Shaun Neff starts toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: “I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable!”

It's a great time to be a early 2000s surf industry scion!

There was a time in the surf industry’s history where anyone, and I mean anyone, could make money by starting a brand. I don’t know how or why just that it was true and I enjoy watching these men imagine it was their unique skill in “youth culture” and “rad” that led to their early 2000s riches in this the 18th year (and counting) of the surf industry apocalypse.

Shaun Neff is one of these men. The kinetic “guru” launched his eponymous brand Neff in 2002, selling a majority stake to a private equity firm a few years ago and now reveling in his position as a “brand whisperer” and shall we read some quotes from a new feature in Forbes highlighting his toothpaste collaboration with Kendall Jenner? We’d be horrible rude not to.

On high school: As a surfer and snowboarder, it was all about the brands that I felt represented my culture and what it meant the first day showing up in high school and what logo is going to be on my chest. There’s lots of options, but I had to make sure it was the right one that would represent who I am and what I do on the weekends.

On attending Brigham Young University: I was putting Neff stickers all over stop signs and I had the coolest guy at the skate park wearing it and the DJ at the party; I created this cool brand vibe in the college town.

On naming his brand “Neff”: I love that age of when you’re very entrepreneurial. It’s the time you don’t know enough and that naiveness of understanding what it takes to build a business and how you have to properly set it up and how many million things have to go right for it to catch on. I was just simple, even down to naming the brand. Bob Hurley used his last name, so I figured I’ll just use mine.

On his first trade show: I’m looking over at Burton and thinking oh that’s whack—they spent all that money and that’s not cool and I had all the cool kids and pro athletes hanging out at the Neff booth.

On being crazy dope famous: There was a good four or five years where I could not leave my house, whether I was dropping my kids off at school, going to the beach, going to work or getting on a flight, that I didn’t see my last name on someone. It was insane.

On life as a consultant after he sold his majority stake in Neff: I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable and then they apply it to their whole business. That really triggered me to want to do more.

On his brain: That’s just who I am and my brain never stops—I can’t be walking anywhere and not think of a new business I would love to start and how to make it different.

On starting a toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: When a friend is coming over you hide your toothpaste, so the idea was let’s make something that looks beautiful on your shelf, that elevates your bathroom and really stands out.

Etc.

It is a truly insightful article featuring many more gems and I hope you take the time to read, highlight, take to heart, meditate upon, recite, use at TED X talks.

I also wrote about Shaun Neff in the award skirting book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here). Would you like to read?

(The U.S. Open of Surfing riots) That might have been one of the funnier moments in surf history. Drunk white boys with Neff bandanas tied around their faces pushing over porta-potties and throwing stop signs through surf shop windows to steal more Neff bandanas. Neff might be the worst brand in all of surf. On the company website founder Shaun Neff is pictured standing like a gangster except wearing two different colored shoes, tight-black skinny jeans, some goofy Mickey Mouse T-shirt under a try-hard satin jacket and a black beanie above the words: “We are like a gumball machine; spitting out endless flavors for the world to consume…” I wonder what “endless flavor” Huntington Beach riot tastes like. Like generator exhaust, aerosol sunscreen, vape pen, spray paint, spray tan, spray cheese, sand particles probably.

Fucking Shaun Neff.

And that’s all I have to say about that.


Pro surfer goes on dating show to spruik “whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up!”

Introducing the "Fwoofed Off!"

I’ll admit, there are times that I get arrogantly complacent as a surf journalist. I spend my days and nights thinking about surf, writing about surf, talking about surf, surfing, watching surfing etc. and fall into the ugly trap of imagining that I am at least vaguely aware of every single thing happening under surfing’s sun.

But how could one man hold all the surfing wonders in himself? All the magical bits and bobs? It is impossible and egotistical and I am therefore happy when The Universe kicks my hubris by offering some surf business of which I have never heard. Never even imagined. And allow me to introduce you to professional surfer Lucie Donlan who stars on British dating show Love Island but not for the reasons you’d think and let’s get right into the article. Let’s go straight to The Mirror.

