Gossip Girl: Argh! Is The Earth Opening Up And Swallowing Careers?
It’s tough on the shitty, gritty streets of the surf industry.
Sheesh, it’s tough out there. Blame Amazon, blame H&M, blame plain clothes! It’s not easy looking for a sponsor right now and many of the world’s top pro surfers are finding their contracts aren’t being renewed. First on the chopping block, Miguel Pupo, whose Hurley contract hit its expiration date. The timing may prove difficult for the Sao Paulo native whose girlfriend just fell pregnant. But, with four surfers in the top 10 (JJF, Kolohe, Michel, Julian) and the unprecedented salary commanded by the new world champ, John John Florence, a reshuffle of the Hurley deck was easy to see coming. After Miggy qualified for the world tour amidst the Brazilian storm of 2011, the 25-year-old has struggled to keep pace with the world’s best. His best finish on tour to date is 19th and in 2016 he was forced to secure his place via the WQS (he snuck in for 2017 on the qualification bubble at 22nd). Miggy made $124k in prize money last year so given he’ll achieve similar results, it’s quite easy to do the world tour without a major sponsor but no doubt he’ll be desperate to drop a notable sticker on the nose of his craft before the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast in March.
What’s with these groms wife-ing up so young btw? Kolohe Andino dropped the knee on Christmas Day to his high school sweetheart, Maddie Aldrich. And, 21-year-old Filipe Toledo had a daughter late last year. Whispers around the world tour were particularly cruel last October when Filipe elected to miss the birth of his first child in California to compete in Portugal, where he was knocked out in round three by Conner Coffin and finished 13th. But seriously, don’t these guys know what good times lie ahead? Or, is it the security of trust for the big-monied, big-named folk who lock down their high school sweethearts because they dug ‘em before they were rich and famous?
In any case, Kolohe’s days with Target are a memory as of January 01. Which also means curtains for Carissa Moore who will unsheathe her official razor blade and peel back the red and white logo. This will be a decent financial hit as support from a corporate retailer is very rare and also very lucrative.
Back to Hurley–the exodus continues with the departure of Californian Conner Coffin. The 23-year-old power surfer from Santa Barbara, whose pedigree includes local hero Tom Curren, local shaper, Al Merrick and longtime mentor, Brad Gerlach, is one of the most palatable talents to emerge on Tour in recent times. His rookie year showed flashes of excellence including a runner-up in Portugal to give former-Hurley teammate John John Florence the world title – though there were long bouts of mediocrity and poor form in between. If it weren’t for a last-second round two victory over compatriot Nat Young in the same event, things could have been different. As it is, he finished a middle of the road 17th in his first year at the elite level. Nat however, was booted from qualification, and Rip Curl’s suitors are reportedly already circling with a contract in hand for Mr Coffin. That might spell trouble for the earnings of freesurfer, Dillon Perillo, whose stomping ground is close by in Malibu, but given the publicity and followings both command, you’d think their careers are pretty sured up.
The young Beschen says goodbye to the )( and hello to VA.
Noah Beschen, son of Kelly Slater’s early sparring partner, Shane, has also left Hurley. The 15-year-old from Oahu’s North Shore will now join RVCA, a company whose presence on the islands has continued to grow over the years. The one-time underground label, since bought by Billabong, has two houses on the ultra-expensive seven-mile miracle not to mention a roster comprised of the who’s who of heavy hitting Hawaiian surfers, Makua Rothman, Dustin Barca, Danny Fuller and Bruce Irons among them.
After several glorious years together, Noa Deane and Rusty have also parted ways. The 22-year-old Coolangatta prince and son of old school king, Wayne Deane, is now in the embrace of Volcom, where he will no doubt fall under the wing of longtime idol and living treasure, Ozzie Wright. Noz has gone big too, inking a five-year deal that will release him at the treacherous age of 27 with a lot of cash. Better that than signing two and three-year deals in your late teens and early 20s. It’s all too common to see promising young talents left to labour in the unskilled job market after the warm smiles and back scratches of their former sponsor are replaced with unanswered phone calls. This occurs as they move onto a younger improved version of said talent in the form of the latest crop of hot, spritely 20-year-olds. Hot Young Things, if you get the chance do what Noz and Kolohe did (the latter with a record-breaking 10-year Nike deal) and go long.
Is there anywhere better for dear Noz than Volcom? We’re delighted to see him paint a long term deal with the stone. Mr Deane will be officially stickered up as soon as January 13, 2017.
The entrance of Noa into the Volcom stable sees the exit of Byron Bay’s king of the groms, Kyuss King. At 16 years old, it feels like Kyuss has been around a lot longer with his fluoro wetsuits and his point-styled attack that’s tapping far north coast for years now. At 16 he’s already a well-oiled marketing machine which has been divisive recently as that slippery word about authenticity is thrown about. Whatevs, the potential is obvious, and Vans have secured the kid from Byron. They’ve thrown down for head-to-toe major sponsorship rights and will now pray that the shark-plagued North Coast spare the kid.
Still in Australia’s north and Stradbroke Island’s latest World Tour graduate, Ethan Ewing, has been incentivised to within an inch of his life – meaning all kinds of cash bonuses for contest results, magazine spreads, video parts and whatever else exists in the media realm. Frankly, we can’t get enough of the Irons-infused young gent and welcome the oncoming media saturation.
When one door closes another opens, and for the kid with the fabulous haircut, shoeys are so 2016.
A little further up the coast, 20-year-old Sunshine Coast freesurfer Harry Bryant has vacated the Mad Huey’s stable to take Noa’s vacant place at Rusty. A protege of sorts to the Runamuk Visuals/Dean Brady/Wade Goodall dynasty, Harry got real busy in 2016 running laps of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, and getting his blunted bowl cut in as many edits as he could. It’s paid off.
Ultimately though if you could be anyone in surfing right now, other than the obvious (that being the six million dollar man John John Florence) you’d have to go with the secure five-year future of Noa Deane and the comet that is Ethan Ewing. Times might be tough but if history has showed us anything, that’s when the tough get rich.
Ethan draws the comparison to AI on a consistent basis, the kid’s just qualified for the tour and at the moment the future looks gorgeous.
Until next time, xoxo GG.
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