The WSL's new CEO Erik Logan may be wedged on women's surfing on the North Shore but, oowee, nothing can stop Elo from boiling over at his home beach. | Photo: @elo_eriklogan

World Surf League Gets Wedged on Hawaiian Gals Surfing!

And, question, is there any female athlete in the current Top 17 with a functioning Pipe game?

Gots to admit, I’ve been feeling flat since Sophie left the building.

I know it’s “gauche” for surf journalists to admit their feelings. We should be objective and cool and report the facts and save the feels (and salacious details) for the post-career memoir.

But still, we is human beings.

Maybe disappointed is a better term, I thought Sophie and the Ziffs were a genuine dream team, and now doubly disappointed because Sophie’s legacy as a fearless warrior for gender equality is under attack and she ain’t around to defend herself.

I speak, of course, about the proposal from Sophie’s old bête noire, the Honolulu City Council, and it’s new resolution 20-12 (the so-called Blue Crush law), mandating gals inclusion in the Hawaiian events.

I am such an unreconstructed heteronormative piece of shit I didn’t even realise they weren’t.

Chas, of course, covered the initial story but we now have the actual resolution and the WSL’s response to the resolution to dig into.

We all remember what happened with the last face-off between Sophie and the bureacratic muscle of the City and County of Honolulu: the Dept of Parks and Recreation.

Sophie tried to publicly strong-arm the short-sleeved pen pushers by claiming what an indispensable boost to tourism pro surfing was to Hawaii and the short-sleevers with the underarm stains* called her bluff.

Sophie blinked, no new Pipe permits and the dream of a restructured Tour died unlamented in a ditch.

Now, Elo and the WSL are playing a much more sophisticated game. Something like Kissinger’s Iron fist in a Silk Glove, with maybe a touch of Sun Tzu’s Art of War thrown in.

The actual resolution, spearheaded by Hawaiian core-lord Heidi Tsuneyoshi comes in hard and heavy on the WSL: WHEREAS, female competitive surfers face discrimination at certain professional surfing contests and events in terms of inclusion in competitions, access to venues and facilities, resources, competition time, and pay…

The rebuttal by the WSL is very calming but laced with a faint but distinct odour of passive-aggressive butthurt: The WSL supports Resolution No. 20-12 and commends the work of Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi and the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing on this resolution. We are advocates of all positive steps that benefit and support gender equality and remain deeply committed to developing women’s surfing, aiming for long-term sustainable growth.

Heidi’s resolution then details steps forwards for gender equality including the Tokyo Olympics, WSL equal pay, a women’s Jaws event and Keala Kennelly’s Eddie Invite, before going back on the offensive: WHEREAS, unfortunately, despite this progress, gender discrimination still persists in professional surfing contests and events, including those that hold competitions on public land or otherwise utilize public venues or public resources; and

WHEREAS, for example, the failure of promoters and leagues to mandate that a womens division be included in all events on the World Championship Tour, effectively creates a loophole to equal pay achievements…..

and about 50 more WHEREAS…..which basically state it’s on public land, we dish out the permits and make the rules etc etc.

To which the WSL came in meek and mild as a lamb: Since the resolution just passed, and the permits for our events are fixed and the event schedules have now been set for several months, we are not currently in a position to immediately commit to adding a women’s division for our events on the North Shore. We plan to have further discussions with the Department of Parks and Recreations to understand their position and their timeline for the integration of a women’s division into existing events on the North Shore for which permits have already been issued.

Before signing off with another ever so slightly sniffy end note: We look forward to continuing to work with the Honolulu City Council and our partners to explore sustainable opportunities for the expansion of women’s surfing both on the North Shore and around the world.

Couple of things.

First, any parent/coach of a fifteen-year-old female athlete and by athlete I mean surfer better make sure their charge has a functioning Pipe game by the time they turn pro.

Second; what’s your favourite use of the world sustainable?

