"We have a great history working together," says Pat O'Connell's new master John John Florence.
To the surprise of very few, Pat O’Connell, who is fifty, has been anointed president of the John John Florence-Bob Hurley start-up Florence Marine X.
Patty, the star of Endless Summer II, is a former world number eleven, a serial surf company executive (The Realm, Hurley) and, for two years, was the WSL’s Senior Vice President of Tours & Head of Competition.
He was a very good buy for the WSL, then, a Peter Pan to Sophie Goldschmidt’s Wendy, and gave the company a meteoric surge in talent levels at the Santa Monica office where VALs patrol the hallways with apparent impunity.
“We have a great history working together,” said his new master, the two-time world champion John John Florence.
“There couldn’t be a more perfect individual for this role,” said Jeff Hurley, the company’s CEO and Bob’s kid. “Pat has a long-standing rapport with John, and brings a wealth of experience and positivity that’s unmatched.”
“I want to be everybody’s friend,” Pat said in an interview in 1998. “I suppose that’s a character flaw in pro surfing.”
Yesterday, it was revealed that world famous surfboard shaper Matt Biolos had drastically changed his look, transitioning from Orange County bad boy to cool mom chic. Today, we maybe learn why. Yahoo! Finance, in partnership with market analysis organization Report Linker, has projected that the “global surfing board market” is on pace to balloon to $11.5b by 2027 and WHOA let us study the details together:
– Global Surfing Boards Market to Reach $11.5 Billion by 2027
– Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Surfing Boards estimated at US$7.8 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$11.5 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5.7% over the period 2020-2027.
– The U.S. Market is Estimated at $2.1 Billion, While China is Forecast to Grow at 9.2% CAGR
– The Surfing Boards market in the U.S. is estimated at US$2.1 Billion in the year 2020. China, the world`s second largest economy, is forecast to reach a projected market size of US$2.5 Billion by the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 9.2% over the analysis period 2020 to 2027. Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 3.1% and 4.5% respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 4% CAGR.
And WOW do you think co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff wishes he bought …Lost Enterprises instead of the World Surf League? I’d imagine or at least hope.
Also, China. If we had our wits about us, we’d move there, open a shaping shack and get in on some of that $2.5b. We could live in Fuzhou, described by noted travel writer Bo Brennan thusly, “When I stepped outside of the Fuzhou train station last year, I felt an overwhelming sense of apathy.”
Margaret River inventor Ric Gath comprehensively refutes US man’s claim to have invented the world’s first surf-specific helmet!
Simms’ helmet, the Simba, with its Roman Gladiator styling, is certainly eye-catching.
But it ain’t the first.
In the late eighties, early nineties, y’couldn’t find a lineup in Western Australia that wasn’t filled with surfers wrapped in Ric Gath’s eponymous surf helmet.
Ric launched it at the 1989 Margaret River Masters, a contest won by Dave Macaulay wearing the wild-looking plastic thing. A photo taken on the day appears to show Dave’s wife hugging the helmet.
That same season, Tom Carroll won the Pipe Masters with a Gath.
Kong won it the year after, wearing a Gath.
Tommy won Pipe again, the following year.
“It was a dream launch,” says Ric, now sixty-four.
He ain’t too concerned about anyone claiming to’ve invented surf helmets.
Still, his story is a good one.
Ric, who is a big-waver from Margaret River, Western Australia, had ears that gave him hell in a region famous for its cold wind. First he used divers balaclavas, then when Rip Curl brought out a peaked neoprene hood he wore that, although losing it in a wipeout was common.
So he switched to carpenters’ ear muffs with the padding taken off and with the balls resting over the ears. Ric dislocated his jaw on that idea.
Then his three-year-old kid, this is 1986, nearly copped his fins in the face after nose-driving in a little shorey.
Ric is a can-do sorta guy. He made some drawings and three years later it was everywhere.
In Bali, surfers used ‘em as motorbike helmets. Mums agreed to let their kids surf with the stipulation they wore a helmet.
Ric says they were moving around 12,000 units a year. It’s not massive in today’s sorta numbers but thirty-ish years ago, big enough to make a little cash and save a few skulls.
Almost as quickly as they’d arrived, howevs, the Gath disappeared.
Two reasons, says Ric.
First he heard that surf companies weren’t real thrilled that his “parasite” company was getting free press in their editorial photos and started telling photographers they weren’t going to run shots with helmets.
Second, biz probs.
In 1994, his three investors showed him the door and they all went to court to see who got to keep the intellectual property.
“Three chiefs and one Indian and I was the Indian,” says Ric. “I went straight from a surfboard and into business to going into a liquidation meeting.”
Ric, who had to go back to carpentry to fund the case, won.
In 1999, he picked up the pieces and was back in biz by 2005.
Nowadays, he’s got his son Jess and wife, Jennifer, running the show, the company chasing Europe’s lucrative kite and foil market, something that’s gonna spike now that governments there are starting to legislate for compulsory helmets while foiling.
“The future is looking really good for us,” he says, adding he might be sixty-four but surfing makes him feel eighteen, even if he’s given a reality check every time he walks past a mirrored door and he catches his reflection.
He ain’t too bummed about much these days, still talks to one of the investors who took him down and, with characteristic whimsy, says the liquidation of his business with all its legal documents “improved my reading.”
Possible best surfboard shaper in the world debuts new Cool Mom Fab look.
I made my name in this surf game not caring. Writing what I felt, writing my first addled impression without connection to the levers of “cool” or “surf prestige”, and my first addled impression of Matt Biolos’s …Lost transitioning to energy drinks, some two decades ago was …silly.
I wrote something about him liking little boys.
Unfounded, incorrect, absolutely rude and not even related to anything but he was kind enough to call my then, and now, muse Derek Rielly to say, “What the fuck?”
Derek told me I should go down and talk with Matt, stifling a giggle.
I did and thought Matt might like Pick Up Stix (fake pan-Asian cuisine one tiny step up from Panda Express) so brought some.
Matt said, “Why did you write that I like little boys?”
I said, “Because I thought it was funny. I was wrong.”
Then we transitioned to talking about World War II.
I loved Matt Biolos from that moment on.
Willing to take surfing’s idiocy on the chin and not care because ain’t that the best of us?
Some time in those free-wheeling 2019s, pre-Covid, the brand Hurley was sold by Nike to Bluestar Alliance for an undisclosed sum. With a team consisting of John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson etc., innovative design year over year and a corest of the core executive team, Hurley represented the very best of what the surf industry was, of what it could be.
The axe fell quick, executive team jettisoned, designers too, team cut and then relative quiet… until a line of men’s skincare product was teased four-months ago.
It almost seemed like a joke, like a very canny bit of performance art.
Today, the video selling that line of men’s skincare product has been released and it is more than I could ever hope for. Words cannot describe.