Celebrate: Billabong claims “sweeping victory” on surfing’s most important night!

The crowd was buzzing!

I totally can’t believe I slept on surfing’s most important night, the gilded Surf Industry Manufacturing Association awards. Like, I’m sorry. Can you accept my apology? Will you be able to find it in your heart?

They happened three days ago or maybe even four, it’s hard to see through the tears in my eyes, because that means I kept you unaware that Stab beat sister publication and Venice-adjacent neighbor The Inertia, winning The Consumer Media Feature of the Year. I kept you unaware that Vans’ UltraRange Rapidweld beat Nalukai Kapa Boot by OluKai for the Footwear Product of the Year. I kept you unaware that Billabong’s Recycler Boardshorts beat men’s and women’s Fall ’18 Yulex wetsuits by Patagonia.

I’m having trouble forgiving myself.

Let’s just read the Orange County Register. Let’s turn to an outlet that didn’t royally blow it.

Billabong celebrated a sweeping victory at the awards, signaling a major comeback for the surf brand that has endured a run of ups and downs in the past decade — but is clearly on the upswing with five wins in categories that showcased both men’s and women’s designs.

It wasn’t just a night for the legacy brands, though. Newcomers also made their mark, showing there’s a new wave of innovation in the industry.

But it was Billabong’s five wins that had the crowd buzzing.

Billabong has come a long way since a decade ago, when the brand was losing money and embroiled in a takeover battle. In 2013, the company inked a $360 million deal with C/O Consortium, a group of investors from Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital Management. The goal was to help Billabong address its debt and revive its brand.

In 2016, Billabong announced it was profitable for the first time since 2011. Then in 2018, in a move that shook the surf industry, Billabong, which has its North America headquarters in Irvine, was purchased by Huntington Beach company Boardriders Inc., which owns rival Quiksilver.

There was concern the two brands would overlap, but it was clear at Wednesday’s awards ceremony that Billabong has maintained its own identity, winning honors for Environmental Product of the Year for its Recycler Boardshorts, as well as Boardshort of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year for both its men’s and women’s divisions, and Women’s Apparel Brand of the Year.

BeachGrit will not be nominated for The Consumer Media Aggregated Feature of the Year in 2020 because of me. This was our chance and I wrecked it.

I’m sorry.

Vissla Pro winner Jordy Lawler and daddy Dave post win. | Photo: Dave Lawler

Fans of routed Brazilian Jadson Andre explode after Australian wins Vissla Pro!


Earlier today, in a climax that was fairytale-esque given the winner lives a few beaches up from the contest site, Jordy Lawler won the Vissla Pro, a QS6000 event, which sent his star to fourth on the WQS ratings.

What’s that mean, the 6k thing?

The qualifying events come in 1000, 1500, 3000, 6000 and 10,000 and points and cash are better the higher the number. Seven of the 63 qualifying events are 6000; six of ’em are 10,000. The rest are crummy ol 1000 or 1500’s.

So, winning a 6000 event is a big deal.

And, therefore, when  Lawler, who is 22 and comes from North Narrabeen, beat the Brazilian Jadson Andre, you could expect a little passion from that vast nation whose history is painted darker even than Australia or the US. (Slavery. Ooowee.)

Sample responses to the victory, as per contest champion Lawler’s IG.


Important questions:

Do you think Brazilian fans make a point of sexing surfers whom they believe are undeserving of the cup and the cheque?

And, among surf fans, which country has the most delightful and eloquent on the various social media channels?

Groundbreaking: First ever wave tank footage not featuring an air-reverse!

It's history!

My mornings are pretty routine. Coffee, scroll the gram, make kiddo breakfast while some sort of angry pundit screams partisan bullshit on my tv while I don’t pay much attention- a stereotypically domestic Orange County morning. But today, boy, was I gifted a surprise.

Mid scroll I stopped to watch a video posted by Captain Fins of the BSR pool. “Ugh, another wave pool video of a 17 year old doing a flicky god damned air reverse” I curmudgeonly thought to myself, even as I was about to watch the video like the media-hungry surf lemming I am. I have, after all, been programmed by the WSL to watch flicky air reverse after flicky air reverse and like it or otherwise I will be exiled to Dirk Ziff’s Home For Grumpy Locals, a shittier and less endearing version of the Island of the Misfit Toys.

