Ex World Surf League fans.
"I hate you more than I hate the World Surf League!" "That's impossible."

Surf fan excoriates “vacuous, inauthentic” World Surf League in open letter following Lexus Pipe Pro disaster

"Any remaining connection was obliterated when the WSL ran cover for Filipe Toledo, whose debilitating lack of fortitude should have precluded him from ever attaining a title…"

To whom it may concern at the World Surf League

Congratulations are in order. You’ve finally done it. You’ve finally driven me away from the World Surf Tour. As with the World’s end according to TS Elliot, my love for the World Tour ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.

There was no climactic moment of apoplectic disgust, I simply found myself completely uninterested in your entire enterprise .

I’ll hereby offer my reasons why I no longer tune in not as a courtesy to the World Surf League itself, but to the surfer athletes who’ve made the tour so enjoyable over the decades.

Firstly I think it’s fair to establish my credentials as a generic and anonymous example of the primary audience demographic. I’m in my early fifties, a life-long surfer whose passion, drive and commitment towards surfing has only gotten stronger as the years pass.

This is from a very strong base. I’ve set my life up to accomodate my love of surfing. I’ll travel extensively to find good surfing opportunities ie by the time I return to Oz on my current jaunt, I’ll have clocked up nearly five months in Indonesia over three trips since September last year.

I’ve got cash to spend on consumer items pushed by tour sponsors. I buy cars, ladders, beverages and trips to tourism regions.

I’m an avid, nearly compulsive consumer of surf media.

In short, I’m the proverbial fish-in-a-barrel as far as World Surf League target audiences go, yet you’ve lost me. Despite a thermonuclear level of momentum in your favour and exclusively as a direct result your own actions, I now have no desire to partake in anything you offer.

How did you so successfully snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? There’s a myriad of reasons but they all stem from your steadfast refusal to release your totalitarian corporate grip over the tour to even the slightest degree.

This trickle-down tyranny is upstream of every repellent facet of your product.

Relentless inauthenticity seemed to be the goal at every opportunity. From attempts to greenwash the most vacuous carbon generating pursuit on earth to the jaw-breaking phonetics meant to illustrate commitment to local culture whilst you simultaneously try to overwhelm the wishes of local host cultures from Torquay to Hawaii.

The corporate fabulist presenters and administration who offer up a dish of such blatantly transparent bullshit that it can only be interpreted as contempt for the audience. The insipid blandness of imagination that somehow managed to strip one of life’s most raw and widely romantic experiences of any genuine emotion.

The dead hand of non-surfing sporting administrators choking any spontaneous joy with their pre-scripted storylines. Smothering anything not preconceived in some suburban Southern Californian office block.

The Final’s Day at Trestles was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I used to treat the final event with reverence and ritual. Usually staged in the inconvenient Hawaiian timezone, I would nonetheless set my alarm and crack a beer in the predawn and enthusiastically devote myself to complete immersion in the unfolding drama.

True champions duelling in ferocious waves. Waves that challenged them to reach beyond their own ability, courage and commitment to grab that world title. It meant something to the surfers and to the audience. People literally risking their lives for the title lends undeniable gravitas to the accomplishment and a captivating attraction to the spectator.

Last season, I was only half way out the door before the World Title was decided in sloppy head-high detritus in California. Points leaders robbed of their claim in a farcical pantomime. Any and all interest, emotion and spectacle choked from the moment through a clinically uncaring World Surf League decision-making process. A process which shows no apparent concern to either the best interests of the sport, the art or the global surf community which has existed for years before some non surfing kook billionaire took it upon himself to hitch his little wagon to the pro tour vehicle.

This cold spoon to my love of Tour surfing was so effective that I didn’t even realise this year’s Tour had commenced until I started seeing it mentioned during online chats on surf sites. That’s when I noticed that the tour held no interest to me whatsoever.

I’d had enough.

Any remaining connection was obliterated when I read that the World Surf League was once again running cover for a World Title holder whose debilitating lack of fortitude should rightfully have precluded him from ever attaining a title, that a day of competition at the ultimate world surfing arena was passed over due to “safety concerns” and that the commentators were once again earnestly applying lipstick to the ensuing pig of a situation.

