Tag Archive for: The Inertia

Instalove from Radimus Platypus

05 Jun
June 5, 2016
Radimus Platypus Instagram

A shout-out from the Radimus Platypus Instagram Channel for the recent book review I wrote on their behalf, for The Inertia. The article detailing author Mikey Bondoc’s inspiring story and killer book series earned over 430 Facebook likes!

Meet Radimus Platypus: The Web-Footed Shredder Who Will Inspire a New Generation of Learners

30 May
May 30, 2016

Radimus PlatypusAsk anybody who has ever stood up on a wave and they’ll tell you there’s nothing like that first time. It’s an incredible feeling you never forget, one that can change your life. The same is true of skateboarding and snowboarding. Mastering these admittedly challenging skills is so exhilarating, not only because of the pure joy we experience when performing them, but the self-confidence we gain as a result. Such moments lead us to believe that if we can accomplish these feats, then there’s likely much more we can achieve from having the courage to try.

Mikey Bondoc understands this concept. A talented surfer, skater, designer, writer and illustrator, he also understands that self-confidence doesn’t come naturally for everyone, especially kids. While all of us are born with unlimited potential and a desire to believe our dreams can come true, those feelings can easily fall by the wayside if not purposefully encouraged and pursued. So Mikey’s using his own unique gifts – some he only recently discovered- to help others understand this concept. He’s created a children’s book series centered around a singularly unique, memorable, character: a blue-billed, web-footed platypus who loves to surf, skate and snowboard.

The Hatch: The Radventures of Radimus Platypus is the first of Bondoc’s seven book series. He has written all seven volumes and published one for proof-of-concept to line up investment to be able to complete the rest (one very well-known, highly respected global brand has already expressed interest in helping Bondoc, based upon the success of The Hatch).

In this first book, the curious, creative Radimus bursts into the world. His mother worries for his safety, but ultimately allows Radimus to follow his heart. Each subsequent book takes Radimus, who expresses himself through his love for board sports, on another surprising “radventure” where he learns new things, discovers what makes him happy, and grows as an individual. In subsequent books, Radimus surfs, skates, snowboards, wakeboards and even discovers yoga.

Parents of all children will enjoy sharing “The Hatch” and its encouraging messages with their little ones. And parents who happen to be into surfing, skating and snowboarding will quite likely want to set this brilliantly illustrated rhyming tale right up alongside classics like, The Cat in the Hat and Oh, The Places You’ll Go. To be certain, Radimus channels the positive spirit of Dr. Seuss and other lovable, iconic characters of youth like Kermit the Frog. At the same time, Radimus’s unique, modern context allows the playful platypus to connect with today’s generation in ways that are more relevant and thus, likely more meaningful to them.

Bondoc’s own story of self-discovery is a radventure unto itself. An accomplished graphic designer, art director and apparel consultant with more than 20 years of experience working for big-named brands, Bondoc moved from New York City to Orange County in 2008, craving more time outdoors and in the ocean than he was getting where he was at.

Once there, he rented a 100-year old oceanfront cottage in Laguna Beach and began practicing yoga to invigorate his creativity while freelancing. In 2009, a friend -an intuitive medium- told Bondoc that when she looked at him, she saw the Sesame Street character, Big Bird, and felt he had the potential to work with children. Exactly one week after that event, the name Radimus Platypus came to Bondoc, along with the entire storyline for “The Hatch”.

Bondoc, though creative, did not envision himself as a writer, nor an illustrator. But he continued thinking about developing Radimus while working, surfing, practicing yoga and meditating. In 2010, while on a weekend juice cleanse, Bondoc wrote volumes 1-3, and completed volumes 4-7 within the next two months. “It is still the most creative experience I have ever had”, says Bondoc. “I never aspired to write anything. The books seemed to write themselves. The words and sentences just seemed to flow out of me. Each storyline came in one shot, and I knew exactly what was going to happen in each subsequent book.”

With stories in hand, Mikey reached out to about two dozen publishers and a handful of agents, but received little response. One agent indicated that he liked Bondoc’s character and stories, but felt he was the wrong person to represent Mikey.

In 2011, undaunted and realizing he had to take the next step, Bondoc commissioned an illustrator to work on the books. But after a year of trying, he terminated the contract because the feeling just wasn’t right. Too heavy. Too much color… It just wasn’t what Mikey was envisioning. He put the project on the back burner for two years, occasionally researching illustrators, but with little money to commission another one. In 2013, with work ebbing in Orange County, Bondoc decided to return to the creative energy of New York City. A few months later, he would experience another transformative moment on his path to personal growth and the development of his book series.

“Through daily yoga and continuing meditation, I was given the confidence to illustrate Radimus Platypus, myself. Since day one, all of my friends insisted that I should illustrate the book. I was the only person who did not believe in myself. I did not think I had the skills and talent to do it.”

“Over the years, I had journaled a lot about my vision for Radimus. I wrote about traveling the world and inspiring millions of children and adults to follow their hearts and be their true selves. After a yoga class that involved journaling and deep meditation, that message came through loud and clear: “I can illustrate the book.” It repeated over and over again, until I heard it, and felt it in my heart. For the first time in my life, I felt fully capable of illustrating Radimus and all of the books. I loved to draw as a kid, but always of things I could replicate– characters, band logos, skate logos- I never drew from my imagination. That’s why I thought that I couldn’t illustrate the books. But it was only my own confidence and self-perception stopping me”

In 2014, with only some sketches of Radimus in hand, Bondoc launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance production of his books. His campaign was selected as a “Staff Pick”, but Bondoc says he set his goal too high, intent on using one of the best eco-printers around. The campaign reached 18% of its goal, before stalling.

