World Surf League sheds twelve staffers
Tears as a dozen staff shown door at World Surf League.

Bloodbath at World Surf League as surfing’s brightest creative talents shown door!

Including creative director who created iconic line, “It takes a tour to make a title!”

Five months ago, surf fans woke to the shock news the World Surf League had shuttered its famed Santa Monica headquarters and moved to a shared rental space in El Segundo alongside an animal urgent care facility and a pet cemetery. 

The old joint was originally listed for sale for $14.5 mill although that price has since been shaved by two mill. The selling realtor describes the owner as “motivated” and asks buyers to “submit all offers.” The office is also available for lease at “a special introductory rate.”

After an annus horribilis where the World Surf League mysteriously disappeared its CEO Erik Logan and a world champ was again crowned in weak two-foot waves, bad has apparently hit worse with the sacking of some of the League’s pivotal staff including the creative brain behind the iconic line,“It takes a tour to make a title.” 

(Yeah, I know, redundant after the switch to a Finals  Day. But, still…)

Twelve staffers were iced in the blood-letting, executive assistants, the aforementioned creative director and some creative team members, along with members of the ad op team, as well as the VP of Events. 

No one left empty handed, the WSL generously giving each employee two months severance pay.

Observers suggest the WSL is “likely trimming the fat, could be to make the profit and loss look a little better ahead of a potential buyer looking into the books.” 

As Chas Smith reported around the time of the World Surf League’s move to El Segundo, the likely buyer will be a Saudi awash with petro-dollars and a yearning to own the sport of kings and queens.

Rumors have been boiling for months, now, that the reclusive billionaire and owner of the World Surf League has been shopping his failed asset. Even though former CEO Erik Logan promised growth and “momentum being real” he got fired after telling a boy to “take his shirt off” and those pronouncements were flat out lies.

It is neither growing nor having momentum, exciting ladder sponsorships being the best it can do, and you must imagine that Ziff is chartering the family jet and punching in coordinates as “middle” and “east.”

Wave tanks in Jeddah.

Final’s Day in Haql.

I’ll put all my agurot that Ziff will, anyhow, sell to, if not Saudi then Bahrain sometime next year, using the Olympics as leverage.

Sky Brown (pictured) belting.
Sky Brown (pictured) belting.

Chaos at World Surfing Games as darlings Erin Brooks and Sky Brown fail to qualify for Olympics!

Reality bites.

Absolute chaos has descended upon the United States protectorate of Puerto Rico, hours ago, as media darlings Erin Brooks and Sky Brown have been bumped out of the International Surfing Association’s World Surfing Games thereby losing Olympic qualification.

I think.

The byzantine rules around punching a ticket to the big Games has stifled even adroitest of minds. This much, however, is currently known. Erin Brooks secured her Canadian citizenship weeks ago in hopes of representing the maple leaf at the Cave of Skulls. Brown, who rides for England, was attempting to become history’s first to compete in surfing and skateboarding. Both lost in one of the 40 repechage rounds thereby derailing momentum.


Canada still has Sanoa Olin alive in the draw who might qualify due to ranking ahead of Brooks. England has Glen “Micro” Hall.

Who actually knows.

Things will certainly be made clear once the dust settles but, for now, let’s choose to be sad for Brooks and Brown.

Thanks, Kelly.
Thanks, Kelly.

Question: Is Gen X or Millennials history’s most hamstrung surfing generation?

Your consideration required.

David Lee Scales and I connected this morning for our weekly chat and dove straight in to the topic currently dominating the surf conversation. Is surfing easy or is it difficult? Two competing polls were released this week. One, from ESPN, declaring surfing to b decidedly not hard. Somewhere between squash and badminton. One, from Puberty, firmly stated the opposite, sliding surfing very near the “top of tough.”

Kelly Slater, of course, weighed in as he is wont to do. So did I on the increasingly popular YouTube program Chas Smith Hates Surfing.

Slater and my knee jerk early reactions may well stand the test of time but as Scales and I kicked the issue back and forth further nuance flowered.

We, each of us, have a different experience with the “Sport of Kings” depending on when and where we began. I first started sliding around in the middle 1980s but didn’t acquire my first custom handshaped board until the middle 1990s. A razor thin, rockered out potato chip. It was the only acceptable way to go and I thought nothing of it, paddling out in Huntington Beach’s soft slop and attempting radical progression.

Certainly not alone.

