Stephanie Gilmore Rip Curl deal
Stephanie Gilmore effectively quits tour, walks into wild deal with Rip Curl amid wreckage of trans fallout. | Photo: Trent Mitchell/Rip Curl

Rip Curl signs Stephanie Gilmore, launches massive PR counteroffensive amid wreckage of trans misstep

"It’s an iconic deal. It’s historic," says Gilmore of an eight-year contract worth between six and ten million.

Two months after Rip Curl exploded into Bud Light-esque flames after its celebration of T-Girl Sasha Jane Lowerson, the company has launched a counteroffensive the likes not seen since Operation Uranus in World War II.

You’ll remember the calls to boycott Rip Curl after high-profile American swimmer Riley Gaines slammed Rip Curl as “crazzzyyyy” and skater Taylor Silverman wrote, “According to Rip Curl this man is a ‘waterwoman’…reality is he’s just a mentally ill man making a complete mockery of actual women and “The “community” is so supportive that Rip Curl had to disable the comments!”

Shortly after splitting with shark-attack survivor Bethany Hamilton reportedly because of her anti-trans-gals-in-sports views, Rip Curl had joined two other Australian swimsuit brands in a pivot to the queer market.

In a moving post that was later deleted,

Rip Curl described Sasha Jane Lowerson as a “West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves… It’s a state of mind, always being ready to try something new, curious to seek out knowledge and learn the rules – and break them.⁠”

Calls to boycott quickly followed and the question at the time was, how much was Rip Curl owner Kathmandu willing to lose in sales to push the trans agenda?

Well, that question has now been answered after Rip Curl signed an eight-year deal in the “multi-millions” with the recently semi-retired Stephanie Gilmore although how many multis is unspecified.

Three hundred gees a year would put Gilmore’s deal in the multi-millions, although Rip Curl did say “it is one of the biggest deals in Australian sport to date”.

I’d guess eight hundred gees a year, maybe a little more.

The eight-time champ will be forty-four when the cheques stop.

“To be able to partner with Rip Curl on a deal that not only for myself, but for women in sport is something that’s truly groundbreaking, just it feels right,” said Stephanie Gilmore.

“You can align yourself with brands for certain things but unless it really feels authentic and true to who you are, then the audience can feel that. It feels right to me, and I’m super happy with that.

“It’s an iconic deal. It’s historic. And there’s something about that, that makes me feel proud to know that I’m allowing this space to open up for the women of the next generations – and also for the companies that we’re working alongside to realise that this is a fantastic way to celebrate female athletes and it can be very healthy and successful for both of us.”

The zenith for Stephanie Gilmore’s career came in 2022 when she dominated Finals Day, starting in fifth place, mowing through all-comers before beating Carissa Moore in the winner-take-all surf-off.


photo: stridersworld
photo: stridersworld

World Surf League voice Strider Wasilewski savages employer in epic defense of tour truant Kelly Slater!

"If the waves were like this at every event (Kelly Slater) would prob still be right there going for a world title at 52 yrs old..."

The World Surf League has stumbled hard in Europe. Bad forecasts happen, of course, and blame for such should not be pinned on organizing bodies doing the very best they can except our WSL deserves all fault because it truly sucks a fatty. One thing for me to write, a vociferous, well-established and socially popular critic. Quite another for the “global home of surfing’s” best voice, Strider Wasilewski, to lay waste to his employer.

Raspberry gives his all to professional surfing at its highest competitive level, bobbing in the brine for days at a time in order to report accurate. He is loved, respected and honored not just for his surf knowledge but his ability, willingness to charge and impressively sculpted breasts.

As such, people bends an ear when he shares opinions on this or that. Most recently, Wasilewski took time out to praise Kelly Slater for ditching the lousy World Surf League Portugal event citing a false hip injury and scoring all time Australia.

Per Instagram:

What a photo… @kellyslater right where he deserves to be. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw this image. If the waves were like this at every event he would prob still be right there going for a world title at 52 yrs old and that is fucking crazy. Personally I don’t want to watch him strain himself for a good score… Rather see him surf timelessly in perfection like this. If there is an epic forecast for an event and he wants to surf, that would be epic too. Either way stoked to see my bro scoring. Surfing is the fuckin best thing ever.

Hammer.

Michael Schwab, son of Charles and noted extreme sport aficionado, put his polished boot on the World Surf League’s already broken neck, declaring, “Agreed! A @naturalselection Strike Mission tour could be the answer @travisrice LFG.”

