Another anonymous pro lost to the Covid years? Maybe.
Another anonymous pro lost to the Covid years? Maybe.

Concerning: Aspiring eighteen-year-old professional surfer only vaguely aware of the World Surf League!

The New Lost Generation.

I am currently on an overseas surf vacation and enjoying myself thoroughly. Fear of Covid-19 still crackles in the humid air and tourists have not returned leaving normally crowded breaks near empty.

Wonderful.

And today found me bobbing alongside two locals who waved for me to join them in the prime location.

I happily acquiesced.

One, an eighteen-year-old, told me he was an aspiring professional surfer, sponsored by a local shaper etc. Looking forward to being able to travel the world, competing in iconic locations etc.

I told him that was very fine at which point he complimented me on my surf attire.

I was wearing an official tank top singlet from the World Surf League Longboard Classic, New York. Devon Howard generously gifted me. Coincidentally, I was not riding a midlength but rather a 5’8 Mayhem Bottom Feeder quad.

In any case, I thanked him and told him it came from the World Surf League. He scrunched up his face and repeated “World Surf League?”

I nodded.

He pondered this “World Surf League” while nodding me into a very fine right.

When I arrived back to the takeoff spot he said something like, “I maybe have seen the WSL logo thing before.”

I told him he wasn’t missing much but… CEO Erik Logan, turning the spotlight over to you, concerning, no? I must say, without a bold move, very soon, an entire generation of professional surfers will be lost.

Who then can you fleece?

What’s the business model?


No love in the time of Coronavirus.
No love in the time of Coronavirus.

Unexpected: Event organizers cancel Huntington Beach’s U.S. Open of Surfing over fear of disease transmission, flying in the face of precedent!

Sacrifice.

Summer, in these United States of America, is marked by two features: Mama June from Not to Hot marathons on WE TV and Huntington Beach’s U.S. Open of Surfing. The former, a in-depth look at beloved reality television star June Shannon, mother of Honey-Boo-Boo-Child. The latter a ten-day stretch of August that sees the world’s best surfers take to the world’s most mediocre waves and mass sexual deviance perpetrated by young-ish teenagers and old-ish middle-aged folk from Riverside and Corona.

This year, we’ll only have crack cocaine.

Event organizers have officially canceled the bacchanal over the fear of disease transmission, flying in the face of precedent.

Jennifer Lau, Vice President of Action Sports at event owner IMG said, “The Vans US Open of Surfing has always been about bringing people together in a healthy, fun and interactive environment, and given the size and scale of the event, we can’t see a way to do that this year without sacrificing the very thing that makes it so special.”

Namely, herpes.

With the U.S. Open’s cancellation, it is almost certain that the entire 2020 surf season will be wiped off the books. The World Surf League is rumored to be trying to run the Triple Crown in December but with fears over a Coronavirus second wave and an emboldened Hawaii sovereignty movement, the plan seems shaky at best.

Will some other billionaire, an ancient foe to co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff, seize the moment and steal professional surfing for his very own? Ziff currently resides at 427 on Forbes’ updated real-time billionaire list. Just below him, at number 433, is Charles Dolan, owner of WE TV.

Imagine if he flew professional surfers out to a private island, let’s say Tavarua, with Mama June and ran both reality shows concurrently.

Ratings through the roof?

Almost certainly but who would Mama June end up with?

Martin Potter is the current odds on favorite.

Stay tuned.


"When you see Ben coming, don't think, just get out of the way," said Gerry Lopez. | Photo: Warren Bolster/EOS

Game-changing shaper and power-surfing bulldozer Ben Aipa is sick and needs your help: “He rode Sunset Beach like Jim Brown on a broken-field run. Power and finesse. Rudely underappreciated…”

So fierce in the water Gerry Lopez described him thus, "When you see Ben coming, don't think, just get out of the way."

If you know your surf history, you’ll know the legend of Ben Aipa.

He was the creator of the stinger design that gave ol Marky Richards, later a four-time world champ, a rocket underfoot in the winter of ’75, and who was so fierce-looking and powerful in the water Gerry Lopez described him thus, “When you see Ben coming, don’t think, just get out of the way.”

(In Matt Warshaw’s list of 15 Best Power Surfers Warshaw writes, “Rode Sunset Beach like Jim Brown on a broken-field run. Power and finesse. Rudely underappreciated at a longboard surfer.”

His two sons, Duke and Akila, have carried the shaper-surfer flame into the twenty-first century, both arch-craftsman, Akila you’ll know already as the man who built the board Kelly lit Keramas up on in 2019.

Now here’s the thing.

Ben, who turns seventy-eight in August, is sick, real sick, blood infections, heart issue, diabetes and he’s been hit by myriad strokes. 

