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The Stab Awards

“Once we have the power we will never give it up !” Heinrich Himler The Ari Gold award for best manager: Blair Marlin Marlin’s roster of surfers includes the Irons bros and Dane Reynolds. He has a dazzling sense of humour, an ability to give the media what it wants while maintaining the privacy of […]

style // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 18 minutes

“Once we have the power
we will never give it up !”
Heinrich Himler

The Ari Gold award for best manager:
Blair Marlin

Marlin’s roster of surfers includes the Irons bros and Dane Reynolds. He has a dazzling sense of humour, an ability to give the media what it wants while maintaining the privacy of his team, and a pragmatic approach to business that underpins his flighty, but brilliant, riders.
This interview was conducted via email, something that usually has a stilted whiff to it. But Blair, god love him, works his keys with all the deftness of a young Billy Joel.

Question number one: There’s sameness of attitude to your fab team roster. They all say contests are an interesting, if peculiar, diversion, and their lives don’t hinge upon results. If you could, describe for me the surfing mindset of your champs. 
They all respect contest surfers for what they do, and how consistent they are, but for them they seem to believe that once they do a little click turn off a perfect alley-oop section to finish their seven-point ride, that is when they have sold their soul to the devil. They would rather take flight, fall, and lose the heat because their seven turned into a five-five, but they gave it a go, and they walk away from the event knowing they surfed how they would normally surf, and not how someone in a judging panel wanted them to. Eventually, a new tour format will favour this kind of surfing.
I have an idea…. Why don’t you guys start a contest for your readers to design a tour that they want to see? I’d be curious to hear the ideas they come up with and the surfers, surf spots, format, and sponsors they would want involved. Once you get the best choices I will bounce them of my guys, and I will give the winner an autographed board from the surfer of their choice on my roster.

Say, how often does your phone ring with offers from companies other than your riders’ existing sugar daddies?
Depending on the time of year, this being close to January 1, and everyone’s budgets are being approved… I would say I get about three calls a day minimum from companies who “just want to sit down and tell me what they have going on.”

What’s the most innovative offer – that is, not involving just money – you’ve had?
Okay, stay with me here. I am going to try and make sense out of this. Brand A, we will call them, made an offer to sponsor one of my guys. Uninterested in the product, I explained to brand A that it just wasn’t the direction my guy wanted to go. Brand A came back and said he will consider setting aside brand A, and developing Brand B (same category), giving my guy half ownership, and full creative control. My guy said: “Still not interested.” Brand A still calls me every week.

Have you ever offered your boys any profound advice that they’ve followed to their advantage, or ignored to their peril? 
Ha, Ha! I love giving Bruce advice, and watching him do the exact opposite. Learned that lesson a long time ago and I’ve been using reverse psychology ever since. Seriously though, a lot has happened in the past few years with the Irons boys as you know, and the boys have always made their own decisions. It’s my job to paint them a picture of how both options will work, and what the end result of each will most likely be. I’m not going to go into stories of the awesome advice I give, and that I am the reason for any success these guys have, because it would all be a bunch of horseshit. I’m not their Yoda. They do trust me, and if they have a question that needs answering from someone they know is looking out for their best interest, and not the interest of the boardshort, or sunglass sales. I’m here. I tend to give my younger guys a lot more advice, though. It never has to do with how they surfed a heat, or anything like a soccer dad would say. It’s just everyday life-as-a-pro-surfer stuff (travel tips, keeping sponsors happy, don’t drink with the Hazza’s, don’t get towed in by Reef). A lot of the advice stems from seeing what has and hasn’t worked so well in Bruce, Andy, and Dane’s careers up to this point.

I had an interesting conversation with the team manager of a major athletic shoe company and he told me that about six, maybe 10, surfers in the world actually matter, that they actually move product. And, he said, that the rest of the 45 or whatever, are kidding ’emselves with their demands for six and sevenfigure salaries. Is this fair?
Not sure if fair has anything to do with this, but it is true. I would say that 10 is even a stretch, and it has nothing to do with WCT points either. It’s image and video parts that make a good surfer into a real product mover. There is no hiding who these guys are either, so for those not in the same category to be looking for similar paychecks is wild, and I will do my best to explain.
Okay, here is my example. I’m a sandal company owner and am just getting into the industry, and need a surfer to promote my product. I have $150,000 per year to spend on surfers and I am looking to come into the market hot. I hand the budget over to my team manager who goes out and gets three guys (1 Aussie WA charger, 1 California WQS guy, and 1 married Floridian WCT guy who is 32 years old rarely travels away from tour and is rated 30th). Awesome… So now I have three guys who kids don’t look at twice, and the new sandals aren’t selling because who gives a shit about what these three guys wear.
Now, you can agree or disagree, but in my eyes, and it’s not rocket science: first, I fire that last team manager and take on the task myself (saving 40K right there). Do a tiny bit of research at the local surf shops and find out that Mick’s sandal was the highest-selling sandal ever. Do a little more research and find out that Andy’s Kamikazi boardshort was the highest-selling, and Bruce’s shorts, and signature glass sell a shit ton. Oh, and Kelly and Dane’s signature boards fly off the shelf. After combining all that info, go ask around at the beaches… Find out who the kids love, and why they love him. Do my best to form a marketing strategy around him and his lifestyle and make him an offer.
Oh, so who did I pick to ride for my sandal company? Well, the money was there for him, but Dane thinks sandals are gay.

