How much does surfing cost?
How much does surfing cost?

Announced: The World Surf League declares war on people who surf!

Yer kind ain't wanted 'round these parts.

This all started with Paul Speaker, some five or so years ago in a rose petal scented Santa Monica backroom. For it was then and it was there that the Association of Surfing Professionals was given, free of charge, to a small group of men backed by publishing magnate Dirk Ziff, who turned around and installed Mr. Speaker as the new CEO.

The name was changed, two years later, from Association of Surfing Professionals  to World Surf League and Mr. Speaker made the media rounds, visiting surf core favorites like Bloomberg and Fox Business wherein he extolled his broad vision for the future.

Surfing would be bigger than the NFL.

Hundreds of millions of people, billions even, were clamoring for the show.

Mr. Speaker did not surf.

Soon after he stepped down/was removed and Dirk Ziff acted as interim CEO while searching for a new candidate.

Mr. Ziff does not surf.

The committee found one in the ranks of professional tennis, a bright star named Sophie Goldschmidt.

Ms. Goldschmidt does not surf.

Then the hiring floodgates opened and Beth Greve was tapped as Chief Commercial Officer.

Ms. Greve did not surf.

While Erik Logan was given the title President of Content and Media.

Mr. Logan does not surf.

Worse, he SUPs.

Now, I understand that surfing helps absolutely no one be better at business. I think it could even be argued that some of the surf industry’s troubles over the past few decades were actually because everyone surfed. But I would continue to argue that surfing in the water on a surfboard sans paddle is essential, to… understanding why it all matters, what it’s all about, how it creeps into the cracks of busted lives and refuses to let go. Ever. Bottom line be damned.

Surfing is special, it matters and it belongs to surfers.

Now, a few hires outside of the ranks, some fresh insight, would have been applauded but the tone deafness has reached a point where I think the only reasonable conclusion is that the World Surf League’s upper management actively dislikes people who surf.

People who surf are the “grumpy locals” despised by Ziff. People who surf own brands being so pressured by the League that they’ve decided to give up sponsoring events. People who surf work at magazines, websites, podcasts, slaving for love rather than money. People who surf spend more time thinking about surf, traveling to surf, eating, drinking, sleeping surf than is healthy but cannot be marketed to because it ain’t a market. It’s a life.

People who surf don’t belong in the World Surf League.

Why the disdain? I don’t know. Maybe Speaker, Ziff, et. al. were made fun of by surfers in school and this is their grand revenge. Maybe they lost girlfriends to surfers even though they were all cool jocks. I really don’t know and can’t imagine I’ll get the opportunity to ask but am going hold out hope for Erik Logan. I’m going to  hold out hope that he is brave enough to come play with us and laugh because he also rides a longboard.

Maybe close enough.

Quik Pro Day 1: “Who is the quivering coward? The fanboi bitch?”

Metaphysical questions plague the gorgeous French beachbreak!

Used to be it seemed a year long tour was a grand idea. But if I’m being honest, which is what they pay me for, I’m suffering extreme pro surfing fatigue by the time the European leg rolls around. My interest seems to peak sometime around J-Bay or Tahiti with maybe a late flare up for a classic Pipe finish.

Having to wade through the whole 34 man field again, not once but twice just seems cruel and unusual punishment. A two-week long Test Match between Bangladesh and Afghanistan was how BG principal Derek Rielly phrased it in a text message. Minus John John and Slater I want match-ups with contenders not another two-day slog before we get anywhere near the chase.

Sophie wants to grow the audience, new hire Erik Logan calls the league brimming with “untapped potential” and they keep throwing out the same product.

How to actually grow the audience? An answer may lay in pro surfings sister sport, MMA and it’s pro league UFC. I’m not a fan, the equivalent of Backwards Fin Beth, what hard-core fight fans derisively term “casuals”. But the pre-fight hype for the Conor McGregor/Khabib fight effortlessly drew me in …..did you see? Presser one in NYC Conor (biggest sports star in the world) told Khabib to “shut yer mouth ya mad backwards cunt”, called him a “little fanboi bitch”. Called his manager a ‘terrorist snitch”, his Dad a “quivering coward”.

Not to everyones taste, but Joe Carr former UFC exec, now chief strategy officer for WSL must have gazed longingly, lovingly at it. That ability to generate hype, draw a crowd, get the fucking despised casuals to get drastic with the plastic; what a dream for Sophie and the new hires.

