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Beach Grit

Rothman: “They’re a band of idiots!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

A North Shore icon weighs in on Hawaiian bureaucracy!

Eddie Rothman’s laugh is art. Building from grumble to genuine, pure chuckle. Slow rolling and infectious. Better than any super villain’s. Better than rock candy.

I called him last evening, after hearing Dave Prodan claim on the Surf Splendor podcast that Da Hui did not get a permit to run their Backdoor Shootout. It sounded scurrilous. Like the World Surf League spreading falsehoods in order to cover bureaucratic mistakes so I went seeking the truth.

Eddie answered on the second ring.

What are we up to?

I heard a rumor from the WSL that Da Hui didn’t get a permit for the Backdoor Shootout. Is that true?

We never do.

And then the laugh. That carved from granite laugh.

They take it away every year. Every year we go back and get it. Every single year. They took away the Duke Kahanamoku Classic in favor of a bodysurfing event and they don’t care. The State of Hawaii does not care, at all, about the Hawaiian people and this is what they do every chance they get. You can fill out a permit in Hawaii…they don’t care if you lie or whatever you do. Last year the director, how’s this, she took away our contest. She said we didn’t get the permit on time, right? So the independent council came and deemed her actions an erroneous abuse of power and made her sign the permit back to us. After getting the permit back last year from the independent council she went and took it again. They’re a band of idiots. They are so stupid. And then again this year. We have this happen every year.

But every year you end up running the contest, right?

We don’t care if they give us the permit or not. It’s a cultural event for the Hawaiian people. The way this place works is… incredible and it’s not like people are getting paid off. They’re just incredibly… ignorant. But we’ll go get it back again, I guess, we’ll go through the thing and this time it got a little more publicity…

…because the WSL?

Yeah because the WSL. What happened with the WSL is, remember we sued them and the city for the rules they made but they violate the rules every year and you’re not supposed to get a permit the next year if you do that. So for them, they met with the city, they changed the rules that they made, that we sued them for, that they’re trying to break. Now it’s biting them in the ass because they made the rule. This system is just fucked over. It’s incredible.

Do you think the WSL will come back or are they done?

How they gonna leave? The WSL made the contract to begin with. Now they want to break it? Good luck. The rules they made with the city, about how you have to do this and that and apply for the permit… those are their rules, not ours. We sued them over the rules they’re trying to break. They can’t so the WSL bum rushes the city, thinking that the ignorant fucks of Hawaii are going to buckle but they can’t. There’s like five sue jobs waiting for them. But here’s this lady (WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt) getting off the plane saying, “I’m from London, I’m from tennis, I’m from this…” You know let’s put it this way, if the WSL had credible people like Peter Mel, Pat O’Connell, Myles Padaca, Pancho Sullivan…there’s a host of others. Martin Potter, Barton Lynch… if they had people up there running the thing right, there wouldn’t be any problems. Everybody would be stoked.

My heart raced with the thought of Pat O’Connell as head of the World Surf League. He would be a perfect choice, having been around the block but also forever young, so as soon as I got off the phone with Eddie I called him. He answered on the third ring.

There’s a North Shore movement to get you installed as head of the WSL. What would be your first order of business?

Pat, ever gracious, laughed too. His was not carved from granite and appropriately wary.

Ooooooof. I have no idea man. I’m too close to it all but I will say this. The old model was broken. The WSL had to do something and I like big, bold moves. I’d rather it all fall on its face because everyone tried something new rather than just keep going the way it’s going.

Lack of fear sure is refreshing and I am going to dream of the day when Eddie Rothman and Pat O’Connell run professional surfing.

Also, Dave Prodan was right!