GoPro CEO Nick Woodman (right) pleased with himself.
GoPro CEO Nick Woodman (right) pleased with himself.

Shit: “Thanks a lot, Nick Woodman!”

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman rides his company, and me, into the ground!

Nothing is worse than an armchair quarterback. Someone who lounges while proclaiming how, if they were in charge, things would be so much better etc. How, if it was their hand on the lever, things would be chugging right along.

And you know how, from time to time, I poke at the brands that deserved to be poked (All good-natured, Volcom! Dry those tears!) so one year ago I decided to invest my hard-earned dollars in two extreme sport companies. Quiksilver and GoPro. I decided to hop out of the armchair and into the game!

It has not gone well. Quiksilver, of course, bonked a while ago but I love the Mountain and the Wave so much that losing that money felt like a wonderful offering. It make-a me happy.

GoPro really tanked today and has not made me happy. Should we read from Business Insider?

GoPro shares fell 14% in early trading on Friday after the company reported quarterly earnings results that were worse than analysts had expected.

The shares fell 21% after regular trading hours Thursday, following a trading halt requested before the earnings announcement.

The maker of action cameras said its net income dropped 330% from last year and swayed to a loss of $84 million, or -$0.60 per share. Analysts had forecast a $0.36 loss according to Bloomberg.

GoPro’s sales totaled $241 million, down 40% year-on-year, and short of the estimate for $313 million.

These numbers reflect weak demand for GoPro’s handy cameras. In September, the company entered a new product category altogether and launched its first drone called Karma.

Its guidance for fourth-quarter revenue and earnings per share was also weaker than expected. The fourth quarter is crucial for makers of consumer electronics because there’s lots of revenue to be earned from Black Friday and Christmas shopping.

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Just kidding. I know there’s no chance. But at least I’m in the game!

Noa Deane Morocco
Noa Deane, meanwhile, has nothing but fabulous stories about Morocco! "You pull up to this carpark in front of a wave called Boilers and it wedges off this thing and then it fucking breaks. It’s longer than Snapper to Kirra. When it’s huge it breaks out the back and and there’s a wedge way on the inside, a psycho wedge beach. There were 20 waves in a set and you could jump off your wave and catch the next one. Fucking crazy, right?" | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Parker: “The Squalid Glory of Travel!”

Or how to win friends and influence natives abroad!

I spent the last few months of 2007 selling most of my possessions. Suffering from a self-diagnosed case of ennui, I had chosen to self medicate through travel.

I unloaded most of what I owned, save boards, clothes and keepsakes, in order to partially finance my expedition. The plan was to take a trip around the world, spending a year exploring places I’d never seen, and, due to lack of surf, most likely never would.

For the first time in my life, I would leave my surfboards behind, probably not surf at all, and hopefully shake loose the middle class melancholy which had enveloped me in the preceding months.

I hedged my bets.

Though most of the places I planned to visit had only a passing acquaintance with the ocean, I couldn’t help but add one destination that might find me in some good surf. As my flight plan would take me over the northern tip of Africa, I decided to make a stop off in Morocco.

We would arrive towards the end of the season, meaning surf was not likely. Though as a well-known surf destination, I was fairly confident that should we encounter swell I would be able to find a board somewhere.

I would not be embarking on the globetrotting sojourn solo. Joining me was my then girlfriend, now wife. Life partner extraordinaire and the only woman I fully trust not to lose her shit when the going gets rough.

Morocco was an unknown entity. I’d done little research before buying our tickets, and beyond a vague notion of hash and cumin scented desert breezes, had no idea what we should expect.

We arrived in Casablanca on the red eye. After negotiating the standard third world airport, hands white-knuckled on bags to ward off thieves, we paid a taxi to deliver us to our initial destination.  We’d booked a hotel on the edge of the Old Medina, ready to experience a foreign culture in all its squalid glory.

The next morning found me unprepared. Though my wife was enraptured by the old world charm, I could not escape my own twisted view of reality. The Old Medina, though picturesque, was a labyrinthine warren, replete with hustlers, cut purses and hash dealers beckoning from darkened alleys.

We spent our days in a constant state of confusion, lost amongst switchback alleyways. My wife blithely shopped, I peered around corners, gripping a six inch folding knife in a sweating palm, ready to stab at the slightest provocation. After a week I reached my breaking point, and following an incident in which I punched a ten-year-old pick pocket in the side of the head and brandished my blade at a merchant, we decided a change of scenery was in order.

