The latest from Waterman of the Year: Dirk Ziff

crg's picture
crg started the topic in Tuesday, 7 Aug 2018 at 8:38pm

The award given to the Ziff's and his acceptance speech. Discuss.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 7:19am

It’s a fascinating development, mainly because it’s the first time Dirk has spoken publicly about the WSL since ZoSea acquired the ASP in 2012. Also, the contents of the speech are interesting because of the target audience (Surf Industry Manufacturers Assoc).. I suspect it was never intended to be reproduced online.

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crg Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 7:54am

This is the speech for those who haven't seen it...for an award for waterman and woman of the year given by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association and presented to them by KS...

Thank you, Kelly.
It isn’t every day that you are introduced by the person who has put together the single greatest and most dominant career of any athlete, in any competitive sport, anywhere, ever in history. Pretty humbling. And then he decides to transform the future of the sport by imagining, designing, and delivering a magic wave machine. I hope world peace is next on your agenda, buddy, because if anyone can get it done, you can.
Natasha and I are grateful for this honor, but honestly, it’s also a little awkward for us. We are private people. We have never put our names on anything, and probably never will. Recognition does not motivate us. But surfing motivates us. The amazing men and women athletes of the WSL motivate us. Our partners and colleagues motivate us. And doing things really well motivates us.
So, we are super motivated to do everything we can to create a successful, vibrant and durable enterprise in the World Surf League, so the athletes of today have the opportunity they deserve to achieve success and recognition, and the groms of today can look forward with confidence, and know that if they work hard, even greater opportunity will be there when their time comes on the world stage.
For this to be the case, we absolutely have to build a strong, stable, solidly and consistently profitable business. And we are making that happen, with a patient but focused long-term view, led by our fantastic CEO Sophie Goldschmidt.
But, as anyone ever associated with professional surfing knows, it is a tricky challenge. Waiting for the ocean to deliver exciting conditions has been an obvious issue. So has the culture of free attendance. Fans of other sports know that the broadcast starts at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon, not some time in the next 12 days when the commissioner calls it on.
And the events take place in ticketed arenas and stadiums. If all competition start times were completely uncertain and attendance was free, I wonder how many sports would be successful today?
The miraculous ability to become our own broadcast distributor, pushing notifications and streaming live to desktop and mobile devices around the world, was essential to our mission, and we are very proud of how we have delivered for the fans.
But that is not enough. Events are still longer than most good swells, and multiple lay days can be a killer for audience momentum. Imagine a basketball game that pauses at halftime, and will resume at some unknown point in the next few days. How many fans would remain engaged?
The event format remains confusing to new fans. Think about it. A surfer can finish second in three separate heats, and still finish second in the overall event. We continue to have an antiquated system for determining world champions, in which all events count the same, and points are simply added up until someone has an insurmountable lead, regardless of when that happens.
This all too frequently results in confusing scenarios at the end of the season. Many times since we have become involved, the new world champion was sitting on the beach, not even at the last event of the year, hoping for someone else to lose. This is when many fans tune out.
In 2016, when John John won the title in Portugal, the audience for Pipe was down almost 50%. The title was not on the line. This is not great sporting drama, in my opinion. Just like the thrilling finals of our individual events, I believe our world champions should win the title in the water.
