Being in charge of managing and marketing surfers as serious athletes in no easy job. It takes the knowledge and experience of a pro surfer, the patience of a librarian, the casual persuasiveness of a stockbroker, and a shitload of intuition. Read on, kids, as TransWorld SURF brings you the dos and don’ts of being a good team player, according the world’s foremost industry experts.¿S.Z.
What makes a good team rider?
Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Attitude is one of the key things. Talent pretty much comes first, but attitude and personality blends into a chemistry that leaves you with a nice crew of guys who work well together.
Are there different levels of team riders?
We have international guys, WCT guys, and we also have editorial and amateur guys. So there’s more than a couple of different levels.
How do you pick someone for the team?
We’ve really been focusing on the youth for the last four years. We have twelve – and thirteen – year – old kids who have an incredible amount of talent that’s really visible. We see those kind of guys mature throughout our farming system, and eventually following in the shoes of a Shane Dorian or a Rob Machado, guys who really contribute to our program.
What’s a surefire way to get cut from the team?
Attitude. I think we’re one of the most generous companies. If the guy’s working¿and it’s not too hard to figure out if he’s working or not¿has a good attitude, and he’s trying his hardest, then you pretty much have to fall asleep at the wheel to get clipped from our program. Communication is really important, too. And work ethic. When you break it down, it’s a pretty basic job description to be a professional surfer.
How do you encourage your team to get hooked up with photographers?
Establishing a relationship with photographers and magazines is in their best interest. It’s what they get paid for. If they want to go on a trip, they pretty much have to do it on their own. But our kids are pretty much getting chased down, so we’re fortunate in that aspect.
Some kids have managers. What’s that like to deal with?
I don’t deal with any managers. I help these guys out on many levels with direction and management. If their sponsorship isn’t exactly where they feel it should be, and if the kid’s genuine and has good intentions to progress his surfing career, then I’ll help them negotiate deals with other sponsors.
You were a pro surfer once, have the expectations changed now that you’re on the other side?
I think it’s changed a lot. I mean, I’d have been stoked if one of those company guys called me back chuckling, let alone sent me a consistent paycheck. Keeping on top of what the marketplace is doing is part of my job. I’m pretty aware of what the kids are making, and it’s incredible. If they put 100 percent into their surfing and traveling, they’re not going to school on the side¿they have to be in the water. But you should never stop learning. They have to work at surfing and promoting because that’s what they’re getting paid for. There’s not a lot of room to start another career while you’re a professional surfer. A surfing career is usually only ten to twelve years long, that’s if you’re on your game. It’s important I let them know that surfing doesn’t last forever. Saving money for your life after professional surfing is smart and wise, which is hard to see when you’re young. That’s when a parent should help out the most. That’s doing it right for your kids.
Any last inside training tips or advice?
If you can surf more than 42 channels a night¿you’re killin’ it.