Archive for category: Action Sports

Remembering AI: A Fan’s Perspective

26 Dec
December 26, 2011

SURFER Tribute to Andy Irons

A lot has been written about Andy Irons from some of the surf world’s most notable personalities- people who knew Andy personally and interacted with him in a variety of ways.

So, I’ll offer some perspective coming from the rest of us– fans of Andy who knew him only through a prolific collection of videos, magazines and online webcasts, but who somehow still felt strongly connected to him, just as if he was one of our own crew paddling out, laughing, and sharing good times and bad with one another.

Keala Kennelly wrote in a moving tribute to Andy that her remembrance was “…one of the hardest things I have had to write about, because I don’t feel like anything I write will be good enough to honor Andy.”

Keala, if you happen to read this, it was better than “good enough”.

What was so beautiful about it is exactly what was so beautiful about Andy. It was an honest expression of emotion that came straight from the heart. And honesty in all things (writing, design, music, art, people…) is what ultimately makes them special and so compelling to all of us.

When I reflect on Andy’s passing, I do so coming from a perspective that is likely not too uncommon– that of a lifelong, die-hard Kelly fan, Andy’s long-time nemesis.

I viewed Andy as a “villain” (aka “asshole”) for a great part of his career until ultimately won over, not just by his incredible surfing, which was always undeniable; but by his fierce competitiveness, raw energy and passionate personality– no matter where that passion was directed.

But Andy’s rise from Antihero to Almighty, even amongst those of us who once rooted against him, wasn’t just about that endearing kinetic energy that oozed from him. No, what ultimately drove his popularity off the charts for all of us, the rest of us– even Kelly fans, was when he finally started owning his insecurities.

Not hiding them.

Not apologizing for them.

Just being authentic and admitting that he had them like everybody else. Just like Kelly himself did in front of Andy following the death of his father, as he so eloquently related in his own moving tribute to his career-long foe and good friend.

That’s why Andy became and remains one of my favorite surfers. 

 It’s one of the same reasons people are drawn to Dane. 

 And, it’s why Keala’s tribute wasn’t just “good enough”, it was freaking perfect.

You see– you can be a superhuman surfer… and still be human.

I didn’t know Andy, but I sure do miss him.

 

You can see a lot of that honesty on display in this gem of a video.

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

 

 

Kurtis Loftus Breaks Surf Marathon World Record for Breast Cancer

29 Oct
October 29, 2011

WOW- he did it!

Local Jax Beach surfer and design professional Kurtis Loftus surfed for 31 hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds this week, breaking the world record for longest surf session. Kurtis was surfing to raise money for 26.2 With Donna, The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, a hugely successful foundation established by beloved local newscaster Donna Deegan, who battled the disease herself.

As I noted in my post a week or so ago, I was fired up to be able to assist Kurtis in his attempt. After a hectic week in which the schedule was moved several times to coordinate with the most favorable weather/surf conditions (hard to do here in late October), the event was launched on Wednesday the 26th at 1:00 pm, ending at about 8:15 pm on Thursday the 27th.

Kurtis needed a minimum of 16 certified witnesses to verify and document his effort, as well as support and encouragement in the water. I was stoked to be able to do both, surfing with Kurtis from 9:00 pm – 1:30 am on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. As Kurtis notes in this article, surfing at night was extremely difficult. There was no moon at all and only minimal lighting that the local Jax Beach Lifeguard Station had set up (Shout-outs to them- those were “lifesavers”!)

I can state that after 4.5 straight hours of surfing, I just don’t know how Kurtis pulled fully 7x that amount. It was superhuman. Check out his knarly “zombie hands” in this post-event celebration when we gave him a champagne bath. I understand he slept for 7 hours afterwards, then was right back at it, alert and smiling at his desk in his office. Incredible.

Kurtis Loftus Breaks Surf Marathon World Record for Breast Cancer

 

Surfing during the night was an interesting experience. It was extremely difficult to see and the waves would get right up on you before you knew it. I’m a shortboarder, but brought a longboard to sit up as high as possible out of the water and have a lot of board beneath me in the event of unwelcomed sealife. Gnerally, conditions were very peaceful. The surf was about 1-2 ft., maybe a little bigger than that on sets and the water warm in a fullsuit. During the evening, I saw three good-sized dorsal fins (at various times) in the nearby area, but I believe all of them were dolphins. One was questionable, but I wasn’t going to be the one to disrupt the attempt in any way. There were also 4-5 guys in the water at most times, so I figured my odds were good.