In 2015, Bondoc completed illustrating The Hatch. He made his first printed copy and held a few readings around NYC, where he found kids were both stoked on Radimus and enjoyed engaging with Mikey. Bondoc launched a second Kickstarter campaign and was again selected as a “Staff Pick”, but pulled the plug after two weeks, due to a lack of traffic.

Determined not to give up, Bondoc decided to front the costs of a small run of books and sell them himself on his website. In early 2016, he signed with Bookmasters in Ohio to print a limited quantity of high quality hardcover copies and opened sales on his website.

Since then, Radimus has been steadily gaining traction. The character’s made-for-Instagram IG channel boasts over 1,700 young fans and followers, who, along with their parents, are posting fantastic pictures of themselves doing things they love to do– the things that make them unique… and rad! Radimus encourages kids to tag their posts with the hashtag, #imradtoo.

With the groundswell of interest in Radimus rising and the likelihood of finding investment also stacking, both Bondoc and Radimus may soon find themselves living out the very lessons they’re both so committed to imparting: Be yourself. Follow your dreams. And don’t be afraid to go for it. Because all of us are rad in one way or another. And if we’re just brave enough to live that out, we might surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish.

Radimus Platypus surfing

Note: This article was originally written for and published on The Inertia. To see the original article and response, click here.

Thankgiving Instalove

05 Dec
December 5, 2015

A little Instagram love from the boys at The Inertia! They used an excerpt from an old article I wrote for their 2015 Thanksgiving Day wishes. I wrote this piece for them back when they were just getting started, before their site was getting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month–  far more (incredibly) than even Surfer or Surfing’s online properties! I’ve always been so impressed with what Zach Weisberg, Alex Haro and their Team have accomplished. And they’re great humans, to boot. I’ve really enjoyed writing for them, and watching their business grow. I just love seeing people step out to pursue their dreams with passion, courage and determination- making it happen! That’s exactly what these guys did. I’ve been working on my own side project lately, but look forward to getting back to publishing on The Inertia again, very soon! Thanks for the shout, fellas!

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BULA! I’m Going to Fiji!…

15 Nov
November 15, 2014

 

Waterways Travel Free Trip to Fiji Announcement

#winning

Yes, that’s right! I just won an 8 Day / 7 Night all-expense paid trip to FIJI!!!!!!!!!!!!  The trip is courtesy of Waterways Travel, one of the most experienced and renowned surf-travel outfits in the world, based out of Santa Monica, CA; and The Inertia, one of the action-sports world’s highest-profile web-publishers, focusing on surfing and mountain sports, also based out of Santa Monica. It includes EVERYTHING. Airfare from LAX; round-trip transportation to and from the airports; first-class accommodations (oceanfront bure) at Waidroka Bay Resort; 3 meals per day; hotel taxes; and daily boat rides to the surf breaks! Needless to say, I am stoked out of my mind!

Fiji is a true “bucket-list” destination for me and any surfer (or anyone, really). We have decided to also take our girls, Kendall & Kaelyn, ages 15 and 12, with us. We were planning a family trip to Nicaragua for next summer and that trip for all of us would have cost almost as much as carrying two extra to Fiji! So, we are now looking forward to traveling halfway around the world with them, further broadening their minds and perspective, while introducing them to Fijian culture. I understand that the Fijans are some of the friendliest people on earth. I know that Fiji is one of Kelly Slater’s favorite places on the planet, and I am guessing that his world perspective is as broad and deep as anyone’s.

The contest was promoted through The Inertia, a website I have written for fairly extensively in the past. It was well-promoted both on their website and within various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ect.). I originally saw it on Instagram. On some channels, and on the Inertia Website, all you had to do to enter was provide your email address. On Instagram, the Inertia asked entrants to state why they felt they should win the trip and to tag their posts with the hashtag, #GoThere.

Here is my post. As you’ll see, I did a few key things. I came up with not one, but multiple reasons I should win. I also offered to WORK for the prize by promising to write 12 articles for the Inertia in 2015, including 4 for Waterways. I also promised to report back about my trip on The Inertia and in social media, and offered to dedicate a full day of our trip to the service of the local people, something I am passionate about. I also tossed in a little humor, which always helps, generally.

My post, while written to entertain, was also at its core, sincere. This is truly a dream come true for me. When I saw the opportunity, I simply used a little creativity to come up with a Win-Win-Win proposition for myself, the publisher and the advertiser. I love writing generally, and love writing for The Inertia in particular. And I am stoked to get to work more closely with Waterways Travel, because my surf-tripping won’t stop at Fiji. I consider traveling (and traveling for surf, specifically), core to my being, even if it had become more challenging financially for me, recently. Below is a copy of my post and a few pics from the Waidroka Bay Resort website showing some of the waves in the area. We are leaning towards traveling in late May or early June and hope to catch it good!

@theinertia @waterwaystravel :

Why I should win the Waidroka trip:

1. I’m a goofyfooter

2. FIJI’s on my bucket list and I’m not getting any younger

3. I haven’t been able to travel for surf outside the US for 5+ years due to tight budget

4. …I’m willing to work for it

If I win, I will commit to:

1. Drop in on ANYTHING FIJI throws at me, including purple-blob swells at Frigates

2. Post social media updates 2x per day during my trip on both The Inertia’s and Waterways Travel’s FB, Twitter and IG accounts

3. Provide a multi-media wrap article detailing my full experience (I’m handy with an iPhone and hoping Santa sponsors me with a Go-Pro for Christmas. If not, I’ll borrow a friend’s!)

