First Championship Tour Without Quiksilver Since 1988

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

Overnight, the Wozzle released their 2023 Championship Tour schedule and, for the first time in 34 years, Quiksilver aren't sponsoring a top tier competition.

To be completely accurate, Quik also didn't sponsor one last year, but as 2021 was little more than a notional tour - a barely cobbled together hotch-potch of stops - their absence is more conspicuous in 2023, especially after this year reviving their jungle days in G-Land.

Through the late-70s and early-80s, Quiksilver played a very minor role in pro surfing. From 1976 through to 1984 they sponsored the Quiksilver Trials at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach - the pre-QS system of qualifying into the main event.

In 1984, they pulled out of pro surfing altogether, throwing their lot in with big wave riding by creating the Eddie Aikau Invitational. It was a very deliberate extraction. The Eddie was deemed a better fit for the company which once ran a slogan: "If you can't rock and roll, don't fuckin' come."

Clearly, eighties blow wave pros weren't the vehicle Quiksilver were looking for.

As well as the Eddie Aikau Invitational, Quiksilver invested in other cultural touchstones such as film and video, with a slew of releases that crossed the gamut from goofy (Kong's Island, Mad Wax) to cutting edge (The Performers, All Down The Line).

In 1988, Quik signed Tom Carroll to a "million dollar contract" - in actual fact $200,000 a year over five years - and this precipitated a movement back towards pro surfing. When they signed Kelly Slater in 1990 for a large, yet undisclosed amount, Quiksilver was clearly back on the pro surf bandwagon.

In 1989, they sponsored their first top tier contest, the Quiksilver Lacanau Pro in France, which became the Quiksilver Surfmasters, then also expanded through the newly-created Qualifying Series, before consolidating all those QS events into the 1995 G-Land Pro, which ran in '96, and '97 before the Asian financial crisis saw Quik pull their bucks from Indonesia and launch the first CT at Cloudbreak.

By the end of the century, Quiksilver had become the biggest surf company in the world, largely on the back of solid marketing and not a little help from then-six time World Champ Kelly Slater. From 2002 onwards, Quik went all in on the CT, sponsoring three contests in a twelve-contest circuit. In 2003, they increased that to four - a full third of the tour - and they did the same again in 2004.

In 1998, Quiksilver sponsored what would've been the fourth G-Land contest, however it was cancelled due to civil unrest. Despite a lack of competition, Quik still made a video, which underscores why they poured money into pro surfing - for ratings points it ain't. The next year, the resources from G-Land went towards the first Fiji Pro.

It's worth noting that, despite all the money Quiksilver poured into the CT, very little went towards the QS. Perhaps one local contest every two or three years was the extent of Quiksilver's attention to the second string tour, though they did continue with cultural events of a different flavour, bankrolling the Quiksilver Crossing, and the Quiksilver Masters. Not to be confused with Surfmasters, the Masters was Quik's way of keeping the older folk involved. Less a surf contest than a reunion for the greying and balding.

After 2008, Quik stripped down to its two mainstay contests, the season-opening Snapper Rocks, and the bulwark of the Euro leg, the Quik Pro France (nee Surfmasters). What happened to Quiksilver post-GFC has been covered elsewhere - Phil Jarratt even wrote a book about it - but the result was a slow withdrawal from pro surfing, guided, not by cultural interests, but by the suits protecting the bottom line.

Earlier this year, the Quik Pro France was demoted to a QS, however before it was even run the contest was cancelled. Now, the Quik Pro G-Land is off the schedule too. Those two stories can't be seen as separate from the news that Quiksilver - now known as Boardriders, and itself owned by a Oaktree Capital, a venture capital firm - is a shadow of its former self.

As much as pro surf involvement can be used as a gauge for company health, Quiksilver's well-being can be charted through the yearly schedules, from a peak in 2003 with four contests and revenue of just under a billion dollars, to today when they have no contests, nor any cultural mission, and are more commonly thought of - if they're thought of at all - as a once-great company.

Comments

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick Tuesday, 20 Sep 2022 at 7:40pm

Once the suits get involved, a sad & gradual decline, just like pro surfing, won’t miss any of it & certainly don’t buy their clothing with their signature all over it just to show others I surf! …..yawn!

Hoodie's picture
Hoodie's picture
Hoodie Tuesday, 20 Sep 2022 at 8:09pm

A real shame. Who is next? The Curl?

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 Tuesday, 20 Sep 2022 at 8:56pm

Geez they made some good gear that sucked us 70s and 80s teenagers in though didn't they.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:36am

Loved wearing those little boardies.......didnt think of them as short at the time but laugh when i see a photo now of back in the day.....anyway lived in those damn things ......those were the dayz !

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:49am

Quiksilver's latest 'collaboration' is with Stranger Things (and thus Netflix).

I don't know what to make of it.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:27am

Iggy and Billabong did the colab thing better.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:36am

No they didn't.