One of the things that I loved about Kurtis’ attempt is that for him, this really wasn’t about a world record, but rather about genuinely trying to raise money for a cause he is truly passionate about. Kurtis loves to help people, loves surfing and very clearly loves challenges. He’s also got a lot of faith in Jesus Christ and I love all those things about him, because I relate to all of them.

Coincidentally, tonight, just one day following Kurtis’ successful finish, my wife, Gretchen and I went to drop off a meal to David and Ann Smith, friends of ours from church. Ann used to oversee our children’s ministry and has been undergoing chemotherapy for several months for breast cancer.

While we were there, we asked her if she had heard about Kurtis and/or Marathonsurfer.com. Of course, they had. She also immediately went on to share how much help Donna Deegan’s foundation had been to her and David, providing significant financial assistance for treatment, that without, might have resulted in financial calamity, or worse. And just that quick, we had a clear affirmation about the tangible importance of Donna’s foundation; why Kurtis did what he did; and why it is important for all of us to look for similar opportunities to use our own passions, imaginations and energies to help others. You may not break a world record, but you can change the world around you and make it a better place for all of us.

Postcript: I think it also important to note the very critical role of Kurtis’ wife, Margaret. In all the various press I’ve seen, I think I saw one article that mentioned her presence. Like Kurtis, Margaret stayed awake for the full 31+ hours. I was out there for the kickoff; checking in and out of my own time slot; and at the end; and I don’t think I ever saw Margaret sitting down one time.

Not once.

This was possibly even more callenging than being out in the lineup, where you are buoyed by adrenaline and much less succeptible to the temptation to just lie down, or to just go home and take a short nap.

Margaret also spearheaded the pre- and post-event coordination of scheduling and paperwork, of which there was more than you could imagine. I don’t believe that people accomplish feats of these sorts without extraordinary support from those closest to them- the kind of support that comes from relationships like the one Kurtis and Margaret, now well into their second decade of marriage, seem to enjoy. I know I have always blessed with a similar force (my wife, Gretchen) behind me who has always been there for every big and small effort I’ve ever seen fit to pursue, working as hard as she can to lift me up and help me achieve my goals. As I am sure Kurtis will relate, it is almost an unfair advantage. Hopefully Guinness will overlook Margaret, too. ; )

 

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

 

 

Fantasysurfer – Closing in on the Grand Prize… Again!

13 Oct
October 13, 2011

Fantasysurfer - Closing in on the Grand Prize... Again!Remember last year when I came oh-so-close to winning the Grand Prize in Surfer Magazine’s fantasysurfer.com contest? I battled my way all the way up to 195th place out of 16,866 players across the globe! As it ended up, Johnny Correll, a surfer and IT administrator from VA Beach won last year’s Grand Prize trip to Indo. He even checked into my blog afterwards to let me know that “Indo was epic!”

#@%^%!

Well, the last thing I wrote in that post was: “Have fun in Indo, Johnny. The next round of fantasysurfer starts in 60 days, and I intend to win it.”

So, here we are (9) months later, heading down the homestretch of the ASP World Tour. I’m proud to report that after the completion of (8) of (11) scheduled tour events this year (only three remaining), I have improved my position even further in this year’s competition, and am currently in 77th place out of 14,436 active traders! Oh, and my team is loaded for the final three events…

Where are you now Johnny?!! ; ))))

Unconditional Love

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

Unconditional Love

This is a shot of me and my two daughters, Kendall & Kaelyn, taken by my wife, Gretchen, while on a visit to Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica, in 2007. I’ve used this image as my Twitter background for over two years, but may change it soon to something more corporate. I’ve always loved this image, though. What’s so great about it is simply the emotion/love that’s communicated. I could theoretically fall on every single wave I attempted to ride and my girls would still come running to greet me at the water’s edge like I’m Kelly Slater emerging from a victorious World Championship heat! There’s no greater feeling!

Fun Day at Playa Negra in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

Fun Day at Playa Negra in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

 

This was the second (smaller) day of the swell. Good times!

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

18 Sep
September 18, 2011

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

The waves were perfect on September 6th, 2011, courtesy of Hurricane Katia. Clean, coming in well spaced-out sets, barreling with lots of power. I was out with good friend, David Brown, who pulled out a pocket camera to capture this moment. The rainbow stayed there all evening, along with an early-rising moon, shrimp boats with lights-a-twinkling, and just a few other lucky surfers out.

Shark Wants To Be In This Surfer’s Shot, Too!

18 Sep
September 18, 2011

Shark Wants To Be In This Surfer's Shot, Too!

 

Wow! Check out this photo that local Chase Nawrocki of St. Augustine, FL, captured earlier this week while out surfing with his deck-mounted GoPro camera. That guy in the background is just a little too close (and too big) for comfort! Out in the water, there are often times when we surfers wonder what might be over our shoulders. Now, we know! Thanks to Chase and the Surf Station for sharing this.