We will innovate, but we know that brings risk. We entered into our arrangement with Facebook for the same reason we do everything: because we believed it was in the best long- term interest of the sport. There are huge WSL fans at the highest levels of Facebook, and they were very eager to work with us. It is the largest and most powerful media platform in the history of the world, and we are among the very first sports to distribute live on it. And Facebook has been a fantastic partner for our social media group since we got involved with the sport.
Then, to our surprise and disappointment, despite all assurances and testing, they were simply not ready technically to start broadcasting at J Bay. No question, it was not pretty. Since then, Facebook has been a very good partner. They have fully and humbly admitted to the full extent of their shortcomings, and have dedicated huge resources to making it right going forward. We remain hopeful that great things lie ahead for our partnership. It is certainly far too early to declare it a failure.
Let’s talk about surfing as a sport. I will happily argue that, in the ocean or in Lemoore, surfing is among the greatest of individual competitive sports. Visually it is second to none. I have literally never encountered anybody in any walk of life who does not react with wide-eyed positivity to video images of our athletes in competition.
The combination of physical ability, hard-won skill and technique, self-confidence, and on the spot decision making required to be consistently successful in our sport is mind-blowing.
Do they not deserve to be rewarded for their magic, in a way comparable to the greatest athletes in other sports?
Not everyone seems to think the answer is yes. It is hard to imagine this happening in other sports but I think we all know that there are strong and vocal elements within the surf culture that question whether the very ideas of competition and profit are compatible with the true spirit of surfing – whether there is a place for the WSL at all.
Some of you are here in this canyon. Journalists, and other influential voices who unload on social media. I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL. It goes way beyond constructive criticism, which we all need and which the WSL frequently deserves, and into the realm of foul spirited attack, which I think we can all agree we have enough of right now in this country.
I have a message to the haters, and it is simple. Be tough. Call us out. Keep us honest. Tell us what we need to improve.
But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.
And I ask you: Why? It seems pretty obvious that if the WSL keeps growing in popularity, and surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports, everyone connected with our sport, and certainly all the members of SIMA, will prosper, except maybe a few grumpy locals who have to deal with some new faces in the lineup. So…why not work together?
We thank SIMA for this award, and we share it our partners in the business, Terry Hardy and Jeff Bizzack, and with our colleagues at the WSL. Everyone here is invited to come by WSL headquarters on Bay Street in Santa Monica and have a cup of Dogtown coffee.
If you stop by, you will see a deeply dedicated and wonderful group of mostly young women and men who are deeply passionate about surfing, and have probably driven to Leo Carillo or County Line and back that morning before work. To our colleagues, we thank you from our hearts for your hard work and belief.
We sometimes feel like we are working to improve a car while it is going 75 mph down the highway. We have made mistakes and will make more in the future. But I suppose we have also done a few things right. It has been quite a ride, and under Sophie’s leadership, you can expect the next chapter for the WSL to be even more transformative and exciting than this chapter has been. We have big dreams and plans.
One thing I can promise is that Natasha and I love the sport deeply. We never dreamed of being in this situation with the WSL. But here we are.
We believe the World Surf League has the power over time to bring positive change to the world, by protecting our precious oceans, and through the universally bonding language of stoke.
Surfing has changed our lives, as it has changed the lives of everyone in this room, and millions of people around the world.
Surfing heals. Surfing empowers. Surfing inspires. Surfing is magic.
Thank you very much.”

