“Most important man in surfing” writes down multi-million dollar Wavegarden investment to zero!

Hard times.

And have you been following along with the dizzying fall of WeWork’s wonderfully eccentric co-founder and now ex-CEO Adam Neumann? Oooooee. Fast and furious. The Israeli-born entrepreneur was introduced to us almost a year ago by Derek Rielly, who wondered if he wasn’t the “most important man in surfing.” He had developed a warm friendship with Laird Hamilton, investing in his Laird Superfood non-dairy creamer and also threw near fourteen million dollars at Wavegarden.

With a love of surfing and a billions upon billions upon billions of dollars to be collected as part of WeWork’s expected IPO, Mr. Neumann was poised to change the game but then, like that, the wheels fell off and the whole business drove right over a cliff.

Potential investors scurried for the door, the potential IPO date was moved far back, Mr. Neumann was pushed from his CEO role but why? Why the sudden change of heart?

Partially because of Mr. Neumann’s love of surfing, as it turns out.

His investment in Wavegarden was seen as majorly problematic and written down to zero. Likewise a large photo of Mr. Neumann surfing that he had hung in WeWork’s headquarters.

So problematic, in fact, that august news source BuzzFeed listed it as one of the seven reasons for WeWork’s sudden demise and let us read briefly:

6. That time he invested $13.8 million in a wave pool maker, only to write down the value of that investment to zero the following year.

According to the WSJ, Neumann said “surfing creates community, the value he says is central to WeWork.” New York magazine wrote in June, “Until recently, an executive conference room at WeWork headquarters was decorated with a large photograph of Neumann surfing a wave.”

Well that makes me sad that a love of surfing equals an awful investment and sign of imminent, fiery collapsed.

Should we rally around Mr. Neumann? Part of the tribe etc.?

Should we bring him behind the Positive Wall of Noise where there are No Bad Days™ and foam climbs for all?

Please let me know.


Julian Wilson cools off. | Photo: WSL

Bombshell: Surfing Australia Director says wavepool story “needs to be taken down!”

The Wall of Positive Noise™ has another crack in it…

Thank God there is a moratorium on the moratorium between BG and WSL because the wall of positive noise has another crack in it.

I’ve had blood feuds with Greg Webber about wavepools and ridden the hobby horse about taxpayer subsidised pro surfing for a decade, so when the chance to combine the two passions arrived I jumped at it.

The angle, that tubs and pro surfing were backed by the many and benefited the few, even if I personally thought that was a fair deal, was very much not appreciated by the National High Performance Director at Surfing Australia, Kim Crane, who was quoted in the article after a phone call that day.

She was so exercised she took the extraordinary step of calling me at home at 7.40am to express her displeasure. Despite me identifying myself as a journalist to the desk and to her personally she felt ambushed. I lacked courage by not coming and seeing her personally, to which I replied I could see her immediately…

She was so exercised she took the extraordinary step of calling me at home at 7.40am to express her displeasure. Despite me identifying myself as a journalist to the desk and to her personally she felt ambushed, presumably by the tone. She said I lacked courage by not coming and seeing her personally, to which I replied I could see her immediately, when was she available.

Well, now there was no trust, the article needed to be taken down so we “could start again at zero”, then she could talk me through the way money was being spent on the high performance program.

A quite inappropriate suggestion, I thought.

As news to me she confirmed a “silent” deal had been made with KSWC for the training where they paid “next to nothing” for the training and that the performance gains from the time in the pool “will never be able to put a value on”.

I merely suggested the value put on it was the simple metric common to all sports: winning and losing. Based on that metric the training sessions were a dismal flop.

Crane implied my perspective lacked “big picture context” but if she had done the slightest due diligence she might have found I sat down for hours with then head honcho Mario Agius (Papa of Dion) in 2006, more than a decade before she took on her role. And had lengthy discussions with Andrew Stark. No jernalizt in the game has more knowledge of the big picture context of how government-funded sports bodies and tourism agencies are backing “organised” surfing.