Greatest Skateboarding Tricks

24 Aug
August 24, 2011

OK, at 5,234,888 views you’ve probably seen this one. Poor quality, but spectacular content. Classic. I just love it. I was never much of skateboarder. A lot of athletes can do both. However, ideally, you learn to skate before you learn to surf. I believe it easier to translate skating skills to surfing, than the other way ’round. learned to surf before I learned to skate and could never pull that surfing style (with big carving turns) out of my system, which you’ve got to be able to do for skateboarding, at least on ramps. I did get into street skating for a time, but never anything like you see here. Another thing I like about this video is the Ten Years After tune. Great music choice. Nice editing. Enjoy! 

Matt Meola – $100,000 Innersection.tv Winning Edit

06 Mar
March 6, 2011

A friend of mine just shared this winning video of Matt Meola from the much-heralded Innersection.tv contest and I, in turn, am sharing it here with you. This spot was filmed and directed by Elliot Leboe of ACL Digital Cinema. Beautiful work, amazing surfing. Mindblowing.

Fantasy Surfer: Oh So Close to the Grand Prize!

28 Dec
December 28, 2010

Fantasy Surfer: Oh So Close to the Grand Prize!

I’m a big fan of professional surfing and follow the ASP World Tour pretty closely each year. I love to watch the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves and end up watching most of the contests online. A few years ago, Action Sports Group, the media company behind Surfer, Surfing, Snowboarder, Powder, Bike, Skateboarder and several other great media titles, started an online fantasy surf league called Fantasysurfer.com. The object of Fantasy Surfer is to utilize a $50 million payroll to build a team of 8 surfers for each contest, choosing from the 40 -50 entrants for each World Tour event.

I’ve done pretty well each year that I’ve played and don’t think I’ve ever finished below the top 90% of all players. This year, I almost won the thing. Check out the stats from my team’s (Rightcoastrules) screenshot from the final event, the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, which commenced on Dec. 16th, 2010. There were 94,199 total registered users, most of whom dropped out at some point during the year. There were 16,866 active users who actively played all year for the title. I came in 195th. That’s the top 99.99% of all active players!

Johnny Correll, a surfer and IT administrator from Virginia Beach was this year’s winner. The Grand Prize that I almost won that Johnny will now be enjoying was a nine day trip for two to the Nemberala Beach Resort in Indonesia with all expenses paid! Dammmmmmmmmm youuuuuuuuuuuuu Johnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There, I feel better.

An interesting note: Take a look at my last team lineup to see an example of my maddening mix of brilliance and careless oversight.

As you can see, I had actually selected the event’s eventual winner, France’s Jeremy Flores. I doubt there were many who made this same call. Jeremy is a solid mid-level guy, really skilled in most kinds of surf, though not exactly known for his big wave surfing in Hawaii. On the other hand, you can see that I also had Andy Irons on my team. As most in the surf world know, Andy had passed away tragically from a serious illness just weeks earlier. In fact, the entire event was dedicated to his memory.

I still had $2 million available to pick up one surfer, which generally affords you a wild card entry, usually a local talent from the area that is hosting the event. In Hawaii, the wildcards are usually pretty good and legitimated threats. I had been using Andy as a placeholder on my team as a sort of tribute to him, and had intended to scout the available wildcards prior to the event’s start and select one in place of Andy. As it happened, I got very busy and then sick myself, and ultimately the contest began with my not making an alternate selection there and leaving $2 million sitting on the table that could have been put to great use by either selecting a wildcard or upgrading one of the other surfers. There’s no certainty as to what that might have done for my event and overall scores, but leaving it the way it was certainly didn’t help.

Have fun in Indo, Johnny. The next round of fantasysurfer starts in 60 days and I intend to win it.

SURFER Tribute to Andy Irons

18 Dec
December 18, 2010

SURFER Tribute to Andy Irons

This is a really nice video tribute to 3x World Champion surfer, Andy Ironswho passed away on November 2nd of this year at the age of 32. Andy died alone in a Dallas hotel room, during a layover while en route from a professional surfing event that he had withdrawn from in Puerto Rico, to his home in Kauai, Hawaii. He reportedly had been battling with Dengue Fever, a viral disease that had left him too sick to travel further.

Like many others in the surf world, I was shocked and deeply saddened by this stunning loss. Andy was a first time father-to-be. His wife Lyndie has since given birth to their healthy son.

