Are you the product of a broken home? Growing up with the wonderful promise of love and stability only to have the rug ripped out when dad went to Cabo and didn’t come back. Or didn’t come back the same all distracted and thinking about other things until he packed his bags and moved in with those other things?
Very sad and also the fate of professional surfing for the past decade or such. Dad left and we all sit on the carpet surrounded by broken toys and Cheez-It crumbs looking sideways at every one of mom’s new boyfriends.
Do they care about us or they just here for a hot second so they can drive the Camry and eat our Spaghetti-Os?
Well, a new and wonderfully wide-ranging interview with WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt in Boardsport Source reveals much but also that our new daddy is gonna be sticking around for a minute. Would you like a snippet?
Do they (the Ziffs) have a plan as to how long they will be invested for?
It’s long term. 5-10+ years. Most importantly they want to leave the sport in a better place than they found it, but they bought it for business reasons. And I think they have already significantly increased the value of the company and the profile of surfing. And hopefully this will continue.
Last year, South Africa’s second largest city stared disaster in the eye. Cape Town was set to become the world’s first major metropolis to run out of water. Day Zero was marked on the calendar, citizens and residents filled with worry, politicians rubbed their temples while drinking sweet wines. New Security Beat described the madness thusly:
This is what a water panic looks like in a major global city.
People hoard water. They queue for hours, well into the night, to fill jugs at natural springs. Like mad Christmas shoppers, they clear supermarkets of bottled water. They descend on stockers before they can fill the shelves.
Restaurants, malls, and offices shut off bathroom faucets and install hand sanitizer dispensers. Exhortations to conserve water are plastered throughout buildings. Above one toilet stall at the University of Cape Town a paper placard with a hand-turned dial indicates the number of uses since the last flush. “Be A Wee-Wise Water Warrior. Only Flush After 4 (No. 1’s only),” it reads.
While “Only Flush After 4” is a wonderful campaign it is not exactly “tourist friendly.” But it, along with other severe measures and some rain, dragged Cape Town back from the brink but the tourists. Are they even aware that the city still exists? That it didn’t become like Pompeii?
Well, Jordy Smith and other local stars swung into the rescue and produced a series of water porn. Let’s watch.
If you don’t want to go to Cape Town now then you don’t have a beating heart.
Very sexy water.
The filmmakers at Parallel Sea are nearly as talented and focused on their craft as John is on his. They understand cinema. They understand mood and character. They treat John’s surfing as high art without fawning over him. They include zero lifestyle shots. They fill those spaces with nature. I found myself wondering how we might perceive Gabriel Medina if he had a similarly talented crew reflecting his surf experience to us
Opinion: “John John Florence film ‘Space’ casts shadow over world title race!”
Never has surfing looked more at home in the ocean.
The timing of John John Florence film Space casts a shadow over Gabriel, Filipe and Julian. Their pool battle, and their title race.
The fact the film follows traditional surf film formula, surfing set to music, starting with innovative airs (flips), then big turns and crescendoing with a big barreling Hawaii section, allows for the profound greatness of John’s surfing to remain the central focus.
Space almost immediately reaffirms John John’s position as the greatest surfer in world today, mainly because almost all his surfing is performed on waves of consequence.
The timing of it marks a transition that is difficult to understate. It showcases the value of a talented support crew. The filmmakers at Parallel Sea are nearly as talented and focused on their craft as John is on his. They understand cinema. They understand mood and character. They treat John’s surfing as high art without fawning over him. They include zero lifestyle shots. They fill those spaces with nature.
I found myself wondering how we might perceive Gabriel Medina if he had a similarly talented crew reflecting his surf experience to us. Space marks a transition into an era where simply capturing incredible surfing on film will no longer garner audience attention. There is a glut of thoughtlessly edited, hi-fi surfing available. When was the last time you watched a six-minute surf edit? We’ve had our fill. Cinema will now be required to capture our interest. We’ve seen examples of surf cinema in the past, Space now mandates it as requirement.
Parallel Sea’s choice to include the preaching ofTD Jakes adds gravitas. In any other instance, it would feel contrived and cheesy, but it works here. There is no secret meaning, innuendo nor subliminal messaging in the preachings. It’s Jakes’ delivery style that adds gravitas to the piece. His baritone and intensity accentuates the seriousness of John John’s surfing.