The greenwash, we-are-causing-no-harm meaning, or the more hard-edged economic we’ll-give-the-gals-what-the-market-can-afford-to-pay-them meaning?

I think the WSL presser writer’s use of the second meaning was very masterly, or mistressly.

Whatever the case may be.

Gals at Pipe?

I’m down with Heidi a hundred million per cent.

I also feel sorry Sophie’s legacy is under attack while the exit door is still swinging, especially from the sisterhood.

Thirdly, is there any female athlete in the current Top 17 with a functioning Pipe game?

Fourthly, is Tulsi 2020 officially over?

Despite requests being made, at time of writing Honolulu Councillor Heidi Tsuneyoshi was unavailable for comment.

*At least a nice floral print aloha shirt on Casual Friday.

Watch: Two killer whales harass a sinisterly large Great White shark before biting its tail clean off in “carnal frenzy!”

Nature is metal.

It was revealed here, sometime ago, that “man-eating” Great White sharks have recently vacated one of their favorite haunts in South Africa, stumping scientists and frustrating divers hoping to catch a glimpse of toothy death. Where could they have gone? Why? Well, just released footage contains possible answers as it shows two killer whales bullying a 12-foot long monster, toying with its frazzled emotions, pushing it this way and that, fun-making, likely, and taunting before biting its tail clean off, according to one witness.

Per the The New York Post:

A pair of orcas were filmed apparently hunting a great white shark off the coast of South Africa. The footage was filmed by marine tour guide Donavan Smith, who was leading tourists in a boat near Knysna, about 250 miles from Cape Town. “This is amazing. This is special stuff,” Smith can be heard saying in the 2½-minute video, which he posted on his Instagram and YouTube accounts last week. “There’s a big great white here in the water. They come and they hunt great whites.” The clip shows two killer whales swimming and peeking their dorsal fins several feet from the tour group. Meanwhile, a nearly 12-foot great white takes cover underwater, near the tour boat’s bow. Despite the “big, monster great white,” Smith tells his guests that orcas are known to feed on sharks. “It’s a shark they are hunting,” he says before the footage ends, and before the shark’s fate is revealed. “They actually bite the tails off [of the great whites] from the back.”

And I must admit to being disappointed in the cameraman’s sense of pay-off for it would have been wonderful to see the carnal frenzy, tail-less shark swimming trying to paddle with its little fins etc. but I suppose its good to exercise the imagination from time to time too.

While we’re imagining, what if Killer Whales develop a taste for surfer meat? Think upon the terror of being slowly circled, played with, harassed before having legs eaten clean off. Disturbing and here is a poem I wrote for us to ponder more deeply.

Some say the world will end by Great White,
Some say by Killer Whale.
From what I’ve tasted of might.
I hold with those who favor White.
But if it had to perish in a flail,
I think I know enough of abject terror,
To say that for destruction Whale
Is also fairer
And would avail.

Ashton Goggans (pictured) showing a senior editor hopeful the door.
Ashton Goggans (pictured) showing a senior editor hopeful the door.

Found: The lucky man who gets to suckle at the robust teat of surfing’s most influential voice as Stab magazine’s new senior editor!

Sent a one-page cover letter and single page resume to: [email protected]

The world was thrown into a tizzy, days ago, when surfing’s most influential voice, Stab Editor-in-Chief Ashton Goggans was on the lookout for a new senior editor to be his right hand. Resumes flew fast and furious but one stood out and if longtime underground star Nugable is not on his way to Venice-adjacent right now it will be a bigger sham than the Iowa caucus…

The Nike/Hurley sale is perhaps the biggest surf industry story of the last decade. How would you cover it, what stories would you want to read?

Andy Irons was the biggest story in the last decade. Hurley being sold to (*stolen by) a venture capitalist isn’t even close.

You can interview one current A-List surfer. Who do you call and what questions do you ask?

I’d interview Gabe Medina and ask him if Gerry Lopez appeared in a commercial spot with Richard Nixon and Pol Pot instead of appearing in Big Wednesday, would we still love him?