At least Kim and I were able to agree with the proposition that all sports in the Australian High Performance System, including surfing, are accountable to the public. And as she was hired to bolster the goal of building a continuous pipeline of Australian World Champions on the World Tour there should be some pretty straightforward metrics available to see whether the old Aussie taxpayer is getting value for money from their peak surfing bodies.

The story turns.

Wednesday, I’m chillaxing on my birthday with a new goat, Sunshine Coast Council knows nothing about any planned Kelly Slater wave pool.

Thursday, it’s front page news.

Sunshine Coast council still has no idea about planned pool, no paper-work submitted.

The tub is being pitched as a huge tourism facility with a high-performance training centre angle. Office of QLD Minister for Tourism confirms Kate Jones has been to Lemoore and swallowed the Kool-Aid. Huge fan.

And the accessibility, I ask? At $US55,000 a day would the government support it? A spokesman confirmed government support depends on the facility “becoming more accessible”.

Andrew Stark, head of WSL Oceania and Australia, took my call. He confirmed there were many planning hoops to jump through with a best-case scenario seeing shovels hit dirt “mid next year.”

How about accessibility? Same biz model?

“We have a lot of work to do on that aspect of it,” he said. “We’ll certainly run events and have programs for people to come and enjoy the facility, yeah. The business model is still being worked on for the Australian market. We would certainly see that we would have community access”.

Pricing?

“Not those specifics at this point”.

Is the principal aim of the pool still as a high-performance training centre?

“It’s everything. A place for recreational surfers to enjoy and to surf. It’s a place for high-performance training for athletes. A place for events. It’s a multi-use facility, a place for everyone to enjoy”.

He confirmed the WSL remains committed to holding CT events in wavepools and that the Sunny Coast tub was a potential Olympic venue for a SEQLD 2032 Olympic bid.

Questions to the QLD Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, who put the planning/environmental hoops in place, about the timeline were unanswered at time of writing.

Open to the public. Accessible. An hour up the road from Bribie Island.

I feel a little giddy.

What a miserable little turncoat I am.

Like I said, I love my socialism, especially if it’s paying for me to get shacked.

So much more to the story, more as it develops, of course.


Discovered: The progressive librarian who coined the term “Surfing the Internet!”

“I said, ‘That’s my metaphor.’ It’s hard. You need some skill. You never know if there are going to be sharks."

I woke up today bright-eye’d and bushy tail’d, a cloudless mental sky. It has been twenty-four hours since a ceasefire between one-time “rude surf tabloid” and Santa Monica’s World Surf League and not one ill-word written. Not one subtle jab. Oh there was almost a breakdown last evening when it was revealed that the presenting sponsor of the just wrapped Freshwater Pro, OuterKnown also known as OK, had just been designated a hate symbol but the line held and, twenty-four hours on I feel the immense joy of life behind the Wall of Positive Noise.

Everything is truly awesome.

Surfing is the biggest thing ever. So big, so widely accepted, so broadly understood that we use the word “surfing” for every day tasks like using the internet but have you ever wondered where the actual phrase “surfing the internet” came from?

I librarian in upstate New York, it turns out, and let us turn to Syracuse’s favorite local website Syracuse.com for more about Jean Armour Polly.

If you’ve ever said, “Surfing the web,” you’ve got Polly to thank. It was the title of her 1992 guide for a library journal about how to use what would become the web. “Surfing the Internet: An introduction,” was published in the Wilson Library Bulletin.

Polly was sitting at her computer, thinking about what title to use when she looked down at her mousepad. There was a surfer, a wave, and the phrase, Information surfing.

“I said, ‘That’s my metaphor.’ It’s hard. You need some skill. You never know if there are going to be sharks,” Polly said.

Shortly after writing the article, Polly left the library world for a time to work for NYSERnet, a nonprofit research group that was one of the state’s first internet providers. When she worked there, she shared the surfing article and it went as close to viral as something could go in those days.

“The idea of surfing went around the world,” Polly said. And with it came the wrath of surfers.

They thought Polly was equating their sport with something trivial and easy.

“I got some hate mail from surfers,” she said.

So when Polly went to Hawaii for a conference, she paid a visit to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing.

“I threw myself on his mercy and apologized for this lapse in judgment,” she said. She laughs, but that’s just what she did. The librarian does not make things up.