Who would be the mad backwards cunt? Who the quivering coward? The fanboi bitch? ….assuming Pro Surfing dropped the #blessed and went full UFC.

Sunny days in France playing happy families while we wait for a roughie to bolt from the back of the pack is lovely stuff. Touching. Chances of that drawing in a casual= nil. Chew on that Erik. You can draw up all the direct to consumer pseudo pay-per-view the Universe directs you to but unless you build a proper drawcard, you ain’t got shit. The same thing we’ve had since J-Bay. Two thousand hard-cores sipping peppermint tea on Facey cheering on their gal.

In perfect French beachbreaks with a ton of waves ridden Jordy sneaked past Zeke, a mild robbery , with a neat little left tube on the buzzer. An entertaining heat.

Italo was several notches ahead in speed, power and repertoire in his Rd3 heat against Yago and Asing. A huge dagger knifed into the neck of a throaty closeout – a turn only he and maybe Colapinto can pull – was lowballed for a 7. Other waves pushed him into a comfortable lead that was never headed. Any hopes Dora might ride some momentum from his silky Air Show victory were quashed by a bumbling performance.

Julian Wilson laid down the best ride of the morning, a deeply threaded tube, greased alley oop and hammer finish for an 8.5. The days first excellent score. It looked like the Day of the Decade at a Coolum beachie and he treated it just like that. Easy win…..but in the post heat presser there was still that suspicion that J-dub was over-analysing during heats, leading to mistakes in execution and decision making. Not in this heat, but that is the pattern. Everything is going fine, until it’s not. Maybe he can overcome that mental weakness. Maybe not.

Medina started cool in heat 5 against Tomas Hermes and ex rookie Ryan Callinan , then just cooly opened up on two rights to ice the heat. 80% winning percentage in Europe. Mad cunt. I don’t mean that rudely, just using it as an example of what a spicy presser to build an audience might contain Erik. The biggest sports star in the world calls his opponent a mad backwards cunt, in public, in front of an online audience in the hundreds of thousands. I mean mad cunt in the Australian sense as a term of praise.

What? Surfing’s different you say?

No it’s not you mad cunt, well only in the sense that it’s spent the last 30 years trying to build an audience by throwing out the same moldy product the mainstream has rejected time after time after time. Listen to your chief Strategy officer Joe Carr who said there are a “ton of parallels between both companies (WSL and UFC).” If there is a difference it is that UFC doesn’t seem intent on dumbing down the product to piss off its hard-core fan base. It’s not the broadcast, it’s the build-up. Good heat in perfect surf. Medina in total control.

Filipe was off in the next heat. A little flakey. Nervey. Couldn’t quite nail a lofted lien air, was out of rhythm, got frustrated and dropped his bundle. He didn’t need much against a strong Connor O’leary and french wildcard Couzinet. But he could not get it done. My view: I would like to see Filipe win next two events and clinch the title before Pipe with a delicious low stakes victory lap at the Pipeline for the haters. Chances of that happening: next to nil.

My favourite wave was ridden in the next heat by Adriano De Souza, owner of the most improved skill set in pro surfing. He sizzled one right hand wave with so much extra torque in the turn it made me pine even harder for John Florence. Midnight in Australia, just me and my 2 thousand homies watching… I have to look up the results to see who won heats 8 and 9.

I watched but I must have been wide awake dreaming. Pat Gudang won on a bright yellow board with two big styled out backhand thwacks. Ace sliced and diced….he would definitely not be the fanboi bitch, or the quivering coward.

Too good. Lordy, lordy. Can you shorten this Euro leg as first order of biz Erik?

Pretty please you mad cunt.

Quiksilver Pro France Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.86, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.07
Heat 2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.70, Owen Wright (AUS) 10.56, Joan Duru (FRA) 9.50
Heat 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.40, Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.70, Yago Dora (BRA) 4.57
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.67, Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.46, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 7.74
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.93, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 11.26, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.33
Heat 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.17, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.10, Jorgann Couzinet (REU) 4.00
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.50, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 8.50, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.00
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.43, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 13.23, Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.97
Heat 9: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.90, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 6.67, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 1.50
Heat 10: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.24, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.90, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.83
Heat 11: Mikey Wright (AUS) 15.30, Conner Coffin (USA) 13.73, Michael February (ZAF) 10.77
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.93, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.67, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 5.90

Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 (H1-2) Results
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.84 def. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 7.77
Heat 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 16.10 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.17

Quiksilver Pro France Remaining Round 2 (H3-12) Matchups:
Heat 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 6: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 7: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 10: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 12: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)

Meet: The World Surf League’s new President of Content, Media and WSL Studios!