Neither were any of the 'collabs' with Metallica, Dr Seuss, Red Hot Chill Peppers, Andy Warhol, Peugeot, Foo Fighters, Manly Sea Eagles, Julien David, The Standard Hotel, etc.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:46am

Ha ha. Fair enough.
Dr Suess? I'm gunna have to look that one up. You forgot Garrett and Mercedes.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:47am

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:52am

Hilarious. How can you not like that? Johnny says stay cool. Breath in breath out. Lol

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:55am

Must admit, the Lorax ain't a bad dude. We've got a few Dr Seuss books on the shelf.

I just question the viability of all of these collabs, and whether they shift the needle. Because every non-endemic partnership proportionally degrades the brand's core relevance.

Just my 2c anyway.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:06am

The needle is already in the red...... Product reaches maturity - change the colour, change the message, innovate, diversify...whatever they can do to extend the lifecycle.....Marketing 101. I wonder - do Patagonia sell board shorts? Or maybe I'll take a trip to the op shop - on the other hand I think I have a pair of my old footy shorts in the cupboard. I'm thinking too way much this morning. I need a cup of tea.

Rubicon's picture
Rubicon's picture
Rubicon Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 12:10pm

I think you two should get together and put out a joint statement on this whole collaboration thing

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 2:54pm

Not sure if I detect sarcasm in your comment or not (it'd be justified given I've hijacked the thread a bit). Here's another colab and then I'm done. Can't find products on the Quikky site, so maybe sold out? I always had kind of a soft spot for Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Quiksilver+Peanuts+Shorts&tbm=isch&hl=en...

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:04pm

Found the Peanuts collab.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:13pm

Peanuts makes a good example. A brief search brings up the following collabs:

Vans
Element
Lacoste
Levi's
Undone
Sushi Train
Swatch
Lacrosse Unlimited

So.. how does a collab with Quik move the needle?

Of course, it doesn't.

But, surfers no longer want to wear brands that undertake gimmicky shit like this, so it's a lose/lose for the brand.

IMO.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:37pm

I wonder how much of their customer base is surfers anymore? Sure they want the brand to speak to those who consider the surfing lifestyle cool, hip, desirable or whatever. How is that lifestyle defined now anyhow? Like McDonalds, they have multiple markets to target. Similar to the discussion on the other thread about the Wozzle - they're leaving us behind and chasing other markets.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:41pm

Absolutely. And thus we come full circle: Quiksilver are (essentially) no longer sponsoring surf contests.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 4:07pm

P.S. I'd wear a snoopy / quikky shirt only not in public. (Note the profile pic).

Rubicon's picture
Rubicon's picture
Rubicon Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:35pm

None to detect mate! Lacking the sophistication for sarcasm I was aiming at situational irony...

The "Waterman" range for the chain store BCF certainly stands out as a giant beige nail in the coffin of Quiksilver's credibility..

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:38pm

Cheers Rubicon - see post above yours on my thoughts about this very thing.

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 8:34am

Still have Mikey Wright and Zeke Lau in their stable. I see Mikey has his own dedicated line of clothes and merch they are pushing

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 8:47am

That’s like the road trip we took in the 70s but the mechanic who took our cash was Dick Bushell in Yamba

sales-rep's picture
sales-rep's picture
sales-rep Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:55am

https://beachgrit.com/2022/09/rumour-vf-corp-owner-of-vans-just-bought-b...

Marketing budgets would have been frozen with the impending sale. They'll be back.

peabo's picture
peabo's picture
peabo Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:14am

Basically all major surf brands have sucked for a long time now. Support smaller scale operations, even if it costs you a bit more.

nolocal's picture
nolocal's picture
nolocal Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:37am

stopped scribbling Quiksilver on my pencil case and school desk years ago.

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 1:44pm

Hope the stuff ends up in Target, beats the shit out of piping hot.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 2:45pm
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 3:51pm

Sick. Bargain! These would have to be $80 in a surf shop.

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock Saturday, 24 Sep 2022 at 6:23pm

A bargain for a dollar Icandig.
Couldn't find my size though.

peetB's picture
peetB's picture
peetB Saturday, 24 Sep 2022 at 4:09pm

Loved their boardies back when they had the logo with the "stitching" around the edge, in Stu's top (L) pic - never liked the 'newer' late 80s logo as much.

MGB's picture
MGB's picture
MGB Saturday, 24 Sep 2022 at 8:05pm

Worked for qs through thier heyday peak right down into the trough, left not so long ago.....what a mess it all was here in oz when i left. i dunno what its like overseas, but here sds effectively call the shots for qs, bb, roxy ect. cause the wholesale market is dead, and majority of stock is pumped through thier own network of "family brand" stores, so the tail wags tge dog. also most competant middle and upper management has been made redundant/left and in thier place are a bunch of over worked, underpaid and underqualified yes men and women with 0 connection to surfing. it was a grim last few years there.....fuckin shame......cause contrary to popular belief, the joint was pretty core not so long ago.....