She’s the sexy surfer from Newquay who’s got all the boys chasing her.

But Lucie Donlan has revealed her real reason for entering Love Island – and it’s got nothing to do with the chaps.

The 21 year old started surfing when she was 13 and makes her money through surf modelling.

And she admits she’s got big hopes of having a whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up.

“I do make up weird words. They will be coming out this summer,” she tells The Mirror.

“There is ‘Bev’ which is like hot. ‘My Bev’ is – he is nearly my boyfriend. ‘Schnag’ is like when you bite at someone like your boyfriend – when you are like – just stop doing that… you schnag at them.

“‘Fwoofed off’ is when he dumps you. There are loads of them. I just made them up. My family use it now and my friend use it too. It carries on to people. You might be shocked. There might be some you end up using. Maybe there will surf boards adorned with these words. That would be cool.”

I can only hope Jon Pyzel is reading right now or even Matt Biolos. Speaking of, quickly, how much gloating do you think Pyzel does in front of Biolos after his John John beat Biolos’s Kolohe on what would have to be deemed superior equipment seeing that Kolohe had closed the power gap between he and John earlier in the year?

What sort of gloating? Passive? Aggressive? Humorous? Kind?

What sort of gloating will Biolos return when Lost inks Donlan to an exclusive distribution deal and the Bev, Schnag and Fwoofed Off outsell Pyzel’s Ghost two to one?

Oh, I know. Taciturn gloating. It’s the only mood the man has.


Surfer attacked by shark at Lennox Point: “God, I love this place!”

Eight-foot Lennox, four surfers, one hit…

The last bite in Feb to local chalkie Sam Edwards was major. Maimed and a near fatality. White shark.

One before that, in Nov last year, to another chalkie, Lee “Grimace” Johnson was a stitchable leg bite. Also a White.

Fifty or so stitches, good story to tell. He had to fight it off.

Someone, not local, got themselves a Ballina tattoo surfing Lennox Point around lunchtime. Not serious, but plenty of blood spilled. Likely culprit a small bull shark.

Biggest day of the year at the Point, biggest day for over a year. I checked it at dawn, then nine am.

Walked the length of the Point with Santa Babs pioneer George Greenough and sat down and watched for an hour while we had a great old gossipy bullshit session. My doggie dropped a little caca next to George’s foot and I had to pick it up with sticks. The surf was raggedy and eight foot, a very strong current and a very big paddle.

Good to great chance of getting beat up jumping off the rocks.

George told me not to fuck around and to just get my biggest board if I wanted to paddle out.

So I dragged out a nine-o Brewer from under the house. Ludicrous for eight-foot surf, but when you’ve spent a few sessions out near the shipping channel beating into a five-knot current and twenty-knot headwind you don’t think twice about how ludicrous it looks.

Drove back to the top of the Point. Carcass was hanging with a crew. There was less than a handful out. Forgot my wetsuit. Thought: do I really want to deal with that paddle, that wild and feral ocean?

I did not.

But I went back and suited up anyway, had a discrepancy in the carpark with a kind of frenemy who reckoned I had called him a pest on the internets.

Possibly true. But I couldn’t remember it.

Ambled back to the top of the Point and had a strange chat with a toothless old man who said it was the worst year he’d seen in forty years. The Brewer felt great cleaving through the water except the fine red dirt had now turned to a slippery mud.

Paddled for another 45 minutes, the wind shifted from west to south-south-west and came in hard against us and the dropping tide made the whole ocean start to drain. From my lineups I could see I was, in fact, making no headway and going backwards. On a nine-0. And we were way the fuck out near the shark listening buoy.

Paddled for forty-five minutes and got halfway out. There were four surfers. Ballina kid on a red Arakawa nine-0 and two others, I thought Euros.

Paddled for another 45 minutes, the wind shifted from west to south-south-west and came in hard against us and the dropping tide made the whole ocean start to drain. From my lineups I could see I was, in fact, making no headway and going backwards. On a nine-0. And we were way the fuck out near the shark listening buoy.

