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The Case of Surfline V. Lewis Samuels

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

lewis samuels power rankings

You gotta love a good old fashioned pissing match every now and again. Serving as a welcome departure from the chronic “bro,bra-ism” that plagues the surf industry, we have an entertaining little public feud going between Surfline and their recently-axed writer Lewis Samuels, as well as a healthy debate opening up about what each represents. On one side you have Surfline, swell-marketers with good content who recently partnered up with ESPN. On the other side you have Lewis Samuels, a passionate and edgy writer who, agree with him or not, was unique and unafraid to say what was on his mind. The firing came after Samuels recently wrote a couple of posts on his own personal website that weren’t exactly advertiser-friendly or conducive to Surfline’s goal of getting you and I to hand over $70 a year. After sending Samuels out the door, Surfline received a slew of e-mails regarding the issue and felt the need to justify their decision. The evidence lies below, suss it out and see what you think:

LEWIS SAMUELS

FIRED (Samuels clearly knew and didn’t care the Surfline Corporation wouldn’t take this too well)

“So the word came down from the higher-ups at Surfline that my signed contract for 2009 was no longer being honored. They specifically cited two incidents that led to my termination…”

“Yes. I know, I get paid to write for Surfline, a website that also licks advertisers’ balls, part of the machine.”

“In the recent Surfline article “Tavarua Time” we’re shown pictures of Billabong’s CEO Paul Naude scoring perfect waves…..Theoretically, there should be no problem with this. Billabong is a core surf brand, and the fact that their CEO is a core surfer should make us feel good, right? That might have been the case a year ago. But now, this article seems a bit off to me…”

Vs.

SURFLINE

-Surfline’s Statement Concerning Lewis Samuels (a new standard has been set for back-handed compliments)

“We enjoyed the contributions Lewis made to Surfline, and looked forward to working with him for years to come. The material he submitted (although often controversial), was, for the most part, well received…..Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the blog did not possess the standard of journalism that our readers demand from Surfline and that we believe is so important to uphold.”

There are quite a few interesting and entertaining opinions flying around regarding this little tiff and I’m super curious to hear more. I’ll personally just say this….Thank god I work for a site where passion, individuality, and unique opinions are embraced and encouraged. Hopefully we don’t ever get so big and money hungry that making fun of ourselves becomes a fireable offense.

Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

Kelly Slater Enlists In Neptune’s Navy: Proceeds from New Board Shorts To Benefit Sea Shepherd Cause

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Although the fury that Kelly Slater has and continues to unleash on waves during heats and video parts may be to some, reminiscent of an aquatic slaughter, let there be no mistake about it. When it comes to the slaughter of marine wildlife, Kelly is not down and not afraid to get in the fight to oppose it.

kelly slater sea shepherd

Photo credit: Surfer Mag

Last time we checked in with Captain Paul Watson and his noble band of sea shepherd pirates back in early February, they were busy giving hell to the Japanese whaling fleet down in the Southern Ocean. Last week, Watson was back on land at the Quiksilver Pro, arm in arm with the nine time world champ promoting their latest effort to rally support for the cause: a brand new Kelly Slater signature model boardshort featuring the notorious jolly roger emblem of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. According to Quiksilver Australia’s website…

For every Sea Shepherd product sold, Quiksilver will donate $5 to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

kelly slater sea shepherd boardshortAlthough Slater isn’t the first surfer to represent the Sea Shepherd cause, he is perhaps the most high profile and I’m optimistic that this recent team-up will bring a lot of attention and stoke to the Sea Shepherd cause just like David Rastovich and company did back during the 2007 Taiji, Japan dolphin campaign. In fact, it was Surfer Magazine’s coverage of that standoff that introduced me to Sea Shepherd to begin with. The shots of Rastovich and company facing down the Japanese authorities sent chills down my spine and had me wondering right then where I could get my hands on a Sea Shepherd Crew hoody. Now, with Slater on board, I’m definitely throwing down for some anti-whaling merch.