And it is serious.
So serious that one of his aerial attempts resulted in a year-ending injury. In a year when John John would be defending his two back-to-back world titles.
The timing of the release of Space was undoubtedly strategic. Everyone will attribute John’s injury as the reason he was unable to defend his world titles in 2018.
But let’s not forget that prior to injury John had a 25th at Snapper, three 13ths, and his best result was a 9th. He was not in position to win a third title. And, specifically, his paddling incident with Zeke Lau at Bells Beach highlighted a shortcoming in his competitive game. He lacked zeal, fire, and tenacity. That moment also seemed to cultivate a mental fragility that followed John throughout the next events. He fell. He made odd decisions. He had four opportunities to better scores in his round three heat against Jesse Mendes at Keramas and he simply didn’t. He went huge a couple times and fell, which is commendable, but it was round two, and he could have easily out-surfed Jesse Mendes.
Zeke exploited a weakness in John. Not just a weak moment.
Wounded athletes often return to competition stronger than ever, with a renewed focus. Eight months on the sofa breeds appreciation for what may have been previously taken for granted à la Mick Fanning in 2005 or Lakey Peterson this year.
We should expect a similar return from John. Moreover, John won his first two titles with freakish talent. Zeke Lau found a way to disable that confidence and injury has provided enough respite for John to reflect. He’s displayed humility in the past and he has a team of coaches, trainers, sponsors and, most important, family who have proven to be focused on a very long game. They are watching every event and taking notes of other competitors weaknesses, tells, and blindspots.They are using this down time to formulate competitive tactics and strategy that will fortify John’s 2019 title campaign.
The timing of Space serves to redirect any attention that was focused on Surf Ranch and the world title race. As viewers of Surf Ranch found themselves looking away while surfers sat in the tube. The Ranch wave only grabbed viewers attention once the end section approached. One is unable to look away from Space. The Phantom Flex 4k footage reveals intricacies of water moving and John’s contortions the closest approximations of real-life viewing that we’ve ever seen in surf film.
One nearly motionless moment shows a barreling, overhead right gurgling with foam. The tip of John’s board appears, seemingly unmanned, spit veiling its rider. Then the wave breathes and reveals John casually levitate over a foam ball. It’s a genuinely brand new moment in surf cinema.
The timing of the film serves to remind us that winning world titles is an impressive achievement, but not a reflection of who is the best surfer in the world.
It’s timing also serves to remind us of the irreplicable beauty and wonder of the ocean. Space offers a glimpse at the ocean’s majesty, harnessed by John John, and on display through the cinematography of Erik Knutson and Chris Bryan.
Never has surfing looked more at home in the ocean.
And never has the ghost of an injured surfer cast such a long shadow over a world title race.
Jimmy Buffett: “Ain’t afraid of dying… I’m surfing a hurricane!”
Margaritaville star bravely conquers Hurricane Florence!
If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it 1000 times… surfers are craaaaaaaazy! With our bushy bushy blonde hairdos, our baggies and our huarachi sandals too ain’t no telling what kind of no good we might get ourselves all mixed up in. Like waking up really really early in the morning to check the waves, or surfing in hurricanes.
You already know how much I love madcap defiance of both nature and man but, I’ll be honest, I didn’t count Jimmy Buffett amongst the loons.
Jimmy Buffett, whose music is described as “island escapism” and is equally famous for the Margaritaville restaurant chain, posted an Instagram photo this morning telling the world he is not afraid of dying and he is going to surf a hurricane.
Folly Beach is in South Carolina, if I’m not mistaken but real quick have you ever eaten at a Margaritaville? I thought about it, once, in Honolulu but ate at a sushi place instead.
I’m looking at the menu right now, though, and if you and I were meeting at Margaritaville today for lunch I believe I would order the crispy chicken cobb or maybe the California club. If we were meeting for dinner I’d order the Lava Lava Shrimp and possibly a Cheeseburger in Paradise. No, strike that I’d order the Lava Lava Shrimp and the blackened grouper sandwich with sweet potato fries.
