Gold Rush: Top-level executive talent flocks to join World Surf League top brass in Santa Monica!

"Honored and super excited!”

There seems to be two entirely different, entirely separate narratives when it comes to our World Surf League.

One one side we have the Grumpy Local. She enjoys the show, and very much, but can’t really imagine hundreds of thousands of fans tuning in to the monotone, nonsensical drone of ’89 World Champion Martin Potter and complete vacuousness of Joe Turpel. He also looked into the corner, during the Facebook Live day, and saw an embarrassingly low number of concurrent viewers dancing there, throwing frowny face’d emojis over the hot surfing action.

She sees Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch never expanded beyond God’s least favorite town, title sponsors like Samsung fleeing and being replaced by Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Organic Grains disappearing and being replaced BF Goodrich tires signing on for one contest only.

He sees money being thrown after money, neither good nor bad, but assumes it can’t keep up forever and the League will eventually either fold entirely, sell and get hacked to bits or morph into a slam-type tour with five majors a year and a handful of U.S. Open of Surfing-esque specialty events.

On the other side we have the glorious vision of the World Surf League itself. That this is the most exciting time in professional surfing’s history. That engagement is growing by an astronomical 25% year on year. That with the upcoming Olympics, surfing itself is ready to bust free from the stagnant backwater and become a force that rivals major sporting leagues from around the world.

Which is true? Who is right? I stand with the Grumpy Local, of course, but who knows because the League keeps snagging top-level talent and let’s read about the newest executive haul.

The World Surf League (WSL) has hired Nike marketing veteran Pri Shumate as its chief marketing officer, while the NFL UK’s head of marketing, Sarah Swanson, has been named senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth.

Surfing and its associated organizations are already experiencing a boon in brand marketer interest before the sport makes its debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Shumate previously ran marketing for Nike’s global running business and departs after 17 years with the sportwear brand. Working out of Portland, Oregon, she previously led the company’s marketing activity throughout the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and headed up its surfing brand, Hurley, as chief marketing officer.

In a statement, Shumate said she was “honored and super excited” to take on the same role at the WSL.

“There’s never been a better moment or opportunity to share what makes surfing so special with the world,” said the marketer. “I’ve approached every role I’ve ever had from the perspective of the consumer, in this case, the athletes, fans and people who love surfing, both the sport and culture.

“I can’t wait to dive in and get to know them better so that, as a team and a brand, we can continue to serve them well into the future and build further equity in the portfolio of WSL brands.”

Swanson will report into Shumate as senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth – a new role for the league. She has been tasked with leading the WSL’s talent marketing division, as well as the data, insights and analytics division.

Swanson joins after building the NFL’s UK brand presence in London for the past four years.

“There is so much we can learn about what our fans, and our potential fans, want from us and look to us to deliver,” she said.

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to learn, strategize and create opportunities to bring surfing and some of the world’s most talented and aspirational athletes to an even broader audience.”


Now, what do you think about this? Do you believe in the power of surfing to unite and inspire or do you still hate anyone who paddles out and sits next to you in the lineup?

Can you wait to be known better and served?

Much to think upon.

Progress: Tap turned back on at Yeppoon’s giant plunger wavepool!

Lagoon partially filled, "full-sized waves soon" etc…

You remember the hoo-ha last year when the former world champ Joel Parkinson flew to Central Queensland to test the full-sized prototype of the Occy and Barton Lynch-endorsed wave pool.

The waves were very small, one-to-two feet using a generous ruler, but the reveal was stymied when the giant plunger buckled while operating at only fifty percent capacity.

Surf Lakes said the failure was a manufacturing fault, that a new part was being built and that the Yeppoon prototype would be operational, again, by the end of January 2019.

Fast-forward to mid-June and it appears the tank is inching closer to having another swing at producing waves.

The company reports:

The buzz around Surf Lakes’ full-scale Research and Development facility in Yeppoon is building as the onsite engineers have completed the repairs and have now moved into preliminary testing. The repaired structure is much stronger than it was during Phase 1 testing, in October of 2018. On top of this, the team have been making many other improvements to allow for much more detailed monitoring of the machinery. This will enable the Surf Lakes crew to access information swiftly, relating to stress placed upon various components. It will also allow the team to better understand efficiencies.

In breaking news… earlier this week the tap was turned on, filling the lagoon partially, so initial systems testing can take place!

Dry commissioning has now begun and is due to be completed this weekend, after which the lagoon will be filled to the brim in preparation for full commissioning.

This is a major milestone for the team as we inch closer to Phase 2 surf testing.

Can the engineering work?