Pick two products from brands that you think would be good fits for Stab’s audience, and give us 150-300 words about each.

I don’t write advertising copy. Sorry.

Grab your two favorite short surf clips from the last year from YouTube or Vimeo, and give us a 300-word write up for a post on our site.

I stopped watching surf clips when Marine Layer Productions died. Instead, I’d make a Tik Tok story about how much I miss Vine and Marine Layer.

Send a one-page cover letter and single page resume to: [email protected]

I sent the last copy of my resume to Big Brother Skateboard Magazine. They haven’t called back yet, but my fingers are crossed.

The look on Ashton Goggan's face (pictured) after reading his new senior editor's work.
The look on Ashton Goggan’s face (pictured) after reading his new senior editor’s work.

Breaking: Alleged ISIS-affiliated extremists go on stabbing spree on island best known for its five-star luxury surf accommodations!

Paradise gone wild.

I have always been very opposed to any “bucket list” but mostly on linguistic and aesthetic grounds as opposed to moral or ethical ones. The word “bucket” both looks and sounds… bad. Also the film starring aging Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman was an unfortunate choice for all involved which, speaking of, the entire genre of aged actor films is rotten. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel etc. Back to bucket lists, though, if I was to have one, the Maldives would be the very top of that list.

Impossibly crystalline water, virginal white sand, a Four Seasons that has a gorgeous wave and hosts a surf contest regularly won by Josh Kerr.

I would very much like to go to the Maldives and with a recent alleged ISIS attack my desire just tripled. Quadrupled even and let’s quickly turn to The Daily Mail for details.

Maldives police have arrested three suspected Islamic extremists over the stabbing of three foreigners in the upmarket tourist destination.

Two Chinese men and an Australian were in a stable condition after being stabbed Tuesday, just two months after security officials warned of the presence of violent radicals inspired by ISIS.

Authorities said they were investigating a video released on social media claiming the attack had been carried out by a local group sympathetic to the terror group.

‘The Maldives police service has arrested three suspects under a court warrant in relation to the stabbing of three foreign nationals,’ police said in a statement.

They were not identified.

Late last year the Maldives arrested a local man described by the United States as a recruiter for ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan.

Thankfully everyone is ok and not to make light of scary situation but imagine winning the “ISIS recruiter: Maldives” gig. There you are in Eastern Syria, not pleasant, or Afghanistan, freezing. Maybe Iraq but not Euphrates-adjacent. Things are bleak. The caliphate’s territory has shrunk to almost nothing, hope is thin but then your boss comes in and says, “Hey, pal. Pack your Kalashnikov and a pair of trunks. You’re headed to the Maldives.”

It would make a fine movie, I think. ISIS recruiter in paradise.

Better than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Sexy Pottz, foreground, and the late, great, beautiful Brock Little, on roof of car, in early Gotcha ad.

The surf industry paradox: “Surfing, by its very nature, contradicts basic capitalism!”

"Capitalism, on the other hand, absolutely wants to sell you more stuff, is searching for more consumers to sell to and just loves attention." Oh it's a real tug-o-war!

Despite the ruckus in the surf industry, surfing is very much alive and chugging along nicely, thank you, oblivious to most of the drama that surrounds the long-running mismanagement of surfing as an industry.

So why all the bad news?

The Hurley debacle is getting most of the press these days but really it’s been a long slow burn going all the way back to the late-eighties when Quiksilver first took their company public.

Let us try to explain.

Surfing, by its very nature, inherently contradicts basic capitalism.

Surfers, for the most part, don’t need more stuff, don’t want more surfers, don’t care about grabbing attention, etc.

Capitalism, on the other hand, absolutely wants to sell you more stuff, is searching for more consumers to sell to and just loves attention.

Juxtaposed, you might say.

So, when Quik put the company up for public trading they inadvertently entered into a different way of doing business of which the company, and in turn, much of the surf industry, has never really overcome.

