marketing genius, perhaps his partners on the business end let them down? Copious amounts of Peruvian Flake probably wasn’t helping. (Allegedly etc.)

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3) Lightning Bolt has to be on the list. Really one of the first true surf brands. Bolt had it all going through the seventies but was without an actual retail base to distribute through. The growth had to come from cheesy marketing and bad, licensed products (Jewelry, yikes!). Owner infighting didn’t help. To this day though, is there a more recognizable logo?

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4) Maui & Sons. Jeff Yokohama might be the most talented designer to ever work in the surf rag trade (Rama McCabe a very close second). His debut, Maui & Sons was all the rage in and around the early eighties, but they too succumbed to what was a very immature distribution chain at the time. A couple hundred small surf shops simply wasn’t enough to keep a brand going. Jeff went on to do a lot of creative things but I’m sure he’d love another swing at this one.

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5) Nike. Actually a three-time loser. They tried in the nineties, the two thousands and again more recently, every time failing to get the surf retail base to accept their brand of “surf jock”. Unrelenting, they simply bought Hurley.

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Prediction: In the deadman walking category we have the WSL. It’s only a matter of time until Ziff and his wife get bored with their little toy and pull the purse strings. There is no way it’s a sustainable model right now nor can it be. It’s whole premise is based on middle America accepting surfing as an activity worth watching. Unless someone is dying or getting attacked by a shark, they aren’t interested. There will always be some sort of “tour,” but this Paul Speaker version is not long for this earth. The first sign of the apocalypse will be Speaker’s announcement that he is “moving on to pursue other business challenges”.


Based on FCStitch logic, let's look at this year's numbers. Futures work so good they helped John John Florence sew up the title after only ten events. Despite the fact that Futures team riders only make up 22% of the top 32. 40% of the contests in 2016 were won by guys on Futures. 45% percent of surfers in WCT finals in 2016 were riding Futures. Futures team riders account for two of the top three surfers in the world right now.

Official: Futures Wins Battle of the Fins!

The numbers are in! According to FCS' own logic, Futures is the superior fin system!

John John takes the championship early. Makes Pipe a bit of an anti-climax. Always great when the title comes down to the last few heats of the year. So exciting!

But the blonde kid won it, fair and square. Certain South Americans are losing their shit about it online, but we can all agree they’re crazy. Not their fault, Brazilian Portuguese doesn’t have a word for “good sportsmanship.” (I may have made that joke earlier this year. If so, I apologize for recycling my garbage.)

It all brings to mind a bit of advertorial that ran on another outlet last year. Something about how all the events of 2015 were won on FCS2.

I don’t buy the line that your fin box really affects your surfing. Maybe it does when you’re good enough to earn a living riding waves. But for us normal humans, from the dudes stink-bug-stance trimming out on the shoulder to the hard off-the-bottom-blast-the-lip types, it really comes down to personal preference.

Some of us like solid fin boxes that almost never break and use a single screw to hold in each fin. Others dig using a hammer for removal and enjoy spending a ton of money when the newest version isn’t backwards compatible with all the sets they already own. Bonus points, I guess, if the boxes are prone to breakage and contain a hunk of titanium that makes replacement a nightmare.

Based on FCStitch logic, let’s look at this year’s numbers.

Futures work so good they helped John John Florence sew up the title after only ten events.

Despite the fact that Futures team riders only make up 22% of the top 32:

40% of the contests in 2016 were won by guys on Futures.

45% percent of surfers in WCT finals in 2016 were riding Futures.

Futures team riders account for two of the top three surfers in the world right now.

How is this instance of fawning over a fin system brand better than what StabStitch did last year?

Well, we don’t own Futures. They don’t even pay us. But they should. Or at least send me some t-shirts. Don’t need any fins, already own more sets than I can possibly use.

Never actually seen a broken Futures fin so I don’t anticipate needing a new set anytime in the near or distant future.

John John Florence Signature Techflex from Futures Fins on Vimeo.


KS and spontaneous passive-aggression!

The (ex) world's greatest surfer is also the world's greatest (worst) loser!

Kelly Slater is the funniest ever. He’s the best ever, of course, but also the funniest. Who could forget last year when Adriano de Souza won a hard-earned national championship and Kelly pulled his rug out hours later by releasing footage of his inland barrel?

