"1.85 million?" "No. One dollar and eighty five cents." "Cool."
"1.85 million?" "No. One dollar and eighty five cents." "Cool."

The Great Sponsorship Fallacy: Wildly flush, multi-billion dollar mainstream companies pay surfers, skaters, snowboarders pennies on the dollar!

Post-apocalyptic yoga.

Now that the end is officially nigh, the lights turned out, young surfers once brimming with hope, visions of robust contracts dancing in their heads, sent outside penniless to join their snowboard brethren we can/must continue to talk about the post-apocalyptic future. Our own surf ads kicked it off so right yesterday, pointing at an aggressive bicyclist as a potential way forward. I would have liked Jen See’s take there, as she has many toes in that bike world, but will also say that Red Bull’s Rampage, a mountain bike event, is the most exciting extreme sport thing around.

In any case, some out there imagine now that funky, weird surf brands are out of the way big blue chips will come swooping in, checkbooks open wide. Lululemons pouring out millions. Banana Republics just gagging to sponsor Michel Bourez. G-Star Raw. Etc.

I think there is an assumption that these companies (save Banana Republic and G-Star Raw) are successful, have much more money than our funky, weird little surf brands and spend much more when given the opportunity.

Well, I have had the fortune of looking over a few shoulders into the business side of our surf, skate, snow game over the last decade and can say, without exception, non-endemic companies pay pennies on the dollar for professional athletes.

For all the wacky things the surf industry got wrong, it poured money back into the community. The “community” may have meant rococo surf events and parties, bloated magazines, super surf dads and their bratty little air-revo bastard kids but it was still the community. Our community. Non-endemic brands don’t care about the space. They’ll lock a talent up for as short as they possibly can for as little as they possibly can. Every single time.

So when you start seeing Lululemons and Banana Republics, Maui Jims and Men’s Warehouses affixed to boards feel very bad for the surfer riding. Not only is s/he forced into poor fashions but also quite literally poor.

Very quickly, though, who should BeachGrit sponsor in this post-apocalypse?

Who would wave our banner most wonderfully?

Gimme dem feet!
Gimme dem feet!

Miracle: Florida boy wins prestigious surf contest days after having foot nearly severed completely by deleterious blacktip shark!

"He got nipped, but all of us have been bitten by a shark at some point."

I wish there could be a break in this shark news, truly I do. My eyes are bloodshot red, fingers worked to the bone but news, horrifying news, keeps pumping out of Florida at record pace and what sort of surf-cum-shark journalist would I be if I left it all on the floor? Rotting? Festering?

A poor one is what and so I press on for you, for the craft.

Yesterday we learned of San Francisco running back sensation Raheem Mostert and his wife, then girlfriend, who visited New Smyrna and was bitten by sharks three times in a span of 30 minutes. Almost unbelievable.

Today we learn of brave young Logan Radd, a fine surf name if there ever was one, who triumphed over a vicious shark bite by winning the prestigious Toyota USA Surfing Prime opener in the U-14 division and let us go straight to the newspaper of record at conservative hotel chains across this great nation. Let us read from USA Today:

Four months after lying on a cot in the Holmes Regional Medical Center emergency room, Logan Radd scored, you could say, the second-biggest victory of his life Sunday.

The 13-year-old Florida surfer captured top honors in the 2020 opener of the Toyota USA Surfing Prime series at Sebastian Inlet, winning his under-14 division, in the eventual Olympic qualifying event that attracts the top young amateurs from the East Coast.

Radd, an outstanding young surfer who was bitten twice on his left heel by what was believed to be a blacktip shark back in September and needed 19 stitches, considers this his most coveted trophy.

Radd (pictured clutching second favorite trophy) standing next to the great Brett Simpson.
Radd (pictured clutching second favorite trophy) standing next to the great Brett Simpson.

“When I first got back in the water, it felt kind of weird,” Radd said. “Now, if I see a shark, I get a little spooked, but I think anyone would.”

Physically, he’s fine, although he was sidelined three weeks after splitting his stitches trying to surf just days after getting bit. He still managed to win one of the divisions at the National Kidney Foundation contest in Cocoa Beach.

“Lucky it was (just) his heel,” said Gordon Lawson, the head judge at last weekend’s contest. “He got nipped, but all of us have been bitten by a shark at some point.”

A hearty, hearty congrats to young Radd but… is this really true? That all Florida surfers have been bitten by a shark at some point?

Every single one of them?


Watch: Free diver with “species dysmorphia” hand feeds suspiciously calm Tiger Shark as if he was a mama feeding her man-eating young!

