Divine: Missing big-wave surfboard that was to be auctioned for a beautiful pediatric cancer charity lost at biggest Mavericks swell in twenty years; fisherman finds adrift at sea!

"The fisherman noticed handprints and messages scrolled across it from cancer patients, families, nurses and doctors, and knew it was special."

January 10, 2021, saw the biggest Mavericks in twenty years.

It “was about as substantial and the biggest, craziest day in a very very long time,” says San Diego charger and Mavs regular Jojo Roper.

Things almost turned tragic at the end of the day when a head count revealed someone was missing.

Mavericks local, Luca Padua jumped into action.

“Luca knows the reef and everything so well, he grew up there. He just jumped on the ski and booked it…. He was searching in the dark, couldn’t find anybody, and finally comes in, and the guy had already ended up coming in right when, or close to after Luca drove away.”

Crisis diverted.

Except in his haste to save a life, Padua forgot Roper’s 10’6″ was on the sled behind the ski.

“Somewhere along the way the board flew off the ski ’cause I’m sure he was driving like crazy, as he should, as I would have done the exact same thing and just in rescue mode trying to find him.”

Turns out this wasn’t just any old big-wave gun. Every year Roper auctions off one of his guns to raise a little cash for pediatric cancer patients.

The last board Roper auctioned off went for $11,000. It’s one thing to lose your board, it’s another to lose a board you planned on selling to raise money for sick children.

Roper thought the board was gone forever.

“I mean, boats were getting waves broken on them trying to go through the harbor. It was about as crazy of an ocean that you could ever imagine.”

The next day, fisherman Dan Stucky came upon the board a mile offshore.

He noticed handprints and messages scrolled across it from cancer patients, families, nurses and doctors, and knew it was special.

“I got a call from the harbor master, he was like ‘Hey Jojo this guy found your board yesterday and he brought it in to us because he didn’t know how to give it to you. He saw the handprints he saw the stuff and he knew it was a really special board and he wanted to get it into the right hands,’” said Roper. “There’s not a ding on and it’s back home to its rack safely.”

The board is tentatively set to be auctioned this August at the Luau and Legends event at Scripps Pier to benefit Moore’s Cancer Center.

Australian government ban on EPS foam threatens Asian surfboard production; puts Firewire and Kelly Slater biz model at risk!

Too much nanny state?

Melbourne is the home of UrbnSurf, Australia’s first commercial wave tub or “basin” as Joe Turpel refers to them.

It’s also the home of a muddy little ditch called the Yarra River where an environmentalist has called pollution by EPS foam (used in Firewire surfboards), “disrespectful.”

EPS foam, also called Expanded Polystyrene or Styrofoam, is a petrochemical polymer and the core material used for almost all Asian surfboard production,  including of course, our beloved Kelly Slater surfboard designs.

The consumer use of EPS is under threat from an Australian government initiative designed to cut down on plastic waste.

Last week the federal govt bought forwards a planned phase out of EPS for consumer products from 2025 to 2022. In a National Plastics Plan the government has said it would consider regulatory action if industry phase-outs didn’t happen.

In a sign of the times, forward-thinking manufacturer Hayden Cox of Hayden shapes surfboards, creator of the biggest selling surfboard of all time, the Hypto-Krypto, has already diversified his offerings to include PE construction which is a surfboard made with a PU core and epoxy resin.

That’s not new technology; it’s been refined over many years by shaper/designers including Maurice Cole.

PU or polyurethane-cored surfboards have been the industry standard since 1950’s when WW2 technology was used to replace the prevailing balsa board standard. PU has been denigrated as dinosaur technology in comparison to the use of EPS and epoxy but in actual fact PU was not formulated until 1937 by Dr Otto Bayer, while EPS was accidentally discovered in 1839 by German apothecary Eduard Simon which makes PU the far more modern material.

EPS gained a huge leg-up in the market when US blank manufacturer Gordon “Grubby” Clark walked away from his factory on “Black Monday” Dec 5, 2005, citing excess green tape in California.

In the ensuing blank shortage, surfboard manufacturers were forced to incorporate alternatives into the blank mix.

Floridian mad cat Greg Loehr, an early proponent of EPS/Epoxy construction was so bullish at the time he claimed anyone left behind still using PU blanks and polyester resins would be “mowing his lawn” in the near future.

That did not come to pass.

Overwhelmingly, we still shred on our PU/PE’s.