And in the US, catastrophic illness means catastrophic medical bills. 

You want to help? 

His second wife, Leonore, is selling all his boards via an auction house. Click here. 

“He’s been my husband and now he’s my child,” Leonore told Hawaii News Now. “I take care of him as a mother will take care of her child.”

Or if picking over Ben’s personal surfboard collection feels a little ghoulish, you can drop a little cash into the gofundme account Duke has set up.

Its goal is to raise fifty k; so far it’s at seven gees. 

When I heard that Ben was sick, I called his son Akila who grew up with a front-row seat to the North Shore, with a famous, and famously loved Dad.

A rare soul connected to surfing’s cultural continuum.

“Yeah, man, well, everyone knows him for his stinger, but his greatest contribution was how long he shaped for, how consistent he was, the attention to craftsmanship… there was a level of integrity in his boards for sixty years,” says Akila.

“For my brother and I there’s a sense of pride in how we build boards. We carry on the tradition.” 


Unexpected: New economic data shows “amid the Covid-19 crisis and looming economic recession, the surfing market set for stratospheric growth!”

"I just want to say one word to you all..."

I’m no financial expert, but have hung around a few and picked up what they call “tricks of the trade.” Like, buy low but then sell high. Also, zig where others zag. Sound advice and I pass along to you free of charge along with this unexpected nugget gleaned from this morning’s investor news.

The surfing industry is back.

Specifically the surfing boards industry and let us turn to Yahoo! Finance for more.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the looming economic recession, the Surfing market worldwide will grow by a projected US$745.2 Million, during the analysis period, driven by a revised compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1%. Surfing Boards, one of the segments analyzed and sized in this study, is forecast to grow at over 3% and reach a market size of US$2.6 Billion by the end of the analysis period. An unusual period in history, the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a series of unprecedented events affecting every industry. The Surfing Boards market will be reset to a new normal which going forwards in a post COVID-19 era will be continuously redefined and redesigned. Staying on top of trends and accurate analysis is paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, change and continuously adapt to new and evolving market conditions.

Are you ever shocked to remember that Yahoo! is still in business? I am. Is Netscape? Should we zag where others zig and invest in Netscape?

But more to our field of expertise, which surfing boards builders will benefit most from the surfing boards market reset to new normal? I’ve got to think that Matt Biolos, DH, Jon Jon Pyzel etc. are going to really have to think hard about many things and…

…I just want to say one word to you all. Just one word. Are you listening?

Mid-lengths.

There’s a great future in mid-lengths. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Enough said. That’s a deal.


Shakespearean: Watch as Red Bull Airborne Trials turn into beach theatre, “C’mon pussy! I put Occy in jail! Occy’s in jail! I’ll put this board in your arse!”

High emotion yields a wonderful and unexpected drama at surfing contest.

Rare is the surfing contest that takes its theatre from the water and brings it directly to the audience. 

In this short video taken at Duranbah by Cam Macdougall, a sixteen-year-old high jumper, we see a freesurfer who, believing he was wronged in the water by a competitor in the Red Bull Airborne trials, “gutter stomps” Tane Bowden’s board. 

For further effect, he adds,

“Cmon, pussy!”

“You’re all fucking cocks.”

“I put Occy in jail!” 

“Occy’s in jail!”

“I’m going to put this in your arse.”

“It was so good, so entertaining,” reports Macdougall, wh0 was preparing for his own heat when the action took place, “pumping waves at a comp, blow-ups.”

What happened? 

“I was in the middle of a heat,” says Tane Bowden. “I creased my board which could’ve been fixed. I then grabbed my other board and surfed the rest of my heat and as I was in the heat this dude runs up and snapped it. I come in and ask, ‘Why did you do that?’ He said he didn’t give a fuck.”

The freesurfer, Brett Fairbank, a forty-four-year-old artist noted for the“positive vibes” of his work says, and this is coming via a DM ‘cause he didn’t want to do a phone interview,

“The sponsored guy (Tane Bowden) rolls into the tent with snapped board. I was waiting for my *heat. I’m like board’s done and jumped on the snapped board to finish it off in a fun way. He got pissed off then I have five guys chasing me down to bash me. So I just got out of there and went home.”

In reply I write,

“What was the ‘I put Occy in jail!’ line about?

I get a message about Occ (allegedly) punching him in the head when he was a grom and (allegedly) “assaulting” his pal.

There is no clarification on jail time served.

A further investigation reveals,

“I’m a spiritual surfer artist that enjoys a free life. I also do uber driving two nights a week for money I love it for fun and enjoy the conversations interactions meeting new energy. During the week I surf, and paint, and live my free life,” Fairbank told USA Art News.

Good times!

* Name not on heat draw.

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