Sophie Goldschmidt

Revolting: WSL Fans Turn on New CEO!

The perilous magic of being a non-surfer in a surfer's world!

Let’s drive the French Revolution metaphor into the dirt, yes? Last Tuesday, the WSL’s new CEO, the former tennis pro Sophie Goldschmidt, wrote a kind letter to surf fans explaining the surf ranch event, which appeared on the organisation’s website.

Let’s read a small part.

Today, we’ve brought a cross-section of the world’s best surfers here to test this groundbreaking new WSL facility, technology and also showcase what an event can be like and we’re very excited. Having the ability to replicate, even partially, the power and shape of ocean waves for anyone in the world, in any location and at any time is a truly magical thing.

One thing that will never change for the WSL, however, is that surfing in the ocean remains foundational to what the WSL is and we will always have ocean competitions. As this technology continues to evolve, we see significant opportunities in the competitive arena…and we look forward to bringing you along with us when that happens.

But while the tone of the letter was beige with the business-speak that so bedevilled Billabong and Quiksilver and SurfStitch as they chased corporate gold, I found it charming in its inoffensiveness.

Readers on the WSL site, however, were stirred into action.

Oh they combusted!

From Mik:


since you have no idea what’s happening in the surf world, here’s a plan:

find out how many viewers are online @ each location

find out the total cost of award money plus cost of event staging

find out the total income from advertisers

then determine a fee for online access to @ event, and package deal for entire season.

If there’s a million viewers, then $5 per event / $29 entire season.

no fee for wave pool event. because we’re not paying, and after 10 minutes,we’re not watching.

eliminate the shit waves and replace with Indo or similar. cheaper because less scaffolding costs. film from boats.

maintain contest structure and overall sequence. it works.

get rid of the 3 of 5 Aussie Judge bias: throw Porta overboard and 1 other Aussie Judge — whomever else is also most blatantly crook. replace with equal representation from USA Oz Hawaii Brazil EU; all former pro surfers.

And again,

Yeah. wave pools are fun. this one is the best.

but what happens if there are 50 of them in the USA; and they are training 200 newbies a month. 12 x 200 = 2400 newbies a year x 50 wave-ranches = 120,000 new surfers a year, with skills, heading to the better surf spots, of which there may be 30 truly good spots in CA. That’s 40,000 potential more people heading your way. The first year.

Do the math, know it all.

I can surf BTW. Cloud break, Pipeline, Indo, entire West Coast… Probably better than you…

And I’m not stoked about this possibility.

The WSL is dreaming if they think people will watch wave pool events in the same way as real surf spots. They’ll watch 15 minutes, and done.

If Sophie doesn’t realize this, then the WSL just hired a CEO-clone of Carly Fiorina.

Ask HP how that went?

John: How does this not end up like Olympic snowboarding? ( how can we make sure this doesn’t become sanitized and predictable? )

Bad Medicine: Thank you for taking us back 22 years to a classic AOL style live blog and chatroom style event that most of the readers of this comment section were not even alive to witness at the time. At least the video clips are higher res!

And, cuttingly…

Nicholas Tee: Welcome Sophie …. which waves were you surfing in London?

The perilous magic of a non-surfer in a surfer’s world!

Sensitive gentleman of the jury, let me ask: will the new CEO last?

Best of: Surfer Out of Water Portraits!

Come and witness the best non-surf photography around!

You and I both know that professional surfers are photogenic masterpieces when plying their craft. A picture of Filipe Toledo hanging in the air or Michel Bourez planted deep in a tube is enough to rock our worlds and to rock them for days. We dream in the medium of surf action photo but ain’t it grand when our favorites get out of the water and look just as stunning?

And I would like to share with you my favorite from a collection I keep called Surfer Out Of Water Portrait. Someday its entirety will end up in the Broad Museum but here’s a sneak peek. For you.

Who’s that up above, floating on a magic carpet? It’s world number 2 Taj Burrow. Oh sure he’s not exactly “out of water” but his joy is impossibly infectious. Here’s to you, Taj!