What do Oprah, stand-up paddleboarding and professional surfing have in common? Come find out!

I’m gonna be honest with you. My eyes are still wet with tears over the sudden and swift departure of the World Surf League’s Chief Commercial Officer Beth Greve. Of course you and I know and love her as Backward Fin Beth. A wonderful ambassador of stoke and leisure, not to be confused with the World Surf League’s official Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure who is also currently missing.

Where did she go? Why did she go? I haven’t the faintest and so spend each day wondering and crying, intermittently.

But alas, the sun comes up once again, the world turns and the World Surf League hires a bold new friend directly from the very surf-centric The Oprah Network.

Let’s turn those frowns upside down and meet Erik Logan, new President of Content, Media and WSL Studios!

Erik enjoys warm nights and great friends.

Most days find him with a paddle in his hand and a smile on his face.

When he’s not getting out amongst it, he’s culturally appropriating at the SUP shop he owns in “the heart of downtown Manhattan Beach.”

But mostly you can find him with a paddle in his hand and a smile on his face.

What does the man himself have to say?

Today, I’m announcing that I will be stepping down as President of OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network. Working for one of the greatest leaders in the world has truly been the most incredible opportunity in my career. I have learned and grown more over the past 10 years professionally than I did in the prior 20.

The accomplishments over the last decade have been many – from ending the Oprah Winfrey Show, transitioning the company to a studio, moving to LA, and making OWN the most high-profile turnarounds in cable network history. What has made these many years of work so memorable and enjoyable are the people who I had the opportunity to work and partner with.

My “Next Chapter” (as Oprah would say) is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. To marry my passion of surfing with my career is something that I never thought was possible or even imagageable 5 years ago. SUP, surfing, loving the ocean, were all things I’d never thought would be a part of my life. Now, it’s my life, my daily passion, and something that propels me into my next professional journey.

Joining the World Surf League is something I never thought this kid from landlocked Oklahoma would say, but it’s happening. I’m beyond grateful tothe WSL for the chance to join the already exceptional team for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

If I have learned one thing from Oprah over the past decade, it’s this: there is a “divine order” to the universe and our job is to get into that flow. We must LISTEN to what the universe is saying. So here I am. Marrying my passion with my career in this way is something only a higher power could forge for me. I’m humbled by this moment and still in a state of “I can’t believe this is happening!” But it is…. You’ll hear me say this a lot, but it’s true: #followyourpassion #liveyourpassion

What do I have to say?

I can’t wait for BeachGrit’s next billboard!

yago dora
Yago Dora, happy as a yam. Photo: WSL

Red Bull Airborne: “I really like the term ‘cork’. It reminds me of a corkscrew. Is that where it came from? Is it a corkscrew?”

The WSL gets airshow spectacularly right!

Did you watch the ‘Red Bull Airborne’, which was streamed live to an audience of almost thousands, during yesterday’s lay-day in the Hossegor Pro?

“Crowds love the athleticism and creativity of aerial surfing, and so do the surfers. Many say the future of surfing is in the air,” WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt had said in June, and which I’d jabbed at, airshows were a relic of the nineties and had died along with everything else ghastly in that epoch, but now I say…

How wrong could I be?

Even without Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina, who withdrew because, what, they win and everyone yawns, I told you so, or they lose, and the air crowd yaps about paper gods, the contest was an entirely blissful experience.

The Josh Kerr-confected air contest did two things.

It let the WSL loosen a few buttons on its starched pinafore and show that surfing didn’t have to be six hours of heats, grimly fought, like trench warfare. There was a spirit and, let me hitch my pyjama pants up for a moment, a joy to the game.

Eight months ago, Chas Smith wrote that “Todd Richards is the answer to all our surf commentary problems” and asked readers to email the WSL and demand his inclusion.

And there he was, just like magic, putting a ferocious amount of pressure on Peter Mel and Attack Tits Wasilewski. Kindly, but sternly, Richards responded to Mel saying goofy things like, “I really like the term ‘cork’. It reminds me of a corkscrew. Is that where it came from? Is it a corkscrew?”

