Review: 'How Surfers Get Paid' // A Stab Series
I can only imagine the grin on the director’s face.
The first episode of Stab’s new series, How Surfers Get Paid, opens with Jordy Smith sitting on a North Shore lawn. “That period was probably the toughest and hardest period of my life,” says Jordy while seated on a wicker chair, toes pointed inwards like a child.
“We got sued. I’m not even allowed to talk about it, but…”
But talk Jordy does. He talks about how he was served a writ on the sand of Huntington Beach immediately after surfing a heat of the US Open, and how his parents then lost their house, and the whole Smith clan had to move in with their gran for eight months.
Even better - at least from a viewer/voyeur’s perspective - Stab then film Jordy’s nemesis, who talks candidly about how, yes, his company sued Jordy Smith, going into detail about the hitherto unknown chapter of Jordy’s life. There’s no innuendo or speculation involved; both parties talk openly about the event. Time has passed but clearly there’s no love lost. Just getting them to agree to appear in the one project is a feat of negotiation and trust.
So of course the director of How Surfers Get Paid, would be smiling. As a means of grabbing viewer’s attention, it’s a stunning way to open a series - and a worthy intro for a review too.
Ostensibly, How Surfers Get Paid is an extension of Stab’s long-running Rich List - the latter a Forbes-style dick swing for movers and shakers. Although How Surfers Get Paid shares DNA with its predecessor, it presents as a very different beast, moving well beyond a mere list to tell the story of modern day professional surfing. It has more in common with Salts and Suits, Phil Jarratt's 2010 book, albeit in a video series.
There are no overdubs or narration, or even any surfing action, the story is told via interview footage with pro surfers and industry players past and present. Some of them are very comfortable airing old skeletons, and it’s not just Jordy. Strider Wasilewski’s drug smuggling story is told so matter-of-factly the illegality just floats on by. Notable in the roster is athlete agent and film producer Circe Wallace, otherwise known as the wife of Chas Smith. It’s only a small part but may explain the recent truce between Stab and Beach Grit.
The full project will be six episodes long, but Stab plans to film, edit, and release it in two-episode blocks. The reason for this is telling: They wanted the first two episodes to air so they could gain the trust of other intended participants. Modern media consumers expect a hero and a villain, and to be fair, Stab have had their hand in much villainy over the years, but for this story to succeed it needs both sides to be told.
The bigger story isn’t the good or the bad, it’s the commercial culture that surfing developed at certain points in time; that occasionally allowed millionaires to sprout, or decimated them till they sought more desperate means of survival. ‘Survival’ being paid to surf for a living of course.
Commerce has always provided the most outward-facing aspect of surfing, so in a sense How Surfers Get Paid is a historical document of the sport. You may despise the marketing of surfing, take a purist’s approach to how it’s been exploited, but How Surfers Get Paid documents a large slab of its history.
It’s worth noting that How Surfers Get Paid is linked to Stab’s recent shift in business model. Where once they were beholden to advertising (think website clicks and hits), they’ve now switched over to a subscription-based website (who gives a shit about clicks, are the paying readers happy?). So, for one, this series is right up their laneway with juicy gossip and insider talk, but it’s also free of advertiser tinkering. No longer is the mission to ‘increase advertiser reach’ or some other antiquated internet metric, but rather to entertain Stab’s new paymasters - the subscription holders.
At a smidge over thirty minutes an episode, the length feels about right for a series that has no surfing, just talking heads and period footage linked by title cards (heads up, Stab, get someone to proofread those).
Much as Phil Jarratt was ostracised for “talking out of school” when he wrote Salts and Suits, I could imagine some industry people tut-tutting the content in the first two episodes of How Surfers Get Paid. Who knows, perhaps those very same people will appear to tell their story in one of the coming four episodes?
'How Surfers Get Paid' is a six-part series that's begun airing on Stab. Yeah, it's premium content (read: subscription only)
Stab has been putting out some pretty good shit for a while now. Well produced, innovative and entertaining. Thank Christ they’ve finally shunned the “Hey, Honey” remnants of Reilly’s reign and found their own voice.
I’ll be watching this for sure.
Good write up Stu. Cheers legend.
This might be good but that stab on the road thing they just did was the most cringe-worthy embarrassing vomit inducing thing I’ve seen for a long time.
Also that Ashton dude could not possibly try any harder to be “pals” with all the pro surfers. He’s a sickening unit
Both your points are correct.
Although the Aussie road trip was much less worse than the Septic version. That thing was heinous.
That whole premise was a rip off of Thrasher magazines King of the Road competition series. Which is fucking excellent. Skateboarding is hardcore.
Surfing has Slater but skateboarding has Tony Hawk. Skateboarding wins.
King of the road is awesome.