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blindboy Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 8:16am

Boilerplate bullshit.

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stunet Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 8:55am

The award itself was a sham, but hey, that's OK, the surf industry is full of equally appalling episodes.

But the sustained attack on journalists? Now that was a new development.

It seemed the whole speech was a set up to launch that grenade, but I cant help but feel it's gone off in Ziff's hands. He's gonna feel the shrapnel from this for a long time yet.

When ZoSea/WSL took over pro surfing back in 2013 the first thing they did was abruptly give all journalists the cold shoulder. We weren't part of their future. The news, they figured, would be created by their own in-house media team and distributed by social media. This dovetailed perfectly into the changing media landsscape.

WSL's social media team has been in a whirlwind ever since, you may have noticed this, however it's back at the source that the problems started. A lot of surfers didnt want whitewashed, 'hooray for everything', stories, and sought out the alternative channels - read: traditional surf outlets - for news. And if you can't get on the ground reporting, or you cant get surfer access, all of which was restricted by the WSL, then the gaps get filled somehow. Some journalists made an art of turning those 'gaps' into stories themselves. 

So to cry foul about surf journalism five years after pissing every surf journalist off is odd....that's the polite way to put it.

Also, Dirk beats his chest about speaking truth to power: "Be tough. Call us out. Keep us honest." In 2014, I did just that in a three-part series that took eight months to research and write. No emotion, lies, or "foul-spirited attacks". All my stats were confirmed in a private call with the WSL themselves. For this Swellnet got banned from all WSL events. Collectively we became persona non grata, left off every communication from the WSL. For years afterward I relied on second-hand information forwarded by a colleague who hadn't worked in the surf industry for twenty years yet he was receiving mail from the WSL while we weren't.

So keeping the WSL honest? Fuck off...

These days I can't be arsed calling the WSL out, been there, done that, however I am cheering Chas Smith and the front that he's opened up.

wally's picture
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wally Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:24am

Stu, great comment.

From a great distance, there does seem a friendlier attitude to surf journos in this Sophie Goldschmidt era. The Kelly's wave pool sessions for surf journos being an example.

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Andrew P Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 2:14pm

Probably why they are private people and don't say much in public. Their experience and vision of surfing is very business-like, and probably doesn't align with that of the majority of surfers.

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fraser-gordon Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:26am

Bring back Fred Hemmings.

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truebluebasher Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:28am

Once or twice i've been branded a Waterman...
I honestly felt insulted as I thought it implied I was a lazy bodybasher.
As the last being from a good friend I took it as a being a compliment.

crg post ...on Waterman intrigued me.I thought Bodywhomper/Free Diver/Ocean Swimmer.

I googled far too long to work out it was some National Science award...That can't be it?
I googled Dirk Ziff..born a Jewish Gazillionaire + allergic to sea salt..."A Waterman"?
I googled past gritty winners that cried how helpless they felt without surf products.
My best guess is 'Waterman' is a top secret surf toy to separate surfers from any nasty water.

So Waterman is an encouragement Award for folk to skinny dip their toes? Perhaps that's it!
Is there a link to show past winners fully immersing a bath tub totaling 5 minutes a year?
No offence to Waterwomen/men but only skegz would goofball such a Superhero Award .
After Gazillionaires speech, Waterman medals, now a pile of marine debris on the sea floor.

Gary G's picture
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Gary G Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:32am

It really grinds Gary's glutes that those ingrates at the WSL didn't appreciate your investigative journalism from all those years ago, Stu.

It's almost certain that your ol' mate G will cross paths with Monsieur Ziff at some time: there's a certain je ne sais quoi that gets Gary into all kinds of swanky events. Ladies want to be him, and men want to be with him, what else can be said?

Perhaps Gary could go Speak Truth to Power on your behalf? As soon as the 'Truth' and 'Power' tats on his inner thighs heal up, anyway.

We may be able to bond over our shared award history - Gary was baptised 'Waterman of the Year' a few years back but they must have changed the criteria now because Gary's award had nothing to do with surfing.

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blindboy Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:34am

For someone so passionate about surfing does he actually, you know, surf?

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mikehunt207 Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:57am

What a absolute load of horseshit that speech is, go fuck yourself Diff and fuck the wsl too.
I haven't even began to "stir my coffee" today but reading your speech show how far removed from surfing and what its about you really are. Hard to see reality with your head so far up your own arse.
Whats almost as bad is now I finally have to agree with one of blindboys comments/opinions.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:06am

Wally wrote: "From a great distance, there does seem a friendlier attitude to surf journos in this Sophie Goldschmidt era. The Kelly's wave pool sessions for surf journos being an example."

You mean the one where every surf media except Swellnet got an invite?

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:14am


I agree that the WSL's stance has relaxed but a lot of damage has been done, narratives set in motion, and anyway, I still find the whole thing so weird. Like, their marketing constantly tells us how great and unique surfing is, so they hire a bog ordinary English sports marketer who's never surfed in her life.