Or a handful of hours ago when John John Florence, the world’s favorite surfer, won and Kelly Slater took to Instagram directly with a photo of him and Jordy Smith and the words:

Good fight for the title, Jordz. Great surfing all year. Nobody combines all technical and power surfing elements better. #BestVideoParts on earth, IMO.

All technical and power surfing combination? Wouldn’t that basically define John John? Kelly twists the knife a little too by shitting on John John’s Blake Vincent Kueny masterpiece View From a Blue Moon.

Kelly’s spontaneous passive-aggression could maybe be seen as poor form but I love it! His heart can only stand being champion and the aggression seeps out, passively, when he is not. There ain’t no grace in his losing but therein lies the delicate truth. “Show me a good loser…” as they say “…and I’ll show you a loser.”

Here’s to our Ke11y! The best there ever was!

(Until John John wins a few more)


Do you remember when John John was photographed by the great Bruce Weber for Vogue Italia earlier this year? A sweet to-and-fro with the voluptuous soon-to-be champ. | Photo: Vogue Italia

Warshaw: “John John the blankest slate!”

Nobody has to talk themselves into feeling good about a John Florence world title…

When John John won the world title in Portugal yesterday, was your immediate thought, what does Matt Warshaw think? Oh, mine too!

Afterall, the New Yorker did describe Warshaw in their October 3 issue as “the world’s leading surfing scholar, the Linnaeus of the lineup.”

Therefore, what is the significance of a John John world title? Was it inevitable? And how does it stack among the other forty world titles? This exchange just took place between Bondi, Australia, and Seattle, Washington.

BeachGrit: When did Flo first swing onto your radar?
Warshaw: He had a bit in Dana Brown’s excellent movie Step Into Liquid, which was I think 2003. Then some other vid parts when Jon was just a tiny blond novelty, and all the filmmakers wanted to jump his mom.

You kind of had to maneuver yourself to a place where you could cheer Adriano’s achievement. All the hard work, and all the tactical precision. At some level it felt great. Victory for the Everyman. But I think it just rests easier, and seems more natural, when the title-holder is also one of the consensus best surfers in the world. Nobody has to talk themselves into feeling good about a John Florence world title.

Did you believe the hype?
No. No point in really taking interest til the kid makes it through puberty. That shit is a talent killer. I remember a couple really hot seventh grade surfers who went back to the middle of the pack in high school. So many ways to lose the gift. Never, ever, back a 10-year-old.

Did you really think this little kid could…succeed? Did you believe there were the elements of destruction all around him? That he would be led into some kind of destruction? 
John Florence, to me, is the blankest of all slates. I don’t say that to be cruel. But it’s like the way people talk about Ronald Reagan, where you try and look inside him and just get… nothing. I do get the sense that he was raised right, and is incredibly well-adjusted given the level of fame and adulation he’s been dealing with since, whatever it is, fourth grade. But there is something about him that just seems simple. Not simple-minded, but just uncomplicated and edge-free. There is nothing in him that would snag on an addiction, and nothing that would snag on politics or film or whatever. He is the purest of surfers.

What does Flo have that, say, his brothers, raised in identical circumstances, don’t?
Kelly Slater-level fast-twitch muscles, and a static-free mind.

How will history record Flo’s world title as opposed to, say, Adriano?
You kind of had to maneuver yourself to a place where you could cheer Adriano’s achievement. All the hard work, and all the tactical precision. At some level it felt great. Victory for the Everyman. But I think it just rests easier, and seems more natural, when the title-holder is also one of the consensus best surfers in the world. Nobody has to talk themselves into feeling good about a John Florence world title.

Compared to Joel and Mick?
Joel and Mick occupy that middle ground between Adriano and John.

Immediately after Flo’s win, Kelly Slater posted on Instagram a photo of he and Jordy. He wrote: “Great fight for the title, Jordz. Great surfing all year. Nobody combines all technical and power surfing elements better #bestvideoparts on earth, IMO.”

Does this strike you as an odd thing to do, in the fever of Flo’s world title saying another surfer makes better video parts and combines technique and power better? How do you imagine Kelly is feeling?
Less creative than the Gene Wilder Photoshop episode, and not as mean as dropping the wavepool on Adriano’s world title, but still, yeah, add that your listicle of weird Slater media moves for 2016. Looking forward to a Taylor Swift mic grab at the Grammys in 2017. Oh, and now that John’s the Champ, maybe he’ll get to date Taylor Swift for real!