When we were approached by Caleb Graham, the genius/workhorse behind Laurie Towner's redemption clip, 'Keeping On', to promote this short film, I could not contain my excitement.
"I'll do it!" I screamed, via email, to my bosses. "Let me do it!"
Laurie had always been one of my favorite surfers, so to help tell his story and share it with the world was nothing short of an honor. My only fear, besides delegitimizing Laurie's story with my sycophantic storytelling, was that his post would be a flash in the pan, or worse, that Laurie's kind and generous soul would be ripped to shreds by the nefarious Stab commentariat.
Much to my joy, neither of those scenarios played out, as Laurie's video was liked, shared, and praised by people near and far across the Internet community. I came to learn that I was one of many, many humans who had a soft spot in their heart for Laurie Towner.
Most notably, perhaps, was Albee Layer, whose thoughtful Instagram post garnered support from both pro and amateur surfers.
From Albee: Laurie has been one of if not my favorite surfers since footage first started showing up of him. He rode scary waves better than almost anyone and could get A clips in any conditions. In the peak of all this got dropped out of no where (by @billabong, I know the struggle) and hasn't been getting paid since. Another victim of the surf industry putting all its money into paying very young kids hoping to find the next John John. It's a hard thing, when we were growing up no one got signed big deals until their twenties now a days if you hit twenty without a big sponsor seems like your careers over. I'm very lucky and greatful to of found a way to make a living in this "awkward generation" but it could be gone any second just like Laurie's. So please support whatever free surf projects or big wave edits you see out there. We are a dying genre in surfing and if the whole surfing world is just contest and we get robbed of watching footage of the next Laurie we will all regret it. The diversity within surfing is what makes it so beautiful.
Contained in this post are interesting and supportive comments from a number of notable handles, including:
- @nickvonrupp: "I sign below. One of the smoothest chargers ever."
- @torreymesiter: "Best post of all time Albsss! @laurietowner is one of the greatest to touch a surfboard and one of the gnarliest guys ever in heavy waves! A shaky industry can’t keep robbing us of seeing the best guys surf!Imagine Laurie at jaws this week."
- @ricardochristie: "Laurie is the fucking man."
- @kailenny: "@laurietowner is the man, Id love to see him out at Jaws."
And most importantly...
- @kellyslater: "Wish we had the means to properly sponsor him right now at Outerknown. He’s sick!"
Part of me reads this and thinks hmmmmm... by selling approximately eight beanies and one pair of woolen socks, Outerknown could feed the entire country of Chad or at least everyone named Chad for over a year. But there is much about business that I can't begin to comprehend so I'll just assume that Kelly was being genuine in his comment and move forward.
So Laurie got the peer support, which is awesome, but no one is truly in the clear until the internet's most heartless, spiteful keyboard warriors get their say. And much to my surprise, the Stab community was uncustomarily kind to ol' Lozza. Reading through the nearly 50 comments, the meanest jab I can find is: "this is why you go to uni and get a real job. we can't all be wsl stars. just the way of the world sadly." Literally not a single thing about Laurie's surfing, hair, missus, sexuality, or behavior in or out the lineup. 90% of comments had a positive, almost weirdly supportive message for Mr. Towner. I guess there's something about that "let your surfing do the talking" attitude that appeals to even the harshest of critics.
Go ahead and rewatch Laurie's new clip, 'Keeping On'. It's free of charge.
I spoke with Laurie yesterday about all the support he's received, and in his own quiet way, Laurie was tangibly stoked.
Stab: Loz, how do you feel about all the support you've gotten since the video went live? Slater's backing you!
Laurie Towner: Yeah, it's pretty cool to receive kind words from the world's best surfers. Having respect from those guys is what it's all about for me.
Even the comments on Stab are nice. That's saying something...
Yeah, those boys can be pretty ruthless hey? I've seen some funny stuff in there before, but I've never paid much attention to it. It's pretty cool that they're being supportive though.
Did you expect this kind of response to your video?
Nah, we just made the clip to show the people who were fans of my surfing, or whatever, what I've been doing since I lost my sponsor. I didn't make it to get a ton of recognition or pick up a new sponsor or anything, but I really appreciate all the support.
What do you think about getting another sponsor at this point in life?
These days, with the family and all, it'd have to be something that's gonna support them as well. The other thing is, I'd hate to go and get signed up with a company for a bunch of money and then two years later, bang, I'm back in the same position. I guess the dream would be something that's long-term, not just temporary. Like Albee said, at any moment, any one of those amazing surfers can be dropped, and if you've got nothing else behind you, you're kinda stuck in the situation that I was in. Now that I'm doing my trade, that's got a lot of longevity, and it'll keep myself and my family going for the rest of my life. I don't know if that's even a realistic thing with surfing nowadays. I have no idea how it works anymore [laughs].
Whether or not Laurie will return to professional surfing remains unknown, but while we desperately hope for his second coming, something tells me Laurie will be fine either way. That said, we'd all reallllly appreciate it if someone would properly sponsor Lozza. Maybe if each of us bought an Outerknown beanie, Kelly would have enough cash to swing it. Whatta ya say, boys?
And Kelly? You keen?