Family is love!
Family is love! | Photo: @gabrielmedina

Revealed: “Medina kisses his mom!”

And saves struggling company while he's at it!

BeachGrit promises to be anti-depressive. You must know that I try my very best to bring you daily doses of good cheer but often veer uncontrollably toward the dark. Like Andy Warhol killing Billabong’s bottom line. Or a young boy’s dream of making the World Surf League’s championship tour and then losing everything. Or the continent of Australia turning its back on its current best female surfer in the world Tyler Wright. And that was just last week.

But hope springs eternal and this morning I bring you a story of good cheer. Gabriel Medina, well coiffed Brazilian pro, is buoying a near-bankrupt Brazilian company. And when was the last time you read about an investment in a surfer actually paying off in any way, shape or form? Maybe not for a decade and let’s turn to Bloomberg for the facts.

Oi SA has been treading water in bankruptcy proceedings for 17 months, but the Brazilian phone carrier is finding some inspiration from the country’s top surfer.

Gabriel Medina, a front-runner in the World Surf League, will vie for his second title when the 2017 season wraps up this month in Hawaii. That’s good news for Rio de Janeiro-based Oi, one of Medina’s main sponsors, which was quick to celebrate his latest victory off the coast of Portugal at the end of October. “Oi invests a lot in surfing,” Medina said. “It’s awesome. I’m really pleased.”

Oi needs all the help it can get. The company has been bleeding customers, including more lucrative users on long-term contracts, for 12 straight quarters. As its networks sit neglected and Oi struggles under $19 billion in debt, surfing and skateboarding offer a cheaper sponsorship alternative than Brazil’s most popular sport: soccer.

The nature of surf contests, which last for days and only run in optimal wave and wind conditions, makes them more popular on mobile devices, making it an obvious fit with Oi’s wider business model. More Brazilians stream live surf competitions than any other nation, consistently surpassing the U.S. and Australia, said Bruno Cremona, Oi’s head of sponsorships and events.

“Oi may have identified the need to strengthen its image by looking for something new to show that it’s changing, leaving behind the outdated image of a company full of problems,” said Mauricio Turra Ponte, a professor of marketing and sustainability at the Escola Superior de Propaganda & Marketing in Sao Paulo.

Image aside, plenty of problems persist behind the scenes. Marco Schroeder, whose office was decorated with four autographed surfboards, quit as Oi’s chief executive officer on Nov. 24 after trying to reach a recovery deal with creditors while clashing with the board. Less than two months earlier, Oi’s chief financial officer also resigned.

The company lost 10 percent of its wireless users in the 12 months through September, and Schroeder had regularly warned that it needs to get out of bankruptcy protection and speed up investments in its network if Oi wants to stop the subscriber rout.

Surfing allows Oi to stand out more than if it had invested in more mainstream sports with bigger sponsors competing for the spotlight, said Ponte, the marketing professor. The athletes themselves also project a wholesome image — Medina regularly travels with his whole family to surf contests as far away as Fiji — which contrasts with the counterculture overtones the sport has in the U.S.

“Medina’s image is very favorable. He’s handsome, well-behaved, he kisses his mom,” Ponte said. “Everyone would like to invest in a person like this.”

If you are not not anti-depressed now then you simply have no heart. Also, I had absolutely no idea what Oi was until now.

So you swing open the gate and this is the first thing you see. Or someone upside down, head-first into the vinyl reef. Either way, a blast! | Photo: Tunnel Vision Pty Ltd

Oowee: This is what the Webber pool looks like!

The fabled Webber tank inches a little closer!

On Thursday, the details of the soon-to-be-built Webber wave pool were leaked from a council pre-development meeting.

To recap: the company Tunnel Vision Holding Pty Ltd, which was founded by the skateboarder and surfer Ben Mackay who made his cash with the retro-skateboard company, Penny, was chasing approval to turn 95 hectares of dirt between the GC and Brisbane into what will be called Tunnel Vision Wave Park at Stapylton.

The leak, which was reported by the Gold Coast Bulletin, took the four-month-old company by surprise and the three-man team, Jay Baikie (media), Ben (money and front-man) and Josh Neale (engineering) had to finish their branding (which is very good) and frantically kick their dormant website live.

Now, we got an interview with Ben Mackay coming tomoz, but let’s look at what you might call the known knowns.

  1. Tunnel Vision is going to get the development application to the Gold Coast City Council  “well before Christmas.”
  2. It has a twenty-year “binding” agreement with Webber for his pools in Australia. Which means, if you wanna build one in Australia, you gotta go through TV.
  3. The loop-shaped pool is going to be three hundred metres long.
  4. TV claims the pools will deliver 500 waves an hour or one every seven seconds. The foil never stops. Just keeps going round and round and round.
  5. Twenty second rides. The company compares it to getting a wave behind the rock at Snapper and all the wave through to Greenmount.
  6. TV is in discussions with Greg on how to create the “ridiculous distortions” he claims are necessary for pools not to be boring.
  7. It’s gonna be cheaper than the 80 Euros and $US60 one-hour sessions at Surf Snowdonia and NLand, the two commercially operating Wavegardens.
  8.  Once it gets approved, in come the bulldozers.
  9. That photo in the header? It’s the entry to the park. You come in and burn your eyes on pretty wedges.

