Scott Bass, very famous podcaster and founder of the Boardroom Show, is known for popularizing the phrase, “Surfers are the worst.” Oh it is a sentiment that rings true, don’t you think? Grumpy locals. Snappy locals. Grouchy locals. The enemies of the people.
We know how inconsiderate surfers can be because we are surfers and inconsiderate but on rare occasions surfers are the absolute best. Like anytime a hurricane is about to make landfall anywhere.
Usually this phenomenon occurs on the eastern seaboard where hurricanes are a regular occurrence. There on the beach, clad in expensive all-weather gear, a newscaster will be worriedly updating the situation, wind blowing, rain falling, death and destruction on the horizon.
Then, without exception, a surfer will trot by smiling in nothing but trunks. The newscaster will throw back to the newsroom where anchors crow about the dangers and irresponsibility of such brazen selfish acts.
In these times, surfers are the best. Like yesterday on Oahu when Hurricane Lane was about to make landfall but surfers headed to Waikiki instead and news organizations crowed:
As Hurricane Lane approached the Hawaiian islands this week, residents made different preparations. Some boarded up windows. Others rushed to stock up on water and food. Others decided that the best thing to do was grab their surfboards and head out into the waves.
She is 70 years-old, lives in Eugene, loves watching professional surfing and has never touched a board in her life!
Last night I read a portion of Cocaine + Surfing (buy here on Audible!) to the two people in Eugene, Oregon’s Barnes & Noble. Oh it was a intimate gathering, no doubt, though not unsurprising. Instagram stole my voice so now I just show up places and hope that, by some miracle, other people also show up.
This was not the case in Eugene but it was a wonderful time nonetheless. One of the two was a professor from the University of Oregon who was knowledgeable, kind, interesting and interested. We chatted about cocaine and then about surfing.
The other was a 70 year-old-woman and the miraculous future of the World Surf League.
Since the Association of Surfing Professional transitioned to the WSL some years back and Herr Paul Speaker was installed as CEO it was clear that the future of professional surfing rested on the backs of non-participatory fans.
There are not enough surfers in the world, the thinking goes, to sustain a whole tour and so others in Chicago and Des Moines and Alice Springs and Munich and Zurich and Brasilia who have never touched a surfboard have to fall in love with the spectacle too. They must begin to follow the exploits of Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson. They must begin to thrill at interference calls and priority. The differences between a 6.8 and a 5.4.
I’ve openly mocked the very idea. Who on earth could give two shits about professional surfing other than addict, derelict surfers? The very thought on a non-participatory fan would keep at night as I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.
But those laughs turned to muted coughs in Eugene, Oregon as the 70 year-old sat and listened to me read. I assumed that she somehow got lost in the bookstore and accidentally found a comfortable chair in a virtually empty space so asked when I was finished, “What brings you here?”
“Oh I really love watching surfing…” she responded. “It’s mesmerizing.”
“Do you surf?” I wondered.
“No…” she said. “I have never gone surfing in my life but I really love watching the competitions.”
We chatted about who she liked to watch, favorite surfers etc. but I could barely hear her answers as shame pulsed though my ears. I made so much fun of Herr Paul Speaker and the rest of the WSL lot but they were right and here was their unicorn.
I did not laugh that night. I felt mortifyingly embarrassed for drawing two people to a book reading. I felt mortifyingly embarrassed for being so wrong about the future of professional surfing.
"You don't have to be a surfer to love BeachGrit!"
The Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, California couldn’t be any closer and excitement crackles in the bovine-scented air. Athletes and sports fans from around the world will soon descend upon the small agricultural town some 120 odd miles from the nearest beach. They will meet at the Tachi Palace, a largish hotel and casino, order whiskey sodas from one of the two bars which will be served in delicate plastic cups, whistle though their teeth at the marvel.
At the future of professional surfing.
Surf Ranch, just down the street and around the corner from the Palace, represents the hopes and dreams of so many with its patented plow technology and secretly contoured bottom. With its control tower where buttons blink and an operator trained in the fine arts of pleasure presses them to create waves out of nothing. Out of simple agricultural run-off.