Just one thing is puzzling to me. If you search Quiksilver.com (not Quiksilver Australia’s site) for ‘Sea Shepherd’ or ‘Kelly Slater Sea Shepherd Trunks’ there are no results. Which leaves me wondering why it’s only Quiksilver Australia that seems to be representing the Sea Shepherd cause? Is there a conspiracy? Also, after a few minutes of research, it seems like the only place to get these shorts here in the States is through online surf shops, most of which say that they only donate a buck of each sale to Sea Shepherd. I definitely want all five bucks from my purchase going towards bottles of butyric acid and whatever else is needed give these poachers a miserable time.

In closing, the shorts do look pretty nice. High-tech and super comfortable. I just wish they made them in a different color than black. I just don’t like wearing black shorts. I guess I would wear it for the cause if necessary, but you’d think that an industry giant like Quiksilver would dish out for a few more colors/designs and that Sea Shepherd would want a more visible logo than black on black (which is how it appears on the shorts.) How about whale Grey, or cetacean Blue?

Posted in Surfing | 7 Comments »

Nica-lovin’: Simpson, D. Ward, Merle-Jones and Co. Blow Up in Central Am

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

A solid Central American swell lived up to it’s hype and more this weekend, unleashing a heavy dose of beasts and barrels upon the magical coastline of Nicaragua. With some of the world’s best on hand for the classic swell, photo magic was made by our friends at Nicaragua Surf Report. As always, NSR was in the right place at the right time to catch the action going down at one of the top waves in all of Central Am.

Brett Simpson, Dane Ward, Jesse Merle-Jones, and a slew of other top surfers were among those who were fortunate enough to be on hand for the heaving swell, with Merle-Jones once again pulling out of a “holy shit, there’s no way he’s coming out of this one” barrel unscathed. Chances are you’ll be seeing footage from this swell making it’s way to the mags over the coming months. However if you just can’t wait to get a glimpse of what went down, you can head over to NSR and suss out some of the shots captured by their top photographers Jairo Ramos and Roberto.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Marketing Genius? Once Again, Kelly Slater Two Steps Ahead

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Whether it’s his intention or not–and let’s keep in mind we’re talking about one of the fiercest, most driven competitors to ever step foot on a board–9-time world champion Kelly Slater is doing a smoking job at getting people to talk about the shrunken sticks he’s been riding as of late. Let’s face it….as supernatural and other-worldly as Slater has been throughout his surfing career, at some point that career will in fact come to an end(right?). So what next? His deep interest in board design and close relationship with Al Merrick, as well as his latest venture into shaping seem to all be pointing in one direction…

kelly slater deep six

Coming into the 2008 year on the ASP World Tour, Slater’s ever-decreasing board size was already a hot talking point throughout the industry. His segment in Taylor Steele’s Trilogy was a dirty little demonstration on just how ultra-effective and super fun the boards he was riding could be. As the year progressed and Kelly stomped aside the competition, there were very few people, including the surfers on the WCT, who can honestly say they weren’t considering a reduction in board-size in their own quiver. In interviews, video segments, and especially on the water, Kelly Slater was an avid-evangelist for his new design and telling anyone who would listen that shorter was the way to go.

When the 2008 Billabong Pipeline Master rolled around, Kelly had long since wrapped up #9 and essentially rendered the back half of the tour as pointless. With the title long since wrapped up, there was speculation as to whether Slater would even make it to Ehukai for his opening heat at the Pipe Masters. Kelly Slater did indeed end up making it to his heat, and fresh from blowing up a swell in the Caroline Islands he went on to do the unthinkable….win the Pipeline Masters while riding a pig-nosed 5′11″ at 6-8 ft. Pipe. While the majority of the surfers were busy riding the standard 6′10″+ guns at Pipe, Slater was introducing us to the “Deep 6″. With the way he surfed the Deep 6, Kelly Slater brought a whole new flavor to Pipeline and once again had everyone throughout the industry peering at one thing and one thing only…his stick.

Slater’s taken it to a whole new level in 2009, as he showed up to the recent Quiksilver Pro in Australia with a bag full of boards ranging from 5′4″-5′7″. Before being taken out by Young Gun Julian Wilson in Rd. 3 of the event, Slater, while riding a 5′4″, once again put his hand-crafted design on display for all to see. There was and still is loads of chatter surrounding his choice of equipment circulating throughout. However, right or wrong from a competitive standpoint, he showcased a smooth style of surfing and once again did what any good marketer is supposed to do- get the people talking.