Rice is currently right down the hall and I have half a mind to go ask him if he’s ready to FG and save surfing from the clammy grip of co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff.

BRB.

While you’re waiting, though, feel free to listen to the latest weekly chat betwixt David Lee Scales and me. We discuss Jimbo Pellegrine’s epic fight with Mother Nature. Worth it for that alone.

Enjoy.


Billabong and the bad old days.

Surf feminist hero Lucy Small rips Billabong over brand’s hard pivot to “busty gal marketing!”

"Where surf culture meets sex appeal."

Surf, man. From the outside, our favorite pastime, this Sport of Queens, appears a bucolic dopamine booster that fosters “good vibes.” Bobbing out in the gorgeous seas, kissed by the sun itself, being all healthy and fit and blessed. Inside, though, we all know that it is a toxic stew where no fight is too petty, no beef too small. Or big and meaningful, I suppose. Surfers will shred each other over, well, anything including, but not limited to, the usage of busty gals in marketing materials.

There was once a time, you certainly recall, when bikini contests were ubiquitous at surf affairs. Exclusively women, back then, standing on a makeshift beach stage wearing revealing swimwear whilst men, strangling warm-ish cans of Bud Light, would hoot and holler and slobber misogynist slobber.

Thankfully, culture matured and surf brands moved with the tide, sponsoring women who actually surf too.

Well, culture continued to mature, the surf brands became irrelevant and a giant New York managing firms purchased them all for a song. The houses of Quiksilver, RVCA, DC, Dakine, Billabong all under one roof. Team members shredded, t-shirts dumped into Costco and, in Billabong’s case, the mothballed busty gals rolled back out for a trot.

This time around, though, there is a surf feminist hero around to give hell and Lucy Small ain’t pulling no punches.

Taking to Instagram, the brave longboarder ripped into the onetime legacy Australian label for its overt sexism, its dribbling boorishness, pulling no punches. Small then followed with the damning “sexist cycle of sport.”

The question, I suppose, is will the Park Avenue suits listen and re-pivot to a celebration of sporting performance or double down on smut?

What would you do if you were an Authentic Brands Group executive vice president?

More as the story develops.


Mark Occhilupo in The Occumentary
Mark Occhilupo in Jack McCoy's 1999 epic The Occumentary.

Interview: Jack McCoy on touring seminal film The Occumentary with “cross-dressing Italian Scotsman from Kurnell”!

"If people are coming to see high-definition don't bother. Because this is film! It's got grain! It's got life to it!"

It might be real hard to believe, and such is the passage of time, but Mark Occhilupo is a couple of years off turning sixty and it’s been a quarter century since he won his historic world title in 1999.

Warshaw’s EOS describes Occ as being “built like a duck” and surfing “like a big cat.”

To celebrate the milestone, Occ, who described himself in a Sean Doherty profile as a “little cross-dressing Italian Scotsman from Kurnell”, and the film’s creator Jack McCoy, are touring the seminal film The Occumentary along the east coast of Australia in May.

Apart from one initial screening of The Occumentary, it’ll be the first time the film has been seen in cinemas. McCoy says he’s spent “hundreds of hours” turning the film from its VHS-friendly 4:3 aspect to big-screen 16:9.

“If people are coming to see high-definition don’t bother. Because this is film! It’s got grain! It’s got life to it!” McCoy tells me from his farm on the mid-North Coast (geographic specifics he asks me not to mention, but it’s a pretty forty acres a few minutes from real fun warm-water waves).

The tour will be in McCoy’s usual format, lives stories, unseen clips, question sessions slated for thirty minutes that go for way longer ’cause everyone in the theatre is enthralled by the electricity of sitting among legends.

Anyway, I say to Jack, oowee, can you believe Occ is nearly sixty (Jack turns seventy-six this year, his first big film Tubular Swells hit screens in 1975)?

“Well, he’s my son, you know, as he gets older so do  I,” he laughs. “But, I don’t have to tell you, he’s one of a kind. He’s fit and strong and clean and he just gets better with age. The only thing that doesn’t age is his childlike mind.”

Jack tells an excellent anecdote of Occ drinking vodka out of a coconut that he bought off a street vendor in Rio while he watched the heat that would decide whether or not he’d be the champ.

“You gotta come to the show to hear the end of it,” says Jack. “Unless you got Google.”

