“We're only scratching the surface of how this technology can be applied,” said Sophie, “and it is completely game-changing for the sport. If you can imagine in future, we’ll have world-class waves, ten-foot-plus waves, coming towards an audience with a stadium coming up out of the water, with amazing broadcast and camera angles, just an electric atmosphere, it can be floodlit at night – it’s just a beautiful thing and it’s so interactive.” Her assessment that “I think the fan experience was significantly enhanced” was strangely out of touch with the brutal assessments being made in the real world by the real fans of the sport. | Photo: WSL

Longtom on outgoing WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt: “Whether Sophie killed the dream or happened to be holding the baby when it stopped breathing will be determined by the historians of tomorrow!”

If Elo can't turn the Wozzle into something like Redbull Media house and lay down some black ink how much longer before the WSL slips sweetly into unconsciousness?

I feel a bit sad Sophie has left the building: Farewell Soph, we barely knew ye.

It can be hard to decipher the denseness of the wozzle corpo-speak but what we know is Ziff called Soph in for a little chat and the upshot was “we mutually agreed it was time to make a change.”

That, if I’m not mistaken, is just a very polite way of saying our Soph got the sack, that the three-year experiment in making pro surfing work as a (mainstream) sport under Sophie’s reign has failed.

An objective analysis of her time at the top is warranted, I think. An office farewell party with spritzers and pu-pus and maybe a bare arse on the photocopier if things get out of hand.

The origin story is compelling: former tennis pro, come Adidas, Rugby Union and tennis marketing exec. gets headhunted by a WSL recruiting arm while holidaying in Bali.

Has barely heard of the sport. Knows none of the surfers.

Wozzle were explicit in their desire that Sophie G would continue the Quixotic quest to mainstream the sport of professional surfing, saying in an opening presser that
“Goldschmidt will advance a range of athlete development programs to help grow interest in the sport, while creating tailored fan experiences through new formats, live content and other media.”

She claimed that the sport was in “audience growth mode.”

The shiny new contraption that Sophie was headhunted to sit astride and ride into the glorious future of mainstream sporting success, was of course, the recently acquired Kelly Slater wavepool. Sophie gestated and birthed the contest debuts of the Slater tub, first behind closed doors with the Future Classic, in September 2017, then the Founders Cup in May 2018 and first CT event September 2018.

It was the highpoint of her tenure as CEO, a time of unlimited possibility and purple prose.

“We’re only scratching the surface of how this technology can be applied,” said Sophie, “and it is completely game-changing for the sport. If you can imagine in future, we’ll have world-class waves, ten-foot-plus waves, coming towards an audience with a stadium coming up out of the water, with amazing broadcast and camera angles, just an electric atmosphere, it can be floodlit at night – it’s just a beautiful thing and it’s so interactive.”

Her assessment that “I think the fan experience was significantly enhanced” was strangely out of touch with the brutal assessments being made in the real world by the real fans of the sport.

The bigger problem for her captaincy was losing momentum with the tub build-outs as the timeline got away from her.

Early 2018 with the Tokyo Olympics looming on the radar and it still appeared that the WSL would be able to take total control by holding the event in a Slater tub.

“We are trying to get a wave facility built in Tokyo in time,” said Sophie in February of that year. “Hopefully, if we can get it built, there’s a good chance that the Olympics would take place in one of our facilities.”

Wishing and hoping wasn’t good enough and surfing in the Olympics will take place in Mother Ocean, at least through Paris 2024.

The roll-out of the tubs and the whole promised revolution in pro surfing that was built around that vision looked moribund by the end of Freshwater Pro 2019.

Strangely, it was the release of the Mic’ed up Slater Ep from that contest – with it’s solipsistic atmosphere-less atmosphere – that seemed to kill it.

The closing shot of Slater addressing what looked to be 50 people meandering in front of a stage where Jack White was about to play was a whack with a cold spoon to any pretense of surfing ever being a mainstream sport.

It couldn’t even be a mainstream sideshow.

With all her eggs in the wave systems basket Goldschmidt lost Cloudbreak and Trestles from the roster in her first full year of stewardship. The loss of Cloudbreak she blamed on a lack of Fijian Govt support despite Kelly Slater’s Outerknown company inking a three-year deal to support the event just the year before.