Whether he finishes with 9,10,11, or 15 world titles, Kelly Slater is already and will likely be forever known as one of, if not the greatest surfers to ever hit the water. Is the board reduction just an added challenge for someone who has already demonstrated his superiority over the rest of professional surfing? Or has this all been one big marketing campaign for someone looking to bridge the gap between the next phase of his career? Who knows, but either way…you’re reading this, I’m writing this, we’re not the first, we won’t be the last…Kelly Slater must be doing his job.

The demonstration-

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Hurley: New Title Sponsor for U.S. Open of Surfing

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

us open of surfing

Formerly the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’neill, it will now be known as the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing as Hurley has just signed on as the new title sponsor.

IMG is pleased to announce that Hurley has signed on as title sponsor to the world’s largest professional surfing competition, the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing… …”Hurley brings a fresh perspective to an already rich U.S. Open of Surfing heritage,” said James Leitz, Vice President of IMG Action Sports. “With the 50th anniversary of competitive surfing in Huntington Beach as a backdrop, the 2009 Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing ushers in a new era for the event and its lifestyle components. Together, IMG and Hurley will take this authentic surfing event to new and exciting heights for the participants and the community.”

It’s a pretty far stretch to call the U.S. Open an “authentic surfing event.” Since acquiring the U.S. Open of Surfing back in ‘01, IMG it has pretty much turned it into a zoo. I don’t even think the main focus is on the surfing anymore. It seems like it’s more about herding a few hundred thousand people to the beach to see all the sponsor banners that line the beach and peer. Combine that with the fashion shows, FMX/BMX/Skate demos, and all the other mindless entertainment going on and you hardly have any focus left on the actual surfing.

If you really want to make a significant change the U.S. Open of Surfing, move it somewhere else. You could sign Playboy on as the title sponsor and that still wouldn’t make up for the boring Huntington Beach ankle snappers. You need actual waves to make a surf event exciting.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Joel Parkinson Blows Up, Wins at Thrilling Quiksilver Pro

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

joel parkinson wins quiksilver pro

Everyone on the ASP World Tour might want to take notice….Joel Parkinson is a man on a mission. Following an impressive performance at the 2008 version of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, one that saw Parko seal his first ever Triple Crown of Surfing, it’s been reported that Parkinson has been pushing himself to the brink, driven by a roaring hunger to finally win an ASP World Championship. With that being the goal, Parko is off to one hell of a start for 2009 as he surfed almost flawlessly enroute to victory at a thrilling Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. While it’s just the first event of the year, Parko surfed with an added edge and confidence to his game. Couple that with the fact that the last 3 winners of the inaugural tour stop have gone on to win the overall crown, the rest of the WCT, including Kelly Slater, already has a monumental hill to climb if Joel Parkinson continues to bring what he brought to the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks.

Here are some of the goods brought to us by the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks:

Jordy, Dane, Adriano, and Julian Wilson- You hear it all the time….the WCT is just not going to be that exciting once Slater retires, right? Not even…The young crew of up and comers are bringing an added level of excitement to the ‘CT with an explosive, go for broke approach to the contests that was as exciting as I’ve ever witnessed. Julian boldly dethroned Slater, Dane got swiped of what should have been a huge win over Taj Burrow, and Adriano de Souza went balls to the wall the whole event, culminating in an impressive finals stand against the man to beat, Joel Parkinson. If these guys end up staying on the WCT throughout the upcoming years….

Mick Fanning V. Joel Parkinson- Everyone knew it when these two were paired up in the semifinal…the eventual winner would go on to win it all. With that in mind, the two Coolangatta surfers went on to put up one of the all-time heats as they went head to head in said semifinal, Parko just simply wouldn’t be denied. If you have a few minutes, use a little bit of Google magic and find highlights of this head to head match-up. To use a term that doesn’t get used very often in the world of surfing, it was simply epic.

