Kelly Slater in Abu Dhabi at Dirk ZIff/WSL-owned wave pool.
The WSL’s dubious happy talk about wave pools, an ever expanding audience, and Olympics are carefully curated to create the illusion of success in order to dump the league at a much higher price than it is worth. Given the WSL’s failure to meet any of their benchmarks in terms or viewers or sponsors, who would be so stupid as to fall for this? Was the opening of a WSL owned wave pool in Abu Dhabi, with the opening ribbon cut by Kelly Slater himself, a mere coincidence? Is the massive $750,000,000 wave park opening in October in Saudi Arabia, the new global home of surfing?

The hiring of UFC exec Joe Carr has made it clear Dirk Ziff has a WSL exit strategy

The WSL’s happy talk about wave pools, ever expanding audience, and Olympics are curated to create the illusion of success in order to dump the league at a much higher price than it is worth.

Irrespective of WSL owner Dirk Ziff’s “Waterman of the Year Award” when it comes to surfing, he is a complete and utter kook.

When it comes to money, however, Dirk stands on much firmer ground.

Irrespective of the WSL’s greenwashing and virtue signaling about gender, at the end of the day they are a company owned by a New York City billionaire who had no roots or relationship to surfing until he acquired it in 2015. It looks likely that Ziff is preparing to sell his failed professional surfing experiment with the same ruthlessness he fired WSL president Eric Logan.

Dirk Ziff’s decision to hire Ultimate Fight Championship executive Joe Carr is a double-down on the WSL’s failed attempt to globalize and digitize surfing.

(Update: this is a fast-moving story. Read Bombshell Twist in appointment of ex-UFC exec as CEO of World Surf League.)

This winter in Hawaii, the WSL’s credibility hit an all time low.

Not only did their (Trestles) world champ fail to take off on a wave of significance during the Pipeline contest, they refused to hold the Pipe contest because the waves were “too big” for the beach break specialists they anoint as “champions” in order to “globalize” surfing. Most telling was the WSL treatment of surfing’s true female champion, Carrissa Moore. The WSL’s actions spoke volumes about their disrespect and disinterest in professional surfing.

The appointment of Joe Carr and the WSL’s failed “globalization of surfing” strategy has made it increasingly clear that Dirk Ziff has a WSL exit strategy.

While Dirk Ziff may be a kook when it comes to surfing, he is not when it comes to money.

The WSL’s dubious happy talk about wave pools, an ever expanding audience, and Olympics are carefully curated to create the illusion of success in order to dump the league at a much higher price than it is worth.

Given the WSL’s failure to meet any of their benchmarks in terms or viewers or sponsors, who would be so stupid as to fall for this?

Was the opening of a WSL owned wave pool in Abu Dhabi, with the opening ribbon cut by Kelly Slater himself, a mere coincidence?

Is the massive $750,000,000 wave park opening in October in Saudi Arabia, the new global home of surfing?

In 2023, Reuters reported,

“Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund Splashes Cash in 2023.”

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund spent $31.5 billion in 2023 and moved aggressively into the sports of soccer and golf so why not surfing?

Although slavery was legal in Saudi Arabia until 1962 although, unofficially it still exists, and women were only allowed to drive in 2017, this will pose no ethical problems to the former member of the Weinstein Company.

This is capitalism, after all.

World Surf League to thumb Hawaiians directly in eye by openly celebrating Presidents’ Day!

Extremely provocative.

The World Surf League is, officially, entering a new era. Just-announced CEO Joe Carr taking the reins of the beleaguered organization from the “clean up on aisle six” interim CEO team of composed of the head of legal and the head of PR who were forced into the role after the sudden and brutal firing of “whacky” Erik Logan.

The Oklahoman with a magical wetsuit of armor had reached that powerful perch after failing upward from a disastrous run as chief of the quickly shuttered WSL Studios after Sophie Goldschmidt, his predecessor, fled as quickly as she could into the arms of skiing.

Paul Speaker came before her, the very first to taste the reaper’s scythe.

The one thing they all had in common?

An open disdain for Hawaii.

Goldschmidt viewed the actual home of surfing, as opposed to the World Surf League’s self-given tag “the global home of surfing,” as a puny backwater that needed to be pushed around, forcing a calendar change that manifests today as the championship tour starting at Pipeline, ending at Lower Trestles. Reports of her sneering dismissive attitude in meetings with local government officials and organizers legendary.

Logan brought Covid to Oahu in the early pandemic days like a pox to the indigenous.

And now?

The World Surf League has declared it will officially Presidents’ Day this Monday, February 19 by calling off the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach on that day even if the waves are pumping and ono kine.