4. Write (1) feature article per month for The Inertia in 2015. These will alternately be more compelling than Reid Levin’s, “40 Foot Jelly Fish Attacks Anastasia Ashley on a 100’ Wave” pieces; funnier than Alex Haro’s tall tales (but with improved syntax); or more insightful and culturally significant than Zach Weisberg’s meaningful social commentaries

5. Become Waterways Travels’ top advocate for hard-working, surf-addicted, middle-class families for whom surf-travel is economically challenging, but necessary

6. Dedicate a full day of my trip to the service of the locals

#sohelpmeJesus #GoThere #Fiji #giveaway #surftrip #surfsomething #everybodysripping

Pefect waves rolling in at Frigates in Fiji

"Pipes" surf break in Fiji

A Mutant Mini Teahupo’o

 

Frigates Passage surf break in Fiji

Power anyone? Frigates Passage in Fiji

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience (Part 3)

03 Jul
July 3, 2013

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience

Making a living in the surf industry has never been easy. It’s an insulated world of pros and bros with highly concentrated epicenters of industry (think Orange County and Australia). If you live in a place like Florida, your odds for success drop faster than the waves on the backside of a passing hurricane swell. Of course “living” is a relative term. Some associate it more closely with money; others with rich experience. To follow are the stories of three Floridians who haven’t let daunting odds prevent them from building their lives around surfing. Their common themes: equal parts courage, determination and more than anything else– a love for surfing that is all-consuming.

 

Brian Weissmann: Trident Surf Shop

 BrianWeissmannphotobyMarkWilsonweb

Brian Weissmann        Photo: Mark Sain Wilson

According to recent statistics, about half of all new businesses fail within the first 4 years. Retail stores sit just below that line with only 47% succeeding. And surf shops– well, let’s just say that if you want to jump into those waters, you’d better be a strong paddler, because from a business standpoint, you’re going to be fighting some seriously stiff currents.

Fortunately, Brian Weissmann is that.

The Palos Verdes native and former Lifeguard recently celebrated the first anniversary of his Trident Surf Shop in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and seems to be cruising along just fine. Growing up near the beach in California, Weissmann was a self-proclaimed shop rat, who like most surfers at some point in their lives, dreamed of owning his own shop. Fast forward through an adventurous adolescence, careers as a lifeguard and a project manager for AT&T, and a broken marriage that pulled Brian eastward to Florida to be near his two middle-school aged children; and the dream finally became reality. But it wasn’t without overcoming some formidable challenges.

Most important was finding the right location. Weissmann had become familiar with the surf scene in Ponte Vedra Beach following six years of visits to his in-laws. Northeast Florida is a hot bed for east coast surfing, with no less than 20 shops, including several well-established local players. Next, even if he had found the ideal location, Brian knew that he would next be faced with trying to get access to desirable product lines. Reps for some of the larger, more well-known brands are notorious for not selling their lines to newbies for fear of repercussions from established clients– at least not without demanding huge minimums that can quickly sink a new business or leave them dedicating their entire store to just 1 or 2 brands. Finally, Brian knew he’d have to distinguish himself from the competition in some sort of significant way.

The last hurdle was the least of Brian’s concerns. The independent-minded Weissmann had never envisioned his shop being like anyone else’s. His original idea for the business was actually a “Surf and Rescue” shop that would not only sell surf goods, but also state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment to individuals and organizations. Ultimately, research convinced him that markets weren’t large enough to support his concept. Still, even when his mind turned to a more conventional surf and skate business, it was anything but traditional.

Brian’s vision was of something larger– greater in presence and purpose. Something that would feed his clients’ appetites for escapism (think a Central American style shop with open rafters and an attached taco stand, steps from the surf); and one that could also bring the neighborhood together, like a YMCA or skate park. The only thing stopping Weissmann was securing that ideal location– the one he had identified in Ponte Vedra just a few hundred yeards from “Mickler’s, one of the area’s most popular public beach breaks.

For years, the spot had been home to a well-known restaurant and bar called the “Oar House”, where local surfers would stop for a game of pool and après surf refreshments. Eventually, the business, which snuggles up to the edges of an inland waterway and state park, closed– leaving behind a beautiful decades-old structure that oozes character on a spacious, rural lot. After several attempts at getting information from Realtors were ignored, Brian approached the landowner directly and shared his concept for the business. Trident Surf was born.

Today, Weismann’s’s vision is coalescing faster than a cup of UV-activated resin in the middle of July. Kids visit after school to hang with their friends and utilize several well-constructed skate ramps outside. Ocean breezes blow through open doors and visitors can sip on ice cold Jarritos, just like you’d savor in Mexico. And while you may not find Billabong or Quiksilver boardshorts in Weissmann’s shop, you will discover a treasure trove of hot new upstart brands that your friends aren’t wearing yet, as well as top-shelf surf, skate and SUP hard goods.

Nothing Weissmann does is anything like his competitors, and he’s never shy about promoting his own personal values (no drugs or alcohol), a comforting reassurance in the family-focused area he serves. Brian believes that all children should be able to enjoy a sense of adventure in their lives, just not the kind that leads to poor decision-making. Rather, the kind you might find out in the line-up, on a trip, or just hangin’ with your buddies at the local surf shop– an environment he’s working hard to perfect at Trident Surf.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for and published on TheInertia.com, surfing’s definitive online community. I later reposted it here on my personal blog.

