If you arranged the 4.9-billion twenty-dollar bills in circulation end-to-end, it would circle the globe nearly nineteen times. The line of bottles of tequila and Tecate consumed during this weekend’s SIMA Surf Summit 6 at the Royal Solaris in San Jose Del Cabo would give the twenties a run for their money.
Indeed, Surf Summit 6 — SIMA’s sixth annual conference that brought together more than 250 industry leaders for a four-day meeting to discuss critical issues facing the surfing world — had an atmosphere that mixed business with pleasure. Lots of pleasure.
And while Cabo Crawl, the annual pilgrimage to notorious Squid Roe, was ripe with high jinks and some incriminating moments not fit for print, there was an equal amount of illuminating debate and discussion, including the changing world of retail distribution moderated by SIMA President and Op CEO Dick Baker and a lunchtime keynote by Quiksilver Europe Founder Harry Hodge that encouraged the industry to embrace opportunities to expand globally. (There were nine seminars and three keynote addresses in all.)
Billabong USA President Paul Naudé kicked off the Summit with a keynote address that covered a multitude of topics, most notably floor space. Naudé urged the industry — including retailers — to reach out to those parts of the country where surf-lifestyle product is difficult to find, instead of letting the out-of-industry “parasites” do it for us. “From a retail point of view, we’ve failed to provide our products to a broader audience, and that’s where the competition is being taken to us. That’s where the vertical operators are basically stealing market share that we need to get up, go out, and compete for,” he said.
(*Note: this is a clarification to the story that ran yesterday.)
The surf was good early (it got small toward the end of the conference), but tons of fun waves were still torn apart along the East Cape (and some on the Pacific side, too). Overall, it wasn’t great surf by Cabo standards, but considering how cold it’s been in So Cal lately, who could complain about surfing in trunks?
The jaunts to Shipwrecks, Nine Palms, et al., didn’t run without drama. The Electric van suffered a flat (it was quickly repaired by ASR Show Director Kevin Flanagan — way to take one for the team), and a couple Primedia guys managed to lock their keys in the car — brilliant. Fortunately they were able to pry their way in to their rental jalopy using some ingenuity, elbow grease, and uncanny teamwork.
There was a fitting crescendo to this year’s conference on Saturday night: the inaugural SIMA Image Awards. In April, manufacturers and retailers voted for nominees in five categories, including Print Ad Campaign Of The Year, Breakthrough Manufacturer Of The Year, Industry Achiever Of The Year, Retailer Of The Year, and Manufacturer Of The Year.
With a few swigs of tequila, Kevin Dunlap and Brandy Faber accepted DVS’ award for Breakthrough Manufacturer Of The Year, and Bobbie Abdelfattah humbly accepted the award for Jack’s as the industry’s top retailer (sans tequila, though).
However, it was Richard “Wooly” Woolcott’s night. He and partner-in-crime Tory Eckert accepted two awards for VeeCo (Print Ad Campaign Of The Year and Manufacturer Of The Year) and Wooly was named Industry Achiever Of The Year.
Wooly gave an incredibly genuine and heartfelt acceptance speech, calling the trifecta of honors “the best night of his life.” Yeah, maybe that was a bit of an overstatement. But considering he was showered by his peers with three separate dousings of tequila and beer (not to mention the amount of tequila he consumed at the winner’s podium), it may be hard to find a moment that eclipses Saturday night’s.
We’re still recovering from Summit 6, but click on the link below for our annual photo collage from the this weekend’s events. For the full report on all the seminars and speeches, check out the July issue of TransWorld SURF Business . Until then, enjoy these photos — and sober up.
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[IMAGE 31]Photos by Jeff Baldwin, John Maynard, and Sean O’Brien