How we found our way to Taghazout is beyond me.

Somehow, using a mishmash of child level French and Spanish we were able to procure bus tickets to Agadir, and after an all day bus ride, and an hour spent wandering around the Agadir bus terminal, we ran into Sam. An amiable Kiwi on holiday. He was also on his way to Taghazout, and was equally clueless as to how we would go about getting there.

After some discussion we hailed a cab, engaged in the customary fifteen-minute haggle over fare, and were on our way.

We pulled into Taghazout after the sun had set. Our cab driver, who would eventually introduce us to Ahmed, the hash dealer and fixer we would employ during our stay, took us to a small, two-bedroom house on the beach front. He knew the owner, who soon arrived to talk rental prices. After another drawn out haggle session we acquired lodging.

The next two days were spent walking through town, which was nearly devoid of fellow travelers, and drinking mint tea until our hands shook from the caffeine buzz.

On the third day the swell arrived.

Anchor Point was overhead and perfect.

I spent the morning frantically scouring the town to find a board I could rent, borrow or buy. Most of the boards on offer were pop out Bics, an option I preferred to forego unless no other option presented itself. New boards were priced in the US $800- $900 range, which was completely outside my grasp. I persevered, and eventually came across a 7’6” minilog shaped by some obscure French guy. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a real board, so I made the best of the situation and paid in advance, offering a white lie to the owner of the small shop about passport theft. Convinced him to take a California drivers license as a deposit on the board.

The board had previously been broken, about a foot from the nose, and as my wife and I walked back to our rental I made a comment which would come back to haunt me.

“You know, it probably won’t go over well if I break this thing.”

So, of course, I broke it two days later.

I’d snagged a set off the point and connected through to the inside section. The tide was low, and as I came off the bottom I could see it was going to bowl and pitch. I swung the board around, stalled, and pulled in at an awkward angle. I watched helplessly as the lip threw out over my head and came down on the nose of the board, exactly where it had broken been broken before.

I came up to find the nose of the board floating next to me. It was a clean break, totally repairable, so I grabbed it and paddled in.

On the walk back to our house my wife and I discussed the best course of action. We decided that I should pay for the repair, so I grabbed some cash and went back to the shop I had rented it from.

When I showed up the owner wasn’t there. A younger kid was on duty, and as I walked up he didn’t recognize the board under my arm.

“Too bad friend. But we can fix it. Only fifty dollars American. We make it good as new”

Okay, fifty bucks. That seemed fair. I borrowed it, I broke it, I should pay to have it fixed. I pulled out fifty dollars, ready to pay. Then he noticed the board belonged to them.

“Wait, I must call the owner.”

Twenty minutes later the shop owner arrived. He took one look at the two pieces of board sitting on the ground and told me I owed him nine hundred dollars.

“For a used board? No way. It was broken when I rented it, and it broke in the same place. I’ll pay to have it fixed.”

“It was in one piece when you rented it. Like new. You owe me for a new board.”

“But it had been broken. It wasn’t broken when you rented it. We fixed it.”

“And your repair job sucked. I’ll pay to fix it. That’s all.”

“You pay, or we keep your passport.” (Which is why you NEVER give anyone your passport.)

This went on for some time, steadily growing more and more heated as the shop owner refused to budge on his price, and I refused to pay it.

Eventually our argument drew the attention of the various underemployed fellows who lounge about the town during the day, looking for an opportunity to make a quick buck. They started to gather around us. I was about to learn a quick lesson in group dynamics.

In short order I found myself surrounded by what seemed to be the entire male contingent of the town, a malnourished, underemployed crew bombarding me with a guttural cacophony of what I assumed to be arabic epithets.

As I continued to argue, now with the entire group, I noticed the crowd was quickly becoming a mob.  I began to fear harsh retribution, driven not by a sense of righteous justice, but, rather, propagated by their own disenfranchisement and boredom.

“You pay, you pay,” became their slogan.

Deciding rash action was better than martyrdom, I began to scream and swing my arms about wildly.  The mob backed off enough to provide a small opening, and I turned and ran. Whether or not they gave chase, I have no idea. I didn’t look back.