Will it happen or are we watching more piss on more trees?

Well, it…is… happening.

The game, our little world, is changing…

Rumor: Andy Warhol killed Billabong!

Dead artist wreaks havoc on the bottom line!

In two short days Billabong will unveil its next all-star collaboration this time with Iggy Pop. The Stooges frontman, and icon of the masculine form, told the website, “I don’t have great taste in clothes, so I don’t wear much of them. I usually wake up and stay nude for three or four hours…and when I feel like getting formal, I’ll put on boardshorts…Life is better in boardshorts” I don’t want to doubt Iggy Pop here but I can’t recall ever seeing him in boardshorts. I would have liked to read “…Life is better in very skinny and ripped jeans.” Or “…Life is better in heroin.”

But what do you think of these collaborations? Do you love? Do you run down to your nearest Billabong store and purchase one of everything?


For I have been told, from a source very close to Billabong’s managerial team, that the last collaboration with Andy Warhol did very horribly for the brand. So horribly. “Lost tons of money…” was the direct quote.

Andy Warhol always seemed to be a very strange fit for Billabong. The sexually fluid New York artist boasted, “I have never seen the sun and I hate salt water.” And yet Australia’s one-time largest surf brand rushed out t-shirts, boardshorts, button-ups and ladies’ bathing suits. Here is a picture of Jake Patterson surfing a board with the word “Warhol” spray painted on the bottom.

Oh I don’t know… I sound grouchy but these collaborations are tiring. They seem not only inauthentic but try-hard. Am I sounding grouchy? I am even tired of the letter “x” Billabong x Warhol. Billabong x Iggy. Billabong x Bankruptcy. Actually, that would be awesome if Billabong released their collaboration with bankruptcy. T-shirts feat. the faces of Oaktree Capital investors. Boardshorts with a graphic charting “the bottom line.”

I really do sound grouchy but while I’m here, would you like to know what gets on my nerves more that the letter “x”? Stab‘s usage of Spike Lee’s “joint” in their small films. “A Stab x Summerteeth Joint.” “A Stab x Jordy Smith Joint.” Co-opting “joint” is basically cultural appropriation and Stab should issue a public apology to Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever and Crooklyn.

The End.

The author some time ago.

Dear WSL: “I am not a retard!”

"The WSL presumes its audience is completely retarded," writes noted author.

Two years ago, I moved into an apartment on the beach, the rent including cable television the significance of which will soon become obvious.

First, a caveat.

I love surfing, the actual activity of surfing, taking whatever bit of fibreglass you like and going for a paddle, preferably away from as many other cunts as possible, getting the odd cover up or doing a semi-decent turn in between bogging rails and falling on drops. Happy days.

But the ins and outs of the surf “industry”, the contests, the web clips, the stickers on boards, the Dion Aguis’ in their German cars, failing miserably to cover up their balding melons with ridiculous dome knitwear, whinging that their five-star Airbnb’s have regulation Kleenex toilet paper rather than the more nuanced jet-stream Evian water bidets that really fuel the creative juices a “freesurfer” needs for survival.

Creativity starts from the ring piece, Oscar Wilde famously wrote.

What a terminal fucking wank the whole scene is.

Well, being as self-righteous as I am lazy, I put aside my disdain for the façade of professional surfing and opted to stay nuzzled up on the comfort of the couch and watch most of the 2015 Goldy Quikky event. I could have ridden my pushie a few clicks south to watch the whole shebang in real life but, you know, yuck.

Filipe was blowing minds, Turpel was blowing Pottz and I can’t really remember much else of 2015 apart from Owen Wright stroking into the bomb of the year at the Box like it was two-foot North Steyne and Mick belting that massive Noah to a pulp in the bristling offshore afternoon at J-Bay.

Recently, I decided to watch Steph Gilmore slay Honolua and realised what it is specifically about the WSL that leaves its viewers feeling abused and very unlikely to ever return – the WSL presumes its audience is completely retarded. Well fuck you, WSL. You harp on and on about the rules of the sport as though anyone watching your contest has only, just today, discovered the sport.

Joe Turps will painstakingly explain what a “Combo” is replete with a paragraph on the screen describing “Combo” too. Pottz will then throw in his waffling two cents about “Paddle Battles” and how, back in his day, before he was a neutered WSL employee, he actually was worth listening to.

Then they’ll cross to BL, frothing out almost to death in the channel, foam literally oozing from the edges of his mouth, fresh from watching some girl stink up a wave in a new and innovative way that no one could have previously envisaged and how it’s so lucky Micro Hall is a super coach otherwise there is no possible way anyone could even function another moment on Earth without his sage counsel.

It’s just a big, endless, backslapping, squirrel-gripping, human centipede farce.

I don’t tune in to see Conor McGregor belt the living shit out of some poor fella in a cage and have Joe Rogan seriously explain to me what a fist in the face, an elbow in the ear and a knee in the ribs will do.

