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Beach Grit

Radical: Surfing mag’s scorched earth!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Rumors of Surfing magazine's demise swirl but are they taking everyone down as they go? Brilliant!

I will always have the softest spot in my crusty heart for Surfing magazine. The powers allowed my to ply my trade there for a few years. Expectations for my output were kept low. I stumbled trying to clear them. Nobody got angry. Just smiles (I think). And so it saddens me to hear the swirling rumors of its imminent demise.

But look at them go out! Today they brought back the smartest man they ever employed to stick an intelligent nail in the sponsored surfer’s coffin.


I read the title SHOULD SURF BRANDS RENT PROFESSIONAL SURFERS and must admit that I thought it might be an Inertia piece or some satirical bit of nonsense. Then I read the first few paragraphs:

Why do surfers get sponsored, anyway? In theory it’s because they project a cool lifestyle punctuated by ripping in places you’d rather be. Brands pay to rent the cool. We buy a T-shirt and the cycle starts over.

So now we’re told the cycle is rusting — why? When in the history of mankind has it been easier to “project a cool lifestyle” than today? The answer is: not ever. Food bloggers do it. Tweens do it. Your phone does it for you out of the box. A pile of billion-dollar apps exists just to make all our self-promotion turnkey.

For surfers, whose lifestyle actually is cool, even without cropping and a filter, this stuff should be child’s play. Now should be their golden age of super-distributed flaunting. So what’s the problem?

Maybe it is the economy. Maybe it’s weak sales. But maybe it’s a lack of ingenuity too. Maybe we just need some new models for sponsorship — new ways to play the game. It’s 2016. Cats on YouTube have talent agents. There must be ways to get Parker Coffin paid.

How? Let’s just think a minute.

What? So smart! So well written! I had to sprint to the end of the article to see it was written by the elusive Stuart Cornuelle. Rumor has it that he executive edited Surfing during the magazine’s salad years before retreating to a Zen monastery in rural Japan.

Anyhow, the piece goes on to discuss various models of sponsorship that make more business sense and if brand managers/executives read it they will certainly scratch their stubbly chins and say, “Hmmmmmmmm….” right before drying Joel Parkinson’s money completely up.

Do I think Joel Parkinson deserves his money? No!

Am I thrilled that he gets it? Yes!

Unwarranted riches are what make surfing fun! Wheelbarrowing money into a talented child’s house with no expectation of return makes surfing fun! And if the surf industry ever got practical, got smart, then nothing would ever be fun again!

But I completely tip my cap to Stu and Surfing‘s proposals which include forcing pros to achieve benchmarks in order to get paid, a pay-as-you-go model amongst others that would definitely gut every pro surfer’s paycheck save…. John John Florence. And… Gab Medina (as long as Brazilian men continue to shave their armpits) (click here to read all the proposals!)

I tip my cap because son of a bitch it is well-written in a sea of blah! Also, the scorched earth policy is the most entertaining brand of warfare. Watch them take each surfer then each brand down as they circle the drain! Entertainment par excellence! And at the end isn’t that the only thing that really matters?