Stab Magazine | Coming Next Week: Day Of The Year At North Point For Surf100
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Coming Next Week: Day Of The Year At North Point For Surf100

And, why Stab started Surf100.

cinema // Sep 12, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

2020 has been a hot mess. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that there’s not much we agree on. Science, truth, religion, politics, conspiracies. 

Determining surf contest winners is no different. 

When the lockdown first kicked in, our Stab High events in Melbourne and Texas were both casualties and this was a body blow for our business. Canceling of the world tour was inevitable. We wanted to seize an opportunity to see some good surfing in those pockets of the world where it was still taking place. For me at least, I can’t invest the time into an entire world tour event. I don’t have the patience to sit through those early rounds. All I want to see are those classic head to heads, proper battles, of the best guys in the best waves. 

We thought: With surfers having more time on their hands than ever before, we can create a new kind of surf contest. High-octane surfing with as little fanfare as possible. No judges, no commentary, no coaches, no jerseys, no infrastructure whatsoever. The ability for two, three, or four equally skilled surfers to surf on a classic day of surf. And what if we could put unknowns against big names, give surfers a platform to show what they can do?

Despite a lack of fanfare on the sand, the event still involved a tonne of logistics. We had three waterproof mics that had to be custom sewn into the back of the wetsuits, 11 cameras all abiding by social distancing rules and we had to try to spot our talent among a very crowded lineup. We were also using surf cinematographers we had worked with in the past and it was a steep re-education process in shooting a live(ish) broadcast: Do. Not. Stop. Shooting. 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/q6zSCw5WQgA

A taste of our pilot.

For those who think we’re blowing out secret spots or putting these spots on the map, that sits against everything we’re about. We’re working with the guys who’d dominate on a day like this with the same film crew they’d typically use (when this event finished, the guys all paddled back out and surfed). For those who have battled for waves on a good day at North Point, you’ll know that it’s virtually impossible to penetrate the local rotation.  

Now, let’s talk about our audacity to charge to watch the event. Financially, this first contest was a shitty business decision, but we’re still glad we made the leap. We are sincerely grateful for those who laid down their plastic to watch the pilot. In reality, we deserved dozens of viewers but were surprised with 1600 paying customers. As you might recall, we offered readers who couldn’t afford the broadcast a free code. These caught on fire and we had a further 1600 use those. We also promised our surfers 30% of the pay per view sales from Lowers and texted the underwhelming screenshot of the princely sum to each surfer on a group thread. I said to send an invoice. They sent back the vomit emoji. They were generous with their time and this is a testament to their good characters. The next round is on us, gents.    

I’ve since heard two podcasts talk about the event (Lipped, Surf Center) and there have been some great learnings. Stace Galbraith always has a unique take. Not bothering the audience to score waves that won’t make the top-two is the most salient takeaway. The other feedback is that we should have sold sponsorship or monetised this project with YouTube ads. Jesus Harvey Christ, I don’t want to speak out of school but unless you’re selling sponsorship to Amazon or Tesla, selling an experiential surf contest in the middle of the pandemic is not always the easiest proposition. We most liked the idea that no sponsor meant that you wouldn’t have to suffer ads like “I surf the dirt, I surf the mountain” or have us peddle Stab in the Dark at you yet again. More than anything, however, it gave the surfers, the commentary, the entire team to speak with complete candor. The brief? Nothing is off-limits. 

Basic economics says there is no such thing as free. That’s why restaurateurs prefer a smaller group of paying customers over thousands of free ones. The same reason you don’t scream at restaurants if you think the steak is too pricey, you just go somewhere else. If Surf100 doesn’t represent value, no need to yell. Just because you’re offended we charge doesn’t make you right. Conversely, we’d hate you to miss out because you can’t afford it, which is why we offer free passes to those in our audience.

So, back to the economics of running YouTube ads, along with a free model and feedback from Lincoln Eather of Empire Ave and Jimmy Miles at Lipped. These guys suggest a larger Youtube audience who watch for free would return more than a pay per view and that YouTube is a sound business model. This is ill-informed. (A quick message to our pontificating podcast friends on facts and reasonings about Stab projects, you can just ask me directly 949-446-5182). 

Screen Shot 2020 09 10 at 10.24.09 PM

Youtube as a business model is a flawed one. This is the past 30 days on Stab.

For example: In the past month, Stab has done 1.7m video views on YouTube and netted less than $USD2k (see photo above for proof). Crude maths equates a broadcast of 100k views returning a couple of hundred dollars. Mick Fanning’s Stab in the Dark has done almost 1m views on YouTube, but the $USD30k audience support via Itunes and Vimeo on release means this is a project that can endure. 

Surf100 involves a large operation live broadcast team that costs us more than $USD70k without taking into account the three months many of our staff poured into the project.  

One of three things is gonna happen next with Surf100. We’re going get your support as a pay per view and this property will have legs for the future. The second is that we get a financial partner, we run a free broadcast and you’ll have to stomach whatever ads we can peddle. Or, finally, we’ll keep making these things to our dozens and dozens of fans until we go broke. 

I prefer doors a) and b) but in the peculiar state of 2020 we’d much prefer to create than remonstrate. We’re sure to butt heads on plenty more this year but one thing we won’t disagree on will be the judging of Surf100. That one is squarely on you. 

To register for the pay per view, click here

If you purchased Surf100 first time at Lowers, we’ll send you a 50% off code for North Point.

If you can’t afford the pay-per-view, email us at [email protected]  

If you have any suggestions or feedback for surf100: [email protected]

KF019216

Surfers were distinguished by spraying their rails the same colour that sits on their suits. Can you guys dye your hair the same colour like the Americans did for the Lowers event? “Yeah, nah…”

Here are some FAQs, also.  

Why isn’t it run live? We’re playing by the covid rules of distancing. The moment a live broadcast is on-site, those rules are broken. 

100 minutes is too long. We’re used to 30 or 40-minute heats. It’s been that way for 50 years. We sense that a shorter heat creates a less even playing field. With this lengthened format, every surfer has a chance to shine and there is no clear winner, thereby maintaining the element of surprise before the broadcast. We want to make a surf contest like a boxing event, a good backstory in the leadup whereby you know the time and place the battle is starting. 

Also, in regards to not knowing who the winner is: we thought Griffin might win Surf100 at Lowers but the audience had Kolohe for the win. 

Audience judging is too influenced by Dane Reynolds. You might be right. But our instructions were to have our commentary speak with ultimate transparency. 

Dane is too critical. See above.  

You should clear the water of surfers. The moment we clear the water signifies there’s an event that will encourage crowds. This way we play by the rules. There were 40 waves ridden at Lowers and over 30 at North Point. The surfers are locals at these waves and have no problem getting their bag limit.  

Why don’t you have the mics playing the entire time? We handpick the best sound bites. Trust us, you don’t need to hear the huffing and puffing paddling.

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