It is a technological marvel and I oftentimes wonder what the locals, living nearby, think of it. Are they thrilled to possess land and double-wide trailer homes within spiting distance of the future of professional surfing or do they feel ignored? Locked out and confused by this behemoth that moved into town under the banner World Surf League?
Well BeachGrit, as you know, is a place for the people, all people, for locals and sports fans alike, and the Sydney bureau came up with a plan on how to reach everyone coming to Lemoore with our benevolent message.
I wasn’t there for the brainstorm between Derek Rielly and James Prier but can recall exactly what I was drinking when the text message came through.
“We are getting a billboard between the Tachi Palace and the Surf Ranch itself.”
And I poured myself another vodka coconut water as the sheer genius washed over me. Of course, a billboard, and in this future, in this day and age of technological marvels sometime the simplest tool is the most effective. A note handwritten. A record played on turntable.
But what would our billboard declare?
After some back and forth it was decided.
“You don’t have to be a surfer to love BeachGrit.”
Yes, you don’t have to be a surfer to love BeachGrit. You can be a cow farmer, a kid who lives with salt in her hair, Kelly Slater, a satanist or a progressive CMO trying new and wonderfully different methods.
We are a big, beautiful family stretching from sea to shining sea and the lands in between. All those driving from the Tachi Palace to the Surf Ranch itself will be warmed, I think, by this message of inclusivity.
By this great embrace.
Revealed: Why Bruce Irons Missed Maldives Invitational. “A story so outrageous I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me!”
I tell him I’m the now the biz partner of a best-selling author (buy Coke and Surf here, free worldwide delivery); Bruce says he’s had two months out of the water, all of June and July, after laser eye surgery. A pterygium made it feel like “someone had spit in my eye. Last winter, I’d drop in late, pull up and all of a sudden lose my balance. I looked like a fucking kook. I spent thirty years not realising it. It was like looking through a glass bottle. Towards the end it was really bad, like, does she have fuzzy skin? Do you have…scales?”
As for missing the Maldives, well, that’s a three-pronged story.
The last time Bruce was in the Maldives was with old pals Chris Ward and Shane Beschen.
“Chris tried to do a Muay Thai kick and he slipped over and split his head in front of me,” says Bruce. “I went to kick in his face and slipped and got a huge bump on my elbow. He got up in the morning and we got into it again because he thought I’d punched him. He broke my boards and my mini-DVD player, back when they were a thousand dollars out of Singapore. It was Beschen’s Bombay gin that started us.”
So what happened on this trip?
“It was a string of fucking…okay…it’s partially my fault. I was moving out of my place, I was hotel hopping, I had all my fucking stuff in storage, a car full of shit, and I got my boards sent to a friend’s place in Venice. As I was driving up there, I grabbed all my stuff. And I open it all up and I’ve only got a double board bag. It was, like, shit, crunch time. Plane to catch. I needed to open up the bag, go boom, boom, boom. Oh my fucking god. This is not going to work.”
(Flight to Dubai missed.)
“Next day, I get there three hours before the thing opens. I call this service on Yelp where they come and pick up all your luggage so I don’t have to sit there with all my stuff. (Later), I call the guy and I say, ‘Alright, boom, drop off my shit, I’m over here.’ The guy comes up and tells me he doesn’t take credit cards. Cash only. I have a credit card, that’s all I’ve got. I tell him, ‘Fuck, I’ve got stuff I can give you, what the fuck?’ He doesn’t budge. Me and this dude are going back and forth… for fifty dollars. Everyone was losing. I’m going to miss my flight, he’s going to lose his fucking job. I tell him I’ve got GoPros, sunglasses, shoes. He asks me if I have any perfume. Per…fucking…fume! I gave him a GoPro to get my stuff. And I missed my fucking flight. Now…you’re not going to believe this.
“The third thing.