When I started writing about surfing a lifelong surf journo told me to keep surfing enthusiastically. It sounds like nonsense, of course I'm gonna keep surfing, but the point was to stay attached, think hard about it, your best ideas come when you're immersed in it.

So what ideas are coming to non-surf Sophie? How is she presenting surfing in a great and unique way?

If Phil Jarratt was so inclined, this stage of pro surfing could be another chapter in Salts and Suits. Possibly the best chapter yet.

Note to Phil: that's SurfStitch and the WSL - get to it!

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stunet Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:15am


I'm sure Dirk would be thrilled to see your trophy for Waterman of the Year.

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crg Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:21am

Aside from the contents of the speech (which are staggering), the very genesis of this entire performance/scripted PR is deeply, deeply flawed. The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (who??) taking it upon themselves to host an awards gala to honour the "Waterman and Woman" of the year. I must be significantly behind the times, as when I consider those terms I think of Jamie Mitchell, Kai Lenny, Laurie Towner, Keala Kennelly etc. Not for one second does it conjure up thoughts of two people who don't surf.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:24am

crg - we have similar associations in Australia - the Surf & Boardsports Industry Association Inc (SBIA) - though it's more retail focused.

And we also had the Australian Surf Craft Industry Association, though it hasn't been active for a few years.

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Lanky Dean Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:45am

From what i could take from the longest of speeches..... the following.
No one at the helm of the company surfs. Calls out semi secrete spots around the office.(surfed there, fun waves).

Where are they going? Well... still vigorously pushing towards the mainstream.
Alienating the core Audience more and more every day.

They are still trying to sell surf to the masses, the only problem is
They Still Don't Care.
( i remember reading a comment on here about a person at an airport in WA who said that while waiting for a flight. "That surfing was on the television. People watched teahupoo for about half a minute then looked away.")

I will agree with a few key points though.
-Calling out the overall format.
-Waiting ? holding times.....

The funniest or most remarkable thing for me is just how out of touch they are with even the the most normal of things (from a surfers perspective.)

At the end of the day the are just another business trying to make money
Pure and Simple.

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tubeshooter Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:50am

I thought that speech was some of the funniest shit I've read for a while, how gullible do they think anyone outside the WSL bubble is? . You can't polish a turd .

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blindboy Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:51am

Not sure that the Ziffs care about making money LD, more like getting to hang out with the cool kids or something. The dummy spit being because of something most learn in high school, hanging out with the cool kids doesn't make you cool.

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CryptoKnight Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:57am

Fucking 'ell! All I did is see some guys get pitted off their scones in bombs, on their positively stinkin' shitbox, fucked up, crappy, dick headed, useless, loser twinnies, and I got banned to the shithouse by surfee authorities, and was forced into all time non gratto'd!!!?? In a nutshell!!!

Thank God for blax. None of this shit happens there. Blax, the desert, the fish, sorts that whole lot out quicksmart!

Anyway, at the risk of further non gratting, this is all Pammy's fault. Most would of missed it. I saw it in slatts eyes. He was gone, way back then, the party was over. It was that same look I used to see in all the roaders eyes, as I drove by the pie cart, and they were all lined up... alone... again... bangles and beads glinting in the lights... in a nut shell, the girl laughing her 'ead off at 'em. They never recover from that look. That's what all this, and the list for that matter, is all about.

Just as long as he doesn't buy Pammy a surf school... oh fucking no!!!! Not that... no, for Gods sakes, not... that... NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!??? Surfin's doomed.

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Gary G Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:58am

Stu - not as thrilled as he'd be to really experience the trophy; it's quite tactile.

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spuddyjack Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 11:01am

Appallingly executed WSL control freak propaganda piece used as barely veiled subterfuge to go after bona fide journos' trying to cut through the orchestrated bullshit. Had to laugh on Dirk's sign-off with free hipster coffee warm fuzzy scat. Keep up the great work Ben and Stu.