The loss of Trestles was never explained.

Despite an incredibly successful, for fans anyhow, Keramas/Ulu double after the Margaret River cancellation in 2018, she was not able to cement that obvious Bali leg as a permanent part of the Tour schedule.

Keramas has been lost from the 2020 Tour. Grajagan has been gained.

Soph bobbled a bigger ball at the start of her reign when a proposed Tour revamp threatened to go horribly wrong. The paperwork for a proposed Feb Pipeline contest to start season 2019, with a play-off style ending proposed for the Mentawais to decide the World Title went tits-up when Honolulu refused to sign off.

Hastily jettisoning the radical restructured Tour idea, Soph resurrected the original December Pipeline permits to finish the Tour.

End result: a shaky status quo maintained.

Growing the sport via growing the audience looked like it was going to get a filip with a two-year exclusive deal with Facebook proposed in 2018.

A huge propaganda programme preceded the roll out, scheduled to start at J-Bay. Exclusive, which meant all fans were now harvested in the Facebook ecosystem. It was a debacle, with a massive fan backlash forcing a public apology and a retreat from the exclusive nature of the deal.

No word on an extension of the deal as it expires this year.

Soph went hard on pushing the Wozzle as a friend, even defender of the environment, especially Mother Ocean. It relaunched WSL Pure as an activist organisation and made pledges to be carbon neutral by the end of 2019.

Silence about whether they achieved the goal is probably a good indication they failed to reach it.

Greenwashing looks even more hypocritical when the proposed Coolum wave ranch is tied in with a massive canal estate development on coastal floodplain. The QS, with a massive footprint which dwarfs the CT, was left out of the pledge to be carbon neutral, with no roadmap to include it.

Our outgoing CEO had a low-key style. Sophie spotting at events, usually scurrying around in the background, or last person on the stage to deliver something just as the broadcast was about to be skyhooked, was a small but culturally significant sub-genre of hardcore surf fan activity over the last three years. It’s peculiar delights will be missed by connoisseurs.

Her press strategy was the by now familiar route of backdooring the surf media and talking straight to the business mags, effectively in the process treating the surf fans she held in such high esteem like shit on her shoe.

No-one has yet been able to demonstrate how this strategy leads to the kind of “it’s all about the fan” outcome so earnestly touted. Surely you’d go straight to the surf media, booze up and make pals with some editors/journos and bask in the eternal sunshine of positive coverage.

No? Not the way to win friends and influence?

She didn’t give us much to swing for. Elo promises to be far more “our guy” in that respect. More fun. More fan interaction. The teeth, the hair, the tan. You could build a league on those teeth alone.

But that dream’s dead.

Whether Sophie killed it or just happened to be holding the baby when it stopped breathing will be determined by the historians of tomorrow. We’re in the post-sport, story-telling world now.

For how much longer, who knows.

Sophie let slip that the owners (Ziffs) were in it for “business reasons” for the long haul.

How long is a long haul?

“Five-to-ten years,”she said.

Well, we are past the five and trucking towards the ten.

If Elo can’t turn the Wozzle into something like Redbull Media house and lay down some black ink how much longer before the WSL slips sweetly into unconsciousness?

Sophie will be remembered most for her push to gender equality. Whether her hand was forced by the publication of a podium shot featuring male and female winners with different size cheques or had the intent all along is irrelevant. She made it happen.

From top to bottom of the WSL, guys and gals now get equal pay.

For equal work?

Debatable, especially in the big wave realm.

Still, Sophie bequeathed a WSL with blue sky everywhere you look for female athletes.

With utmost fairness, what grade should we write at the bottom of her report card, after a less than three-year spell with her hands on the tiller.

She kept the lights on and the broadcasts free.

For that alone I give a C.

Too generous?

Howbout a C-minus?

What say you surf fan?

Watch: Filmer nearly captures disemboweling of oblivious surfer by “ravenous, frenzied, combative” Great White shark in North Carolina!

Also a sick little tube.