I turned.

Drifted and then began a long paddle cutting across the grain of the current and wind. The thought of sharks began to play with me. A school of mullet came drifting past, flicking and nodding. I was well down past the boat channel by the time the Brewer reached land.

A big paddle for one wave.

A long walk back to the Point.

That was 12.30. Half an hour later, there were two left in the lineup. One of which got tagged on the wrist, almost certainly by a small bull chasing those mullet schools. Eyewitnesses report frantic paddling from the other surfer and a mad scramble up the rocks.

The bite victim was driven to Ballina hospital.

Richmond-Tweed police refuse to release any details on the man but local sources say he is a WA surfer.

Most likely one of the two crew I thought were Euros.

God I love this place on days like these.

Beaches closed with shark signs up etc etc.


EJ Coffey, popping like a fireworks display.

Queer fever: Surf Star flies rainbow flag!

Ellie-Jean Coffee gleams a diamond white amid the dull fluorescence of heterosexuality…

It ain’t easy being a gay man, which I can report from experience. I’ve been shouted at, run after and called a faggot on more occasions than I can remember. I got ambiguous fashion sense, I think.

Our gay brothers got it tough.

Women, on the other, hand are gifted the freedom to explore the entire rainbow spectrum.

Recently, the Gold Coast surfer, Ellie-Jean Coffey, made an important announcement to her one million followers, and which you can see below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxJhL8fFGWA/

 

The comments were pleasingly supportive.

The Instagram model, Noni Janur, who illustrated her comment with a row of love heart emojis, was met with a two-word response from Coffey.

“Date me.”

Now, let’s imagine, mmmmm, I don’t know, let me pull a name out of the hat, a man’s man, Craig Anderson, say.

If Craig dressed up in a sheer rainbow t-shirt that showed the pleasing curve of his plumb-like breasts,  posted it on Instagram and then suggested one of his more handsome followers yank down his jeans, do you think the response would be uniformly favourable?

And, if not, why not?

As men, why do we cower from a strong hand? A stubbled chin?


An immodest proposal: Let non-surfers judge professional surfing on an infinite scale!

A perfect solution!

And another professional surf contest is in the bag, tied shut, stored in a cool, dry place. Margaret River had its moments no doubt. That day at The Box? I don’t think professional surfing gets better than that. A John John win? Ballyhooed on a certain continent but the right man stood alone at the end. Still, ballyhooed and why? I think it is because the judges have painted themselves into a corner. We expect perfection on each score and we also expect the right surfer to win which leads to a heat like John John v. Caio Ibelli.

Now, it was clear that John John was the better surfer in that semifinal. His turns had more oomph. More of the undefinable elements that make us feel and yet the judges are locked in a garden of numbers and analysis, trying to attach arbitrary points scientifically. John John was better and barely won, the margin so slim that it should have been called a draw.

I could sense the judges cracking this contest, coming undone. That Italo 8.17 on the clearest 10 of the year, acrobatic, incredible, inhuman. The lowball was shocking but makes sense for the men in the booth are now too good and can’t see the forest for the trees. They see numbers and attach them properly but those numbers aren’t properly reflective of what we’re seeing or, more importantly, what we’re feeling.

How to fix?

Let non-surfing, never-even-seen-the-ocean folk judge our contests and give them an infinite scale. These non-surfers will get the right winner every time because they won’t be fighting against the numbers. They’ll be free to judge spinners, tacos (what my six-year-old calls barrels) and big wipeouts however they feel and honestly without thinking about precedent or wave comparison or any other arbitrary nonsense.

There was so much talk about leaving headroom in the damn scale this year but why does it need headroom? Why not continue to blow through until heats are being scored in the millions?

We’ve made it all so fussy and complex but better surfing is easy to spot and easier to understand. It’s the moments that make a heart beat faster and I wonder if the World Surf League would attract the masses they want by actually synching winners with performance.

What do you think about that? Tell me how it won’t work.