Eldorado: Proof the World Surf League is hitting prestigious middle-aged Dutch divorcee market!

Proof, if it was needed, of pro surfing's enduring, worldwide appeal…

Ever since Fred Hemmings kicked off pro surfing in 1976, the river of gold, the Eldorado of massive audience engagement, has always been presumed to live somewhere in middle America or Europe.

If these non-surfers can be engaged, so goes the reasoning, well, there ain’t no reason why pro surfing can’t be as big as NFL or the NBA: salaries in the tens of millions, cities and towns at a standstill as they watch Willian Cardoso examine the colourful reef fish in the Teahupoo channel, families sunk deep in their microfibre couches as they watch six hours of surfing over twelve non-elimination heats in day one, of four.

Earlier today, a BeachGrit fan from the Netherlands emailed an example of the audience the WSL is hitting, indicative, perhaps, of pro surfing’s bright future.

Ms Cornelia Van Helden is a middle-aged divorcée from the Netherlands…and…a fan of the WSL’s Facebook livestream, posting live during the Red Nose São Sebastião Pro Maresias, a minor WQS event.

The language is clumsy, says the reader, but the intention, the joy, is clear.

Cornelia writes: “So neat, surfing is a wonderful game” followed by a palette of flower emojis.


Great news, yes?

And, certainly not, as the reader suggested, proof the WSL might be fiddling with its audience numbers with various bots etc.

Chris Cote live behind the Wall of Positive Noise, with the biased judges (dressed in Surf Ranch swag).
Chris Cote live behind the Wall of Positive Noise, with the biased judges (dressed in Surf Ranch swag).

Question: Why does the World Surf League bring judges to Championship Tour events?

A real conundrum.

Of all the many and wondrous moments during the just wrapped Freshwater Pro presented by OuterKnown, my very favorite was when Chris Coté took us behind the “Wall of Positive Noise” and showed us the deadly quiet judges’ chamber.

There they all sat, so silent, so serious, staring at their computer screens and a large-ish flatscreen television in a windowless room. Maybe built as part of Surf Ranch’s existing structures. More likely one of those portable offices used on large-scale high-rise builds.


It was absolutely mesmerizing watching them punch out ill-gotten 8.32 after ill-conceived 7.56 but invited more questions than it answered.

For example, why in heaven does the World Surf League bring those judges to the contest sites and then sit them in a windowless room?  What in hell is the point of that?

They’re very clearly not watching the surf live with their own eyes and must never be. Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch would be the prime spot to roll that out and, as I’ve suggested, those judges should be riding The Machine itself. Looking into the surfers’ eyes as they perform down turn after down turn after foam climb after down turn. One of them playing a bass guitar spitting fire. Tell me that those judges’ taciturn faces and a bass guitars spitting fire, wouldn’t inspire high-performance motivation. Tell me that safety surfing wouldn’t disappear forever.

But no.

The judges are kept in a windowless room that might as well be in Santa Monica’s High Castle or at the most convenient large-scale high-rise build site.

They do not need to be there whatsoever and this peek behind the WSL’s “Wall of Positive Noise” made me sad. It made me feel that professional surfing’s owner and Co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff is getting bad advice from one-time Texaco rising star Pri Shumate and his President of Content, Media, Studios and Boneless Wings Erik “ELo” Logan.

Like, speaking of Boneless Wings, how have the two not pitched Buffalo Wild Wings on having the judges sit at one of those franchises, ordering hand-breaded tenders smothered in Asian Zing® sauce while throwing Kanoa Igarashi a 5.72? Or mini corndogs with a side of Blazin® dip while tossing Kolohe Andino a 4.93?

It would be a smash hit advertising campaign. Organic, now, viral, etc. The sort of thing that wins awards.

Or why not allow them to judge from the comfort of their own homes brought to you by Redfin where those same homes are also listed for sale below market value since the judges work for no market value since there is no market for professional surf judging?

Another slam dunk.

I could go on all day here and fucking Chief Marketing Officer Pri Shumate and President Erik “ELo” Logan are letting Da Co-Waterperson Dirk Ziff down.

But what do you have?

Where else should the judges go?

And Dave Prodan, I’m waiting your call. Can’t wait to turn our dreams into reality.


We're gonna need a bigger float.
We're gonna need a bigger float.

Revenge: Bloodthirsty mob kills “man-eating” shark, hoists it upon their shoulders and parades it through town!

An act of solidarity with beleaguered brothers across "the pond."

In what can only be described as an act of solidarity, townsfolk in Plymouth, England killed a “man-eating” shark over the weekend, hoisted it upon their shoulders, paraded it through town then chopped it up and ate it themselves.

As you well know, there has been an explosion of Great Whites just across the Atlantic in Cape Cod. The beasts have gratuitously stalked surfers, shuttered beaches, terrorized innocent children and created mass hysteria amongst a population used to Irish mobsters and alcohol-induced violence but unaccustomed to horrors from the deep.

As you should know, Plymouth, America is actually in Cape Cod and the landing spot of those brave Pilgrims in 1620 and so, some 399 years later the familial bonds remain taut.

As reported in the Independent:

A large blue shark was “paraded” through the street before it was butchered, cooked and served to the crowd at Plymouth’s seafood festival, prompting criticism from attendees and animal rights groups.