I made it back to our house, and collapsed on the sofa to relate to my wife what had just happened.  We decided that an early departure was most likely our best course of action. This decision was further supported when Ahmed stopped by that evening.

“Rory, I hear you break a surfboard. People are very angry with you.”

“He wants too much money for it. I offered to pay, but he’s not reasonable.”

“Yes, I know him. He is very greedy. But, maybe you should go. This town is not very happy with you.  Come back later, when people forget.”

A good plan, but with a small problem. Catching a bus or cab would mean walking through the center of town with all our gear, right past the shop which now, apparently, considered me some sort of criminal.

“My friend will pick you up early. Before sunrise. Pay me now and he will pick you up.”

Now, I liked Ahmed, as much as you can like anyone who is obviously a hustler. But I didn’t have much confidence we would ever seem him again, much less get a ride from his friend, were I to give him any money.

“I’ll pay him in the morning.”

“No, you pay me now, then he comes. Thirty dollars.”

This was extortion, plain and simple. He knew it, I knew it, but at the moment there didn’t seem like much choice.

“Okay, I’ll pay half now, the rest in the morning.”

“No, you pay it all now.”

Left with no other choice, and no better ideas, I paid him, packed my gear, and waited until morning, jumping all night long at any noise, terrified my door was about to be kicked down by a proverbial mob of torch wielding villagers.

At four am my alarm sounded, and I finished packing away any odds and ends I forgotten, and we waited. Five am came and went, then six. At seven we began to hear the town waking up, and I was certain we were lost.

Finally, at 7:15, Ahmed’s friend arrive, driving a tattered, ancient sedan. We loaded up our gear and prepared to sneak out of town.

“Where are you going?”

“To Agadir.  We told Ahmed.

“Yes, to Agadir is twenty dollars.”

“No, we paid Ahmed. He pays you.”

“Ahmed does not pay me. You pay me. Or you stay.”

His smile told me all I needed to know. I was paying, fair or not, whether I liked it or not. I pulled a twenty from our emergency stash and we were on our way.

On the way out of town we passed by the surfshop I’d had trouble with. The proprietor was opening up shop, and, as our car passed by, he and I locked eyes. He started shouting, what, I have no idea.

Our driver just laughed, but, for a split-second, he hit the brakes. It wasn’t for long, but it was enough to send my heart into convulsions.

Then we were out of town, driving past perfect point after perfect reefbreak, until we reached Agadir.

Note: Noa Deane’s experiences in North Africa, meanwhile, blaze and they heave. Read here or watch below!

Futures Fins Alpha
Don't you love the idea of a piece of surfing hardware with a dazzling Made in the USA stamp? (Lost Surfboards have it too!)

How to: Make Fins Great Again!

Discover a fin made with enormous, sincere and difficult effort!

We here joke about very many things because very many things are funny. Everything, in fact, in our surf world is funny except the actual feeling of surfing a wave. Can anything beat it? Does anything come even close?

No. It is as close as any one of us will ever get to redemption.

And so we take these bits seriously. Boards. And trunks. And wetsuits. And fins.

And there’s a fin out there you should back and it ain’t FCS. Oh sure I poke at them because are part of the larger Surfstitch x CoastalWatch empire but I also poke because they make an inferior product.

I have wandered Futures Huntington Beach factory more than once. I have watched the precision. I have seen the fire in my eyes. And so, like very few things, I completely back their product and… the only thing that matters… they work on a wave.

This fin is better than anything out there. Better than FCS’s molded plastic.

This is the only fin you should ride.

Titans of Mavericks Female Blunder

Cartel drags feet, pays price…

At a certain point you’ve gotta ask yourself, “Is there anything the Titans of Mavericks can’t fuck up?”

We’ve reached that point.

The event has been plagued by lawsuits, concert promoters, backroom politics, permit tussles, and accusations of sexism.

Yesterday the California Coastal Commission granted Cartel Management a permit to run this year’s event. Which may seem like a victory, but is anything but.

At issue was the inclusion, or lack thereof, of women in the event during the 2016-2017 season.

Brian Waters, Cartel COO, recently announced a plan to include women in the event, seemingly out of nothing more than a desire to see an equitable representation of sexes within the event.

Waters said the contest board had no reason for its seemingly sudden decision to include women this year other than, “It’s quite simply the right time.”