Somehow, despite being branded by Heidi Tait of the Marine Debris Initiative as a “horrifying blight” on the marine environment, EPS has come to be branded as the more ECO-friendly material to use as a core to build surfboards with.

A true victory in marketing and greenwashing.

Our favourite agent-provacateur against EPS boards and Asian production more generally is the flamboyant Peter Schroff, who built his empire in the 80’s. He is not Robinson Crusoe, of course.

Many, many others have either joined in the off-shoring or been equally vocal in less artistic ways. Long-time San Diegan shaper Tim Bessel described the use of styrofoam to me as a “plague” and an environmental nightmare.

Why use EPS?

It’s incredibly light and incredibly cheap.

Unlike Polyurethane (PU) it doesn’t have to be blown by surfboard specific manufacturers into surfboard shaped blanks. Any old EPS can be hotwired and used.

Which makes it perfect for mass-production in Asia.

And, to be fair, for certain backyard applications.

Phasing out of EPS for surfboard production would, in effect, be a tax on Asian surfboard production. It would be a huge boon for local surfboard manufacturers, a giant blow to Firewire and others, including Wavestorms and other soft tops.

Not insurmountable.

There is some PU/PE mass production in Asia, notably Indonesia. Smaller operators like HaydenShapes can pivot, and have already done so.

But the retooling and loss of profit margin would damage market share immensely for Firewire.

Potential high times in the surfing board biz.

Major competitors’ biz models being taken out by government fiat.

Unprecedented demand due to Covid kooks and stimulus checks being spent on new whips.

Lack of workers.

I see many price hikes in the near future.

Might be high times to get the quiver sorted now.

How do you see?

Too much nanny state, let my people ride EPS?

Or fcuk that horrible stuff, makes shitty surfboards anyway.

Me: the latter, very much so.

Photo: Rusty Escandell via Facebook
Photo: Rusty Escandell via Facebook

Attention-starved giant manta ray steals spotlight from Florida surfer doing his very best: “It wasn’t until I reviewed the photo that I saw what was going on in the background!”


And there you are, in central Florida, doing the absolute best job you possibly can. Surfline calling 2 – 3 and getting it very wrong, per the norm. But you are a surfer and from central Florida so paddle out anyhow into the unseasonable chill. Excited.

You notice a man sitting on the beach snapping photos, focusing on the lineup and think, “If I get a good one maybe he’ll get a shot?”

And like that, as if summoned, a wave comes directly your way. You paddle, pop up, wiggle a turn then another, bash off the lip maybe and feel like Kelly Slater himself, though then get stuck behind the whitewash for a little too long but still whoosh out and finish with a serviceable cutback. Not the best you’ve ever done but there were certainly some moments and you look toward the beach at the man snapping photos and hope.

Later that evening, your jaw drops to the floor as you see a photo of yourself from earlier, on the wave where you wiggled and bashed and cutback. Except the image captures none of those. It captures you behind the whitewash but still. A surf shot of you on the local news.

Then you hear the news anchor talking about the “viral photobombing giant manta ray” that has “captured hearts around the world” and your eyes wander up.

You see the attention-starved bastard poking his head above the water, pulling all focus.

The news anchor continues, reading amazed comments from Facebook like, “Wow, I’ve seen whales, sharks and small fish jumping but first time I’ve heard about Manta Rays jumping…great photo.” and “Awesome shot. We were sitting at a club watching it jump repeatedly. He would jump 2-3 times, then an hour later, same thing. He didn’t wander very far.”

The news anchor then interviews the photographer, Rusty Escandell, who owns a local automotive business. He says, “To be frank with you, I was actually focusing on the surfer. I was doing a burst, catching several frames, and it wasn’t until I got home and I was reviewing the pictures that I actually saw what was happening in the background.”

What is happening in the background, though, is all anyone cares about and your moment is ruined forever.

Damn giant manta rays.

Chicago-born honey blond, former sparring partner of Kelly Slater and star of Endless Summer II named President of John John Florence start-up Florence Marine X

"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.”

No word, yet, on when Florence Marine X will kick the website into life. 

And, watch a little surf-off tween prez and master, here.

Modern face of surfing Jonah Hill (pictured) sitting with all those shaper billions.
Modern face of surfing Jonah Hill (pictured) sitting with all those shaper billions.

Shapers, glassers rejoice as global surfing boards market projected to reach $11.5 billion by 2027: “I can finally buy mammy that house up in San Clemente she done been dreamin about!”

Two words: surfing boards.

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.”