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Lanky Dean Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 2:51pm

You must have forgotten that Swellnet exposed the actual viewing numbers.

You must have forgotten Swellnet exposed the wave pool location within 24 hours.

Remember LOL.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 11:26am

That was four years ago, and two and a half years ago, respectively. Been a lot happen since then!

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freeride76 Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 2:00pm

It might also have been forgotten that I broke the story on SN that Ziff was the Money man behind ZoSea;'s acquisition of ASP whilst at Bells after a long serving board member of ASP unhappy about what he saw as a hostile takeover let slip who was bankrolling it.

I also have a source in WSL right now who tells me there are some deeply unhappy about the management and the blowback over the botched Facebook rollout. Ziffs speech was actually aimed at them as a morale booster. Not for general consumption.

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truebluebasher Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 2:49pm

Reasons are stacking up as to why Swellnet dipped out on U.S. Open Webcast...
Many here might think that's not such a bad deal...
Pity about missing chix comp webcast!
Take a bow Swellnet on 7 straight Surfchix comps...the best I've seen. Deserves an Award! #

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saltyone Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 5:39pm

Stu- Spot on and well said. Couldn't agree with you more.

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Rabbits68 Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 8:53pm

Great commentary Stu. The whole WSL show is pretty werid alright.

Hey Cryto, this can’t be true can it? What about LeBron for a start?

“Thank you, Kelly.
It isn’t every day that you are introduced by the person who has put together the single greatest and most dominant career of any athlete, in any competitive sport, anywhere, ever in history. Pretty humbling. “

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CryptoKnight Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:15pm

'Stu- Spot on and well said'

'Great commentary Stu'

'Hey Cryto, this can’t be true can it? What about LeBron for a start?'

No rabs, its not (cryto either... get a new secretary). In a nutshell. Lebron? In case you didn't notice, Lebron, yeh, the one on all them lists... them lists that slattso... well, he doesn't pay and present awards to the owners, they pay him... $208,000,000...

Like I said, Pammy. It was all over from the start. The kid didn't have a chance. All the airs, twitchin', bunny hops, pools, ayahausca and aliens in the cosmos aint fixin' it. I seen that vacant look in 'em, aye but... they never come back... blax will do it to 'em too... Elvis would'a handled it different... in a nutshell!!!

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Rabbits68 Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 9:45pm

Sorry about the typo mate. Glad we’re on the same page though. I thought it was a truly outrageous claim myself.

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Roystein Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 10:26pm

This makes me sick to my stomach.
The absolute lack of integrity held by everyone associated with such a tripe laden load of rubbish is astounding.
I’m over it. I will not watch WSL again.
I am a peace loving human but this inspires me to want to burn pros who are contributing to this bullshit (recall pros behaviour threads at gc points).

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adam12 Wednesday, 8 Aug 2018 at 11:41pm

So they treated you as defunct in favour of their own marketing bullshit, and blackballed* you, yet you reprint said shit as distributed word for word, instead of doing some journalism and writing your own contest reports. It is exactly what I would do, but I am a cunt.

*not the Gary G. kind either

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truebluebasher Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 12:20am

To be fair I read the speech and comments over again.
Yes! The speech did address many aspects of competitive surfing but mostly it lacked cred.
Swellnetonians rightfully aired their concerns.

This bodybasher freely promotes WSL timetables & folks here know I'm no hater.
They ask us to call them out...Honestly It's not to tough at all.
What they need to improve is provided by more learned Swellnetonians.

Over generalizing & disregarding major civic sporting pride to fashion a handicap.
It is as weird as it sounds! WSL have no idea on how to win over the town any town!
Last Aussie townfolk WSL left in the lurch will vouch for that.

*Milking the fact that poor old surfing is stranded in the great outdoors...
*Surfing is free admission while it should be premium...
*Wonder how many of these sports would be successful today under those constraints...

