Surf100 at North Point, coming soon. Photo: Peter Jovic
Year Of The Sandbag
A quick Stab media update.
Like 90% of the world’s businesses, we’ve been copping our fair share of L’s this year. It felt like every time we’d start to bring something significant to life, we’d get blindsided at the last minute.
In March, we were due to run Stab High at Urban Surf in Melbourne—finally, an event back in a cosmopolitan city in our country of origin, where we can pull actual surfers to a surfing contest.
The challenge of selling a surf contest to a non-surfing Texan audience was like trying to give a cat a bath. But 2,000 people poolside in Melbourne with margaritas and live music was something we were jazzed about.
That was sidelined 10 days out by the virus.
The same deal happened with another Stab High event in Texas, which was slated for last month. Despite using some highly-experienced doctors in an attempt to quarantine the supply chain, we were KO’d a few weeks out. This one hurt, because we had an ace up our sleeve.
We’ve always had a great relationship with BSR’s owner Stuart Parsons. He’s been open to almost anything we’ve thrown at him. For the first Stab High, he was down to sign a contract as long as it was less than one page in length. Year two, Stuart had different rules. “We don’t need a contract, man. It’s Texas. You got my word.”
So we rolled with no contract. And, he was right about his word. He allowed us to build a scaffold in and around the generators/blowers that make the waves. Given those blowers are a lifeblood of the park, it as a risk I sure wouldn’t have taken.
This year, our third year, we wanted to liven it up. We’d heard the BSR pool runs at about 70% capacity. We met with Perfect Swell (who built the tech) and talked about running the waves at 100% capacity. More power, bigger waves, and then hopefully an aggressive upward spiral of progression. The downside, however, is that the larger waves mean a larger water surge that floods the beach, which comes with a whole host of problems, namely the shorting of the park’s electrical system. When we pitched the idea to Stuart, in his typical Texan spirit, he said sure, he’d just create a bunker and sandbag the beach.
Unfortunately, the wall was never built.
That’s why we came up with Surf100: A way to watch some head-to-head world-class surfing during a world in lockdown. Our sense is that when there are really good waves and the match-ups are even, then surfing can be as compelling as other sports. When the tide, wind and swell come together, and surfers have time to relax and find their groove, to create a live video part, might be very compelling.
In this case, we like the matchup between Kolohe, Crane, and Griffin. Griff is the youngster who sees a target on Kolohe’s back. Kolohe plays the big brother supportive role and works where possible to lift the entire troupe. Crane, on the other hand, has that elite-level grace but can’t make the world tour stage with Griff and Kolohe. We regard him as one of the top three most underrated surfers in the world.
We also talked about getting Filipe Toledo in their too, but most agreed that wasn’t fair. As a new local, Filipe doesn’t have the same heft in the lineup and would struggle to get waves—the boys agreed. And Filipe didn’t really fit that hometown narrative either.
The argument was lobbed that since the session had already taken place, anyone on the beach would already know the result. But with high-profile talent, you’re almost guaranteed that all the surfers get a few decent ones. And, with the scoring happening at home, no one knows who wins.
A surf demonstration shot a while ago that goes live with commentary while being audience scored from home isn’t the best elevator pitch, and we have no idea if it can work. If you’re one of the 400 people who have bought a pay-per-view ticket, thank you for your support. We bootstrapped this thing ourselves without sponsors.
If it’s like Stab High, tickets all land in the last hour, but let’s be honest... we’re not breaking any records. If we get to 2,000 people for our pilot, we’ll be thrilled. Let’s not forget, also, that our talent will be copping 30% of the massive proceeds.
It’s not like we need to give permission for you to tell us it sucks, but please let us know what you think of the first iteration. And, before you tell us to give up, go to hell, and other various encouragement, imagine what this format would be like at steam-training eight-foot North Point with Jack Robinson, Kael Walsh, Jay Davies, and Jacob Willcox. That’s what we captured yesterday, and it will be coming your way shortly.
No sandbags required.