The shaper, yet-to-be-realised wavepool inventor and theoretician Greg Webber, whom you’ve read about here, here, here, here, here and here, says the design is fundamentally flawed and that unless the plunger is “over-engineered to a silly level” they’re either going to have a “very weak type of wave” or the driveshaft is going to snap again.

Rejoice: Edinburgh set to open “World Class” wave centre to develop local “surfing talent!”

Is Dirk Ziff now stuck building a product only his sworn enemy might enjoy if he gets to do it for free?

Just four days ago our great Longtom put the very final nail in the wave pool coffin, declaring the experiment a failed one, writing:

“Kelly boldly claimed wavepools would democratize surfing.

After four years that call looks staler than the August air at Lemoore. The wavepool looks deader than the Dodo. The way out for the WSL?

Remove Surf Ranch from the 2020 schedule, and reinvest in Trestles and Cloudbreak.”

He is, of course, right per the norm but look at yesterday’s piece and you’ll see a vision of Chinese surfing in their newest tank and read below about brave Scotsmen and Scotswomen building one of their own and let’s do that first before postulating rudely.

Wavegarden Scotland said it expects to create up to 130 jobs and generate up to £11 million for the local economy every year.

Andy Hadden, the co-founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd, which is developing Wavegarden Scotland, said: “We are delighted that Wavegarden Scotland has been approved and we can now start work on site to create this wonderful addition to Scotland’s sporting and leisure scene.

“We know that this facility will deliver many benefits for the local community and for Scotland.

“It will be a fantastic destination for locals and tourists alike, and Wavegarden Scotland will offer an amazing opportunity to nurture surfing and sporting talent in this country.

So while Longtom is right, per the norm, and the wavepool is deader than the Dodo it has also come back to life as a new and improved waterslide for people who have very little interest in surfing, surf culture, surf history etc.

Wavegarden, the Basque company quietly rolling out the most user-friendly splash parks, seems to have figured it out properly, grinding directly up against the World Surf League’s vision of high performance surf action. There are many Wavegardens around the world, earning money, plastering smiles across pale faces. There is still only one Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

Barreling across Lemoore.

Newbies, shoobies and VALs don’t want technical, intermediate action, they want to play and have fun and “surf” the first time they stand on a brightly colored foam board.

Newbies, shoobies and VALs are, also, now the vast, and growing, majority of surfers.

Which brings me to my very important question. Did co-Waterperson of the Year (2018) Dirk Ziff completely misread the market, imagining that the average man on the ground in Toledo, Ohio wanted to bring his family somewhere they could all get sneaky little tubes for $5,000 dollars per day?

Is co-Waterperson of the Year (2018) Dirk Ziff now stuck building a product only his sworn enemy, the grumpy local, might enjoy if he gets to do it for free?

Much to discuss.

Casting Call: Men’s luxury brand seeks black man who can surf, dive and swim for new campaign!

Be the next Tyson Beckford!

Our new, multicultural, multiethnic, multi-flavored era is the greatest thing currently going. So great, in fact, that even traditionally lilly-white surfing can’t help but be intoxicated by diversity. We need it more than most and crave it too and it is therefore my great honor to to announce that a leading men’s luxury brand is looking for some surf waterman flare and let’s read the casting call together.

(Leading men’s luxury brand) is in search of a black man who can surf dive and swim. Good looks are important but his athleticism is just as important. This is for an Upcoming campaign of shooting with (famous professional surfer) and (semi-famous athlete).

Is this you? Email [email protected]!

Is this your neighbor or your pal who you see regularly around town? Do the right thing and email me on his behalf.

If you take 15% of his cut you can then be his agent.

Good luck!

From the mysterious orient: First vision of surfers riding China’s secret wavepool!

The Party unveils its own version of the Western imperialist wave machine!

Five months ago, what appeared be some sort of computer-generated vision of a Chinese wavepool did the rounds.

There were no surfers on the waves and readers, understandably, responded with a dynamic contempt.

“My immediate impression,” wrote Nick Carroll,  “is that it’s a hoax. How come the wave is running ahead of the foil? How’s that even possible? And how come there’s a wave on both sides but a foil curve only on one side?”

There ain’t a lot the Chinese can’t do, of course.

Clever and beautiful and with robust hair that will dull even the sharpest scissors, it’s a country that has mastered the art of imitating anything that comes out of Europe or the US.

(And with the added bonus of inbuilt government surveillance.)

Now, here, revealed for the very first time, are surfers riding China’s first wavepool, which you’ll find in the ancient city of Anyang (population five million) in Henan province.

It ain’t KS, more Wavepool mach 1, Surf Snowdonia etc.