Photographs show the creature held aloft by two men, before it was used in a demonstration on the festival’s main stage.

The Ocean Conservation Trust, which runs Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium, led the criticism of the weekend’s scenes on the city’s historic Barbican.

Helen Gowans, from the charity, said: “As an ocean conservation charity, we do not condone the eating of blue shark and were disappointed to see that a blue shark was shown off at the ‘catch of the day’ session, as well as being featured on the chef’s stage.”

Members of the public also reacted angrily to the shark’s appearance at the festival.

Those ungrateful “members of the public” would do well to remember how we Americans came and saved them in both World Wars and will also save them after Brexit when the United Kingdom edges out Puerto Rico to become the 51st state.

A real question for surfers, though, is how this act of revenge will play for us? Will an unsuspecting bro out for a little paddle be dragged beneath the waves and forced to dance a scene from Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece Moulin Rouge, likely Lady Marmalade, for an audience of Great Whites before being torn limb from limb?

More as the story develops.

Also, how amazing would it be if the next female surfer was Shaun White?
Also, how amazing would it be if the next female surfer was Shaun White?

Olympics: “How amazing would it be if the next Shaun White were a female surfer?”

Come and read the World Surf League's exciting plans!

Olympic news, as it relates to the Pastime of Kings, can be a little… dry. Oh, of course there is one thrilling storyline, (Will a 47-year-old Kelly Slater be able to surpass an injured John John Florence for a spot on the United States Olympic surf team?) but the rest is… brittle. Brazil will win men’s gold, silver and bronze (Gabriel, Italo, Filipe) and that will be that.

Still, the World Surf League is thrilled with the possibilities and Santa Monica’s Chief Marketing Officer Pri Shumate is absolutely bullish. I stumbled across a story titled With Olympics Looming, Sponsors Jumping Aboard World Surf League and I was excited to see which.

None new, as it turns out. Jeep, Harley-Davidson, Michelob Ultra brewed with Zoë Kravitz’s sultry whisper and Organic Grains, Boost Mobile, Red Bull but then the conversation turned to how over-the-moon the League is for the Olympic kick, hoping that surfing can soar as high as snowboarding and let’s dig in together for a little Chief Marketing.

The WSL hopes the Olympic spotlight can do for surfing what the Olympic rings did for snowboarding at the 1998 Olympics.

The two youthful sports have a lot in common. Like surfing, snowboarding was regarded as an outlaw sport back in the 1990’s. The traditional alpine sports establishment looked down their nose at snowboarders, even banning them from many ski resorts.

That all changed when snowboarding made its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan in 1998. Fans loved the fearless, high-flying athletes and rock ‘n roll atmosphere. When budding superstar Shaun White won the halfpipe gold medal at the Torino Olympics in 2006, snowboarding went global. In the WSL’s ideal world, surfing would boast the same crossover appeal.

“Imagine the next Shaun White is a surfer? That’s the level of opportunity we feel we have,” noted Shumate. “And how amazing would it be if the next Shaun White were a female surfer? We have so many good storylines going into the Olympics.”

Ok, and I don’t need to be rude but I think this snowboarding analogy has gone a little far and/or is being rolled out… I don’t want to say ignorantly but…. let’s just say ignorantly. It’s true that Shaun White got rich off of his Olympic Snowboarding but as a “sport” in the year 2019, it is dead in the frozen water. There is no tour, declining participation, market conglomeration that has lead to a lack of innovation and next to zero general public interest other than for a few minutes every four years.

Snowboarding itself is still wonderful, of course, and I’d imagine the hard-core are overjoyed not to have “an industry” but two decades of Olympic spotlight has certainly not helped any governing body or exploded non-endemic interest or really done anything at all except shrink it down to a real community again where neither VAL nor blow-in dominate the narrative.

Is this the World Surf League’s ultimate and final plan? To turn surfing into a money-less passion?

Is Dirk Ziff a philanthropist?

Caroline Marks: “Surf Ranch is incredible, it’s probably my favorite wave in California!”

Kolohe Andino adds, "It's rad and the wave's super fun."

The damned refrain “Once those gates open it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for surfers…” regarding Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch has shit me for years. Every staff, every man/woman/Cambodian child who draws income from the Lemoore facility is instructed to say it, or they must be, because they all do. Exactly like that. “Once those gates open it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for surfers…”

“Once those gates open it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for surfers…”

“Once those gates open it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for surfers…”

I’ve never felt that way. It’s always seemed more similar to “The Island of Dr. Moreau for surfers…” but I’m jaded ol’ Tucker Carlson not the bright shining future and the honest-to-goodness bright shining future Caroline Marks feels very much otherwise.

In a recent story featuring Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch on New York’s local news, Caroline Marks, current world number 5, looks directly into the camera and declares “Surf Ranch is incredible, it’s probably my favorite wave in California.”

And that is quite a declaration. Imagine the tears shed in North County, San Diego. In San Clemente, Newport, Huntington, Malibu, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz. Imagine the guffaws but also those guffaws are not the bright shining future and Caroline Marks is.

Though, I will say, Kolohe Andino follows Caroline Marks on the same video and deadpans, “It’s rad and the wave’s super fun.” without cracking a smile.

So, our question, which wave, currently, is the best in California?

Where does Surf Ranch rank?