Suddenly, pro surfing felt like surfing. Alive, unraped.

Accidentally, Red Bull Airborne revealed what the WCT still gets wrong, what the ASP got wrong. The events are too long, the roster of surfers is too unwieldy and, unless you’re swinging over the ledge at Teahupoo or Pipe, no one wants to see cutbacks and turns at three-foot beach breaks.

In the end, Yago Dora won with an ability to strike that isn’t always apparent within the strictures of a regular event.

Red Bull Airborne Final Leaderboard:
1 – Yago Dora (BRA) 18.27
2 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 17.21
3 – Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.3
4 – Kalani David (HAW) 5.66
5 – Matt Meola (HAW) 5.40
6 – Eithan Osborne (USA) 0.00

Qualifying Round Leaderboard:
1 – Kalani David (HAW) 16.83
2 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.29
3 – Yago Dora (BRA) 13.83
4 – Matt Meola (HAW) 12.46
5 – Eithan Osborne (USA) 12.34
6 – Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.26
7 – Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.84
8 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.80
9 – Albee Layer (HAW) 9.76
10 – Eric Geiselman (USA) 9.60
11 – Mason Ho (HAW) 9.17
12 – Leif Engstrom (USA) 8.63
13 – Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.36
14 – Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 6.20
15 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 4.96
16 – William Aliotti (FRA) 2.60
17 – Chippa Wilson (AUS) 1.46
18 – Sebastian Williams (MEX) 0.00

Journalism: Are wave tanks swimming pools or are they lakes?

Major newspaper investigates recent events in Waco!

I don’t use the word “shocking” lightly but I do use it here because “surfing” and “journalism” haven’t shaken hands since Brad Melekian’s icon “Last Drop” published eight years ago. That is a long time, especially considering our ultra-fast world where news and newsworthy events happen multiple times a day.

Let’s not discuss whose fault it is that “surfing” and “journalism” are so estranged. Let’s not point fingers at Nick Carroll but instead let’s see what it looks like by reading The Houston Chronicle (pronounced “Hyoo-stun” as opposed to “How-stun” like they do in New York).

And here we go.

The investigative piece first describes how a young man from New Jersey died from a brain-eating amoeba after surfing the BSR Cable Park in Waco, Texas. Then, if you can believe, the journalists asks a question. We’ll pick it up from there.

Stabile’s case raised questions about how water was cleaned at the surf park, a new attraction growing in popularity across the country, and one of two in Texas. State law strictly regulates a similar park in Austin, but it is unclear whether the Waco park fit the same definition. A spokesperson for the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said they did not inspect the facility and did not further explain why.

It also highlighted a lack of protocol surrounding what to do when such an uncommon, bewildering infection occurs. The park told the local health district it would close the wave Sept. 28 — seven days after Stabile’s death. But patrons said they continued to surf there until Sept. 30.

One who visited on Sept. 27, surfing at a cost of $90 an hour, said he saw officials collect test samples but was not warned about what happened.

It also highlighted a lack of protocol surrounding what to do when such an uncommon, bewildering infection occurs. The park told the local health district it would close the wave Sept. 28 — seven days after Stabile’s death. But patrons said they continued to surf there until Sept. 30.

“I think they should have given us a choice,” said Edward Denton, 47. “They should have told us: ‘There’s a potentially deadly amoeba that has a 97 percent death rate, and it’s your decision.’… Now I could wake up tomorrow with a severe headache and have a three percent chance of living. ”


On and on it goes, each turn more stunning than the next, and you should certainly read and digest but the question is proffered, at the end, that interested me very much.

Are wave tanks swimming pools or are they lakes?

The regulations around both are very different. Pool owners must filter and clean the water. Lakes merely get closed down to the public if an outbreak of, say, brain-eating amoebas occurs.

It is a good question, one I’d imagine very much changes the fortunes of wave tank owners and hopeful wave tank owners.

Also, as it relates, the World Surf League’s number one financial play seems to be Surf Ranch. Right? Either Surf Ranch or the new and improved air-show format.

As first reported by The Inertia, Surf Ranch’s GM recently informed the Lemoore City Council that it would remain private, never actually “opening” to the public.

Do you think this in order to skirt regulations? Water quality issues etc?

Hmmm. This journalism seems exciting and I am going to call someone and ask.