Most importantly I would order a Stolichnaya and soda. I totally know that you’d look at me with your nose all scrunched and say, “But we’re in Margaritaville, bro?” And I’d respond, “I know, I know, I just can’t do it.”
A bummer for me in the moment, but I’d be happy later when my mouth didn’t feel like a puckered bowl of fruit.
Opinion: “Surfing can’t go on being smothered in a cocoon, free of outside forces!”
"Letting go of the idea of surfing will liberate you from its perceived demise. It's acceptance through transcendence."
As the King rolled broken-pawed into his last high-scoring Ranch run on Sunday po-faced surfers bemoaned the latest corruption of surfing. This giant aquatic simulator, a hundred miles from the ocean, pumping out folded lumps of dam water with a Disno-reptillian conglomerate greasing the plow.
To paraphrase the great philosopher Garth Algar: it looked like surfing; only, that’s not surfing.
There’s no need to peer in to that existential maw again.
But after seeing Surf Ranch in full flight it could be easy to say surfing finally jumped the shark. To plant a flag in the fake Lemoore sand right under the Polo Ralph Lauren booth.
This is where we sold out. Yet it wouldn’t be the first time…
This is the cover of a Tracks issue from 1977.
Let’s read inside.
“Commercialism is sponsors, endorsement, propaganda images, hard sell, soft sell and the whole crazy game. It will hurt some aspects of surfing and it will help others. But whichever way you look at it , the age of commercialism in surfing has arrived. And it’s the most important surfing development of the decade.”
Phil Jarratt was coming to grips with the Bronzed Aussies 40 years ago, but he could just as easily be describing Lemoore and the WSL in 2018. Just replace ‘commercialism’ with ‘The Ranch’.
Lemoore is a marketing team’s dream. Everything’s on demand and ready to be packaged. It is the most important surfing development of the decade, at least from the WSL’s perspective. Dirk, Sophie and backwards Beth are (in Ronnie Blakey voice) absolutely frothing at the possibilities. A wave pool for every strip mall. The WSL aren’t the first to try and make a buck from surfing and they won’t be the last.
But for many it left an uneasy feeling. Is this really where we’re headed?
Well, just as experiencing ego death can lead to true enlightenment of the self, letting go of the idea of surfing will liberate you from its perceived demise. It’s acceptance through transcendence.
Dig it: Trying to put a label on surfing is like trying to sweep leaves in a breeze. It’s in a constant state of flux. Is it a professional sport? A counter-culture movement? A spiritual release?
All of the above?
Probably, and more.
The problem isn’t which direction surfing is heading. It’s more fundamental. We need to stop thinking of surfing as a singular identifier. The concept no longer stands up. It’s a misnomer. We’re not a broad church. We’ve branched out into entirely different religions. You can still surf in verb form, sure.
But surfing as a common noun? It’s no more.
Just like the electric foil ripping through the waterways of Florida has fuck-all in common with the beak-nosed quad paddling into SA desert death slabs, so to does the WSL action sport enthusiast target market have no connection with me, or how I value surfing. It’s the crazy 88s in Byron vs corporate surf retreats in Costa Rica.
The idea of surfing as a blanket term no longer fits. Lemoore’s just another fork in a road that left the highway ten turns back.
Surfing is a medium. An interpretation. It holds up a mirror to the user and nothing more. The cathartic nature of surfing has more to do with drug consumption than it does with a sport. It’s a way for some people to get their kicks. And a way for others to make money.
But there’s so many different ways to do it now that trying to skin it is a futile effort.
Again, this isn’t a new idea.
Here’s Graham Cassidy from that same Tracks in ‘77.
“What has to be remembered in the outset is that surfing, whether amatuer or competitive or day to day fun, is what the individual makes it. No one can take that peculiarly personal element out of the pastime. Not money, not hype, not media overkill. It is what makes the act of surfing so inviolate. Surfing is no longer a counter culture, but a thing of the masses. It can’t go on being smothered in a cocoon, free of outside forces. The pastime is too popular, too big and too unwieldy for such utopian-like detachment. This is, of course, the unfortunate way of life.”
So criticise The Pool if you need to.
Hold the WSL to account. Especially when it’s as fun as the BG comments section.
But embrace the absurdity of it all. And don’t cry for surfing. It’s already dead.