When Laura Enever, a good surfer who prolonged her career by basically becoming a stuntwoman, is reading from a script that tells us surfing is dangerous and the World’s best should sit on the beach until the ocean assumes a benevolent calm, that’s when I knew the hideous corporate takeover no longer cared how obvious it’s stranglehold has become.

There was a sad little point of reflection that I acknowledged that I just don’t give a fuck anymore ’cause I’ve really enjoyed being in love with pro surfing over the years.

The inspirational performances, the drama. The pure surfing talent on display. I’m not angry that you’ve taken this once-loved pursuit of human endeavour and taken a giant steaming dump fair down its neck. That you’ve somehow managed to wring every scrap of authenticity from the theatre. That’s probably because the real draw card, the surfers who strive to be their best and THE best still, hold that authenticity deep within them and no amount of owner-manager shitfuckery will ever eradicate the true appeal during their temporary reign over the organised aspect of surfing.

So enjoy it while you can WSL.

Enjoy bestowing yourselves with ludicrous Waterman of the Year titles. Enjoy running your promotions for the World Surf League while live action unfolds off screen. Enjoy hand-picking a commentary team that censors itself into bland parody to avoid being thrown into the career abyss reserved for those who show the slightest hint of controversial opinion.

Because sooner or later you’ll be gone.

Just another dreary footnote in a historic hit parade of opportunistic parasites who leched onto the sport. If Pro Aurfing is the fundamental pimping of surfing then you’re running your stable of high-class hookers out of a public toilet block without even a courtesy wash between services.

Grubby, ugly and ordinary. You won’t last.

Fingers crossed for a happy rebirth of the Tour in the near future.

Something that works for everyone – the surfers, the audience, the location hosts and the tour organisers who might even hold an interest in surfing.

Until then it’s just another year of tepid blah.

Count me out, thanks.

Sophie G. enjoying her two minutes of surf fame.
Sophie G. enjoying her two minutes of surf fame.

Rumor: Ex-World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt seeks to bring U.S. Olympic surfing under ski and snowboard banner while cutting head off former employer!

"Global home of surfing" under siege!

The business of international sport is… weird. I get a peanut gallery view over the various two-steps between major brands like Visa, Coca-Cola, Ford, Bailey Ladders and “governing bodies” ruling over who is, and isn’t, allowed to compete in the Olympics and, let me tell you, clunkiness is generally the vibe.

Clunkiness and a balky four-year shimmy to make good while the world’s eyes are watching.

Now, of course, core participants in our extreme world have always been rightfully dubious about the Olympics. Snowboard legend Terje Haakonsen, who famously boycotted his frozen water dance’s 1998 entry into “The Games” declaring nearly 30 years later:

I can’t believe people are still asking me why I boycotted the Olympics in ’98. Seriously? I’ve answered that question a thousand times.

I decided my opinion about the Olympics before snowboarding was sanctioned. I was asked by MTV Sports to go to the Lillehammer Games in ’94, but I already saw then what bullshit the Olympics were. I don’t regret anything.

The only person that didn’t really understand at the time was my Dad. Of course, he’s from the older generation and had been brought up to see the Olympics as the pinnacle. But for me it’s too much to swallow for one event. Even now, today, all the stuff the IOC demands – from nations, sponsors, athletes – it’s insane.

Most of the stuff is out there and is easy to find out about. Yet people still support it. Why? Because they think it’s what they need to do for money and fast fame. Even if that’s only going to happen to maybe one or two guys every fourth year. And let’s not forget: they stole snowboarding from us.

“They” being skiing.

Which, as it so happens, enters our surfing chat once again.

A hot rumor is suggesting former World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt, who didn’t get ruthlessly fired for… shenanigans… in Brazil but left her post very quickly is looking to snag the “governing body of surfing” role and slot it amongst her ski and snowboard holdings.

As you should know, Goldschmidt is the “dynamic, global leader with broad and deep proven experience in sports, entertainment, media and technology” currently leading US Ski and Snowboard.

The “snowboard” portion of that hated and hated and hated by core folk.

Like surfing being ruled by SUP.