The qualities I admired most about Irons aside from his incredible surfing were his fierce competitiveness, raw energy and passionate personality. He wore his emotions clearly on his sleeve, so you always had a good idea about what he was feeling at any given moment, whether that was euphoria after a heat victory or anger and frustration following a defeat. 

He was the only surfer to legitimately challenge the supremacy of Kelly Slater during his 15 year reign, winning three titles in row from him from 2002-2004. He did it with fearless surfing that was an exciting mix of power and finesse; that often seemed out-of-control, when it was anything but. He excelled in all types of surf and was equally adept above the lip and inside the largest pits. 

There’s a great line in this video by former World Champ, Mark Occhilupo, who summarized Irons’ surfing style as, “like a cat on acid”. That’s incredibly accurate.

The end of the video is pretty powerful as several of Andy’s close friends and family (including his brother, Bruce), try to make sense of this tragedy and express what his loss means to them and the rest surfing world. Clearly, a lot more time is going to have to pass before anyone can really say, if ever.

 R.I.P. Andy and prayers to your family and friends.

Kelly Slater Wave Company: The Next Ultimate Wave?

06 Dec
December 6, 2010

Kelly Slater Wave Company: The Next Ultimate Wave?

Safe to say, even if you don’t surf, you know who Kelly Slater is. He’s the world’s greatest surfer. King Kelly. A legendary 10x world champ who even at age 38, in a time when most progressive surfing is regularly performed above the wave, has somehow remained fit enough and good enough to routinely beat surfers years his junior, from all around the planet.

And now the greatest surfer in history wants to build the best wave in the world.

It’s an interesting prospect, only because it comes from someone whose understanding of the ocean and the sport are second only to his determination and will to succeed.

I remember seeing Kelly surf in person on a road trip to Sebastian Inlet back in my early twenties. Kelly was just 14 at the time and already getting national attention. He was there for the ESA Regional Championships. We just happened to arrive in time to catch the Superheat, where the winners of each division compete against each other in a final, decisive high-performance session to see who is the best of the best.

Kelly had already won his division and was surfing against several older, more experienced men. There was a northeaster blowing and the waves at Sebastian were large and sloppy, far from ideal conditions. But let me tell you, when Kelly dropped in, he made every wave look flawless. Not just good. Not just great… but jaw-dropping, “OMG, can you believe that?” otherworldy good. And everyone on the beach that day recognized it.

He surfed fast, fluid and stylish, blasting every sliver of open face, effortlessly connecting beautiful maneuvers while intuitively navigating every tricky section. It was clear, even back then, that he wasn’t just a natural. He was supernatural.

Today, as freakish as 10 world titles sounds, it doesn’t surprise me. He’s just that good. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to follow his career through my own lifetime, because I don’t expect his accomplishments will ever be matched. This is also the reason I won’t summarily dismiss his vision to build the world’s first natural, deep-water world-class wave.

According to a press release, the Kelly Slater Wave Company will use “pioneering wave generation and control technology to create the wave on the outside of a large circular pool, propogating onto an inner island where it breaks endlessly.” Slater suggests that the wave, inside a planned surf park with beaches, restaurants, bars, pools, conference facilities and retail will come close to reproducing the “natural”feeling of one of the world’s best waves.

Hmmmm… really?

A few years back, I had the opportunity to surf Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon with just a few friends after the park had closed for the day. The waves there seemed to start with 4’ peaks that quickly receded to 2’ lines that weren’t endless. While reasonably fun and consistent, between the stadium lights; eerie sounds of the hydromechanics; soft, punchless waves and chlorine smell, the experience was far from natural.

Even if Kelly’s engineers have devised a way to double the size and power of the waves, there are some things about surfing that simply can’t be duplicated by men, even supernatural ones.

The inconsistent nature of swells that makes chasing them so exciting, and an integral part of the surfing experience.

The unique characteristics of individual waves that allow us to enjoy a variety of experiences on each and every one we ride.

The subtle risks of dangers like shallow reefs, clean-up sets and sea creatures we can’t always see, that open our adrenal glands to their addictive flow.

The infinite beauty of God’s handiwork, which varies so dramatically from ocean to ocean, beach to beach, break to break, right down to the locals sitting next to us in the lineup.

Of course, I’m sure Kelly already understands all this better than most.

So, I won’t do the easy thing which would be to scoff at his vision; dismiss it as idealistic; unrealistic in this uncertain economy; or opportunistic at the expense of “surfers” from places like Indiana or Ohio, who only understand surfing through movies like Point Break; magazines like SURFER; and the big brand surf tees they buy in their local mega malls. They deserve to experience the thrill and joys of surfing as much as any of us.