WSL, why do you persist on assuming anyone watching your product has somehow stumbled upon you, completely forlorn and bewildered, in need of your patronizing guidance like we’re all in kindergarten?

And why do you feel the need to back-slap everyone as though a piece of honest commentary will have you all facing off against a sea of litigators? It’s pathetic.

(Editor’s note: Liam Carroll is the author of Sweet Dreams of Fanta, a lovely memoir of a boy who was a “fat tub of freckly lard… a young fella with bright eyes, open ears and big dreams, blessed with the invincible strength that every child has when they know with all their heart that the people they love the most in this world love them right back even more.” Mr Carroll, who is thirty-seven years old and lives in Sydney, also wrote the book Slippery, “a lad’s story about capitalism on steroids.”

Buy that here!  

Warshaw as a beautifully cut aqua-boy in 1972! | Photo: courtesy Matt Warshaw

Warshaw: “It’s just kind of humiliating!”

"At some point, when the money is flatlining, you gotta say the market has spoken and get out."

Two days ago, the custodian of recorded surf history, Mr Matt Warshaw, announced he would quit and take his archive with him if thirty thousand dollars wasn’t donated immediately.

Thirty k seemed a very arbitrary number, a figure pulled from the jaunty cap of a boy who’d shift, suddenly, from adorable to jaded.

What happened? How did we suddenly find Warshaw on the precipice?

I had to ask.

BeachGrit: What precipitated this sudden lunge for thirty gees? Did your wife say you’d have to go out and get a real job if you didn’t make some cash?

Warshaw: Jodi and I made a deal in 2011 that EOS had to be in the black — expenses paid, me earning 30K a year minimum — by 2012, or I go back to print. I got five extra years. But here we are. Time’s up.

It’s humiliating to be 57 and making what I make. It feels like a judgement. EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985.

Does it feel a little odd that you, the custodian of the sport’s history, one of the sharpest writers in the game, can’t peel off a living from a multi-billion dollar industry?

Well, you and I made that decision a long time ago, right? Anybody who’s ever asked me about going into surf writing, I say some version of “keep your day job,” or “marry well.” In 2017 you’d have to do both. But I love the work. Ever since the sites went up; this is the happiest I’ve ever been just in terms of doing the job. Not just the writing, but doing video and working on photos and all the back-and-forth with readers. I literally throw the covers off in the morning and run to the computer. I will happily do what I’m doing for 30K a year. But less than that — and I don’t know why 30K seems like the magic number —but less than that and my mind wanders to the place you mention, to a darker place. It’s just kind of humiliating, to be 57 and making what I make. It feels like a judgement. EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985. It’s humbling. When I step away from the computer a few hours and think about it, I can get depressed.

Anyway, why thirty grand? It’s a very arbitrary number… 

The subscribers I have right now, as it happens, pay just enough to cover EOS expenses. The 30K will go to payroll. Which is me.

Two days in, what’s the balance?

Two days in, 12 grand. Which is great, more than I expected. But these things burn hot at first, and cool off really fast. The numbers are going to drop today, I’m sure. The trick will be holding some momentum for the rest of the month.

What if you hit 20? That enough to keep it going?

Before pulling the plug I’d probably get in touch with subscribers and see what they think of a rate hike, from say three to five buck a month, something like that. That idea actually came from a subscriber. But I don’t really know. At some point, when the numbers are low enough, when the money is flatlining, I think you gotta say the market has spoken and get out.

What happens, like seriously, if you don’t get enough cash? What’s going to happen? Are you going to pull it offline? Would it turn into a print product? 

The last real money I made, $125K, was the advance I got for History of Surfing. Which I think was 12 years ago, and I know book publishing is the sick man of media, but I’ll go back anyway and make deals for EOS and HOS. Whatever I can get. Those are the two projects I feel really strongly about. I’d much rather have them online, but they’re still in print already, and if I can do new editions to keep them circulating, that’s fine.

Who’s dropped the biggest donation so far and how much?

Sam McIntosh, one-thou. It came in like three minutes after the donation button went live.

Sam always was a generous boy, and I certainly don’t mean it in the facetious way it might be taken. Anyway, we’ll match it, wait…one…thousand…dollars? How about we drop five c-notes into your hole when a certain 120-day overdue invoice gets paid?

Maybe not in my hole, but yes!

Now, you said, Jodi, your wife, gorgeous thing by the way (how’d you land someone so terrific and ripe?) gave you until 2012, and then gifted five more years. Did she come home from her serious job one day recently, see you in your pyjamas and dipping biscuits into your bowl of Lucky Charms and…fuck this?

She’s not much for the salty language, and I was wearing my Team Body Glove track suit, but in so many words, yes.

In September, you said, in regards to Surf Ranch, that we’d traded “magic for perfection.” With the passage of time, and obviously further contemplation, what’s your current position?

Upon closer inspection, my current position is . . . Kelly Slater could solve EOS’ financial problems with one click. Let’s you and I make a date to talk about the Surf Ranch on February 1. Full disclosure. Deal?

Describe your current mood.
Tyler Wright when the donations comes in. Sally Fitz the rest of the time.

And listen to Warshaw perform on this very good podcast here.