We surfers, we wave riders, are nothing if not single-minded. Focused, like lasers, on our Pastime of Kings. Nothing can get in our way, when thinking about surfing. Nothing can pull our attention from either sitting and thinking about sweet little tubes, watching another surfer get a sweet little tube or filming a surfer nearly getting dismembered and disemboweled by a ravenous, frenzied Great White shark in the midst of a food orgy then swinging the camera to capture a sweet little tube.

And let us head straight to North Carolina’s Outer Banks where the sun is shining, the water extra warm and the sharks attacking for it is there we lay our scene.

“I don’t think the guy even saw it,” said Logan Marshall, a filmmaker from the Outer Banks.

The water was warm, the surf was up and there were dozens of dolphins playing in the water off Cape Hatteras as Marshall was filming surfers in the waves.

“Everybody just had a weird feeling” out on the Outer Banks beach Monday, he said in an interview with McClatchy News.

They were north of Rodanthe, North Carolina, about a mile from where another surfer was bitten, possibly by a shark (read: obviously), that same day, Marshall said.

That 26-year-old surfer was in the ocean when he was bit on the foot at about 2:30 p.m., according to the National Park Service. He was taken to a hospital with what the NPS said was a “non-life threatening injury.”

“It was two days of pretty sharky waters,” Marshall said.

“I’ve never seen it that populated with sea life,” he added. “I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

The best part of the entire video, though, is right after almost watching the passive surfer become devoured, Logan Marshall swings the camera, catches a little tube action and “Yessessss” like he has forgotten all about the potential bloodbath.

We surfers, we wave sliders, are… the best.

But no surfing in North Carolina, nor South Carolina, nor the eastern seaboard for at least two weeks, no matter how unseasonably warm the water is.


Everywhere, sharks.

Ready 2 learn!
Ready 2 learn!

Revealed: The “Four Best Surfers in History” ranked in order according to the all-powerful Vulnerable Adult Learner!

Can you guess correctly?

And as has been discussed many times, here, 2010 – 2020 is the decade that the VAL not only exploded onto the scene but grabbed surfing’s bull by its horns. We play in their world now, their mid-lengthy, neoprene surf cappy, booties n boardshorty, surf schoolie world and we assume many things about them, assume, I suppose, that they’re drafting off us in terms of style and taste but… are they?

Of course not! They are charting their own brave, yet vulnerable, course but who are they looking up to? Who are their north stars, as it were?

Thankfully Book SurfCamps by Tripaneer is here to show us.

“The go-to resource for planning your surf camps. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your surfing to new heights”, just released its vaunted list of The Four Best Surfers in History and… before looking can you guess who they are? Can you guess which is number one? Close your eyes, scroll down to the comments and enter your thoughts then scroll back up here and drum roll….

4. Miki Dora:
The Hungarian surfer is known for popularizing longboard surfing. His light stance on the board and ‘ultra-nimble’ footwork earned him the nickname of ‘Da Cat.’ As a mysterious and gifted surfer, Miki was hailed as the first superstar of the surfing world. Living a thug life, Miki spent time behind bars for fraud and grand robbery in 1973. He died in 2002 after succumbing to pancreatic cancer.

3. Kelly Slater:
Born Robert Kelly Slater in 1972 and acclaimed as ‘The Greatest Surfer of All Time,’ Kelly Slater’s career in surfing began at the tender age of six. His career skyrocketed when he began winning successive surfing championship titles at the young age of 11. Slater became a television household name after landing a role in the famous series Baywatch as Jimmy Slade.

2. Laird Hamilton:
Here are some interesting facts about this famous surfer…He is a highly revered model, producer, TV host, fitness and nutrition expert, stuntman, and author.Hamilton coined tow-in surfing, which entails the use of a personal watercraft (PWC) in towing a surfer into large waves. As a pioneer of this technique, Hamilton described it as “just going as fast as you’ve ever been. Really, it’s just the sensation of speed.” As a surfing aficionado, Hamilton believes that surfing is a creative process that is intrinsically motivated rather than a sport driven by external rewards.

1. Duke Kahanamoku:
Dubbed ‘The Father of Modern Surfing,’ The Duke was a native Hawaiian swimmer. Growing up, the ocean became Duke’s playground, and here are some of his most notable achievements… In 1911, Duke beat the existing world record by 4.6 seconds for the 100 yards (91 meters) freestyle in Honolulu Harbor. At 21 years old, he grabbed his first Olympic gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle; he remained the United States’ representative at the Olympics for the next 20 years.