Ya see, publicly traded companies, or even those propped up with significant amounts of venture capital funding, are expected to produce a profit.

Full stop.

The CEO will quickly be shown the door if they are unable to create those profits. Those gains usually come through increases in top-line revenue, but can also be helped through improved operational efficiencies.

Since revenue is often seen as the easier of the two it gets a lot of attention. Open up more wholesale accounts, expand global distribution, and create new product categories, are some of the ways a company might do that.

Quik was on it back then and through most of the late-eighties and early nineties, they did all of those things, and more, to quickly blow past 100 million dollars in annual sales. That was a huge number back then and at the time that growth was readily available simply because there was so little competition and the emerging wholesale channels were also beginning to flourish.

“Surf” was hot and Quik was right there with everything one might have needed to complete the look.

You could pretty much go head to toe in Quik gear.

And many did.

As was predictable, the surf trend waned and that double-digit growth that the surf brands were achieving suddenly became more challenging.

Over these early years, many of the major surf brands had begun gearing up to produce the massive amounts of product the trend required.

But with the core surf market being fickle, creating new categories was quickly recognised as needed to maintain that investor mandated growth.

Wetsuits, snow gear, women’s lines, kid’s products, middle-aged guy stuff, accessories like watches, sunnies, and sandals, were all quickly included in almost every surf brand’s offerings. “Stay in your lane” be damned.

Believe it or not, there was once a day when Quik just made great boardshorts, O’Neill made great wetsuits, Oakley made the sunnies, etc.

Soon, however, it seemed like all brands were in literally every category, unfortunately, not always doing that with much quality.

This corresponded with an almost across the broad removal of much of that vital, creative, entrepreneurial spirit as brands rotated the founders out and rotated in a revolving door of CEOs trying to catch lightning in a bottle one more time.

Without any semblance of connection to their customer base, this led to an almost industry-wide lack of a fundamental understanding of who their most important customer really is.

Which fed into the very destructive miscalculation that a core fifteen-to-twenty-five-year-old surf consumer doesn’t mind wearing the same brand as his kid brother, sister or even his dad.

They didn’t understand that filling off-price, big-box retailers with crappy products might actually damage the commodity.

They simply didn’t realise that actual surfers don’t really need a bunch of stuff.

Surfing is just a thing we do. Period.

Surf clothing, and much of the other gear being peddled today, isn’t really required to actually surf so to achieve the growth big brands require much of the consumer base needs to be non-surfers.

It’s a pretty simple concept really: A brand employs various marketing tactics to use surfing as a way to appear cool to a non-surfing consumer.

But what happened, instead, was that the truly influential young crew on virtually every beach were no longer connecting to that message and they began to walk away from most surf brands.

Gotcha is long gone.

Volcom has changed hands numerous times.

Quik and Bong were both bought for pennies on the dollar and are now owned by the same VC firm.

O’Neill is owned by a European investor that has licenses for the clothing and wetsuits.

Rip Curl, the last of the privately held “big brands” was recently sold to a large conglomerate.

Reef, Vans, Oakley, BodyGlove, etc, have had significant ownership changes over the years.

And, of course, we all know about Hurley by now.

Which brings us to today.

We don’t know what will come of many of these brands when it all settles out but the early indications appear that there may be some more pain to come.

Then again, maybe this is exactly where we need to be?

Refocusing on brands that communicate to us authentically.

Backing surfers who represent our sensibilities, and living a lifestyle as a surfer of which we define, not some ad agency from Chicago.

Sadly, there are a lot of good people without a job and/or sponsorship today in part because of situations they didn’t create.

They worked hard, drank the company “Kool-Aid,” so to speak, and then when those at the executive level mismanaged the brand, these same good folks got unceremoniously shown the door.

Hopefully, all of them will quickly find gainful employment in less volatile situations.

The unfortunate reality being that this needed to happen.

So no, surfing isn’t dead. It just doesn’t want anything to do with the box the industry keeps trying to put it in.