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience (Part 2)

03 Jul
July 3, 2013

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience

Making a living in the surf industry has never been easy. It’s an insulated world of pros and bros with highly concentrated epicenters of industry (think Orange County and Australia). If you live in a place like Florida, your odds for success drop faster than the waves on the backside of a passing hurricane swell. Of course “living” is a relative term. Some associate it more closely with money; others with rich experience. To follow are the stories of three Floridians who haven’t let daunting odds prevent them from building their lives around surfing. Their common themes: equal parts courage, determination and more than anything else– a love for surfing that is all-consuming.

Mark Sain Wilson: Artist & Photographer

MarkSainWilsonphotobyRyanKettermanweb

Mark Wilson   Photo by: Ryan Ketterman

 

Mark Wilson is an artist who loves photography, a photographer who loves to surf and a surfer whose art is beginning to get noticed. Wilson, who in 2011 won one of Magic Seaweed’s highest profile international photographic competitions with an iconic shot of his home break, has been catching waves for 40 years and light, for nearly as long. And while today he finds his profile rising rapidly in the surfing world, he still struggles mightily with the same dilemma that caused him to give up surf photography in the first place, back when he first attempted it as a teenager using a Kodak instamatic and oversized water housing: “When the waves are good, I’d rather be riding them.”

It was this conundrum that originally convinced the soft-spoken, reflective Wilson to forsake surf photography for mountain bike photography. Also an avid cyclist, Mark found far more peace shooting fixed slabs of stone, than moving hills of water, because this was a backdrop that was largely unchanging, while the latter materialized only on the breath of fortunate winds. As a result, Wilson relocated to southern California, a place where he could enjoy the best of all worlds. There, he was able to hone both his biking and photography, without sacrificing his water time. Along the way, Mark found an audience for his mountain bike images, getting published for the first time.

Mark’s success and growing focus led him to Moab, Utah– a stunning amalgamation of red rock, blue water and some of the greatest mountain biking on the planet. Wilson took a job helping manage Moab Cyclery with a good friend and fellow mountain biker from California. Continuing to shoot and make the most of his surroundings, he began selling his work to magazines, getting published in popular titles like Bike Magazine, Mountain Bike Action, Mountain Biking and Men’s Health, while also working for various advertisers. Mark’s personal style, which is less action-oriented and more artistic, began to evolve at this time. His images are both sublimely “real”, yet out-of-the-mainstream.

With his passion for art continuing to grow, loved ones still residing in Florida and that old ghost, Mother Ocean, still calling him, Mark decided to return east and study photography at Southeast Photographic Studies in Daytona Beach. He began to create, frame and sell prints at various high-profile festivals throughout the southeast and other areas around the United Sates, enjoying a fair amount of success, awards and notoriety.

Unfortunately, the recession came along and like so many, Mark saw his ability to make a living in his preferred field become much more challenging. He took a job at a frame shop and his photography became a secondary source of income. During this time, living back near the ocean, and with years of professional experience now under his belt, Mark couldn’t help but remarry his passions for surfing and photography again.

He purchased a new water housing, lenses and upgraded digital equipment in 2010, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact. His beautiful, understated shot of a perfect A-frame dotted with surfers ignoring a “U.S. Government Property. No Trespassing.” sign at the Mayport Naval Base (known affectionately as, “The Poles”) during Hurricane Katia received more votes than any other in Magic Seaweed’s online competition. His win resulted in a 2012 commission from the popular website to shoot Hurricane Leslie along Florida’s east coast, and subsequently, a spectacular 25-shot front page feature. Wilson’s work is also continuing to gain notoriety with several images published in some of the southeast’s highest profile surf publications, as well as a recent portfolio feature on The Inertia.

While Wilson’s success continues to grow, he harbors no illusions about the challenges facing full-time surf photographers today. From geographic limitations, to equipment expense to the new ubiquity of digital imagery spawned by a sea of one-touch filters, he knows the barriers are high. But Mark is a professional who also knows that there will always be a divide between those who understand artistic composition, lighting and shutter speeds and those who merely pop filters on. Really, the only obstacle that still gnaws at Wilson –that still makes him question what he’s doing– is the same one that has vexed him his entire life. When the waves are good, he’d rather be riding them.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for and published on TheInertia.com, surfing’s definitive online community. I later reposted it here on my personal blog.

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience (Part 1)

03 Jul
July 3, 2013

Bustin’ Down Doors: Right Coast Resilience

Making a living in the surf industry has never been easy. It’s an insulated world of pros and bros with highly concentrated epicenters of industry (think Orange County and Australia). If you live in a place like Florida, your odds for success drop faster than the waves on the backside of a passing hurricane swell. Of course “living” is a relative term. Some associate it more closely with money; others with rich experience. To follow are the stories of three Floridians who haven’t let daunting odds prevent them from building their lives around surfing. Their common themes: equal parts courage, determination and more than anything else– a love for surfing that is all-consuming.

 

Chickie “Da Buh” Dimain: Surf Forecaster, DaBuh.com

DaBuhphotobyRyanKetterman2web

 Chickie Dimain and daughter, Ella   Phot0: Ryan Ketterman

 

Chickie “Da Buh” Dimain has no formal meteorological training. He has no large financial backers, nor any kind of conventional web design experience that might make developing his namesake surf report a little easier, or less expensive. But none of this has stopped the 49-year-old lifelong surfer and former concrete worker from growing his DaBuh.com surf forecast into an East Coast phenomenon.

Fresh off the heels of the United States Surfing Federation’s announcement designating DaBuh.com as the organization’s Official Surf Report and Forecaster; high-profile gigs providing independent forecasts for both the East Coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach and Salt Life Big Wave Challenge in Jacksonville, FL, Chickie’s proving he has everything he needs.