The calm before the end of mankind?

A very few short days ago down in the Bahamas where water the color of sapphire caresses sun-reddened Canadian skin, a free diver hand fed a Tiger shark as big as a small New York apartment. The video, which has since gone viral, represents the glorious dance between man and man-eater. Between what is and what could be.

We can all get along.

And let’s read of the account directly from MSN, half-genderless-parent of the very woke MSNBC.

Although many people would be scared to find themselves in open water surrounded by tiger sharks, this was not the case for free diver Dante Weston, who was captured hand-feeding the sea creatures on January 16 near Grand Bahama Island. Underwater photographer and videographer Szilard Janko was along for the journey with Weston and managed to capture a moment on video that he would not soon forget. The footage shows Weston floating above the ocean floor and reaching into a metal container and removing a piece of fish, as a tiger shark swims toward him. Once the shark gets close enough, Weston uses the piece of fish to guide the animal closer to Janko’s camera, before he lets go of the snack and allows the shark to eat it. “Each shark has a different personality, this one very gently takes the fish out of the hand and then is gently redirected to swim away,” Janko told Storyful. Tiger sharks are “aggressive predators,” according to oceana.org, and one of the “Big Three” in the shark attack world, along with great white and bull sharks, “because they are large species that are capable of inflicting serious injuries to a victim, are commonly found in areas where humans enter the water, and have teeth designed to shear rather than hold,” according to International Shark Attack File.

Beautiful, no?

Except those with memories that extend past seven years will remember the darkly prescient drama Mars Attacks!, starring Jack Nicholson and the best others (SJP, Glenn Close, James Bond, Lisa Marie Presley, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, ‘Nette Benning etc.). That film, which has aged like a Nostradamus text, predicted that peace-niks, collaborationists, hippies will actually spark the end of the world.

Again, prescient and I can’t help but think this mirrors, exactly, the above clip.

Much to think about.

Much to ponder.

More as the story develops.

John John, free as a bird. | Photo: @john_john_florence

Rumour true: John John Florence quits Hurley, loses millions; now, here’s how he can change the game!

An exciting time, culturally, as surfers shuck capitalist lords and seize the means to production.

Is it time for surfers to overthrow their masters and seize the means of production?

As reported two weeks ago, the introverted, prone-to-injury two-time world champ John John Florence has quit his Hurley contract two years early, losing millions.

Where to now for pro surfers and their lucrative sponsorship deals?

I was chatting with an old pal over the break who works in the bike game in Europe. He specialises in downhill, mostly, but does some street stuff too.

(Apologies if I murder any of the lingo here, but it ain’t my tribe.)

One of his contemporaries had just self-released a new clip a couple days before Christmas. A half-hour cut of this guy riding the streets of Paris, mostly self shot or with one other filming.

This is a very famous rider, large international fan base etc. Especially popular among the twelve-to-eighteen bracket.

Anyway, the guy charged nine euro a download for the video. An entirely affordable Christmas request for ma and pa by way of Santa, yes?

Within 48 hours it had been downloaded 560,000 times.

Can you imagine? You needn’t be a bike enthusiast to know that’s a whole lotta ROI. Baguettes for days.

It brought back to mind an idea I’ve been ruminating on for some time now. A half-formed theory that was looking for a real world host to propagate.

And the bike story, combined with the recent news of bloodshed at Hurley, delivered just that.

Maybe I’m using a big hammer to hit a small nail.

But that’s why we do this, right?

Sling shit from the sidelines and see what sticks?


Are surfers doing the sponsorship game wrong? More fundamentally, does surfing need surf brands?

Think about it.

The surf-industrial complex was built on the assumption that surfers only had their talent to give.

Brute, dumb forces of nature that needed the guiding hand of sponsorship (and the infrastructure it provided) to focus their energy. An entry point into the industry. Exposure to the public through state-sanctioned media.

And, of course, financial backing.

For many decades that detente stayed in place. Surfers got their pay day. Brands got their shit sold through them by way of a subservient media.

But now it’s 2020 and that model no longer holds. Everyone is a content producer. The cost of filming has decreased to the point where any surfer or a friend can make and release quality clips.

Accessing the public is, in essence, free.

Look at the Instagram follower numbers of each elite pro.

And the big brands continue to be tone deaf to the changing nature of the game. The only people wearing Hurley, Rip Curl, Quiksilver un-ironically are either over 40, or have never seen the ocean in their life. Couldn’t name a team rider if they came out and chop-hopped them (strapped or not).

