WSL CEO Paul Speaker: “It’s incredible fun!”

Are you ready for a dance hall remix of WSL CEO Paul Speaker's most banging quotes?

When ever I get a little down I just Google WSL CEO Paul Speaker then click on his Bloomberg interview and read and suddenly my frown turns upside down!

The co-owner of professional surfing says many transformative things and I’ve shared some before but since he is too big a pansy to talk with me in person I feel like sharing some again but like a remix. Like I’m a fantastic DJ. Like we are all in an Ibiza dance hall. Ready?

Drop the beat Paul Speaker!

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“I saw that the surf tour needed help, so I flew to Australia to meet with the board of the Association of Surfing Professionals. It was almost a year of negotiation.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“Could not wait to go make money.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“We’re the governing body of professional surfing—we changed the name to WSL last year—from junior programs up to our world championship tour. It’s incredible fun.”

“Showing up is really important: for family, for negotiations, for difficult conversations.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“They’d done some official Olympic winter sports videos. I wrote them letters saying I could ski backward and hold a camera.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“We’re the governing body of professional surfing—we changed the name to WSL last year—from junior programs up to our world championship tour. It’s incredible fun.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“Showing up is really important: for family, for negotiations, for difficult conversations.”

“I was an economics major. I loved the people but could not wait to go make money.”

“I worked on Super Mario Bros. for 18 months. It was a game changer for me.”

“I was class vice president, editor of the yearbook and newspaper, and head of the float and prom committees.”

“We’re the governing body of professional surfing—we changed the name to WSL last year—from junior programs up to our world championship tour. It’s incredible fun.”

“It’s incredible fun.”

Wavegarden The Cove
Another version of Wavegarden called The Cove. Whatever happens, there's an illustrator somewhere being kept in work. | Photo: Urbnsurf

Just in: Wavegarden to get reboot!

Wavegarden redundant? The Betamax of surf? Maybe not!

Don’t expect well-reported stories from newspapers during the Christmas-New Year period. No one’s there. No one’s picking up a phone to check sources. No one’s doing much except rewriting stories fed to ’em.

Yesterday, The Australian‘s Western Australian bureau chief reported an “exclusive” headed Olympic surfers to get a home break with artificial waves. It was the sort of story you’d stitch together in five minutes from a press release while you shovel leftover cake down your throat.

Usually The Australian tosses its surf-based stories to my ol pal Fred Pawle and you get a sharpened eye on it. Fred’s on holidays. Saw him hacking a little left ten minutes after I read the story.

It took me a few reads to understand what the “exclusive” was about. One normally impeccable surf news site thought it had just announced three wavepools for the use of Australia’s Olympic contestants.

While in America the Olympic conversation around surfing has been short and kept to the niche, Oz is preparing to take their national pastime to the bronze, silver and gold frontier. And if Australia’s already taking steps towards artificial training grounds we wonder what clandestine movements are being pushed forth in the beloved totalitarian countries.

That ain’t happening.

Essentially, it’s a story designed to reheat interest in Wavegardens for Melbourne, Sydney and Perth via Wavegarden’s new design called The Cove. Wavegarden aren’t stupid. As Matt Warshaw said when the Slater pool (partly) revealed itself in December 2015, “Wavegarden just went Betamax! Wavegarden execs are standing on office building ledges, crying, looking down at the sidewalk!”

So this is it. The Wavegarden reboot called The Cove. Smaller footprint. Better design. Apparently.

Never heard of it? Yeah, me neither. That’s ’cause the details aren’t being released until February.

So I rang Ryan “Callighan” who was quoted in the story as riding the new tank in October.

“It’s pretty… crazy,” said Ryan, before tapping out to call someone to find out if he was actually allowed to talk about it. He said he’d signed a waiver not to take photos. Not real sure about talkies. It was midnight in Europe when I called Ryan so he told me we gotta wait till Wavegarden’s media people wake up to see if we get the ok or the not ok.

And reheat interest means, are those three pools really happening?

One year ago, I reported the banker-turned-surf-entrepreneur Andrew Ross promising he’d sprinkle Australia with the fairy dust of wavepoolsI had a little fun with the corp-speak on the website which made Mr Ross so sad he won’t come to the phone to talk to BeachGrit anymore. Later, there was the comic scenario of being offered an interview with Mr Ross by his PR gal, saying yes, then being told he was having dinner then immediately flying overseas.

Everyone, including us, reports the press releases from URBSURF, formerly Wave Park Group, a little too breathlessly, although by the time of the third announcement we were getting a little worn down.

(Read that here.)

Construction of the Melbourne pool was supposed to start in the back half of 2016 for a late 2017 opening. Then it was an early 2017 start for a late, late 2017 opening.

Like, when?

So I started calling councils, then Melbourne airport who owns the land where the tank is going, to see if the approvals had gone through. Turns out Melbourne is still a dream. A beautiful dream, sure, but no shovels have hit the dirt yet.

I called the PR gal, Sasha Jones, who deals with URBSURF’s press enquiries but was told she was overseas too and could only reply to emails. Did you know portable telephones are an Australia-only phenomenon?

I asked:

Is this a new design? Yes this is a new shape of lagoon which got its very first run worldwide in the Oz today. We are waiting for the Spaniards to release the full package of information in early February we hope.
Can you tell me when work begins at the Essendon site? Melbourne is still in heavy fundraising mode, but we hope to break ground in the first quarter of this year.
 And is Melville any closer? Perth is also still a work in progress, although not a guarantee. The City of Melville has the site advertised right now for expressions of interest for alternative uses and URBNSURF is getting a lot of positive feedback about Perth’s interest in it being located there. But it’s still a process and we have to wait patiently until late January when that next hurdle can be jumped.
And, the follow-up questions.
You mention fundraising. Are you still chasing investors? How much do you need to raise? How much is left? The capital raising for URBNSURF Melbourne is underway and proceeding well. There is a great deal of interest in the opportunity from Australian based high net worth, sophisticated investors, who also surf.  It wouldn’t be appropriate to provide more details at this point.