Fans of Dimain’s unique and accurate style of surf forecasting will tell you that there’s simply no one else who does it like “Da Buh”. The name is short for “The Buddah”, a reference to Chickie’s Buddah-shaped belly. It’s also a nod to Pidgin, the Hawaiian slang that Benecio Dimain (his legal name; “Chickie” is a nickname he was given at birth); occasionally slips into when delivering the goods for his followers. “Mo Frens, Mo Better”, he likes to say when asking people to share his report.

Chickie, who is not Hawaiian, but Filipino, has been surfing for over 30 years and studying weather for nearly all of those. Growing up a Florida inlander, nearly an hour from the closest beach made accurate forecasts critical to Dimain and his friends, who began to depend upon Chickie to make the calls whether to venture out or stay at home, each day. Over the years, his love for surfing and all things weather-related prompted Chickie to become a more sophisticated climatologist. He began to spend up to 5 hours a day studying statistics, charts and models from multiple organizations to construct his own forecasts.

Dimain’s reputation for accuracy eventually landed him a long-running, part-time job as chief forecaster for one of Florida’s most successful forecasts– 911 Surf Report. After the collapse of the housing market caused him to close his concrete business, Chickie decided to take a chance on parlaying his dynamic personality and loyal fan base into his own new full-time venture- DaBuh.com.

Now, every day, email subscribers and visitors to DaBuh.com get reports unlike any others. Typically detailed and incorporating numerous graphics, Chickie regularly predicts weather events and swells days before other forecasts. He is known not just for his remarkable accuracy, but also educating his followers on the meanings behind the patterns he sees, helping to breed a virtual army of junior prognosticators. Perhaps most significantly, he communicates in a style that can only be described as passionate, positive… and refreshingly human.

Want a personal relationship with your forecaster just like you have with your shaper? Friend Da Buh on Facebook. Got a cause or event your hawking? Let him know and you’ll almost certainly see a shout-out in his next report. Likewise, DaBuh may hit you up for prayers for his 82-year-old mother, whose failing health has limited his own water time recently; or perhaps birthday-wishes for his beautiful 7-year-old daughter, Ella, known affectionately as, “Baby Buhette” to fans of the site. Dimain’s approach isn’t just down to earth. It is salt of the earth. Humble. Unassuming. And as a result, highly addictive.

You see, be they physical or spiritual, Chickie Dimain has always had an intuitive understanding of the laws of nature.  He realized long ago that success in life isn’t always predicated upon degrees or dollars. Just as powerful are passion, perseverance and using your own unique gifts to serve others around you. That’s why DaBuh.com keeps growing. And why its long-range forecast is as good as it gets.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for and published on TheInertia.com, surfing’s definitive online community. It was also published in print, in a second variation in Eastern Surf MagazineI later reposted it here on my personal blog.

Sacred Vows

06 Mar
March 6, 2012

Sacred Vows

As Dane Reynolds patently reaffirmed for us this past year, often the most interesting things about surfing the planet are not the waves you score, but rather the people you meet and experiences you have beyond your sessions. Like him, I relish this aspect of surf travel and have always been conscious to seek out and soak up these transcendent occasions.

Our world is so big, diverse and ever-changing.

If you’ve ever stood atop a 14,000 foot mountain and tried to make sense of the enormity of the world around you; sat in a foreign lineup and tripped out on a pre-historic jungle hugging the shore; or even marveled at feats of engineering in a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, well then… you understand what I’m saying.

Our lives are fleeting.

In the context of time, we are not on this earth for a moment. Not even a breath of a moment. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Nor, even the next second. So, you’ve got to seize every opportunity to experience life, and just “go.”

It was with this mindset that I related the importance of surfing and traveling in my life to my bride-to-be long ago, as we planned for our future. As someone who has enjoyed the indescribable blessings of a true soul mate and happy marriage for years, I can inform you that helping to ensure this has the best chance of being the case doesn’t require all the formalities of pre-marriage counseling and meetings with a Pastor– just the simplest bits of common sense.

My wife and I established our compatibility and commitment to one another over the course of a couple of years of dating (always wise). As a result, when our minds turned to something a little more permanent, something like a lifetime– well, we actually got things squared away in about half an hour.

Had we both dated long enough to know with certainty what kind of people we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with? Check. Did we share the same religious beliefs? Check. Were we good with combining bank accounts and tossing everything else into one big pile? Check. Could we agree to hold off on kids for a bit to ensure that our marriage was sound, and to play with each other for a couple of years? Check.

It wasn’t rocket science.

But as a surfer, there was one more thing that I had to add to that list– my undying love for and commitment to, surfing and surf-travel. (Until death would do us part.)

I informed my future wife, Gretchen, that years before the time I had ever met her– from those earliest days until eternity, I had already committed to a lifetime of chasing waves and new experiences in places near and far. And I wasn’t about to go back on this promise to myself. As I looked into the future and imagined a day when kids, careers and yard work might slowly pilfer away the friends that I had once surfed and traveled with, I assured her that I would never succumb to these same “traps”– that I would forever be limited only by the resources that enabled me to continue to “go.”

I told her that if she were willing, I would love to share these experiences with her. And that if not– if she wasn’t interested or resolved in the idea of a bit of adventure, and if one day the boys just couldn’t pull it all together, well then– I’d still be going…

I’d just be traveling solo.

Fortunately, she was stoked. And we never looked back.

Today, while we’ve still only seen and surfed a fraction of the places on this earth that beckon, sharing these adventures with her, and now– our children, has made chasing these moments all the more pressing and fundamental.

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/

 

Love on the Rocks: California and the U.S. Surf Industry

21 Feb
February 21, 2012

Love on the Rocks: California and the U.S. Surf Industry

Dear U.S. SURF Industry (SIMA Members, Grind Media, ASP NA, New Media, Shapers, Pros, Joes, Rebels and Start-ups):

Greetings from sunny Florida!