Is it the size that matters, or the motion in the ocean?- We all like to tell ourselves that size doesn’t really matter, but it looks like the judges agree with the chicks…bigger is better. While Kelly Slater struggled in his rd. 3 loss to Julian WIlson, it appeared throughout the contest that the judges were none to impressed with his self-made 5′4″. He was constantly underscored throughout the event. Are the ASP judges sending Slater a message for the rest of the year? Will Mr. 9-time continue to ride his little creations at Bells? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Kirra Effect- The man upstairs might be sending us a message- Bring Kirra Back! In a year that is being dedicated to the restoration of the famed break at Kirra, how crazy is it that the stars aligned and allowed the final rounds of the event to be showcased at it’s current form. It was the first time an ASP World Tour event had been held at the iconic right-hand point break in 12 years, and allowed a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the battle going on to bring Kirra back to what it once was.

Congratulations Joel Parkinson, winner of the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) def. Mick Fanning (AUS)
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) def. Taj Burrow (AUS)

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.37
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.53 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.00
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.86 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.77
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.40 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.24 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.50
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.23
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.33

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

Surfing Consumers Taking the Power Back

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

People who are die-hard surfers, who are really into the sport, no matter what the economy is like, they want to get out there and surf. But they’re still looking for some kind of sale.” Tanya Turner, Manager, Jack’s Surfboards in Dana Point

Now this may come across as me being a cheap ass, which in these trying economic times is actually quite the compliment, but $55+ for boardshorts just isn’t going to jive with me, or most any other surfers any longer. Why the sudden rant about a product that has been incredibly overpriced for years now? Well in the current economic toilet bowl we find ourselves in, it’s a notice to surf brands and retailers alike that the extreme over-pricing of goods simply isn’t going to fly with us right now. This doesn’t just apply to boardshorts, they are just the easiest target to go after. Overall, the popularity explosion of surfing and other action sports through the late-80’s, the ’90’s, and into this decade allowed major brands to get away with blowing up their prices to whatever they felt like. Since it was cool to be a surfer, there wasn’t enough opposition to combat these unruly prices….That’s all about to change.

The industry had been on a really solid growth curve for the past 10 years, so this is really the first time that it’s taken a step back. It’s more than just that core surfer that they’re speaking to. They gained more customers, so they have more to lose too.” Andy Tompkins, group show director of ASR

It was a combination of things that set me off on this tangent. One being an article in the L.A. Times that basically told us what we already know, the economy is hitting the surf industry right in the family jewels. In the days before this article came out, I had spent quite a bit of time in surf shops all over Hawai’i gearing up for the next voyage to Central America. Given the fact that I was aiming to spend less than I typically would, I was hunting for better deals so I could get the most bang for my buck. With the astronomical prices that boardshorts have been placed at for some time now, I decided to hit up a couple of my favorite outlet stores instead, happily handing over my money in exchange for much more than I would have received at any of the top surf shops. Trust me, I won’t be alone in this. It’s quite simple really- $55-$90 for boardshorts from leading brands that fill up the majority of retail stores….or $12.99-$25 for boardies from outlet stores that serve the exact same purpose.

Those who hope to survive the recession need to somehow find someway to offer surfers a better deal. There is a reason why sites like Whiskey Militia continue to see increased success while everyone else seems to struggle. There is a reason why outlet stores will see more consumers passing through their doors to score better deals. The reason? Easy- we’re taking the power back.

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

WCT Set To Kick-Off With Quik Pro at Snapper Rocks

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

And so it begins….If it seems like forever since we’ve had a competitive world championship race to keep tabs on, it’s because we pretty much have. Between Kelly Slater making the 2008 WCT his personal whipping boy and the later than usual start to the 2009 tour, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interest generated by the ‘CT over the past 8 or so months. That’s all about to change.

kelly slater

As the holding period for the the 2009 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks opens today, the 2009 ASP World Tour also gets underway with everyone starting equally at ground zero. To pretend that anything other than Slater’s run for #10 will be the dominating storyline would be asinine. With that in mind, it appears that most have deemed Joel Parkinson as the chosen one to put a wrinkle in King Slater’s plans. Parko’s had a couple of solid runs and 2nd place finishes, but so far just hasn’t quite been able to make it over the hump. With the WCT once again starting off at his home break, Joel Parkinson is fired up and ready to start his 2009 campaign for a world championship.