Jack famously got Occ, who ballooned out to three hundred pounds, off the couch in 1995 and back in training. There’s a great sequence of bubble Occ throwing buckets in The Occumentary.

Famously, Jack and Billabong’s Gordon Merchant created the Billabong Challenge series as a way of testing Occ against seven of the world’s best. The one-day format, two one-hour heats and a one-hour final, created a template that should’ve been adopted by the ASP. 

“And the judges didn’t even have a pen and paper,” says Jack. “At the end, they came to a consensus as to who was the winner. When good surfers watch a heat, even if it’s close, they can tell you in what order who the best guys were.”

Jack says it’s a system that works better than the usual way of scoring heats in the pro game.

“The general public doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. Oh, he needs a three point two to combo a five point six, this and that. The guy rides a wave and you can’t tell the difference. I had an event that took care of those things. The Billabong Challenge was as good a templet for a contest as there ever was.”

He reminds me of his and Derek Hynd’s rebel tour in 2001 that included Kelly Slater and Andy Irons.

“We had a tour that was ready to go and then 9/11 came and it closed down all sport and it had a major impact on economies around the world,” says Jack.

“It was a limited number of surfers who would be the upper echelon with the ASP kept as a feeding ground. The art of surfing instead of the sport of surfing. It wasn’t like we were trying to take over the ASP (now the WSL). We were trying to set a different course for surfing that wasn’t… (Jack takes a long theatrical yawn)… let me yawn here, typical event.”

Like Occy, one of a kind, ol Jackie McCoy.

Tour dates for The Occumentary below.

And, book here. 

Tour dates:

Wednesday, May 1 – The J, Noosa
Thursday, May 2  – Byron Theatre, Byron Bay
Sunday, May 5 – HOTA, Gold Coast
Wednesday, May 8 – Gala Cinema, Wollongong
Thursday, May 9 – Event Cinema, Newcastle
Friday, May 10 – Orpheum Cinema, Sydney
Saturday, May 11 – Avoca Beach Theatre, Central Coast
Wednesday, May 15 – Astor Theatre, Melbourne
Friday May, 17 – Lorne Theatre, Surf Coast


Wilbur Kookmeyer and France's Olympic surf team uniform!
Wilbur, left, in the nineteen nineties and, right, reimagined for France's surf Olympians.

Controversy and shock as France unveils surf team’s Paris 2024 outfits

Surf culture reimagined!

The fashion and surf worlds were thrown into a terrific spin yesterday with the unveiling of Stephane Ashpool’s Olympic uniforms for Paris 2024. 

The designer, Stephane Ashpool, is the creator of the baseball-influenced Pigalle brand, so-named after the gritty neighbourhood he grew up in (notoriously dangerous for our Jewish brothers but, then, so is all of France), but also an excellent part of town to find a gender non-specific pal for affectionate kissing after a long day examining La Joconde at the Louvre or climbing the Tour Eiffel. 

Ashpool used the ol red-white-and-blue, the colours of the tricolour, but merged the colours into a gradient to reflect, he says, “a sense of diversity in colour, but also diversity in the body.”

The designer says France’s diversity ain’t always obvious on TV and films there, which is true.

Watch a French film, which are among the worst in the world, and you’d think the joint was filled with middle-class whites in fitted raw denim, tight pale blue shirts and brown boots, not the cornucopia of African and Arabic culture that it really is. 

The beautifully named Le Coq Sportif, the athletic rooster, have made the outfits but one set stood out, the surf team’s nod to kook chic.

The unfortunate model, pictured below, red hair permed and dyed yellow, beard its natural red, stands, belly out, in the white rash shirt and knee-length trunks, surfboard held non-ironically with tail scraping the ground.

A necklace and Oakley Blades completes an ensemble that hasn’t been seen in the surf world since Wilbur Kookmeyer was a staple of surf culture. 

French Olympic surf team uniform
France reimagines surf culture with controversial uniform for country’s Olympic surf team.

But is it the worst Olympic uniform ever?

Crappier than the Spaniards’s Maccas-themed gear in 2012 or Canada’s gay cowboy look at Calgary, 1988? 

The French team is a dark horse fav to win double gold at Teahupoo in July.

It includes Tahitians Kauli Vaast and Vahine Fierro, as well as Hossegor’s Joan Duru and Johanne Defay from Renton Island. All of ‘em know how to thread a tube.