I hope this letter finds you well and that you have been enjoying some bountiful surf. We’re not complaining over here. Seems like there have been great waves all year. And hurricane season– well, you got a little taste of it in NY. (I hope you enjoyed your trip east and found your way around the city). We scored much more of the same down here (BretIreneKatiaLee, Maria, etc.,), only without wetsuits. The water temps have retreated into the mid-60s lately, though. I guess all good things have to come to an end sometime– which brings me to the reason I’m writing.

I know we don’t see each other a lot, but we’ve been friends for a long time. And I care about you. Everyone here in Florida does. But there’s something important that I need to tell you. It’s not easy and I hate to have to be the one to do it, but I just think you need to know.

You see, California– she doesn’t love you any more.

Surfing? Yes.

But you– the surf industry? Sorry man, afraid not.

Trust me, I’m on the websites and message boards. She’s been talking about you behind your back, dude. Nasty stuff. I’m hearing words like “incestuous”“soulless”“hose”“monumental screw-up”“sickly”“polluted”, “dangerous”“evil” and “lame”… She’s over you.

But, here’s the deal: While you’re not a kid any longer, you’re still plenty young; not too old to bust a move and make a transition in your life. So what I’d like to suggest is for you to consider relocating to Florida. Yeah man, throw your gear in a bag and come on over! You don’t have to take all of Cali’s sh#%! Granted, she’s beautiful– but you have spoiled her rotten. And there’s plenty of eye-candy here. We can set you up big time. And you know, I think you’d really love it.

Most importantly, you’d have someone who loves you back.

Yeah, I know– global economic focus is shifting to Asia, and you’re a little closer where you’re at. But Florida is also a global hub for business with large modern and growing ports and airports. Consider: Once Europe finishes imploding and the US does the same, then who’s left holding the debt bag? That’s right- China! And once they are forced to restructure and we all hit the “reset” button, then where do you think the money will head? Yep, right back to the good ol’ USA– safest bet on the planet! China won’t be such a big deal, then.

Besides, even if things don’t go down exactly like that, consider: Do we (can I take the liberty of saying, “we”, because I’d really like for you to start thinking of us as your new “partners” here?) Do we really want to be in bed with China? I’m telling you– this is one of the problems that Cali says she has with you. You know… human rights issues. It’s serious stuff. And none of us want to ignore it.

Let me introduce you to Latin America

I know you’ve always loved Mexico… We do, too! And hey, the Brazos– they’re NUTS about you! Man, with surfers like AdrianoAlejoJadsenHeitorMiguel and what’s the other new guy’s name?… Oh yeah– Medina! With those guys coming on like a 9.0 California earthquake, do you think there might be a growing market for you there? Those guys are our “neighbors”! Oh, and don’t forget about Puerto Rico… and Cuba! Cuba’s coming– just a little more time… you’ll see.

Look– I know at first glance, Florida might seem a little uptight for you; maybe a little more conservative than you’re used to. But hey, a little fiscal restraint’s not a bad thing, is it? Everybody knows what Cali did with the credit cards… (Yeah, we used ours too, but they’re on ice now.) In most other areas, things are pretty relaxed here. You’d dig it!

Oh, and how about this idea? Instead of sourcing to countries that want to kick our ass and rob us blind, how about getting your apparel manufacturers together and we can all help establish a sustainable new economy in Haiti? Seriously. Your Gen Y customers want you to do better. We all do.

Did you know that at the same time he is shrinking the state budget, our Republican governor is also pledging $40 million for Everglades restoration (part of a larger $600 million plan) and is pushing a $1 billion bump for education funding? And the part of the state I’m living in– Jacksonville (where I’d REALLY like you to direct your focus), well this may sound strange– but as one astute local columnist noted, we’re the “New Progressives”. That’s right! San Francisco has nothing on us.

Just look at the facts.

Our population is younger (35.8 to 38.2) (tons of talented young artistsphotographers and filmershere). We have a new African-American Mayor– a fiscally conservative Democrat who is actually doing what he promised and now, the NFL’s first and only minority owner! Yeah- a dual-citizen Pakastani with a stylish ‘stache who “busted down the door” on the world’s most reknowned rich white guy’s club. Heck,Forbes even has Jacksonville listed at #6 on “Best Cities for Technology Jobs”! (I think I saw San Fran on there at #29). We’re happy at #6, but once our spaceports for horizontal and vertical space launch open, I think that’s when you’ll really see things blast off.

So what’s bringing businesses east (and south) to places like Jacksonville and Florida? Why did Lebron, Wade and Bosch choose the Heat over… everybody? Because Florida is business friendly. The tax advantages are huge compared to California. And financial incentives? State, local… we pay big for jobs! Operators are standing by.

But hey, this is all stuff for the suits. I know the real problem you’re having with leaving Cali is the emotional connection, right? A lot of good memories there, I know. (Hey, me too and we only hooked up a few times… Oh, I’m sorry– I didn’t mean it that way.) At first glance, Cali seems to offer a lot: 840 miles of coastline! Of course, Florida offers 1,350 by itself,  not to mention the rest of the east coast.

Surfing Heritage? We’ve been doing it here since the 1930s and Florida surfers are responsible for 13 out of 29 ASP Men’s World Titles, and 8 out 29 Women’s Titles!