+1 on that gf, a paid sub for all the juicy goss in pro surfing is wasted money, better of paying for an extended forecast in the real world.
Stab are actually succeeding at what the WSL tried to do - monetise pro surfing adjacent content. Elo's Oprah lens doomed anything the WSL did to failure while Stab's connection to the core gave them a fighting chance. WSL's misteps have spawned engaging content though - Beachgrit wouldn't exist if they weren't so hapless.
Hapless. Perfect word for Woz' "missteps".
" how surfers get paid " most of us fortnightly by our employers.
In a perfect world pro surfers would still get by on the dole instead of exposing spots and pro footy players would still be chasing garbage trucks instead of 24/7 auditions for Australia’s Got Entitled Dumb Cnts.
Love your work!!!
Truth bombs from DSDS
If only a few parents of the next big things at a few local beaches would watch this.
Is it possible this series will shed some light on what happened to the 89 world champ?
What do you mean? What happened..?
Disappeared from the Turps tag commentary team
A mate of mine reckons it's because of his persistent exclamation of "man turn" during heats. As in, "that was a real man turn from De Souza", when the Wozzle is angling for gender parity in all aspects of surfing.
Valid theory but I doubt the topic will appear in the Stab series. They're shooting a bit higher than that.
I think he just wasn't that great. He used to frustrate me with his constant praise of safe surfing and "just getting it done". Barton was SO much better, but I reckon to WSL ran a mile when he started speaking his mind during the pandemic.
He just got a bit stale. You can only call so many heats with the same repertoire of phrases. The great commentators evolve, the good ones get repetitive and the bad ones suck from dot.
Well to be fair, as far as minds go, Barton's doesn't provide much in the way of back up for his insatiable desire to keep speaking no matter what.
I think different,
Either way he bailed and has not been seen since.
Probably the most shocking was his love of safety surfing.
For one of the Air pioneers to be so against progressive surfing was baffling
One thing you cant take away from him though is his world title 89
isn't that the year Joe ?
just found this- might be worthwhile https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/101-martin-potter-pt-a/id114632926...
Click bait you low lifes I want to know who why and when Jordy got sued.
whereas I along with most sane people couldn't give a rats arse
Same, but if you really want to know it's because he reneged on a handshake deal with Billabong once he found out what other companies were willing to pay to sign him.
pardon me if I don't have enough room in my life to bother putting any effort into trying to even slightly comprehend what that means
Yeah, I can imagine you’re the type of loser who’d need several hours to parse the basic syntax of that single paragraph. Too busy struggling through a mundane existence hey bloke.
Be better if he included some sexual suggestion to Ann-Maree, but I get a kick out of reading Wallpaper's posts in the voice of Agro.
Nah. Agro was funny.
Just think….the guy doing Agro would be in gaol if he tried the same stuff these days. He’d need a Billabong collab to rehabilitate his public image.
no mate not at all. Though i do think it is important to make sure that you express yourself clearly when you have something interesting to say, which wouldn't bother you because you've never got anything to say that is of the slightest interest to anybody except for fucking dropkicks like yourself. hey bloke
so back to your hellman surftalk and soggy tissues hey bloke
Latest episode (#3) dropped this week and it's a vivid reminder of how batshit crazy the surf industry went in the first decade and a bit of this century; companies throwing millions at teens with a bit of promise.
The premise of this episode is Nike entering surfing and how it shook everything up. It's not mentioned, but the take home for me is that throughout surfing history there's always been someone with more money than sense willing to throw it all at surfing. At various times, surfers have survived on these benefactors, the current one being Dirk Ziff of course.
Nike's dalliance with surfing comes across, less like a business strategy, where the rules of business must be adhered to etc., and more like another impetuous twat with too much coin wanting to do whatever they can, because they can.
They also empowered the inner twat in their sponsored surfers - one of them in particular.
After Episode 1 I was searching eBay for a pitchfork to impale Paul Naude, but after watching this episode I'm ready to chair that fucker up the beach.
....or at least avoid any major arteries when I do stab him.
Best thing Swellnet ever did was turn our back on the surf industry.
"Best thing Swellnet ever did was turn our back on the surf industry."
You did? I guess that depends on how you define 'surf industry.'
Anyway, a throwaway line, the episode and its contents are more compelling.
“ They also empowered the inner twat in their sponsored surfers - one of them in particular.”
Well come on, name names. I ain’t subscribing to stab
Everyone loves a guessing game so here’s your clues:
From Sunshine Coast
Low slung style
Had a lot of time for puka shells as a youngster
BTW …haven’t seen the Stab series yet but I do fully side with anyone who puts demands on “That unnamed brand” . Pretty hard to feel sympathy with a company which made billions off the back of exploitive sweatshop labour. Well done sticking it to those cnts.
Stab has a free trial for 7 days. I might jump on for a week just for this series.