Four of the world’s best surfers currently have no major sponsor
Words by Jake Howard “It’s always hard leaving good friends and a good company,” says Chippa Wilson, who’s currently rolling without major backing after parting ways with Fox in 2015. “At the end of last year my contract ran out and I decided to head on down a new venture, a new path. I’m not […]
Words by Jake Howard
“It’s always hard leaving good friends and a good company,” says Chippa Wilson, who’s currently rolling without major backing after parting ways with Fox in 2015. “At the end of last year my contract ran out and I decided to head on down a new venture, a new path. I’m not sure what it is right now, but I’m trying to work it out. No real plans yet. It’s such a weird time for sponsorship right now.”
When it comes to a major partnership, Chippa, like other aces Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson, is currently in flux. But like always, Kelly did it first. On April 1, 2014, Kelly left Quiksilver. At first we thought it was a well played April Fool’s joke, then waited intently to see which piece of graphic art would own the nose of his board. Nearly two years on and the king’s prime real estate is still wide open. Yeah, there’s OuterKnown, but Kelly is postitioning the company to be more like Saturdays Surf NYC; A brand for surfers to wear, but not a surf brand, and not one that involves itself with sponsorship.
By now, we’re all used to seeing Kelly sans nose logo. Photo: WSL/Kirstin
In the last few months, Dane and Craig have also both parted ways with Quiksilver, and likewise, their boards have equally obvious blank spots up front. After spending their whole careers plastering their noses with stickers, it’s strange to see such notable surfers with only accessory brand stickers on their crafts – and most jarringly, nothing on the beak. Could four of surfing’s most influential, with their blank noses, initiate the death of nose sticker popularity?
“Well, contractually, the major sponsor always needs the logo on the top third with nothing else there,” says Dane. It’s cool that Kelly’s been doing the all-white, no-logo boards. When I was a kid I thought that having a good-looking logo on the nose was sick, for sure, but I don’t think the fact that Kelly, Craig, me and anyone else don’t have main sponsor stickers right now will really change kids’ perception at all.”
But, does it feel different?
“I guess it feels slightly different now, but it didn’t really take any getting used to,” says Dane.
Dane, cleanskin at Rocky Point. Photo by Laserwolf
“It was weird peeling Quiky stickers off,” says Craig. “I’m used to it now, though. It was a pretty strange feeling the first few surfs. I remember someone saying that TB (Taj Burrow) can’t surf a board without a sticker on the nose. I’ve had the top third of my board owned for 10 years or something. But it’s just like anything, when it first happens it’s strange for a week and then you get used to it; like Apple update their operating system and it’s annoying, then three days later you’re not even thinking about it – you’re actually kinda into it.”
“It doesn’t feel as weird as I thought it would,” says Chippa. “But you know, it crosses your mind, what are people going to think? I don’t think it’s a big deal. All the kids around town here kind of making a lot of hype out of it, but I’ve tried to keep it low key.”
Chippa, recently, around home, with a blank nose. Photo: @chippawilson IG by @amsimage
For Kelly, his lack of any Outerknown branding appears to be a deliberate decision. OK has been launched, the alpaca beanies are on the rack, yet his boards remain naked. In the age of native advertising, the champ’s affiliation seems to be a viable enough marketing strategy.
Meanwhile, Craig’s pondering what a nose sticker actually means.
“I was watching an old Taylor Steele movie with Bobby Martinez, who was on Oakley at the time, and watching those old videos, guys having different sponsors, I was kinda vibing on the idea of me not having a nose sticker,” says Craig. “I like that look. I feel like when I was younger, it felt so much more important to have. Maybe because the idea of having a sponsor was super cool. Maybe I look at it differently now that I’m older – I want to support a brand that I’m super into, by putting it on my board. It feels more real that way. When you’re younger you’re just psyched on any sticker.”
Craig’s grown to kinda dig having no major logo up front. This is a fling from a Stab shoot just north of Newcastle, the fruits of which you’ll see soon(ish). Photo: Bosko
In the grand scheme of things, what sticker you have on your board or where it’s placed matters little. It’s a trapping of our surfing industrial complex – one that may be bucked sooner rather than later. What’s always mattered most is what’s happening in the water.
“I’m not getting burned any less because I have no big sticker on the nose,” laments Dane. “I get burned a ridiculous amount regardless, sticker or not. I don’t know what it is, I think I’m really bad at positioning and paddling and shit.”
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