So there we have it. How many did you get right? Surprised to see Da Cat there at number 4? More surprised to see Kelly Slater not at number 1? Laird Hamilton as the second greatest surfer to ever do it?

I imagine Book SurfCamps by Tripaneer will be hearing from the 11x World Champ shortly.

Putting the G in smug!
Putting the G in smug!

First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner on life inside Trump White House: “He makes the waves…Your job is to surf the wave as best as you can every day!”

Donald Trump = Kelly Slater

And here we are, officially, in the future. The one promised by great film directors Robert Zemeckis and Ridley Scott. The one we grew up expecting then almost gave up on. For who would have ever guessed, even ten years ago, that artificial wave technologies, that Surf Ranches and Surf Lakes, URBNSRFs and The Waves would replace traditional ocean surfing as the du jour analogy but here we are and welcome.

Of course surfing, and surf-related terminology, have been used since ancient Peruvian fishermen, high to the heavens on cocaine, first caught waves on their “little horses” those thousands of years ago (buy here) but the correlations were always natural. Surfing as metaphor for entrepreneurship, for relationship, for mentorship, citizenship, hardship always dealt with the uncontrollable. The vast powers beyond our control best summed up with the mantra “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.”

Beautiful, no?

But let us listen to First Son-in-Law and President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump’s right hand Jared Kushner describe life inside the White House in a just released Time magazine interview.

“One thing you have to remember when you work for President Trump is that you don’t make the waves. He makes the waves…Your job is to surf the wave as best as you can every day. And you have to always smile and have a sense of humor with it, because he’s the one who’s got the instinct.”

Powerful, no?

But also amazing that artificial wave technologies have worked their way into the vernacular so thoroughly. Donald Trump there making waves exactly like Kelly Slater is in Lemoore making them.

And I’m excited to see how this new “making waves for people to surf” metaphor is used this coming year for entrepreneurship, for relationship, for mentorship, citizenship, hardship, attorneyship, brinksmanship, associateship, artisanship, etc.

The future.

Wonderful, no?

Breaking: Lifeguards rush to close Australian beach as elderly surfer has foot “bitten to the bone” by “troublingly ageist” bull shark!


But it is truly wonderful to be alive in these woke times, freshly alerted to all manner of injustice be it gender-related, race-related, economically-informed, climate-induced or having to do with age. We’re, each of us, like Louis as played by Brad Pitt in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, having just had his neck kissed by Tom Cruise’s Lestat and seeing the world with his vampire eyes for the very first time.

“No words can describe it. Might as well ask Heaven what it sees. No human can know. The statue seemed to move, but didn’t. The world had changed, yet stayed the same. I was a newborn vampire (read: culturally aware), weeping at the beauty of the night.”

In any case, ageism is particularly troublesome even though our elders are the reason for all our problems including but not limited to gender, race, economics and climate but still, but still, we must be woke to them too and sharks, Great White, Tiger and Bull, especially Bull, are decidedly not. Rudely not. At odds with the great bend of consciousness not and let’s learn about the latest terrifying attack in Australia on an elderly foot.

NSW Ambulance said the 60-year-old was bitten to the bone on his left foot while surfing with a friend at Windang Beach, south of Wollongong around 8:00am on Friday.

Illawarra Ambulance Chief Inspector Terry Morrow said the man is in a stable condition after being treated by paramedics at the scene.

“He was waiting for a wave a felt a tug on his left leg,” Inspector Morrow said.

“He looked down, saw some blood, got onto his board and made his way to the shoreline.

“He has a significant laceration to the top arch of his left ankle area but it looks like it must have been a small shark.”

The man was taken to Wollongong Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

“He’s in a stable condition, he was given pain relief because he was a bit shocked and felt sick,” Inspector Morrow said

“He was cooperative and very thankful for the assistance of his mates, the surf life savers and paramedics.”

Australian surf journalist Nick Carroll agreed that the shark must have been very small but I don’t see what this has to do with anything unless Nick is suggesting size excuses rude, outdated, ugly behavior.

It’s time we all did some self-work.

Each of us.

Especially Nick.