Breaking: In move that stuns corporate public relations experts, World Surf League threatens to overshadow Surf Ranch Pro by announcing new official sparkling water partnership!

Bated breath.

The number one rule of corporate public relations, never pull focus from an existing rollout unless absolutely certain that both current and new announcement will synergistically send the overall business to the moon, has long been taught in the finest MBA programs the country over.




Students learn, know, head out into the corporate workspace practicing yet many were shocked, overnight, when the World Surf League threatened to overshadow its Surf Ranch Pro, currently in day two (comment here), with the announcement of an exciting new official sparkling water partnership.

Per the press release:

AUSTIN, Texas, June 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Waterloo Sparkling Water, based in Austin and known for its refreshing fruit-inspired flavored sparkling waters, is pleased to announce it is the Official Sparkling Water of the World Surf League (WSL). Waterloo is also partnering on an exciting, new WSL original video series airing in 2021.

The WSL is the global home of surfing, dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.

“Waterloo is excited to partner with the World Surf League,” said Waterloo Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Maurella. “We think we’re a natural fit to support the WSL, its events and programming that bring the surfing community together, where the thrill of fully engaging experiences is celebrated. We are committed to awakening the senses here at Waterloo, too – creating sparkling waters that add a multi-sensorial boost to the moment.”

“We are thrilled to have Waterloo partner at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro, Rip Curl WSL Finals, and US Open of Surfing,” said Cherie Cohen, WSL Chief Revenue Officer. “The brand is well established and strategically partnering at our premier California events will bring Waterloo even closer to California surf culture and our passionate fanbase.”

Waterloo will provide chilled samples of its sparkling waters, including Watermelon, Blueberry, Grape, Black Cherry, and Strawberry, in athlete, attendee and media areas at three key events: Surf Ranch Pro, Challenger Series US Open of Surfing, and the Rip Curl WSL Finals. Waterloo has only ever been produced in recyclable aluminum cans made with BPA-free liners, consistent with WSL commitments to sustainability and the oceans.

Supporting the adventurous, active lifestyles of surfers and fans nationwide, Waterloo varieties are made with Non-GMO Project Verified flavors and purified carbonated water, bringing forward uniquely true-to-fruit taste and aroma with zero calories, zero sugars or artificial sweeteners, and zero sodium.

The risky gambit is being watched closely from all corners.

Will the Surf Ranch Pro suffer?

Will Waterloo sparkling water be lost in the (lack of) noise?

Will the two join together, in Voltron-esque fashion, and crush all-comers?

More as the story develops.

Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Two of the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe!

Come on, get hot!

Fizz Toledo, dazzling.

Surf Ranch Pro, day one analysis: “Filipe Toledo carries show with four sizzling rides…puts scorecard pressure on Gabriel Medina… wildcards, rookies fail…”

Tough dead withered dreams. Brown as the drought stricken landscape.

First thoughts: Australia does pro surfing so, so much better than America, absent Huntington Beach and its memorable riots of course.

I still have no idea why but I suspect it’s some kind of deeply anarcho-libertarian streak embodied deep in the American surfer consciousness that rejects the roar of standardization which accompanies pro surfing. Most pertinently, the Californian taxpayer has never been tapped like the Australian, a contrast made by Connor Coffin who said after his runs he hoped “California would support the sport a bit more” so they could have more events there.

Dare I say it but there seems more intelligence and insight in the Australian commentary and coverage. Without Ronnie Blakey to counter-balance Cote, Mel and Kaipo we seemed to be in fairyland most of the day.

More on that later.

Second thoughts: Time flies don’t it.

It was just three years ago when the Tub made it’s debut and the WSL and it’s associated cheer squad was drunk with prospects of future growth and mainstream acceptance. Sophie Goldschmidt bet the farm (and her leadership) on the tub transforming Pro Surfing, calling it “game-changing”, envisaging a Shangri-La where tub contests would mirror snowboard half-pipe and skiing with highly progressive, choreographed moves pushing performance much more significantly.