As surf fan students of history know, the Hawaiian islands have a… troubled relationship with the United States of America and its presidents. The Queen was overthrown by a gaggle of meddling mainland sugar and pineapple barons using the U.S. military in 1893. The government, in Washington D.C. and Chief Executive’d, at that time by Grover Cleveland, refused to intervene and, almost 50 years later, the gorgeous and proud archipelago found itself annexed and the 50th state.

Forcing Hawaiians to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag of their oppressor is very much in line with the World Surf League’s not so subtle admixture of ignorance and arrogance. While incoming Carr, likely, did not decide on humiliating the local population, might he have enough power to change course and trot our brave surfers into the surf as a rebellious cool surf act?


More as the story develops.

Joe Carr, not new head of WSL
Joe Carr, is…not… the long-awaited replacement for Flim-Flam man Erik Logan.

WSL annoints UFC exec Joe Carr as new CEO six months after unexplained disappearance of former head Erik Logan

Mission: pivot hard into wave pools.

(Update: this is a fast-moving story. Read Bombshell Twist in appointment of ex-UFC exec as CEO of World Surf League.)

After an eight-month search, the World Surf League has chosen a former UFC exec Joe Carr to lead the beleaguered organisation back into the light after the sudden disappearance of whacky frontman Erik Logan. 

Chas Smith, you’ll remember, covered Logan’s sacking from all angles. 

Idiotic silence from the World Surf League (WSL) ensued, and hovers to this day, but intrepid surf journalists have uncovered Logan making surfers “feel uncomfortable” and, today, his wild rage exploding all over them.

We, of course, recall when the Oklahoman with a wetsuit of armor savaged a young woman named Taylor Swift, penning, “For someone who draws such power from being the ‘voice’ and against all the things you talk about, I’m watching you violate what you allegedly stand for. You’re the real bully.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Logan brutalized the entirely lovable Conner Coffin, who had the unfortunate task of being the surfers’ representative ahead of the pre-season cut. According to fresh information, Logan would berate Coffin on phone calls after the near-perfect Santa Barbran shared discomfort amongst the ranks, telling him to get the surfers in line, telling him he’d “ruin him” in rage-filled tirades that have, allegedly, been recorded.

Joe Carr has got a few miles under the belt.

He helped steer Dana and co into a four-billon dollar buyout for the UFC and, lately, was the founder and CEO of Nitro Circus parent company Thrill One.

He was also Chief Strategy Officer for the WSL under Logan for eighteen months in 2017-18 and president of the WSL for seven months in 2019. 

As Longtom wrote at the time, 

No doubt UFC is the business and business model the WSL seeks to emulate. No secrets there, they bought on former UFC exec Joe Carr in 2017 to drive business development.

Carr was best known for driving the sale of UFC to WME-IMG for $4.2 billion. Yep, billion. A tasty prospect for Ziff, who got the ASP for nix.

Are there parallels?

Can the wozzle crib the UFC playbook and fatten for sale?

Joe Carr said in a 2017 interview he sees a “ton of parallels between both companies”. It took him two years to get there but he foresaw back in 2017 that the Kelly Tub would offer content creation opportunities like “reality programming and social media possibilities”.

(Editor’s note: this story has been sliced and diced ’cause your ol pal DR, in a bit of a rush before a dinner engagement last night, grabbed what I thought was the CEO press release, didn’t read real close, and posted. Thanks to the readers for the gentle explanations below the line.)

Reclusive John John Florence releases gender-bending coming-of-age surf film, “I am Disco Boy!”

Florence brothers' jaw-dropping Pipe performance can’t be overpraised.

The reclusive North Shore world champion John John Florence has given surf fans a glimpse into the rarefied ambience of his wealth and privilege with a seven-minute clip of he and his brothers inhabiting the Pipe cupola on a day he calls “best of the winter.”

“This was easily one of the most fun surf days we’ve had so far this winter. The whole day was just non-stop barrels,” writes John John. “I surfed pretty much as long as I could, with a break to eat lunch. It was just my brothers, Eli in the water along with a few others.”

Midway through the edit, John John explains: “We thought the winds would change or it would end at some point, but the waves just wouldn’t stop. Good waves with friends, fin design theory, testing new boards…all pieces of why we love surfing.”

Gorgeously photographed, it is Nathan Florence, overwhelmingly regarded as the best surfer in the world, and not John John Florence, who dominates every scene until you anticipate his every return.

The depraved limits to which Nathan Florence will go to has no limitations.

Despite recent revelations Kainoa Igarashi has started to read, Nathan Florence, who is almost thirty and named after the son of the Hebrew King David, is also widely regarded as the “world’s smartest surfer”.

Nathan Florence likes to be out there at the edge of things. He approaches big waves with steady unfaltering movements for he knows fear releases power. 

Of course, John John, thirty-one and who also has the same reddish brown eyes like dried blood as Nathan, ain’t no slouch when it comes to cupola hunting, although he applies a little more caution now that his first-born, a boy, is set to arrive in May.