C'mon! Comments are vacuous and churlish only pigeonholing surfing further.
Following is a list of free admission successful outdoor spectator sports. Wonder no more!
Mind you a surfing Rep would know this back to front even whose big top to pow wow.

Tour de France is a long winding affair with 15 million free spectators in your face
Pope pulled 6 million free followers when last in the Philippines.
Cambridge v Oxford Thames Boat Race banks 300,000 free spectators.
Americas Cup (No Prize Money) + Sydney to Hobart (No prize Money) both free to watch.
Marathons- Boston/ London/ New York/ City 2 Surf ...all free to cheer on.
(Gold Coast Marathon) 27,000 Competitors from 50 countries watched by 30,000 spectators
Aussies SLSA 7,000 Competitors Largest Surf Event in Oz.(Often postponed even cancelled)
Byron/Noosa Surf Festivals could easily handle some more free spectators.

Gold Coast fastest growing free outdoor events aren't even sports related.
Swell sculpture Festival has valued exhibits bombed by the weather still they bunker down.
Cooly Rocks On also showcases valuable relics as they rattle 'n' roll .
Broadbeach Blues Festival wet hepcats howling on every corner still the show must go on.

All events have grown to overshadow WSL Quicky/Roxy Pro.
Strange as Quicky Pro also gets more free publicity than all combined & none complain!

The bare bones naked truth shows you can't go on screaming it only rains on WSL parade.
Shark! Shark!..Good thing a Waterman can easily jump the shark.

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thermalben Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 6:37am

I'm actually very interested in Dirk's comments re: Facebook.

"(Facebook) have fully and humbly admitted to the full extent of their shortcomings... We remain hopeful that great things lie ahead for our partnership. It is certainly far too early to declare it a failure."

Executive speeches are important milestones for any company. Words and phrases are carefully chosen, and speechwriters are (usually) employed to make sure the message hits the mark. It's an opportunity to rally the troops, and confirm that your vision is well and truly on point.

That's why I'm perplexed at the inclusion of the phrase "... to declare it a failure."

They've only got one event under the belt with Facebook. But Dirk has now publicly stated that as a result of some intermittent streaming problems at J'Bay, its partnership with Facebook *might* be a failure - though it's "too early" to make a final judgement.

And, the sentence "We remain hopeful that great things lie ahead for our partnership" isn't overly encouraging - you'd think there'd be a little more public confidence in the WSL's deal with the world's largest media company of all time, with a market cap of around half a trillion US dollars.

Given the minuscule size of WSL's audience (and revenue) relative to that of Facebook, I am surprised that Dirk took this opportunity to publicly rekindle any negativity, which seemed to have largely disappeared in the weeks following J'Bay. It's not like there was a list of unanswered questions that needed to be addressed.. though his speech has now raised a few new ones.

Then again, as mentioned earlier, I suspect this speech was never expected to be made publicly available.

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stunet Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 7:42am

@Steve and Ben,

Going on content I'd dispute whether the speech was meant for public consumption. He refers to the journalists as "you", yet if he didn't want them to hear it he'd use "them".

This passage is a direct call out to people beyond the room:

"Some of you are here in this canyon. Journalists, and other influential voices who unload on social media. I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL."

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indo-dreaming Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 7:52am

My short attention span wouldn't allow me to get through the whole speech, but from what i read it seems a good thing pro surfing will never be a popular thing to watch, i mean even as a surfer i get bored and only catch select heats if it fits in with work etc

Thank god for huey and his unpredictable nature, and well I'm not against wave pools, but even in waves id love to surf Kelly comp was pretty boring after half an hour of watching.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 7:56am

Good point Stu.

In that case it’s even more baffling.