The Kool-aid was intoxicating.

Matt Biolos said we were in for a great leap forwards in both performance and board design.

Nick Carroll openly scoffed at naysayers saying in a piece written after the 2018 Founders Cup that he almost “laughed out loud” at people who said the “jury was still out*” on the tub as the future of pro surfing.

(*Probably yours truly.)

I think the jury is in now and the judgement has been handed down.

I’ll let former CT stalwart Taylor Knox deliver the verdict. He claimed on the current ep of Getting Heated every single one of his buddies found it boring and that it shouldn’t be on Tour. Even the ever-anodyne Mick Fanning claimed it “needed a shake-up” and suggested forcing pros to ride alt-boards to bring some novelty factor back to the basin.

The dream of Shangri-La: the crowds, the broadcast friendly waves on demand, the stratospheric performance leaps, everything, all of it, seemed to finally disintegrate in a shimmering heat haze of disinterest, obliterated by the unrelenting heat of California’s central valley. An inverse of Steinbeck’s Oklahoma dust bowl, where dreams came to die in California, not be reborn.

Tough dead withered dreams. Brown as the drought stricken landscape.

Mikey Wright fell on all four rides for a total score of six. He was up and riding for less than a minute. Vaughan Blakey was asked in a previous episode of Getting Heated who had the best chance of making an impact in the tub, wildcards or rookies.

I can’t remember what he said because I was screaming at the screen the correct answer: Neither of them!

The rookies all failed and the wildcards weren’t far behind. No wave bar Pipeline is more hostile to rookies. The eight warm up rides bake-in failure. Imagine going to the Olympics to do a snowboard half-pipe and your preparation is eight runs. In total.

More Shangri-La myth: remember when Kelly Slater claimed the pool would “democratise” surfing? Now I’m almost laughing out loud.

The opposite is true: technology subordinated waves to its measure, objectifying experience and selling to the highest or best connected bidder.

Is the Surf Ranch the new Brazil?

I mean as an unfavoured location that pro surfers feel free to no-show. The list of truants, some not even bothering to offer an excuse, is long, causing Mick Fanning to claim “people (pros) aren’t respecting it”. A bitter harvest of Slater’s legacy of treating the Tour as his personal plaything? The question is merely being asked, not answered.

Eli Hanneman was the wildcard I was most excited to see surf live. He failed to fire a single shot on four rides with a total of 8.93 for two best rides. I think, bad for his brand and a lowering of his stock. It was close to five hours of non-stop surfing on a mechanical perfect wave before an excellent score was logged. Yago Dora greased a slick air rev as easy as squeezing a watermelon seed between your fingers before casually popping another clean straight air on the end corner for an 8.5.

Those who could, did. And largely they were the same who did it last time, and the time before that. Owen Wright was metronomic in his rhythm on both right and left. That constant pace looks contrived in the ocean against more explosive opponents, fits in perfectly at the basin.

Toledo carried the show with four sizzling rides. What was promised as far as high performance, he delivers. A left on a dark arts constructed Inferno 72 set-up as a quad was my favourite ride of the day. The drive and speed was a notch above.

The only other surfer to experiment with fin configs was Kelly Slater.

Riding a stubby 5’6” quad Kelly fell on the opening wave in the first tube section, safety surfed a left for a score then opened up on his next right. I thought the wave was weirdly under-scored until Dora showed up. Judges will not go excellent without a completed air in the ride. Fair enough.

While they held their nerve for the men, they dropped their bottle when the women surfed. With the completely standardized, albeit flattened technoscape and equal prizemoney it would seem logical to judge men and women not just to the same criteria but to the same scale. ie. a five for a man should be a five for a woman.

Somehow, either by conscious decree or maybe what Galbraith called an “innocent fraud” a five for a man is judged a high six for a woman. Steph Gilmore got a 7.67 after failing to complete the ride. A mid-six at best for the men’s runs that went before.