Look, I’ve played in Newport. I’ve caught a couple of those solid 8’+ south swells at Huntington. Man– big ol’ perfect skate ramps! So fun!! But, we get those same waves here during hurricane season and other times of the year… South BeachReef RoadSebastianRC’sNew SmyrnaSt. Augustine and Jax Beach, not to mention the Gulf Coast– they all go off!  Think about it– Nor Cal is cold and inhospitable. And Central and Southern Cal are crowded, with growing environmental concerns. Look through your photo album. Are you really enjoying yourself?

Mavericks: Ha! Yeah, right. Take a picture. Or, visit warm, perfect Puerto Rico instead.

Steamer Lane: Cold, crowded and localized.

Rincon: Ultra-crowded.

Sandspit: Crowds, localism, pollution (although, please take note that one of your premiere breaks is indeed a SANDBAR.)

Malibu: Hollywood. Crowded and localized. A zoo.

Huntington: Rips, localism, pollution and crowds.

Trestles: Urchins, localism, crowds and soon, toll roads?

Lunada: Sure, if you know martial arts.

Newport Jetties: Rips, rocks, localism, pollution and crowds.

Blacks: OK… gorgeous, yes! But also crowded and hard to reach with wacky nudists, rips, undertow andlarge, mouthy neighbors (Yes, we have a few minor issues here. Put a band-aid on it.)

Am I missing anything here? “Secret spots” like Pt. Mugu (hmm… another beach break) or The Ranch? –  Sorry– do you have double top-secret clearance, or a billion dollars?

Let’s see, what else is in Cali’s magic spellbook?

High cost of living?

Springsuits in August?

Hollyweird?

Kelp?

Look… here in Florida, the water is warm; the people are friendly; the waves are fun; and the line-ups not nearly as crowded. The weather and the business climate are both ideal and there’s not thousands of people bitching because you’re not good enough for them. Rather, this is a place where no one will take your venerable qualities– the jobs, the business and culture that you bring to the table– for granted.

So, what do you say? Will you consider ditching Cali once and for all? Yes, she has some fine physical attributes, but maybe it’s time you considered someone with a better personality.

You know, sometimes in life, it’s best to just stop arguing, and accept that you might not be right for one another.

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/

 

 

 

 

ASP: Is Pro Surfing Really Dead?

26 Dec
December 26, 2011

ASP: Is Pro Surfing Really Dead?

After surrendering to a flood of questions surrounding its executive leadership, the drug-related death of one of its brightest stars, and an unrelenting wave of public criticism concerning everything from the scheduling of events to the scoring of competitors, the ASP announced today that it was ceasing operations, effectively shuttering the governing body of professional surfing. The announcement by ASP Executive Chairman Richard Grellman came just two weeks after former ASP CEO Brodie Carr resigned following a high-profile math error prematurely awarding this year’s ASP World Championship Title to surfer Kelly Slater and only days after releasing its 2012 events schedule which was to feature 12 contests at premier breaks around the world with $5,675,000 in prize money. The announcement sent sponsors scrambling to rethink their global marketing strategies and competitors to rethink their careers.

Thankfully…

None of this is true.

But what if it were? Would surfing really be better off?

Clearly, surfing as a professional sport faces unique challenges. It stands at the mercy of geography, weather conditions, powerful brands and an inherent assortment of independent-minded competitors and fans, all with their own strong opinions about what surfing should or should not be. It’s an enigma, and so is easy to knock. But that doesn’t mean that the ASP and competitive pro surfing are worthless. Or worse, as some critics argue– destructive. Indeed, they’ve helped many surfers enjoy great careers in a sport they love. They’ve also helped surf-related brands to thrive, producing even more of these same lifestyle opportunities. And, they’ve progressed the overall level of surfing. Many might argue that this last point isn’t true, but pro surfing provides the macro-structure for amateur surfing, which drives the advancement of our most talented youth. If there was no structured pro surfing, you’d likely lose a lot of that. The ASP also continues to modify its judging criteria to conform with advancement in the sport, quirks like the seemingly renewed emphasis on floaters and occasional questionable scoring, notwithstanding. The ASP and pro surfing have also long provided a generally stable platform for surfer skill rankings and credibility. Is the system perfect? Obviously not. Nothing in this world is. Can it “miss” on people like Dane, Jamie O’ Brien, Bobby Martinez or others? Sure. Which is not to say that some responsibility doesn’t fall back on those same surfers to perform within the existing infra-structure if they or their sponsors feel a need for validation (or prize money). Not all of them do…

That’s a matter of choice.

And choice is always good.

That’s why I’m thankful for the ASP and the sponsors who support them. If you don’t like professional competitive surfing, don’t attend their events. Don’t watch them online. Don’t buy their sponsors’ products.

Take your board and go home.

Just to be clear – I’m speaking from the perspective of a life-long surfer, traveler and pro surfing fan (currently ranked 58th in Fantasysurfer). I’m also a marketing professional (but outside of the action sports industry, and California). But honestly– I am amazed at the voracity of the criticism leveled at the ASP and its institutional sponsors, when all of them have worked extremely hard over many years to advance our sport.

Most of the same people who rip the ASP also knock the surf mega-brands (Quik, Billabong, Rip Curl, etc.) as “soul-less”, but I think that’s lame. Those companies were started by people who were passionate about surfing. They loved it so much, they wanted to build their lives around it and they made that happen. Then, they created more opportunities for so many others to do the same thing, not to mention carrying the load when it came to promoting the sport, sharing it with the “outside” world and helping bring more of it to us through a variety of marketing and media channels.