Instead, I’ll lay money down that Kelly will leverage his incredible personal and financial resources; visionary imagination; and passion for surfing, including his unyielding desire to advance the sport and share it; to create something that will exceed all of our expectations. Something that will leave us standing slack-jawed, looking at the person next to us and saying, “OMG, can you believe that?”

To learn more about the Kelly Slater Wave Company, visit Slater’s YouTube Channel where he shares more of his vision in a series of videos.

Kelly Slater Wave Company: The Next Ultimate Wave?

 

Safe is Risky: The Rewards of Facing Your Fears

04 Dec
December 4, 2010

"Safe" is Risky: The Rewards of Facing Your Fears

The 2010 Winter Olympics are behind us and I for one am sad to see them go. There were so many compelling moments that defined the Vancouver Games for me, from snowboarder Shaun White’s incredible Double McTwist 1260 in the half-pipe (a trick only he can perform); to Apolo Ohno passing the Chinese team in the anchor lap of the 5000 meter short track relay to become the most decorated American in Winter Olympic history; to the final frantic seconds of regulation and overtime in the US–Canada gold medal hockey game. But nothing brought me to edge of my seat like Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller’s exhilarating performances in the men’s and women’s downhill.

What I love so much about all of our Olympic Athletes and find so well-exemplified in these two in this event, is their absolute understanding and embracement of a simple, but profound principle, one I believe creatives should never forget: That distinguishing achievement often requires more than talent and training; more than skill and desire; more than preparation or luck. It most often requires exceptional courage and a willingness to take extraordinary risks. And that’s not easy or natural for anyone.

Consider that when Vonn raced, in addition to a badly bruised leg, she also faced the pressures of a spectacular run by teammate Julia Mancuso, just moments earlier. Vonn was rattled. But rather than downplay the moment, Lindsey’s husband and coach, Thomas, who had just finished watching Mancuso’s blazing finish from his position at the bottom of the hill, radioed up to his wife, who was nervously fidgeting at the starting gate, specifically to confirm for her that Mancuso had just completed a “special run”; and to relate, “You’re going to have to be perfect to win.”

Vonn would later state that this simple, strategically calculated message from her husband allowed her to “focus on that challenge” and “let go of her fears”. She subsequently took the most aggressive lines all the way down the mountain, coming perilously close to wiping out at nearly every turn. The result: she beat Mancuso’s “sepcial run” by over a full half-second.

Likewise, ignoring treacherous course conditions resulting from warm weather and light snow, Bode Miller attacked the downhill course with reckless abandon to become the first American men’s skier to stand on the podium for that event since Tommy Moe, sixteen years ago. His bronze medal time was 1:54.40, only nine one-hundredths of a second behind gold medalist, Didier Defago, the smallest differential ever between gold and bronze in Olympic history. Said Miller of his and the American team’s performance: “We went after it. We weren’t scared. We were always aggressive.”

Of course, while a willingness to lay it all on the line can pay huge dividends as it did in both of these instances, it never guarantees success, and often sets the stage for spectacular failure. Later, attempting to go 5 for 5 in Olympic events in the slalom –the one event for which he had not won an Olympic medal– on a challenging course of sticky, wet snow that was proving difficult for many of the racers, Miller did not change his approach. The consequence: he ran into trouble almost right out of the gate. Said Miller,  “It’s unfortunate to go out so early, but you have to take risks… and I did.”

I believe creatives from designers, to copywriters, to marketing strategists should take the same approach as Miller, Vonn and others and not allow themselves to be constrained by fear. I appreciate creatives who are willing to explore their most conceptual ideas, even if it results in more misses than hits. I know that doing so will give them their best chance to come up with something great, which is the only thing I ever want to present to a client.Great creative work must always take a point of view. It has to have “something to say” to be memorable. Remember that people respond to “different” and “unpredictable”. In this sense, “safe” is risky. The real problems begin when fear- the fear of mistakes, the fear of looking foolish, the fear that someone won’t “get” your idea, prevents you from saying anything at all.

I once heard Jeff Kling, ECD of Euro RSCG put it this way: “Screw-ups are tools of evolution. They help us survive.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement. Remember also that in the business of marketing and advertising, we’re not looking to connect with the 80% of people who may not “get”, like, or even care about our creative, but rather the 20% who do and are inspired to act upon it.

So the next time you’re faced with a daunting creative challenge (or business challenge, or life challenge), don’t allow yourself to become compromised by fear. Rather, recognize that most of life’s rewards do not come without risk; that we all fall down sometimes; and that even those instances leave us better prepared to make some truly extraordinary runs in the future.

If nothing else, we’ll put people on the edge of their seats. At least for marketers, that’s our job.

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