“So I go back to the motel. Next day, I get a taxi to the airport, my luggage is in the back. The driver gets into me for going so short a distance. A twenty-buck fare. He’s mumbling shit. Want me to get out? Right before we get out he tells me he’s from Ethiopia da da da. Whatever, all good, he’s talking, talking as I get out and then he takes off with all my luggage. Are you fucking kidding me? So I Uber back to the taxi bull pen. Eight lines. Fifty cars. They’re all yelling at each other. And I tell ’em, one of your taxi guys has my shit, the Ethiopian dude. The guy there says there’s so many cars and so many different races and I’m standing there going fuck, fuck, fuck. Then, because my iPad was in one of the bags, I tracked it to Hollywood. I go to my car and I’m flying towards Hollywood where this fucker is and then he comes back to the bull pen, turns off my iPad, but I’m already back there. I’ve fucking got him. The motherfucker. I tell him, what’s up motherfucker! You turned off my iPad! He said he didn’t know whose it was.
“(The trip) just wasn’t meant to be. It sucked. Those stories seem outrageous don’t they? I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me. Really? Really? So I’m sitting there, baffled, the fight leaves at one in the morning, the cops are there, and I grab my shit and get to there (check-in) with fifty minutes to go. The chick doesn’t let me on. Then it’s two in the morning and it’s like the Twilight Zone. I gotta get back to my car with my board bag, the car is filled with shit, and on top of it, I’m looking for a hotel in fucking LA, and everywhere is booked out. I find this one place, drove up to it, and there’s a dude on the porch, this full trap house, holding a bottle of hard alcohol, full gangsta, and I just did a full u-turn.
“I blew it. There was a string of events but you know how it is. I’m justifying it to myself. If I had a chick, this probably wouldn’t have happened. They’re all organised. I’ve been running my own shit. At the end of the day it’s my own fucking fault. I spent a lot of money. The first fight they paid for. I spent probably spent six grand and didn’t fucking go anywhere.”
Champagne time: The surf industry apocalypse is over*!
It was a miracle of modern economics. The surf industry, which first began to fall out of the sky some 20 years ago kept up an extremely impressive nosedive even through the longest bull market in history.
That’s right. While global markets have added trillions and trillions of dollars, especially during the last decade, surf has bucked all trends, going its own way, down, down, down.
Companies like Billabong, which used to be worth well over a billion dollars, shed value like it was the hottest game in town. Scratching its balding pate as the money dried up, collaborating with Andy Warhol, money drying up, collaborating with Iggy Pop, money drying up, scratching its balding pate, very confused until given to onetime rival Quiksilver for free.
The same Quiksilver that had just exited bankruptcy protection under the guiding hand of Oaktree Capital Investments. A firm specializing in “distressed assets.”
There were few bright spots. A brutal bloodletting. But now, 20 years on, it’s time to pop the even more vintage bubbly because according to Apparel News and Lost’s Joel Cooper WE’RE BACK BABY!
Let’s waste no more time with Andy n Iggy. Let’s get straight to the good stuff!
ActionWatch’s findings are good news for the surf business, which over the past decade has been pummeled by high-profile bankruptcies, changing tastes in youth fashion and a new retail landscape.
The tough times paved the way for a comeback, said Joel Cooper, chief executive officer of Lost International, the parent company of the popular surf brand …Lost.
“The great thing about the surf industry is that it never goes away. It’s cyclical,” Cooper said. “We’ve gone through bad times. It is slowly improving.”
Some reasons for a rebound is the fashion cycle is turning back toward surf and more women are interested in the category than before, Cooper said. Bankruptcies of major surfwear companies, including Quiksilver and Billabong, have forced the bigger companies to streamline operations and work more efficiently.
After Quiksilver emerged from bankruptcy, it renamed the company Boardriders Inc. and acquired the troubled Billabong surfwear brand.
With bigger companies working to save their businesses, there was more room for entrepreneurs to introduce new brands, which paved the way for more variety at surf shops, Cooper said. “The business is coming back at a core level. Maybe we’ve turned a corner,” he said.
Lost might be benefiting from better tides for the surfwear industry. It recently opened its second boutique in Hawaii, giving the company seven full-price boutiques.
Quick question here, are you going to have your champagne with OJ, a peach purée or straight?