A sumptuous and elegantly polished jewel that is not to be missed.

Women only surfboards
Men, these surfboards are not for you.

Women-only surfboards hottest new growth category as girls flock to waves!

“What makes a women’s surfboard?” It’s pink, probably.

A week or so ago, before the rain and the floods, I drove the 405 to San Clemente to learn about the newly launched XO Coco surfboard line. I listened to Hole on repeat, because Siri refused to change the music.

Obviously, Siri hates me.

Driving the 405 with Courtney Love screaming at me did not spark joy. I want to be the girl with the most cake.

The surfboards. You want to know about the surfboards. A collaboration between Matt Parker of Album and Hawaiian ripper Coco Ho, XO Coco is designed specifically women. Six boards comprise the line, and they range from a fish called the Tryst to the Serendipity, a singlefin longboard. Currently, they’re available in stock sizes (no customs, for now).

When I messaged a few of my friends about this story, each one asked me the same question.

“What makes a women’s surfboard?”

It’s pink, probably. While a girl can certainly buy a pink surfboard from XO Coco, there’s more to the story than cute colors.

XO Coco originated a few years ago when Coco appeared in Stab’s E.A.S.T. video series. At the time, I had a text exchange with Matt, where I learned that he had spent considerable time thinking about how to make surfboards work better for women. Intrigued, I stuffed this information in my brain for future use. There it sat, until I heard about XO Coco.


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A post shared by Coco Ho (@xococoho)

How I learned to hate teal

Before I go any further, I should tell you that I’m a veteran of the wars over women’s product in the outdoor industry. Let’s just say, it hasn’t always been pretty.

I’ve seen screaming matches over the presence — or absence! — of pink in a product line. I’ve acquired a deep hatred for teal, though to be fair, teal has never done anything to deserve it. I have also gained a deep sympathy for anyone trying to design product for women. It turns out that we are very hard to please.

In my experience, women’s product lines go off the rails in a few ways.

One is the obvious one: The product is a poorly designed, shrunken version of a men’s product that’s painted pink. Well, if it’s pink, it must be for women! A bunch of girls? Nah, they won’t actually know if the product is actually good.

Spoiler! We know. We absolutely know.

Fortunately these days, it’s rare to see a brand fall into this very obvious trap.

More often with the best of intentions, women’s product designers define their audience too narrowly. They emphasize specially designed features for small, light humans, never mind the reality that women come in a wide range of sizes. Women aren’t necessarily small men.

There’s also a tendency to be prescriptive and argue that women can’t possibly do anynthing without a woman’s product. If we don’t like the specific teal or pink thing on offer, well, we’re definitely doing it wrong. In fact, it’s more likely that the product is poorly designed or doesn’t serve the audience it aims to reach.

All of which is to say, I’ve seen plenty of misfires, which led me to approach this notion of a women’s surfboard gingerly and with a certain degree of skepticism.

In my own life, I have ridden both stock and custom boards, and my current everyday shortboard is a stock board from CI. I’m 5’9”, so I don’t fit the assumption that women are small. Oops. My bad. In fact, I’m unnervingly close to a medium-sized man when it comes to surfboards and outdoor gear. Again, my bad.

Matt Parker is staring at your feet.

When I sit down to talk to Matt in his office at Album, it’s clear that he’s aware of many of these pitfalls.

“Not every woman is 5’2”,” he said. “There’s variety. It’s not like, every women’s surfboard is going to be some shrunk-down, tiny little thing.”

His interest in designing boards for women emerged from watching contest surfing and seeing girls surf in the lineup.

“I would be watching women surf, and the whole frame of reference is from a guy’s perspective,” he said. “So, they’re riding guys’ boards, and there’s times when it just looks off. It’s like, there’s something not right here.”

One element that immediately stood out to Matt is foot size. He wears a size 12 or 13 men’s shoe, and the average women’s size is closer to a men’s four or six. Matt believes that this difference in foot-size changes most women’s leverage on a surfboard in significant ways.

“Give Ethan Ewing a board that’s 23 1/2 inches wide, and see if he can do the same turn,” asserts Matt. When he watches women surf, he feels like their boards are working against them.

It would be nice if simply cutting a board with a narrower outline would solve all our problems. I have tried this tactic, in fact. I have a beautiful custom roundpin thruster, with lovely thin rails, and a narrow outline. It works amazing in good waves and goes rail-to-rail with glorious ease, but it sinks like a rock on an average day. I live in California. There just aren’t that many good days.

As he watched women surf, Matt kept turning over the various design elements in his mind.

“I felt like there was such a missing link in this,” he said. “I’ve thought about it forever.”

Matt imagined that a narrower outline would be more responsive under smaller feet. But that didn’t complete the puzzle. He also pictured shifting the volume so the board would continue to paddle easily and hold speed through turns.