Last year you said, Melbourne was going to start its build in the latter half of 2016. Then early 2017, with a late 2017 opening. Is this still likely to happen? We decided in mid-2016 to pivot to the latest iteration of Wavegarden wave generating technology, which has only just become available to exclusive partners and has not yet been revealed publicly. This required resubmission of our planning documents and the obtaining of a new approval. Consequently, construction is now due to commence in the first half 2017, with first waves likely to be produced by year end, and the facility open to the public in first half of 2018.

What stage, exactly, is Sydney at? Have approvals been lodged? A lease of the site at Sydney Olympic Park was signed in September. The development application is being prepared and is due to be submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in March 2017.

Can you tell me anymore about The Cove design? The Cove creates a variety of wave types in a smaller footprint than the Lagoon. These include up to 2.1m high barrels, with rides of 18 seconds in duration, at a frequency of 1,000+ waves per hour (i.e. one wave every 4 seconds). There is no other technology like it that can match wave quality, frequency and variability, guest capacity and cost. The Cove has been built at full scale and was tested by the world’s best surfers last October.

(The world’s best surfers are Ryan Callinan, Julian Wilson and Josh Kerr, by the way.)

I wondered what Greg Webber, a vocal critic of the Wavegarden and Slater Wave Co “soliton” design, would say.

Well, first, the wave-rate increase is a good thing, he says. It means it’ll make it easier to swing a profit. Second, unless it deals with the inherent problem of a fat wave face, it’ll be squashed when the Webber pool debuts.

“Kelly and Wavegarden still have an inherent issue with their patented technology,” says Webber. “They’ve gotta stick to what they’ve patented or there’s no protection and their investment.”

His own pools, he says, are close to reality in New Jersey and Florida.

And when that happens? “They’ll give up,” says Webber. “I know it’ll smash them. We’re going to make stuff that’s going to finish the rest of them off. I’m completely certain of that.”

(Note: There’ll be an update of this story if Ryan Callinan’s lips are unsealed…)

Webber Wave Pools – Soliton Wave vs Kelvin Wave Technology from Webber Wave Pools on Vimeo.



Let's play a guessing game! Is this Alex or Andy?
Let's play a guessing game! Is this Alex or Andy?

Alex Smith channels the people’s champ!

Is it a sin to say that someone surfs like Andy Irons? Is Alex Smith a sinner?

I’ve thought for many years that Alex Smith surfs Andy Irons-esque. That he possesses the same sort of unnecessary ferocity. That’s what always struck me about Andy’s surfing. He wouldn’t just hit the lip he would aim to blow the entire business up. Like he wanted to tear a hole in the ocean.

And watch Alex do the same in this very short clip. It runs just under 60 seconds and is this the future of the surf programming I wonder? Have our collective attention spans become Instagram length?

If so, brilliant!

Or like my great grandpappy used to say, “Long shit is boring n shit.”

Aieee! Aiee! | Photo: WSL

Rory’s Repeats: “How to survive surf injuries!”

Opiates, self-loathing and sit-ups. Wait, screw the sit-ups… 

It’s been a rough year. I destroyed my shoulder bodysurfing Pipe last December, got it rebuilt using a dead man’s ligaments and assorted screws. Fought through physical therapy long enough to break my collar bone spearfishing. Sat out two months of life waiting for it to heal and then copped a bone infection that put me put for two more. I’ve got this recovery thing down.


Opiates, weed, and booze are your friends. Pop a few Percocet, hit the bong and drown your sorrows. You won’t heal any faster, but life will pass in a blissful stupor. One day you’ll wake up hung over and dope sick because your asshole doctor cut you off from the gravy train and you don’t know any teenagers to score dope from, but that’s a worry for tomorrow. Today you’re riding high in the sky rambling on to your wife about the ASP judging criteria and how they’re obviously inflating scores to create more tension during heats.

Self loathing

This one dovetails nicely with the preceding. Spend hours in front of a mirror, watch your waistline expand and your upper body shrivel.  Gaze in awe as your cock shrinks in increments, as your shorts cut deeper and deeper into that sagging pile of shit your call a stomach. You disgusting pile of shit, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Contemplate suicide

Don’t do it.  Offing yourself is for fucking losers and pussies. But think about how you’d do it, should you ever turn into such a sad sack piece of shit that you can’t think of any better option than flipping the off switch and joining the void. Would you don black face and drive around running stop signs in LA? Swallow the balance of that bottle of benzos and chase it with half a bottle of gin? Go old school and kick out a chair while wearing an extension cord necktie? So many choices, but how to choose?

Alienate your loved ones

Fuck ’em anyway. What do they know about what you’re going through. You’re the only person who’s ever suffered this much in the history of humanity. Your wife’s a selfish bitch. Who cares what she cooks for dinner? Why can’t she just leave you the fuck alone. Throw a chair at her, call her fat, tell her she’s the biggest mistake you ever made. If you’ve gotta feel this bad, make everyone around you share the pain.

Do sit-ups

Nah, fuck that. Play video games. Go online and write racist messages on youtube. Wallow in your own despair until it fills your gut and spills out every orifice you have. Call an old lady a faggot. Fuck this world and everyone in it.

So long pros! Brands? You're next!
So long pros! Brands? You're next!

Radical: Surfing mag’s scorched earth!

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?