“I can’t wait. I’m excited for another good year and hopefully we get really good waves. It’s such a bonus to start the season here at home where I’m familiar with everything and know the banks really well. I’m really excited. I’ve just been surfing a lot and training a lot. Just trying to get everything sorted before the season starts. In regards to Kelly, I haven’t really figured that one out yet. You just have to be bigger, stronger, faster and more determined. I’m hungry this season though.”

And in regards to Kelly…who knows what he has in store for this year’s version of the WCT. Word is that he’ll likely be surfing a big gun at Snapper, something in the 5′4″-5′6″ range. Whatever he ends up pulling out of his quiver may not really matter though. With a 10th world championship so close that he can almost taste it, Slater already has the competition sized up and is ready to let loose at the Quiksilver Pro.

“I’m not sure whether Dane and Jordy will pull straight up to that level to start this year or not, but I know that Parko’s always hungry and Mick goes without saying. C.J. got a taste of it last year again and will come out firing for sure. Taj will be hungry, but I wonder how his focus will be after a couple of really great seasons and not quite the results that his surfing shows all the time – he’s always one of the best at Snapper. Bede will quietly execute more people and Bobby is going to be the hungriest, starting the year without a main sponsor.”

The holding period for the 2009 Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks runs February 28 through March 11, 2009.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Kelly Slater Giving Surf Travel Tips

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Surf Travel

With the recent price gouging by most major airlines for checking surfboards, surf travel has been a hot topic lately. But usually those topics are focused on which airlines you should boycott and which still play friendly to us surfers. Despite the ridiculous fees, sometimes as much $300 per board each way (Delta), unless your content surfing your 1-2 foot sloppy beachbreak, getting away to score epic waves is still a must. And who better to give us the 411 on the best surf destinations then Kelly Slater?

Unlike other travelers, surfers are interested in surfer-friendly places to crash, snagging the best airline rates for surfboards and where to hang out.

Here’s Slater’s list of five great surfing meccas along with some hints about how to fully enjoy your search for the proverbial endless summer.

CNN, with the help of Slater, just published an article on 5 of the top surf spots in the world. These include; Pipeline, Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, Snapper Rocks, and Hossegor France. Included with each break are tips on where to stay, eat, hang out, how to get there, best time to go, and what the vibe is like. Oh, and each of them includes a couple nice little quotes from Kelly on what he likes about them.

And what would a surfing article from the mainstream press be without a little cheeseyness throw on top? Yes, the even include a helpful little table of surf slang so all those tourists can finally understand why everyone in Hawaii keeps calling them a Haole. These include; Bro-down, Gnarly, Goofy foot, Grom, Haole, Kook, Shredder, Sniveler, and sponger.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Nike 6.0 Snags Tahiti’s Michel Bourez

Friday, February 20th, 2009

michel bourez

Nike 6.0 just did themselves a huge favor by signing Tahiti’s Michel Bourez. After getting into the WQS game with sponsorships of both events and athletes, 6.0 is stepping it up a notch as Bourez will be their first ever Dream Tour surfer.

6.0’s pick-up of Bourez will be huge for them on several fronts. Bourez turned some serious heads with his unreal performance at all-time Hale’iwa, securing himself a Triple Crown victory at the 2008 Reef Hawaiian Pro. In the process, the 22 year old Bourez sealed his rookie spot on the upcoming 2009 World Tour. That’s the same World Tour that holds an annual stop at a wave in Bourez’ homeland, a wave that he knows and surfs quite well: Teahupo’o. With that event being one of the most watched of the year, look for 6.0 to snag all sorts of air-time with all of the attention Bourez will be sure to draw.

I’m psyched on seeing surfers snag deals even as the economy continues to emit it’s awful stench. While hundreds and thousands are scraping by and losing their jobs, it’s super refreshing to see a surfer “gets it” and realizes what an opportunity it is to surf for a living. You better believe it, Michel Bourez is taking this job seriously.-

“I know the ASP World Tour is going to be very special and that every heat might require 200% of commitment to hope for any result. Then it will be about dealing with the pressure, the heat, the opponent, and it is going to be a lot different than on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS). I know I will have to be smart and very careful with all the guys on tour because any mistake can cost a lot. I just hope everything goes the right way so I can start living my dream for real!”

Congratulations Michel Bourez, whether it’s on the ‘09 Dream Tour or just freesurfing epic waves around the world, we’re looking forward to seeing you blow up.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

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