“There was no compelling driver other than it was the time to do it,” Waters said.

t seems as though Cartel’s strategy was to mollify, then ignore. Make promises, get permits, move forward.  Their problem came during the second step, forcing last minute adjustments, providing an only temporary reprieve from their ongoing permitting issues.

However, when the final roster was announced on September 29th, there wasn’t a single woman to be found. Instead, Cartel announced plans to run a women’s-only heat next year, during the 2017-2018 winter season.

It seems as though Cartel’s strategy was to mollify, then ignore. Make promises, get permits, move forward.  Their problem came during the second step, forcing last minute adjustments, providing an only temporary reprieve from their ongoing permitting issues.

Yesterday saw the announcement that a women-only heat would be added to this year’s Titans event, an action forced on Cartel by the California Coastal Commission through the efforts of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing.

This morning I called the aforementioned committee and spoke with Sabrina Brennan, San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner.

I moved here the first year the event started in 1999, for the entire time that I’ve lived on this bluff overlooking the break there hasn’t been a woman to compete in the event. There have been women that have been interested, and obviously there are women that surf there, but it has not been a possibility.

They’ve said, ‘Oh yeah well, we’ve got an alternate.’ I think they’ve done that twice now, with a couple different women. But they haven’t made it into the event.  And the reasoning has always been, ‘Well, you know, they need to pump more iron.’ That’s from Jeff Clark. The girls aren’t good enough yet, and that’s what we’ve heard.

I hang out at the same yacht club that Jeff Clark hangs out at and he and his wife have a little stand up paddleboard business that’s right behind the yacht club, so I know their point of view on this.  Because when you drink with people you really hear it. You learn about where they’re coming from.  It’s clear to me that it hasn’t been a priority.

Unfortunately for Cartel and the Committee of Five, their priorities are unimportant. While they are in possession of a permit from the Harbor Commission that extends until 2021, their permit from the California Coastal Commission was up for renewal this year. The CCC refused to budge on the issue of female inclusion, forcing Cartel to conform, or lose their ability to hold the event.

Cartel’s decision to do the bare minimum, at the last minute, represents a token victory for female big wave surfing, but also a squandered opportunity for Cartel Management. The CCC granted a permit for this year alone, denying Cartel the ability to chase long term sponsorship money or streamline operations going forward.

[Cartel] literally had no choice, so they backpedalled again and decided that they would include a women’s heat. But they didn’t do it on their own. They were forced to do it.  And they could have done it on their own. They could have taken the initiative to work with women athletes over this past year and to develop a plan that was reasonable and everybody felt fairly good about. It could have been a win/win for the event organizer, and possibly helped them with their sponsorship problems, and they didn’t go down that path. For some reason this particular group of people doesn’t seem able to make good business decisions, and I don’t know why that is. I think a lot of people wonder about that.

It’s strange, they could have seen this as an opportunity to re-present themselves to the public, and polish their image and instead they have this action sort of forced on them.

It’s a public resource, so for that reason alone, it’s just not acceptable to have it benefit one gender more than another. I’m not saying that women should have fifty percent of the day, I know that it’s a smaller group of athletes. But there has to be reasonable plans in place to grow the sport for women and to include women.  It wasn’t until the Coastal Commission staff said to these guys, in the past couple weeks, ‘Look, you haven’t presented us with an acceptable plan, and if you don’t include something for women this season we’re not going to recommend approval for your permit.’ 

The problem is that these guys have not been acting in good faith. They have not proven themselves as being serious about the inclusion of women. They are the ones that didn’t get their act together and come to the commission with a plan that the commission could support.

While yesterday’s decision represents a small victory for Cartel, they are a long way from winning the war. Next year’s permit application will be held to a higher standard, and this year’s efforts will not be enough.

They were also told, at the commission hearing yesterday, ‘Do not come back here without a real plan, because you guys didn’t do what you were supposed to this year. Do not come back here like this again.”

We’re gonna go through this again next year and people will be looking carefully at how this worked, and where it needs to go moving forward.

They were also told, at the commission hearing yesterday, ‘Do not come back here without a real plan, because you guys didn’t do what you were supposed to this year. Do not come back here like this again.