And who is this? It’s Anastasia Ashley captured crossing the street in New York City. So casual yet so… not.

Yoga? Did I hear you say yoga? Well sure it straightens the spine and is good for the diaphragm but Julian Wilson shows it’s also good for the eyes.

Jogging is an upper middle class hallmark and who better than to do, and to do nude, than Kelly Slater? Near perfection!

We all get tired and here John John Florence is tired in front of the great designer/artist Hedi Slimane. Do you get tired? Do you even know Hedi Slimane?

Ooooee it’s hard to professional surf for a living. Sometimes you just need a super casual beer with your super casual friend. Know what I mean?

That’s all I gots for now. Do you have some photos stashed away of surfers not surfing? Would you like to share?

Like a superhero who vanquishes one foe only to discover a far more menacing danger lurking right behind, Kelly Slater’s exclusive Surf Ranch rose from the land of cow stink and made the Hurley Pro’s multi-tiered VIP wristband system seem positively egalitarian. Surf Ranch is like the Palace of Versailles. Kelly like Marie Antoinette looking down upon us and muttering, “Let them drink Michelob Light…” | Photo: Steve Sherman

Surf Ranch “Palace of Versailles!”

Kelly Slater surfing's own Marie Antoinette!

Since my Hurley Pro conversion, where I saw the light on the cobbled stone and realized that you are all that matters in this crazy world, you the non-VIP, you the full-retail paying, I have been on a quest to rebalance the scales. I am a surf populist from the soles of my Louis Vuitton drivers to the very tips of my manicured fingers and together we shall overcome.

To be quite honest, I thought we overcame at the Hurley Pro. I thought that the Michelob Ultra set realized the error of their tented ways and understood that the bread of the people is more satisfying than even the freshest chicken ceasar salad wrap.

Oh how I was wrong! Like a superhero who vanquishes one foe only to discover a far more menacing danger lurking right behind, Kelly Slater’s exclusive Surf Ranch rose from the land of cow stink and made the Hurley Pro’s multi-tiered VIP wristband system seem positively egalitarian.

Surf Ranch is like the Palace of Versailles. Kelly like Marie Antoinette looking down upon us and muttering, “Let them drink Michelob Light…”

So out of touch, so mean, but the walls were too high so we had to retreat. To plot another attack. But to attack well we must understand our skill set. Who are the people? Who are we?

Well guess what?

I found out exactly who we are tucked into a story about The People’s Wave Tank in Austin, Texas! Would you like to know thyself?

Surfing’s a multibillion-dollar industry around the country. Surfers — and tourists who want to try surfing — spend money in the coastal towns of California, Florida and Hawaii. Studies show surfers don’t fit the stereotype of uneducated, pot-smoking slackers, either. A 2011 study by the Surfrider Foundation with Surf-First, titled “A Socioeconomic and Recreational Profile of Surfers in the United States,” concluded that the average American surfer was a 34-year-old, educated and employed male who earned $75,000 annually and hit the waves 108 times a year, spending at least $40 a visit.

How did I miss A Socioeconomic and Recreational Profile of Surfers in the United States? Oh I know that 2011 was an economic lifetime ago but still. You are a 34-year-old, educated and employed male earning $75,000 annually and the tears are welling up in my eyes right now. How do you even live? How do you even begin to live?

I feel all of your pain and so let us gather your Toyota Tacomas and Toyota Tundras. Let us put the few Sprinter vans out front and let us rush the gate.

A reckoning is coming to surfing and its name is Slightly Lower Middle Class.

1%, you have been warned.

Prediction: Four event wins for Filipe in 2017. | Photo: WSL/Sherman

Adjusted ratings: Filipe’s title surge!

Filipe #4; Sally Fitz drops from first to fourth!

Shortly after the Lowers contest, which Filipe Toledo won with a madness not seen since the routine pleasures of Kelly Slater in the nineteen-nineties, I did a rough calculation and determined that Filipe was now top five, and therefore in a position to surge to the world title.