Some decry the the mega-brands’ burgeoning relationships with China. It is no surprise that their eyes are fixed upon China due to the sheer size of markets there and the fact that China already has a vibrant youth action sports subculture. That is simply the nature of globalization, an inherent byproduct of advances in transportation and (especially) communications technology over the past 20 years. It does no good to stick your head in the sand to try and ignore it. Look at a well-regarded core action sports brand like Camp Woodward. Rest assured, they raked in a chunk o’ change taking their brand to China. And make no mistake- that wasn’t even about straightforward consumerism on China’s part, but rather the Chinese government’s ultimate goal of having the proper training facilities in place to soon begin dominating us in Olympic skateboarding and BMX! The flip side? At least the flow of goods is running from west to east for a change and perhaps as we export more western culture, an unquenchable thirst for freedom and independence will come in the box.

As for the exploitation of surfing in China– as some have noted, Kelly’s wavepool seems the perfect match. We can’t afford it. China can. And while I know better than to bet against Kelly getting his pool built somewhere, I have to confess that even the one he describes would not be that interesting to me. I should clarify that it sounds like it would be great fun to ride, just not interesting in terms of watching contests. Mechanical waves. Talk about “soul-less.” I strongly believe that the unpredictability and varying conditions of Mother Nature is a vital characteristic of what makes the current ASP world tour events so compelling and that wave selection is an integral part of a surfer’s skill set. That’s why I believe thinking about future contests in terms of wavepools will always be lacking (which is not to say that it won’t be successful, or shouldn’t be). And so we circle back to pro-surfing’s numerous core challenges. Surf in a wave pool and you increase accessibility; likely improve judging; provide viable platforms for Olympic inclusion and more affordable network broadcasts; paving the way for broader audiences and increased advertising revenue.

But you neuter its soul…

At least, in my own opinion.

Which brings us back to choice.

CHOICE is always good.

Always…

So, for those of us who appreciate the ASP and pro surfing as it exists currently – what can be done to make it even better?

I think you begin solving problems of these kinds with no-holds barred idea-fests– where no idea is a bad idea. I’ll start with a couple of softballs:

Yes, drug test the athletes. Build credibility and acceptability. The death of one of the sports icons not far removed from his prime, makes this a no-brainer.

Stop giving the cold shoulder to non-traditional brands like Nike. If they can bring more people (and money) to the party, then by God, welcome them in! If Quik, Billabong, Rip Curl and Red Bull can’t fund MAJOR NETWORK BROADCASTS by themselves, then find corporations that can. The way action sports continues to grow, certainly most major brands even remotely trying to target youth have, or are creating divisions exclusively for it. And what kind of elitists are we to say who is, or isn’t cool enough to surf?

ASP: Take control of your media rights and get the events on MAJOR NETWORK TELEVISION. The ASP’s new media offerings are uneven (per event sponsor), but improving rapidily. The heat analyzers are brilliant. And certainly, distribution via the web has massive reach potential. However, online media, despite its propensity for complete, accurate measurement isn’t highly valued (everything on the web should be “free”, remember?)- not like network television broadcasts which ultimately bankroll organizations like the NFL, NBA, PGA, MLB, etc. And contrary to popular belief, kids are not abandoning TV for new media. They watch TV more than ever, up to 3.5 hours per day. Perhaps, when our televisions and our computers finally become one (Apple and Google may argue this has already happened, but many problems still exist), then the ASP will be in a great position to leverage it further. But network television has, and will continue to be king.

How to sell the major networks given the production expense, unpredictability of conditions and no assurances that anyone further than 50 miles from any coastline will care? How about simply identifying a world-class salesperson and media rights negotiator and incentivizing them with a minimum threshold and unsparing commission structure. I mean come on– Are you telling me that you couldn’t show anyone -and I mean anyone- the slabs that I saw during Chopes this year on an off day, and dare them to not be compelled? Can you imagine watching that contest on a 50″ HDTV? Live? Heck, even if it wasn’t live! And you don’t need to show the whole contest- just highlights and the finals. Even a fully pre-produced, creatively edited special, set to popular music. Then, jack the prices up and sell that #$%!. And if Quik / Billa / Rip Curl can’t afford it, don’t assume that just because they won’t swallow it, that no-one else will. Go over their heads. Bring in Ford, McDonald’s, Apple and Target. Better yet– get all of them. And if you can’t sell events like Brazil, then can those and replace them with Mavericks. Or more Hawaii. OrShipsterns! (How insane would that be?!) The ASP generally seems to have done a terrific job with pulling together a dream tour. They just haven’t done a good job of selling their dream.

Other thoughts:

Perhaps the ASP should invest in establishing its own network or production company.

If it can’t afford to regain control of all events immediately, take a stepping stone approach and begin taking back control of one event at a time, starting with the most compelling.

Finally, for the ASP and every corporate sponsor it is connected with: GIVE BACK. You want to connect with today’s disenfranchised youth (and all the rest of us)? Show them you care by making it a point to DO GOOD in the all the areas of the world where you play. There is a fundamental cultural shift underway in reaction to a world that has been broken by greed run amuk. That doesn’t mean that capitalism is bad, that all corporations are sinister or that the ASP sucks. Only that the entire world could use a little more selflessness. Corporations have it in their power to affect serious change in the world, while inspiring an army of brand loyalists. Critical is approaching charity earnestly and creatively and in a way careful not to suggest self-appointed elites pushing Marxism as “progressive”. When you approach anything in life with this mindset, you will always enjoy success. Eastern religions call it “Karma”. Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism) call it “God’s Will” or “Cause and Effect”. Bob Marley simply said, “What goes ’round, comes ’round.”

I’d like to see the ASP and competitive pro surfing come ’round.

I’m a FAN, and I’d like to continue to have that CHOICE.

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, the highly-popular action sports website 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/

 

 

 

 

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/

 

 

 

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