Those who came of real surfing age as Gen Xers all, likely, had a portion, if not entirety, of early-ish learning done on craft only fit for the likes of prime Kelly Slater.

A …Lost generation, no doubt.

Which made me wonder. Is Gen X the most hamstrung generation in surfing’s proud history? Leaving the early “carve your own board from a tree” years, the 50s offered long stable things, the 60s same but better, the 70s better still with lots of floaty foam, the 80s wide and fat and chill, the 90s a tiny little wafer, the 00s tiny wafers but a return to more foam everywhere, the 10s a smorgasbord of lengths, widths plus the discovery of “volume” and the 20s with its pure unadulterated user friendliness.

Gen X retarded by what was en vogue.

The only generation that may be more hamstrung is the Millennials who had a wide variety of craft but unformed spines and spongy wills.

Filipe Toledo-style.

So, what do you think? If you had come of surfing age today would you rip? David Lee Scales and I also discussed the importance of eating with flatware that fell on the floor.

Lily-livers need not apply.

Dom Purcell with surfboards and Noah Cyrus (top right) and Tish Cyrus (bottom right).
Dom Purcell with surfboards and Noah Cyrus (top right) and Tish Cyrus (bottom right).

Surfing center stage in scurvy Noah Cyrus x mother Tish Cyrus love swamp!

The sport of kings delivers another hammer.

Let’s all sit back, for a moment, and reflect on what surfing has given us. Moments of solitary joy. An excuse to adventure. Friendships. Vitamin D. A respite, sanctuary, lifelong windmill at which to tilt. A window for us to encounter things we never otherwise would have encountered thus giving us elevated conversation games at office parties and/or family gatherings and/or app-based dates.

Enter Tish Cyrus and her daughter Noah who are part of the very famous, though currently broken, family that also includes Billy Ray and Miley (not to be confused with Miley-Dyer). Even the most “I-don’t-care-about-anything-I-just-surf-and-nothing-else” amongst us knows Billy Ray’s 1992 country smash Achy-Breaky Heart and daughter Miley’s turn as Hannah Montana.

Well, Miley, of course, went on to even greater fame as a pop sensation. Sister Noah was following in her footsteps though seemed to get lightly derailed somewhere along the way and now whispers are flickering that matriarch Tish swooped on Noah’s then-boyfriend, Australian actor Dom Purcell, and married him.

Billy Ray and Tish became divorced last April after 30+ years of matrimony.

Miley is not speaking with her father.

Noah is not speaking with her mother.

Dom is rinsing it all off with a “bleak and choppy” surf at Malibu.

Per TMZ:

Dominic Purcell — the former ‘Prison Break’ star, who’s now married to Tish — went surfing Thursday out in Malibu, CA … where it was just him and his board as he caught some waves and enjoyed a little solo time out in the ocean during a gloomy day.

The pics are pretty cool … Dom seems to know what he’s doing out there, looking like a fairly seasoned surfer and not a kook (beginner) — at least that’s what we can glean.

(Examine evidence for yourself here)

In any case, the relationship timeline is all murky as to when Tish and Dom actually began their amorous dalliance, all evidence pointing to when Noah and Dom were itemized, and what a scurvy love swamp.

While you may think “who cares,” you won’t be thinking that after dropping the goss to your Hinge date, her batting her eyelashes in return at what a worldly and broadly intelligent fella you are.

Thanks, once again, surfing.

Derek Hynd on finless board
"Modern surfing is a cop-out of how we’ve made things easy, easier, easier still. It did not need to be dumbed down. Hybrids, particularly Fish hybrids, disgust me."

Surfing’s greatest influencer Derek Hynd launches stinging attack on modern VAL culture!

"The only thing repetitive contests has done is strip the magic and create the most conservative government funded sport on earth."

A few years back, I wrote a story touting the launch of Derek Hynd’s new shaping project, Hyndline.

HyndLine was to be a series of thirty hand-shaped board models – or codes – representing 30 years of Hynd’s surfing progression from 1973-2003. Ten boards being shaped per code. Designs from the Campbell brothers, Terry Fitz, Tom Parrish, Skip Frye, to name but a few.

All re-shaped by Hynd himself and made available to the surfing public.

The story ran, and was well enough received by you lot. Derek Hynd, as always, was articulate and insightful. The ultimate surf provocateur.

But I only included a handful of the 2500 + words from our full interview transcript. Two-and-a-half-thousand words of Hynd on board design, the WSL, why he went finless, when he might go back. Why he hates hybrid fish. The feeling of Impossibles at J-Bay doubling up from six-to-eight-feet with a Parrish 8’2 of 1975 vintage under your feet.