So why haven’t surfers realised this and torn that detente up?

Seized the means of production?

Cut out the redundant middle man?

Fear of failure, maybe.

Craig and Dane already made the jump with Former, Kelly with Ok. But neither case study has been a resounding financial success or seized the cultural narrative…yet.

That’s often what happens to innovators, though. They lay the groundwork for those that follow, doing the hard work first, and it’s only in the washup that their acumen is lauded.

To wit, are we asking the wrong questions when it comes to John John, Kolohe and the Hurley crew?

Instead of guessing which brand they will go to next, we should be questioning why they need a brand at all?

They are the brand.

I recognise it’s ultimately going to be a question of money. Surfers careers are especially finite, so athletes need to maximise their earnings. Brands offer a ready-made way to do that.

Sign here, receive money here, and here, and here.

But it don’t need to be that way.

For John John it could look like this.

Announce you’re going without a major clothing sponsor but retain hardware stickers like Vans, Pyzel, similar to skaters do with shoes and boards.

Do collaborations with independent wetsuit and clothing labels (Patagonia?).

Maybe even some mainstream stuff (Lululemon!).

But don’t be tied down to the one brand.

Market your name.

Your style.

Your stubbly little face.

Groms worship it, not the sticker on your top third.

Meanwhile follow the DIY model for content production. We know consumers are ready to fork out a little coin for premium content.

Rely on direct releases to the public. A YouTube channel following you ‘round behind the scenes, Nate-style. All geared towards promoting your next Blue Moon.

This can be the starting point for surfers getting into the game, too. Be like Soundcloud rappers.Put your own shit out there. Make it distinct. Build your own following.

Sell direct. It’ll be cut throat but that only serves to further speed up progression.

If you’ve got the talent, let it do the talking. If not, be more brazen in your style

Build the cult of personality. Be bold. Create new markets. Dissolve the game into a world of warring nation states, each vying to outdo the other in progression and attention.

It’d drive surfing forward while taking it back to its roots. Individual freedom of expression.

Counter culture, marketed as such.

It might sort some wheat from the chaff. It might splinter the scene even further.

But as a consumer, wouldn’t you prefer that to the hegemonic, green-washed, white-teethed hell E-Lo and Bluestar are steering us towards?

While we’re at it, dead the WSL. Cunt’s fucked anyway. Set up speciality events and tours for those that want to go down that path. Have the tribe come together at the end of year, ASP Ball or Surfer Poll, to hand out gongs like it’s the Grammys or the Oscars.

And watch the scene flourish.

But I’m wrong, aren’t I?

Tell me where I’m wrong.

North Shore photographer’s two-day shoot with Kobe Bryant: “It’s hard to process the eerie and poignant connotations these photos now have.”

And tells wonderful story of "unique interaction between fame and authority."

Justin Jay is a photographer whose name, like the great Steve Sherman, has become synonymous with the North Shore.

His book, HI 1K, which you can buy here, snatches the glamour of the North Shore over the course of ten years, many candid moments etc.

Jay, of course, ain’t just surf.

He’s a master portraitist from New York city’s Lower East Side who works with a Nikon film camera, a manual-focus 35mm prime affixed to the beak.

Shoots Sean Combs, Jay Z, Outkast, Kanye.

Big time. Big clients.

Three years ago, Jay spent two days shooting NBA god Kobe Bryant for a Nike basketball campaign, an experience that was suddenly brought into relief with Bryant’s death yesterday.

“At one point, I found myself driving in his car from the Staples Center to his house in Newport – just the two of us,” Jay wrote this morning.

“We casually discussed topics of marriage, real estate and fans until he saw a pair of flashing lights in his rearview mirror. He had been weaving out of the HOV lane and we were being stopped by the CHP. Before pulling over, we joked about the possibility of him making a run for it and splitting the money for the exclusive story and photos.

“As the officer approached the car, he glanced at her and nonchalantly informed me that she was new on the job. He obviously knew this stretch of the 405 extremely well.

“Additionally, he didn’t appear the least bit nervous. He seemed to have a subtle smirk on his face like he knew there was no way he was actually going to get a ticket. Sure enough, despite the officer’s best intention to maintain professional and composed, there was the unmistakable look of awe and surprise the moment they realized who they had just pulled over. Needless to say, he only received a polite warning. I felt so lucky to have gotten to witness this unique interaction between fame and authority.

“Later that afternoon, I went with Kobe to his church and shot these candid photos of him at a service. I haven’t looked at these images in quite a while, and it’s hard to process the new eerie and poignant connotations that they now have.”