With plenty of work to do at Album, Matt never had time to experiment. It’s a pattern that has repeated across the industry. With the razor thin margins in surfboard manufacturing, there’s little space to make a board that might sit sad and unsold on the racks. Many shapers work from their own experiences, which means shaping boards for people who look like them and surf like them. Which is to say, like men.

“If you walk into any surfboard factory, it’s a lot of the same characters, a lot of the same mindset,” Matt said. “There’s all these amazing craftspeople who know how to make amazing boards, but we can’t help but view things through our perspective.”

Coco Ho rides a twinfin — and likes it

When Coco showed up to film for E.A.S.T., she had never ridden a twinfin. She’d spent 11 years on the CT and had always ridden her contest boards.

“There’s just no time in our schedule to play around,” she told me over the phone. “It’s so full-on.” With good waves readily available to her at home in Hawai’i, Coco had less reason to experiment with small wave boards than Californians do. (Hi, it’s me, I’m the Californian.)

After years ripping on a thruster, Coco didn’t anticipate that she’d thrive on a twinfin. So, it came as a surprise to her that she liked the 5’2” twinfin that Matt made for E.A.S.T. “The drive, the speed, and the feeling of freedom through the turns” are what stood out to her. “I just expected to slide around on it, and that wasn’t the case at all.”

After Coco picked his board as her favorite out of the E.A.S.T. collection, Matt began sending her prototypes.

For years, girls in the lineup had asked Coco where to buy boards. Sometimes, she could tell them to pick up one of her used boards from Lost, her board sponsor at the time.

“I always felt bad if the person asking me wasn’t near my size,” she said. “I didn’t know where to send them.”

She also understood that many women didn’t feel confident ordering customs. “It’s not like, that inviting of a world. It’s not easy.”

So, the idea of making boards more readily available to women appealed to her.

As she worked with Matt on designs, Coco also saw the potential in starting a brand of her own. “The boys are doing it with Former and Florence Marine,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of space for all the really successful girls of my generation to do this.”

Coco mentioned that Steph has a board project on the way, too.

With Coco out testing prototypes and Matt in the shaping bay, they worked together to refine the design elements that the boards in the XO Coco collection share. The XO Coco boards each have finely tuned rails and narrow outlines. Matt played with foiling and foam placement, too, to ensure there’s enough volume and he tinkered with fin templates and positioning.

“That’s a huge part of the design, having that foam in the middle and the fuller deck,” said Coco. “That’s for speed and paddling. The foiled rails and narrower decks is for being able to release and be sharp on turns. And, there’s some magic with fin placement — but that’s our special sauce.”

For the joy of surfing

Of course, XO Coco is not the only surfboard option for women. Custom shapers such as Ashley Lloyd and Rachel Lord have gained a loyal following for their longboards. Christine Brailsford Caro shapes custom midlength and fish designs at Furrow and counts numerous women among her customers, too.

In Australia, Jaleesa Vincent is working with an anonymous shaper on a board brand, while Salt Gypsy has a collection made by GSI.

It’s also true that Matt’s design mix is not the only way to make a board that works well for a woman surfer. One of my favorite boards, for example, has a fairly wide outline. Initially, I wasn’t at all sure it would go well, but it turned out that the interaction between the rails and bottom contours made the board responsive and quick. There’s always going to be more than one way to make a magic board.

But it’s fair to say, that XO Coco is the first brand with a range of stock boards designed for women. They’re accessible and ready to ride. A girl can walk into the shop in San Clemente, plunk down her cash, and walk out with a new board. And I think that’s pretty great.

The line includes a fish, a performance twinfin, a thruster, a midlength twin, a channel-bottom singlefin, and a longboard, so there’s options to suit many surfers’ styles. The size range should also fit a good proportion of women in the lineup. Looking at the dims, I could likely find a board to ride in each design except the Aurora thruster, which tops out at 5’8″ x 17.75″ x 2.25” (24.6 liters).

While the boards at XO Coco may not work for everyone, I like the invitation to experiment they offer.

I hope that this project — and hopefully there will be others like it — help women become more saavy about their boards. One custom shaper I talked to, for example, said the main request from women customers is that they want to be able to carry the board under their arm.

I’d like to see more women know how to find boards that will feel good on the wave, not just walking down the beach. I’d love to imagine more women finding a magic board, whether its a stock board from XO Coco or another brand or it comes from the hands of a custom shaper. Surfing should be fun. I’m pretty sure that’s why we do it.

Bringing that fun to more women is a big part of what Coco hopes her brand will achieve.

“I think the most rewarding part is getting to see my friends ride the boards and be stoked and have their eyes kind of light up,” she said. “Being able to give, instead of take is really nice. And I just want to spread the love and spread the joy of surfing.”

I definitely can’t argue with that.