It was all in there. Too many pull quotes to count. I noted at the time how it could have easily been a standalone piece. But I never did anything about it.

Enter Black Hole Transmissions. BHT is a project running under Andrew Kidman’s Big Sky Ltd umbrella: a digital platform to house Kidman and his coterie’s inscrutable wealth of surf culture and knowledge.

There’s films. Photography. Music. Stretching decades back into the archives. Exclusive digital screenings of Kidman classics like Litmus, Glass Love, Spirit of Akasha, and the eponymous Big Sky Limited.

There’s new stuff, too.

Mainly writing for the time being, Kidman’s BHT editor is Dave Parmenter, a man who needs no introduction here.

Contributions from the likes of Kidman, Parmenter, Hynd, and yours truly. Plus, many more.

We’ve just put the Hynd interview up, in full, with a further li’l intro from me.

No matter your take on the subject matter, Derek Hynd in full flight is always an interesting read.

And nah, it’s not free. It’s never going to be a competitor to the hamster wheel of inspired dissent here on the Grit.

But, it’s grounded in a similar ethos. One of straight talking. Of death to bullshit. Of that brutal, honest integrity that keeps the dilettantes and cronies awake in the small hours of the night. That gnawing sense that things ain’t right in the world of surf.

Plus there’s some hell reads. Something definitely worth chucking a few dollarydoos at, if you can spare it.

Thanks to DR for the opportunity to promote.

BHT: How has your time surfing finless influenced your outlook on board design?

Derek Hynd: This is my 17th year of riding nothing but free friction (editor’s note: this was in 2021). I still feel the speed, still get a thrill.

It has a bearing on Hyndline. The reason for getting into it in the first place had a lot to do with getting as far away from predictable board design so I’m going the other way to tap what I knew so well before the easier toys took hold. Give me errors any day and sketchy moments going with it but give me something to work out.

Post-Litmus with the retro boom of hybrid boards designed like modern boards not to stuff up, to make it easy, I wanted to and did run a mile far. Been in the back of my mind all the while though, every board that I ever considered a gem was flawed enough to need working out. But once worked out, whoa.

Modern day “performance” fish seemed to have moved further and further away from their original intended design. What’s your take on them?

Modern surfing is a cop-out of how we’ve made things easy, easier, easier still. Hybrids do this. They ruin the soul of the art form. Moves to soft rails to legropes to grip pad to tail blocks to easy rider rockers likewise. To this day a great surf at Supers is sullied by the legrope around my ankle. My cop-out. These Hyndline boards are true to form and mostly require learning and acceptance because most of these boards aren’t dead easy pieces of sponge cake to jump on, which is the way I’ve always appreciated it and the way most modern surfers do not like it. It’s a bugbear, but Tom Blake’s first skeg was pure surfing’s loss, advent of surfing’s Americana, how to make things easier despite the nuances of difficulty and challenges of mastery, leaving Surfing for a few thousand years justifiably unique to human pursuits. It did not need to be dumbed down. Hybrids, particularly Fish hybrids, disgust me.

These boards represent the bulk of your competitive career (and then some). What’s your perspective on board design on the current tour, and how it has progressed in the intervening period? You’ve said in the past how man-on-man elimination format stifles design innovation, does that still hold true?

Board design goes the way of the harsh past and current contest system, narrowed to the completeness of Dave Parmenter’s dancing bear analogy of over 30 years back. It is phenomenally skillful, and the designs are no less tailored to this skill level. This, though, has left the top of the pyramid with nowhere to go.

It’s like America’s Cup yacht racing. Ex-pros generally fail to evolve their surfing post-career, said with the greatest respect. Maybe shapers should condition these athletes to design shifts after linear knockout contests have knocked the freeform thinking out of them. It isn’t as much an act of smashing a wave anymore as it should be expanding young hopeful minds in an environment where more than one person gets to win riding more than one design.

(On the WSL and competitive surfing in general)

Sorry mate, the way surfing has gone the past 40 years the only thing rote coaching and repetitive contests has done is strip the magic, create the most conservative government funded sport on earth, leave aspiring and top-level pros at risk of social corruption through too much surfing and not enough education, and fail to offer routes of redemption to way too many amateurs and pros who deserve better systems. It comes down to lateral thinking all round — the lack thereof. But aside from the above, everything’s great, ha-ha.

Check out the full interview with Derek Hynd at