Beautiful Spread – 4.7

Beautiful Spread

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”-Charles Darwin from On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection

Dreams versus reality. Failure to kill prey, fight off competition, and lead a pack forces the weaker predator to starve while the healthy survive-a horrific reality. Failure to kill a wave, beat fellow competitors, and bro down with the bros means less sponsorship for most and treasures for a few. In the professional surfing world, at what point does the decline of a career force a surfer to realize that their dream has lost its drive? You see, just like a surf brand stamps itself with its product and ads, a surfer must do the same with ability and coverage. The momentum of branding oneself is a direct factor in the evolution of a professional surfer-becoming an icon or just another face at a surf-industry trade show. Around the world there’re young surfers with dreams of surf stardom and tons of talent spewing like acne on a fifteen year old’s face. If a surfer hasn’t begun the quest by a very young age, then chances are that person is two steps behind. By high school age, the laws of survival require that youngsters be thrown into the sponsorship stew-a combination of ability, personality, hookups, and drive that creates a farm league of prospective surf heroes. If they don’t have top sponsors, media coverage, and some sort of branding or image, the chances are slim they’ll have a fruitful surf career. Eventually surfers become stamped by what’s pasted on their boards-how many times have you recognized a surfer solely by the combination of logos? In car racing, you recognize Jeff Gordon by the DuPont on the hood, and in surfing you recognize C.J. Hobgood by the Rusty on the nose of his board. Will they disappear, will they fail in competition, will they drop a top brand for an upcoming brand that will eventually fail, or will surfers walk into shops everywhere asking for the same flourescent pink trunks they saw on the last cover of a surf mag? There are crucial business decisions to make, and surfers will find their niches whether it’s air, competition, editorial, big-wave, or all-around specialists. Some, like Barney and his antics, or Donavon with his groovy style, found their niche and exploited it. They needed sponsors, especially clothing sponsors, and found one while others had to write “this space for sale” ads across the bottoms of their boards. It’s basic evolution and economics. Of the thousands of great professional surfers in the world, only a few can be Slater, Machado, or Dorian and get paid the money they do-that’s called reality. They also have the valuable combination of character, talent, and charisma to make them who they are-they have momentum. Young and old, there’re thousands and thousands of surfers keeping the dream alive, some with more talent than others, fighting over limited surf-industry budgets and hoping for the space Bruce or Kelly don’t take up in a surf magazine. Every town, island, or state has at least one surfer in this predicament, and despite financially hard times, they stick with it because they love it. They’re starving artists unable to find a patron. In a perfect world everyone would be paid to follow their dreams, but the economics in a financially starved surf market say otherwise. It’s a business, and business decisions invoke simple evolution. In the words of Charles Darwin, “the production of the higher animals, directly follows”-surf stars are produced, and some will survive while most won’t.-AC