A bounce to the WSL website ratings, however, revealed Filipe to still be seventh, despite winning J-Bay and Trestles.


Of course. The adjusted-non-adjusted ratings conundrum.

Does it strike you as odd, as it does me, that on a tour that only has eleven events, only the best nine results are counted? And that the ratings, as the WSL posts ’em after each event, are misleading?

Drop the two worst events and Julian Wilson drops from third to fifth, Owen fifth to sixth, Adriano sixth to seventh, Wilko jumps from fourth to third and Filipe…Filipe… seventh to fourth.

The women’s ratings are more dramatic. Tour leader Sally Fitzgibbons drops from first to fourth.

Of course, the decision to drop two shitty results was made to allow for a bad event, lulls, conditions, whatever that don’t go a surfer’s way.

And the WSL posts the cumulative results until the men get through their tenth event (dropping their worst result) and the women through their ninth.

If the tour were to finish suddenly, as it did in 2001 when troublemakers from Saudi Arabia belted America in the face, Courtney Conlogue would be the gal’s champ, and Jordy the men by a minuscule 200 points from John John.

Prediction: Filipe semi’s or betters in France and Portugal. Finishes third at Pipe. Wins title.

And I win a thousand bucks (Sportsbet is paying $21 for a Filipe title).

Click here to secure the same crazy odds! 

(And thanks to Balyn McDonald from SurfStats for the adjusted ratings.)

Elitist: Did WSL forget to invite America?

Were no heartland surfers at the Future Classic? Let's look!

Have you already begun painting your signs for our resistance People’s March on Lemoore? What slogans are you using? I think “We Are Surfing’s 99%” is a good one, if you haven’t decided yet. “Resist Genetically Modified Surfing!” is another. A third? What about “Let America Surf!” because did you know that there might not have been one professional surfer who makes his or her home in the contiguous 48 in the Future Classic?

Could it be true?

Nate Yeomans, salt-of-the-earth fella who sometimes sports a truly American handlebar moustache took to Instagram yesterday, writing:

I think we can all agree to that @kswaveco pretty much looks like the best thing ever. The event the other day looked all time!!! Question? Did anyone else think it was extremely odd that this wave pool sits smack dab in the middle of the Golden state, but yet there wasn’t a single mainland American involved in the event???

If this thing was located down under and not a single Aussie was involved I’m sure you would have heard an up roar. At least a good ribbing from a couple close mates. Am I just a Jealous Seppo that somehow wishes a golden ticket would come my way? Either way, I believe there are plenty of well qualified men and women that would gladly chuck some tail with the best of them.

And yes, Nate, I thought it was odd. I thought it was odd that the World Surf League took the people’s pastime, shared in God’s blue ocean under God’s yellow sun, without thought to race, religion, color or creed and put it in an exclusive swimming pool. I thought it was odd that they put that exclusive pool in the heartland of America where hard working ranchers and farmers toil for the nation. I thought it was odd that they built a severe wall around it and served ice-cold Michelob Ultras to the hyper-wealthy inside, who had flown there on private jets, while the people outside strained their necks for even the blurriest glimpse and that I only had warm Veuve to slake my thirst.

I thought it was odd that Kolohe Andino, Connor Coffin, Nat Young, each more American than the last, were left at home, quietly humming the Star Spangled Banner to themselves. Tears in their patriotic eyes.


Oh wait. Kelly Slater just weighed in:

5/18 surfers were American (excluding me who was injured). Weird post. Kind of complimentary and kind of backhanded.

And lots of other people weighed in too, listing Courtney, Kanoa, Sage, etc. who were there behind the wall drinking ice-cold Michelob Ultras with the upper crust. And Nate then laughed and said the above post will be the end of his ranting on social media career.


Well… don’t let this cool your fire. The march is still on we’ll just sort out a third slogan to use. Maybe, “Mr. Slater… Tear Down This Wall!” Or “My Body My Choice!”

What do you think?