Surfing as a sport is constantly evolving. Sometimes to improve performance, shapers have to sand down and cut away to get their desired outcome. This serves as an example for what is currently happening to the surf industry.
Money has become an issue for the surf industry, much like any company in today’s economy. Like an excessive nose rocker, money has slowed down the surf industry’s ability to be progressive. Online media is also another factor guiding the surf industry. Because surf brands have evolved with the changing times, picking up the check from webcasts to surf events has proved a tremendous burden. This has led some to discuss whether or not sponsors should even be running media content at all.
A recent decision was made by The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) to purchase the Big Wave World Tour (BWWT). Before the purchase, ASP surfers were prohibited from non-sanctioned events like the BWWT. If you recall, Kelly Slater caused a stir at the start of this year because he backed out of the Mavericks Invitational last minute. With the recent ASP purchase, surfers on the tour can now participate in big wave events like Mavericks.
While Slater deserves recognition for shedding light on the need for surfers to compete in both tours and also the issue of sponsors controlling media, there are some details surrounding the ASP purchase that need to be unveiled. Much like a bride on her wedding day, people have been looking at who is under the veil rather than whom the groom is and his motives. But, close scrutiny regarding the details of how ASP acquired the BWWT is necessary. In order to absorb the costs associated with the prize purse of the BWWT, ASP partnered with group, ZoSea. Surf brands will still run the events (which does not completely solve the issue of who controls the media). Speculation arose due to the fact that Terry Hardy (Kelly’s manager) is associated with ZoSea Media as well as Paul Speaker. Former Quiksilver director, Speaker turned CEO of ASP by appointment. Obviously, Slater does not need stacked media to win World Titles; he has talent to win on his own. But with Speaker as CEO, it appears like one sponsor or one entity has a controlling interest. Additionally, the ASP board did not unanimously elect to marry with ZoSea. If everyone in the family is not fond of the fiancé, it may not be an ideal match.
There are some advantages, however. Paul Speaker plans to broaden the surfing fan base. With an impeccable shaper like Gary Linden at the helm of the ASP (its founder), there are bound to be some advantages. Linden told reporters that in the BWWT, he hopes to initiate a valid qualifying system and to potentially include a women’s heat in the event. Female surfers like Carissa Moore have been pining for years to be included in big wave contests like their male counterparts. This would be a huge step forward for the advancement of women’s surfing.
GrindMedia LLC who owns TransWorld SURF is also making colossal strides forward for women with Salted, an annual women’s surf magazine. Broader audiences like the stand up paddle community are being reached. Unfortunately, money has also taken a toll on print media. Surfers will say a hearty farewell to TransWorld SURF in print. Their online presence will remain but as far as reading cover to cover, those days will cease in September of this year.
From board shapes to advancements in fin technology, innovation takes place for surfing while respecting old school thought. Joel Parkinson is no exception. He took The Oakley Pro Bali by focusing on impressive forehand combinations and traditional technique. The surf industry needs only to apply traditional principles of shaping boards to shaping the surf industry’s progress. A surfboard foil is the distribution of foam from the nose to the tail of the surfboard. For the board to flow correctly, the foam has to be balanced. If there is excess buildup of foam in the center of the nose or in the tail, any dips or bumps, it creates uneven flow. This dramatically affects performance and how it flows through the water. That being said, as the surf industry moves forward, to be successful in performance, they must remain ethical. Any dips or bumps or sponsors putting their “nose” in the center of media will only hinder performance.The ASP is now married to ZoSea. Next time, the surf industry might be more careful in choosing who they get into bed with. Is the dowry worth it?
How will profit-maximization shape the ethics of surfing in the future?