Some historical backdrop, in any case. U.S. Surfing lost its Olympic charter a handful of months back, all being reverted to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) which does not want it and is looking to hand off.

Goldschmidt, whispers declare, has her hand up wanting to take it. What’s more, she is, allegedly, trying to sort a way where the World Surf League will not be involved in the qualification process whatsoever. As it now happens, the top two World Surf League Championship Tour surfers from each country get an Olympic bid as long as they pretend to surf in International Surfing Association events.

Surfing, in its perpetual puppy dog posture of needing attention, has no Terjes and will likely lap up whatever but how do you feel about ski and snowboard ruling surfing too?

Better than the cursed “global home of surfing?”

Certainly more questions than answers.

Unless you have some of the latter.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Four of the Lexus Pipe Pro!

Pip-sized Pipe.

Oahu’s North Shore braces for pandemonium as “Eddie-sized swell” makes way toward Waimea Bay!

Yellow alert.

While the World Surf League is busy actively destroying professional surfing just up the road, one of the world’s most premium events has flipped the light to yellow. Yes, the fabled Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a possible go in the very near future as an “Eddie-sized swell” is steaming toward Waimea.

Last year, as you certainly recall, the “Super Bowl of Surfing,” which is only contested when waves in the bay tower over 40 ft, was won by Luke Shepardson. The on-duty lifeguard crafted a legend that is still reverberating.

“In building twenty-to-thirty-foot surf, Luke Shepardson, twenty-seven, who started the morning by clocking in to his gig as a North Shore lifeguard, took a few hours off work and by day’s end had beaten the most stacked field in the event’s history,” Derek Rielly wrote at the time. “Apart from defending champ John John Florence, who finished second, Shepardson outsurfed big-wave world champs Makua Rothman and Billy Kemper, both surprise competitors after suffering injuries at the Backdoor Shootout, Kai Lenny, Zeke Lau, Grant Baker, Ross Clarke-Jones and so on.”

A blue collar hero was born.

The North Shore, though, may not be ready for such a quick reprise. The Eddie has only run ten times since its inception in 1984. If we apply our math(s) skills, that is an average of once every four years.


This year’s field is as stacked as last year’s with Jack Robinson, Kelly Slater and the aforementioned Shepardson joining a who’s who of big wave names.

A quick question, though. Do you think The Eddie organizers might be eyeing the “global home of surfing” with the possibility of calling it off if it gets too good?

Let’s hope not.

More as the story develops.

Austin Gibbons injured at Pipeline
The New York surfer Austin Gibbons and, inset, messages from pals.

Life of New York surfer Austin Gibbons found unresponsive at Pipeline on day deemed too big for Lexus Pipe Pro saved by off-duty lifeguards

Lifeguards gave Austin Gibbons “several cycles of CPR before he finally regained a pulse.”

Three days days back, the popular New York surfer Austin Gibbons was rushed to intensive care after being found unconscious on a day deemed too big, and too unsafe for the world’s best surfers competing in the Lexus Pipe Pro.

In a statement, Honolulu Ocean Safety said a 25-year-old surfer had been found unresponsive early Monday evening and just after the lifeguards had split for the day.

“But lifeguards were still in the parking lot and were alerted by beachgoers that they were needed. Surfers helped get the man close to shore and brought him in the sand with lifeguards. Lifeguards began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and after several cycles of CPR, the surfer regained a pulse… Honolulu EMS provided advanced life-saving treatment and transported the man to an area emergency room in critical condition.”

Austin Gibbons’ mom, Christine, flew from New York to Oahu to be by her son’s side, a kid who moved to the North Shore in January to chase his dream of becoming a North Shore lifeguard.

“He had been on a surfboard since he was two years old,” said Christine Gibbons. “Since he could walk.”

Christine said the family had been “overwhelmed” with support from the surfing community.

“I truly believe he is mentally and physically strong enough to fight and that we can get through this,” she said.

It’s been a wild season for injuries at Pipeline, this the sixth serious injury since December.

Also sidelined were, world number four Joao Chianca, Tahitian kingpin Eimeo Czermak, Pipe regular Koa Rothman and Peruvian shredder Joaquin Del Castillo.