As the video started something struck me as different. The angle was wide. You could see the entire wave pool wall. The angle certainly wouldn’t capture any of the stickers this young stallion of a shredder was hoping to display with a corked out rotor we’ve seen a hundred times.

You have my attention.

Then, he stood up in all his glory- JJ Wessels. He runs assertively to the nose, hangs five, does a full blown 10, runs back to the tail, and puts the thing on rail. It was the first time I had been genuinely stoked on pool clip other than that time I accidentally saw the pool scene with Phoebe Cates from Fast Times as a 9 year old.

Ever since Kelly Slater stoke Adriano’s title thunder in 2016 by dropping his wave pool teaser, we have been inundated with videos of racey crouched barrels, no bottom turns, single maneuver waves, half turns, and air reverse variations galore. Waves at the KS Wave Co are all shot from the shore or ski, BSR are all shot from the same wall, and absolutely nobody’s shot a WaveGarden clip since Jordy surfed the Basque.

I watched the clip probably ten times. I sent it to my group chat where it was met with similar excitement. IT WAS SPECTACULAR. But why? My friends and I have never had any real interest in long boarding. Sure, I mean we’ve always been around it but we grew up surfing 6’1” x 18” and watching Taylor Steele movies. Long boarding isn’t something we were ever really drawn to the aesthetic of, were exposed to via osmosis only, and respected merely for historical reasons. This was different.

And there it was, the answer to my question. This clip was exciting because it was different, even if it wasn’t something we’d normally seek out. We got to see an entire wave, surfed differently but well, of a different discipline, from someone who wasn’t on the CT (of short boarding at least I couldn’t tell you if JJ is a WSL longboarder or not to be honest). Also, for the first time I REALLY understood how long and how perfect the BSR wave is.

So I guess what I’m saying is we should see more of this style of clip. At minimum, it made me follow JJ Wessels because I want to see more. The real question now is will we ever stop being force-fed pasteurized and homogeneous speed barrels at the Surf Ranch and McTwists at BSR? Is there a diminishing point of returns where we all scream “This is fucking boring now!”? Probably. When that happens though you better bet is that the wealthy owners of the tech will call us “jaded grumpy locals” or “scared of change” or some other nonsensical bull shit to tell us we don’t get it- probably not from the guys at BSR because they seem cool, but definitely from Dirk Ziff, who seems to be an elitist asshole who would rather dismissively throw shade than take a single iota of critique from actual surfers.

Get hard: Laird Hamilton and Will Smith participate in bonding ritual!

Refreshingly narcissistic!

What do you think about male bonding rituals? Oh I know we live in an era where it is uncomfortable and/or impolitic to talk about such things but this is a safe space. You can be honest here. So what do you and your male friends do when no one is looking?

Do you drink a few beers and watch televised sport?

What about take a camping vacation and talk about televised sport?

Or what about hopping into giant tubs filled with ice, filled even by the voice of action sport and and mascot to the stars Sal Masekela, and encourage each other?

Is that what you do?

Because that is what Laird Hamilton and his friend Will Smith do.

Afterward and on Instagram, Will Smith wrote…

“I’ve never done that before. I still can’t feel my Ass Muscles! 😊 On the real, though… I felt GREAT after.”



I would rather have the voice of action sport and mascot to the stars Sal Masekela fill my tub with a steady stream of how he and he alone saved action sport and how he and Kelly Slater are best friends.

Refreshingly narcissistic.

Opportunity: Become the next famous face of Hollywood surfing!

Casting call!

There have been many famous faces of Hollywood surfing and you know them all. Jan-Michael Vincent in Big Wednesday, Patrick Swayze in Point Break, Matt Adler in North Shore and maybe there is going to be you or someone you know.

Are you a surfer who wants to act and also wants to be a famous face?

Well, Hollywood is currently looking for a young man who is supposed to be sixteen, in the show (scripted), but eighteen or older in real life. The character is an “eccentric, non-conformist” (hello, BeachGrit reader!) who surfs, of course, but doesn’t have to surf at a pro level, obviously. Also, the young man doesn’t necessarily have to be a fantastic “actor.” Many theater kids have tried to bag the gig, apparently, and they just don’t have our glorious cadence.

Lastly, the whole business is taking place on the Outer Banks. Do you know there? Are you familiar with Salt Life? Can you catch a fish with a hook?

I can’t, and I don’t look sixteen, and I can’t act and I spending all my days writing which means I now surf below adult learner level.

This is your once in a lifetime opportunity!


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