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shoredump Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 9:44am

Man, that must grate with you Stu. Keep us honest, what a load of bull. Deep breaths, and remember, the pool tour is a fantasy. It’s failing already and will continue to do so. The idea of the scheduled heats of course is spot on when it comes to viewership momentum, but jeeez, do they really think this hasn’t been thought through before? Wavepools will have moderate success for personal use, but no one wants to watch it Day in day out. Surfing both lives and dies on the fickle nature of the ocean. Surfing will always be pegged as a niche sport for many reasons. The cost and logistics of holding mega long waiting periods like the BWT. The fact that watching scheduled pool events will always be boring because it doesn’t connect with the core audience simply because it is unlike what the surfing experience really is. Only core audience members will ever have the patience to sit through some heats, because only a surfer can relate to the feeling of say, a pulsing set inbound. They are bound by nature, that’s just how it is. What they can do is change the format to fit in with single swells, and have a winner decided in the water.

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mikehunt207 Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 9:58am

I didnt realise about SN not being in the circle for the wsl, I actually thought being critical of the whole circus and lack of contest crapola are some of SN most endearing features anyhow. The sooner the whole wsl greedy shit show sinks into oblivion the better. A few "grumpy locals" and haters" ha ha a few million of them diff ya knob!

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ryder Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 11:12am

Be easy to say that there are more people disgruntled about the WSL circus than their total viewership at J'Bay for instance.

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truebluebasher Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 12:42pm

An excellent read leading from the top.Thanks for sharing your insightful comments guys.
shoredump might wanna checkout the sport of High Diving.
Platform divers earn equal amounts to fellow aquatic competitors in 5-15,000 seat arenas.

2013 Divers scaled scenic backdrops of postcard Bays to a sea of people.
High (cliff) Divers earn more than ever, competing before crowds of 70,000-80,000.
Leaving the turgid Olympic chlorine blend behind now the Sky is the limit.

Surfing now has a serious rival with PostCard package tours booked out light-years ahead.
A real athlete tour of cliff climbs-sea divers/river ramblers/ocean swimmers/bodybashers?
Natural Athletes would love a virgin seaside arena for a week/an hour/a second of the day.
If WSL Pro's could just flip back their Corona-bar stools an inch more! ....any minute now.

High divers spent a lifetime in the shadows finally escaping their shoebox .
WSL now rent it from them, wasting no time diving back in...(Daylight + clean water extra!)

soggydog's picture
soggydog's picture
soggydog Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 1:11pm

Surfing is a participator sport not a spectator sport. Dirk is just a non participant trying to turn a buck. I love watching the comps. Not a 100% sure but I could just turn it off. The red bull alternative seems like a bit of strokefest for the boys too.

Fleazool's picture
Fleazool's picture
Fleazool Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 1:37pm

I'm surprised everyone is so surprised by this speech.
There's always been a mild stink of arrogance coming from the WSL. It's now a business after all. Ignore the rusted on grumpy old locals at your peril. These are your only fans! Surfers don't really care that much about the details, just want to see some world class surfing in world class waves & the odd buzzer beater. Will even put up with shithouse commentary, waiting periods etc just to see it.
But cheap shots at the only people interested? Raising overcrowding as a likely result of their world domination. Really switched on marketing there!
The bald one must have given him the greatest sales pitch of all time, while playing on his apparent "love" of surfing. "Hey Dirk why don't you just buy pro surfing. You'll be heaps cooler hangin with me, & my pools are the future. In 10 years there'll be 100 pools around the world. Everyone land locked will now surf & WSL spectators will be in the billions. We can't lose. It's win win. Just keep me on the CT until we lock the first pool comp in"
Well, Slats wins. Dirk buys a lemon.

