Near the end of March, the surf world was rocked by a new project as revolutionary as it was ambitious. Brazilian Caio Ibelli, the first, and for years only, pro to follow BeachGrit on Instagram had just ripped one of his sponsor’s stickers off his board after being unceremoniously dropped.
Of course being sponsored is at the pleasure of the brand, of course the powers can do whatsoever they desire but the dropping of Ibelli felt personal.
He may not have been as flashy as some, as young and handsome, but he had a giant killing mentality, a fearlessness in big waves, a hamburger outlet back home.
He was us and his dropping felt personal and so, as mapped out by a wonderful listener of The Grit! podcast, David Lee Scales and I set out to sponsor Caio for The People™ ahead of the first event of the rejiggered Australian leg Newcastle.
$15,000 for a sticker on the nose.
The People™, hearts touched, dug deep. David Lee and I, while not being wonderful project managers, dropped many balls but even so, by mid event we had raised just over half.
$7500 for a sticker midway down the board somewhere.
A better solution seeing as his hamburger outlet had its rightful spot on the nose.
And so we aimed for Narrabeen but getting stickers made etc. a nightmare. Saints emerged to help, designing inspirational stickers, hand-cutting the vinyl to form them into shape.
Margaret River, the perfect place, a place where he has slayed before.
Hand-cut stickers dropped in the Australian Post, rushing west.
Caio emailed just ahead of the first hooter, wondering where they were.
David Lee sent him a tracking number.
Caio followed up, day two, as the tracking number revealed they had been delivered to the post office not his hotel. He raced to the post office where they told him no stickers were there. They might be back at the hotel.
He raced to his heat.
Day three, overlapping heats, back on the case, the Australian Post told him they were, in fact, at the office, or maybe, and maybe locked in the hotel’s box to which they did not have the key. He was ready to race there once again when word came down.
He would be on earlier than expected and had to race, once again, to the venue where he subsequently lost to Italo Ferreira.
Now, most professional surfers would have team managers, brand managers, coaches to help them with ever little detail, including stickering a board but not our Caio. He is us and grinds like us.
Running errands with crying babies, while rolling work calls. Making dinner while preparing school lunch while rolling work calls. Cleaning sewers, stacking bricks, giving IV injections, washing dishes, changing oil, unloading pallets, loading pallets while commenting live.
And this grind, this true grit, will vault our Caio into a top 5 finish this year, sending him to Lower Trestles with a possibility of being crowned champion.
But he is already our champion.
The Champion of The People™.
Listen here as we also discuss Kanoa Igarashi’s klaim game and Tyler Wright wilting under the weight of woke.
A fine show.