How will they massage this “innocent fraud” into the tubular reality of Teahupoo and Pipeline and produce a comprehensible sporting product?

That kind of fantasy/magical thinking did provide me with moments of genuine joy today. Chris Cote upon gushing over the tube at Surf Ranch was forced to exclaim, “Even at Pipeline getting barrelled is pretty rare”.

He thought getting your feet taken out by the cascading whitewater on the left was like getting bitten by a Great White.

Rosie was so enthused she went back in time and channeled the dearly departed Sophie G and outlined a future with many more tubs on Tour.

My favourite exchange was between Joe Turpel and guest Malia Ward. Joe tried mansplaining the nuances between the left and the right to which Malia deadpanned, “well the left and the right, they are two different directions Joe”.


I think Filipe, by pushing the bar so high today, has put scoreboard pressure on Medina. Maybe more importantly laid a stake in the ground for what might be expected come Finals Day in September.

That will be an affront to the pride of Medina.

And nothing fucks with you, as we all know, like pride.

See how Medina answers back tomorrow.

Italo, traditionally weak at the tub has the most ground to cover to catch up.

No one else seems relevant, bar Kanoa.

Hawaii’s Tanner Hendrickson fires broadside at Mikey Wright, WSL: “I can think of DOZENS of surfers who could do damage on tour and instead you keep throwing him wildcards without any stellar results!”

Blood Feud!

The Open Thread, Comment Live activity has proven so enjoyable, so robust, that it can even withstand the monotonous hum emanating from Lemoore, California.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know if it was possible. I pictured that plow and those surfers sitting and bobbing for an eternal five minutes and these commentators hand jamming nonsense and thought, “Nope. Our BeachGrit mosh pit will not be able to find rhythm”

Boy, was I wrong.

Not only have I had many laughs, so far, but blood feuds have been uncovered.

For example I can’t tell who because Disqus handle became obscured, happened to be searching Hawaiian Tanner Henrickson’s Instagram stories, yeoman’s work in and of itself, and stumbled across a broadside delivered against Mikey Wright and the World Surf League.

Give someone else the opportunity of a lifetime @wsl,” Hendrickson began. “Tired of seeing Mikey Wright get a wild card into every event for the past 3 years? I can think of DOZENS of surfers who could do damage on tour and instead you keep throwing him wild cards without any stellar results.”

A fine point, no?

Hendrickson was last seen knocking an açaí bowl from Brazilian Michael Rodrigues’ hand on Oahu’s North Shore.

More entertaining than anything Wright has done this year, or last, no?

Listen: World Surf League announces new show “Surfing with Celebrities” borrowing wonderful idea from much-loved podcast!

You're welcome, world (surf league)!

In an announcement much more exciting that the current Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe, the World Surf League has revealed a new slate of programming.

Many-time-Olympic-medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps will be hosting “Racing on Water: The Ultimate Waterman Competition” which will be based on Laird Hamilton’s “Ultimate Waterman” competition.

Do you think the name will be changed to Ultimate Waterperson before airing?


Next up, YouTube personality Casey Neistat will follow the World Surf League Championship Tour, exploring it as he goes. Like “No Contest?” Possibly as the series is yet to be titled.

Also, there will be a new show with the aforementioned Surf Ranch as its backdrop called “Surfing with Celebrities” and hosted by celebrity DJ Diplo. This one was baked up fresh from the WSL’s R&D laboratory also known as The Grit! podcast some ten months ago.

It was said, when rolling this beautiful concept out, that credit was not required. No, the simple joy of seeing celebrities in Kelly Slater’s tank would be enough and now we all get to.

On behalf of David Lee Scales and myself, you’re welcome.

In the most recent episode, we also discussed how dull the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe would be today.


Join the World Surf League’s Santa Monica staff and harvest more gold here.