Phil Jarratt's picture
Phil Jarratt's picture
Phil Jarratt Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 2:21pm

Note to Stu: I think Nick and Seano have got the WSL covered, but I'm cutting and pasting like crazy just in case! For the record, SIMA have been handing out Waterman awards to industry figures for decades, and the recipient's acceptance speech frequently reported by the likes of the Orange County Register and EatShopSurf, if nowhere else because they are usually as boring as batshit. SIMA also contributes to charities and throws a pretty good pissup in Cabo every year, so they can't be all bad. Also for the record, and as if it matters, Dirk and Natasha may have come to it late but they do surf - Wingnut taught 'em! As for Dirk's maiden speech as WSL sugar daddy, I think it's great that he's pissed off with the media and Facebook and is prepared to tell the world. Adds a bit of colour to the palette, far more entertaining than anything I've heard from Sophie. I hope he comes out more often, so to speak.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 2:33pm

Proper parallel universe stuff this latest instalment.

Hands up who wishes Natasha was infatuated with beach volleyball instead of surfing.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 2:42pm

Happy to find out some more about SIMA and yes it appears they do some great charitable stuff. I flicked through their list of prior Waterman recipients and it reads a who's who of surfing history. At the very least they've jumped the gun handing it to the Ziff's so early on in their involvement in surfing. The only other recipients not purely related to their actual surfing but rather company or administrative contributions were Jack O'Neill, Bob McKnight, Hobie Alter and Fred Hemmings. Lifetimes in the industry.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 3:09pm

@ thermalben
Re Facebook.
There were some questionable remarks and i totally agree with the ones you suggested.
Aligning the company with Facebook definitely made sense, though my question is .
Wasn't Zoosea created to control the media/ broadcast ?
Have they turned their backs on their first or main focus of the buyout of the asp?

Conventional media is in a very confused area right now. Look at ' Ruperts take'.
-"Rupert Murdoch’s decision to sell much of his company could be viewed as a surrender, or it might turn out to be his most deft move yet, the one where he saves his company, and fortifies his family fortune. (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News)"

The WSL were probably faced with a tough decision to either align with the new media or be trampled or forgotten, or both. Forecasting the future of a business is one of the main keys to its success. I would also think that maybe they wanted both the Facebook deal and to be able to stream from their own platform. Though i feel that facebook may have been strong arming them for total control of publishing content.
Or somebody at Facebook really just Messed up big time and the WSL wants nothing to do with streaming content any more. Contracting out that great big liability to someone else.
Taking from the WSL response, they seem to be finalistic about the event (Facebook rollout)and they just don't seem to able to get over it.
Or maybe the WSL and Facebook rushed it and paid the price.

Next year is shaping up to be very interesting. They seem very committed to the new format.
I feel there will be fewer surfers on tour next year.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 3:40pm

Bottom line the WSL doesn't float. Overheads exceed income. Their apparent future business model requiring massive capital investment in wave pools makes no sense. Historically, professional competitive surfing has never been self-sustaining. It thrived on unjustifiable promotional expenditure by private companies riding a temporary surf clothing boom. Now it survives on the whim of a billionaire. In the process the promotional value of surfing has been massively diminished. From being just about the coolest thing happening on the planet at the turn of the 70s it has sunk into a netherworld between suburban middle age recreation and minor league sport. If there is any wider interest it is brief and focused on big wave riding. The WSL provides a tiny audience with occasional and unreliable entertainment. The mismatch between what they deliver and their rhetoric and over-weening self-importance is fertile ground for anyone wanting to take the piss. More sadly they seem trapped in some narrow conformist mentality that increasingly turns the surfers into faceless clones with no apparent individual personalities. It is this bland US style that alienates so many. Surfing used to be like a feast, so many personalities, so much passion, new designs, new locations, wild and unpredictable behaviour from all involved. The WSL have commodified it, mass produced it and turned the whole thing into a Big Mac with fries and a shake, if you are lucky. The first step in creating anything is imagination and tragically, to this point, the WSL have failed to show any. Their stale reductive vision of wave pool surfing timetabled to the demands of a television audience is out of date before it even happens.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 3:46pm

I think all that is right on the money BB.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 9 Aug 2018 at 4:10pm

Nicely put BB.