Then she went into the surfing internet forums and retold the story of her apology.

That is wonderful, inspiring, kind and benevolent. I too have stood in front of that Duke statue in Waikiki with an offering. A small baggie of methamphetamine I had procured while working a story I did for early good Stab called The Ice Storm.

I left it at his bronze’d feet.

Extremely rude when I think back.


Ceasefire between WSL and BeachGrit falters; OK revealed as hate symbol!

The right side of history. I mean left. Or... good. The good side of history.

The detente between our World Surf League and your BeachGrit got off to such a wonderful start this morning. Principals Derek Rielly and Chas Smith, chastened by a populist movement brewing amongst The People™, each woke up on different sides of the Pacific determined to contribute in meaningful ways to the Positive Wall of Noise. Derek hurriedly tapped into an important economic media site with a slight left lean in order to effusively praise the face of Olympic surfing and current world number 6 Kanoa Igarashi.

Chas Smith, meanwhile, wrote no caustic, sarcastic, rude things but instead reported on current world 5 Italo Ferreira’s shoe/sock choices while gazing at pictures of his new leader WSL President of Content, Media, Studios and Shoulder Rubs Erik “ELo” Logan.

Both Derek and Chas felt the warm glow of belonging, of a purposed unrelenting positivity until a revelation derailed those good feelings and that warm glow.

Apparently OK, the nickname of surf brand OuterKnown, has been branded as a hate symbol.

BeachGrit will not be on the side of hate, disavowing at every turn, and the potential conflicts with the presenting sponsor of the the just wrapped Freshwater Pro are something that must be addressed heretofore.

As reported by NBC News:

The “OK” hand gesture, a mass killer’s bowl-style haircut and an anthropomorphic moon wearing sunglasses are among 36 new entries in a Jewish civil rights group’s online database of hate symbols used by white supremacists and other far-right extremists.

The Anti-Defamation League has added the symbols to its online “Hate on Display” database , which already includes burning crosses, Ku Klux Klan robes, the swastika and many other of the most notorious and overt symbols of racism and anti-Semitism.

The New York City-based group launched the database in 2000 to help law enforcement officers, school officials and others recognize signs of extremist activity. It has grown to include nearly 200 entries.

“Even as extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful sentiments,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

Bowl cuts too which means Harry Bryant and Alex Knost will also be excluded until they visit a barber.

Negotiations as to possible name changes for OuterKnown have put the ceasefire back in place but the situation remains fluid.

More as the story develops.


Derek Rielly (right) and Chas Smith pictured in new WSL uniforms very excited to be "on the right side of history."

BeachGrit joins Wall of Positive Noise™: Calls moratorium on World Surf League slander!

"There's a lot of athletic, gifted surfers..."

After a stunning rebuke from constituents, BeachGrit principals convened through the night and made the decision to call a moratorium on World Surf League slander and join the “Wall of Positive Noise™.”

Underneath a piece lightly chuckling at an elderly Dutch professional surfing superfan/bot, Wiggolly’s Paddling Style, long known for a caustic wit and no-holds-barred directness, commented, “I’m kinda getting over reading articles criticising the WSL. It’s just a bit too easy. Can one of you go and do something remotely investigative. I am not asking for much. Even if you just find out what style g-banger Sage runs or something. I’m getting bored shitless here.”

Derek Rielly got right to work, making himself available to Bloomberg news for a glowing report about the WSL’s beautiful boy Kanoa Igarashi titled The Non-Stop, Endorsement-Packed Life of Japan’s Surfing Superstar:

“There’s a lot of athletic, gifted surfers but not many as driven as Kanoa,” says Derek Rielly, co-founder of the surf website BeachGrit. “He seems to love all the machinations around pro surfing—the companies, the people, the attention, the cameras. He thrives off it.”

Chas Smith, meanwhile, is working the phones, frantically trying to find out what style g-banger Sage runs. In the meantime, he can report with full confidence that current world number 5 Italo Ferreira pairs white Billabong athletic socks pulled taut with fluorescent orange and pink Nike Monarchs.

More as the story develops.