As with Twiggy Baker’s blackball last year, Cartel, and the newly rechristened Committee of Seven, which includes photographer Nikki Brooks and injured charger Savannah Shaughnessy, couldn’t resist the chance to take a parting shot.

While the Coastal Commission was still in session it was announced, via Facebook, that Bianca Valenti, who had served as the face of the drive for female inclusion, would not be invited.

There was a reception held after the Coastal Commission hearing last night, that was at the same hotel where the hearing was. So I was in the reception and the commissioners started trickling in, and I had three different commissioners come in and tell me that they had already gotten the news that the Titans Facebook page had announced who the athletes were, and that Bianca wasn’t one of the athletes.  They were really shocked and disheartened and extremely disappointed. It’s, like, talk about not building good relationships with people.

They just saw her speak, and then that happened. Maybe they didn’t get the four season permit they were hoping for, but they got the permit, then they went and did this. They did not have a good taste in their mouth, and I didn’t either.

Especially knowing that Bianca really stuck her neck out there. She lives really close to the venue, and surfs Mavericks the most. She didn’t have to do that. It’s very bittersweet, all of it.

What really irked me, when I talked to Brian [Waters] (Cartel COO) last night, I just said, ‘Why did you do that to Bianca?  You didn’t need to go there.’

And he was like, ‘It wasn’t us. It was the two new women on the Committee of Seven. They decided.’

I’m like, ‘Oh, really?’ It’s such bullshit. 

It was really infuriating and frustrating that they would retaliate like that. Bianca has definitely earned inclusion in the event and she is definitely one of the four most decorated women big wave surfers in the world.  o to not include her was just wrong.

You can’t draw a more clear picture of retaliation than for them to do that to her right after she made public comment.  How else are we supposed to perceive that?

While the introduction of a women’s heat, and the addition of two female members to the formerly male-only Committee of Five, seems to hold promise for the future, Brennan isn’t so optimistic.

I just wonder about how manipulated these two committee members are gonna be, and whether they really had anything to do with the choices that just were made.  I kinda doubt that they did, honestly. I don’t even see how they had time to really seriously consult with them, given that they’ve been making this up, as they go, over the last couple days. It’s sort of just all a bunch of smoke and mirrors at this point.

Sabre Norris Today Show
I got a new favourite pro surfer and she's eleven years old! Hello Sabre Norris! Brilliant and punchy!

Meet: Your new fav pro surfer!

Sabre Norris is punchy and brilliant!

You’ve got to love a pro surfer kid born without a censor button. Sabre Norris, who is eleven years old and lives in the provincial Australian city of Newcastle, got on national television yesterday morning, called her former Olympian dad “fat and said he “has to suck his gut in for photos” and admitted that, even if she comes last in the Sally Fitz contest she’s a wildcard in, is going to drop the $250 prize money on doughnuts.

Sabre Norris, in case you missed the torrent of clips and stories over the last couple of years, is punchy and brilliant on a skateboard (watch her 540 as a nine year old, here), tears hell out of waves, has a dazzling website  and, I will predict although predictions of this sort are damn easy, will be a Carissa Moore-esque game-changer on tour.

As the always-wonderful Sean Doherty reported:

As a grown man, and a proud and crabby ol’ bastard, it’s hard to describe the feeling of being outsurfed by a 10-year-old girl.

After the initial denial that it was actually happening, it made me think deeply and depressingly about my life. I knew this moment would come, a sad sign of inevitable decline, but I expected I might be at least 70 years old when it did. Instead here I was, seemingly in my prime, my ego being shredded by the forehand turn of a killer smurf.

My sense of self-loathing, however, was soon overwhelmed by a sense of unbridled joy. It’s impossible, you see, to watch Sabre Norris surf and not be spellbound. “Cute” isn’t the right word for her surfing. She’s too damn good to be cute. A searing, grab railed, laid over cutback isn’t “cute”. Steph Gilmore describes Sabre’s surfing as “badass”, and this was a badass turn. Halfway through the turn, somewhere, surely, a single tear was rolling down Matt Hoy’s cheek. On Sabre’s next wave she threw a forehand air reverse. Then she got tubed. Blam! Blam! Blam! Between waves she was effervescent company. She never stopped moving and there was no dead air. “How sick was my last one!” “How much fun is this!” And, finally, “That last turn of yours was really, err… interesting.”

God she’s good. Now watch her light up the Today show!