What is a world title contender worth and what is a fruity freesurfer worth? And, who provides the best value for money? World title contender or world champ?
It just goes back to my last answer. It makes no difference if you’re contending for a world title. If you aren’t putting out good video parts and getting cover shots from editorial trips, you aren’t pushing product, and you’re no value to a company. Taj has never won a world title, but that dude deserves every penny the top three get and more because aside from the gruelling WCT schedule he deals with (and excels at), he has put out the most crazy shit on video and in the mags over the past few years. His hard work shows, kids love him for it and identify more with that than his contest surfing, and sponsors eat it all up.

Tell me: is the pressure of a manager such that you long for cigarettes?
I am more of a cowboy than a city boy. Chewing tobacco is my choice of nicotine, but I saw some photos on the internet of this guy’s gums melting off, and I have been off it for a few months. As any good quitter, I found something to help me out. I am hopelessly addicted to Nicorete gum now. It calms my nerves and I chew it all day long.

The kimba award for friendliest lion:
BEDE DURBIDGE

Bede Durbidge rides into a red-rimmed sunset, gun on his blood red hip. He is haggard and stinking of filth and sweat. And steam rises in thin tendrils off his denim. His eyes are hollow holes that pierce through the back of his own skull. Exhausted and tired and head filled with sour whiskey. Bloody and ragged. He has not tasted sleep in months for he and he alone is Australia’s Great White Fijian Hope.
He has left Taj Burrow behind. Taj Burrow was bit by a copperhead out in the Brazilian wasteland. His leg swolled up as big as a barrel until he finally fell from his steed, immobile, surrounded by scrub brush and ash and tumbled boulders and vastness. “Get on, Bede.” Taj said as he lay in the sand, life draining from his used to be youthful face. “Get on an’ kill Kelly Slater good. You the only hope now.”
Bede Durbidge feels the coldness on his insides. He is growing it, honing it. He knows his heart’ll have to be as cold as iron and harder’n Satan for when he meets Kelly Slater. He practices, killing and gutting other surfers on the WCT. He killed Jeremy Flores in South Africa. Stuck his Bowie knife right through the Frenchman’s sternum and pulled straight down. Jeremy Flores’s innards spilled out and Bede Durbidge smeared the sticky red menagerie all over his Mada T-shirt. He tilted his head back and let the full moon singe his very soul. A young Afrikaans woman cried but Bede Durbidge didn’t wilt. He’ll be strong. He’ll be strong like he was when he put a lead slug right through the front of Travis Logie’s skull and watched the fine mist spray out the back.
It’s lonely at number two. Evenings on a skittering rim with nothing but nothing behind and a long road ahead. Just empty dusty laggard loneliness. No companions. No campfire to warm the cockles and breath life into the weary, wild rawness. The curve of the earth extends and he can’t quite reach it but he will reach it. He’ll reach it in 2010.
Bede Durbidge is aiming for Kelly Slater. He is the last. And six feet one of sinew and muscle and bone thirst for the showdown. Nothing matters no more. His wants don’t matter and his needs are only one. And he alone is Australia’s Great White Hope Fijian.

 

The “What, you mean these lil dancing things?” Topless man of the year award: 
Johnny Ganon

If you’d paid attention to the tour webcasts this year, you woulda noticed a surprising strength in Taj Burrow’s surfing. And not just in a physical sense, although his turns had renewed purpose and he was sticking his airs. Inside his head, and for the first time in his career, he knew he could beat anyone, including ol KS. Not that he did when it eventually came to a final, but the Boost final was a demonstration of fast, radical, ultra-contemporary surfing – Taj versus Kelly’s powerful, connect-the-dots approach. The judges, who are forced by the nature of competitive surfing to rate a subjective sport objectively, went for the tried and true formula of Kelly’s. Whatevs.
We hold trainer Johnny Gannon responsible for the hardened version of Taj Burrow. With his charge as putty, he has moulded a pussy-chasin’, lazy, junk-food king into a fit-as-fuck pussy-killing machine. As reward, Johnny will be touring with Terry again in 2009 (“We went out for dinner and Taj said, Are you keen for next year? I said, Fucking oath. Let’s do it,” says Johnny).
Apart from his work on Taj, Johnny receives his award for his ability to avoid a shirt.

Talk about the balance of work and fun.
It’s such a long year. And, I only realised that half way through the season. It’s such a long time to compete and be focussed on heats. It’s important to have your down time and to relax; to stay as happy as possible. Surfing heats is so mental. If you’re happy with your personal life it definitely reflects on people’s surfing. You can see it, you can see who’s having a good time. That said, you can’t go to every party and go mad and get home at six in the morning. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to be smart about hammering yourself just before a long flight. There are so many airports and travel involved. It’s non-stop. You have a rep for getting up and training, whatever the damage you did to yourself the previous night, in stark contrast to Taj…

That’s one of our rules with partying. If he wants to party, he gets up and trains or surfs, not matter what. There’s no lying in bed all day. It works well because, if he’s out, he knows he has to eventually get up in the morning. For me, I love training and I’m addicted to it. I feel fucked if I don’t train. If I have a coupla days off training I get depressed. I have to do it. It makes me happy.

What have you given Taj as a trainer?
His fucken rig’s lookin’ way better. He seems more confident. He’s really happy with everything. He’s injury free and he feels really good.

What’s the fastest way to perfection?

(Laughter) Ah, fuck, eat good food and do a variety of different exercises and do ’em hard.

Gimme one exercise to physical perfection.
A squat push where you squat down and bicep curl up and press the weights over your shoulders. It works your whole body. It’s a compound exercise. It’s a doooo-zee.

As a percentage, what part of the day do you have a shirt on, what part without? Do you have it on right now? (Johnny is in Hawaii; Stab is in Bondi. We talk on the phone.)
I have a shirt on right now, but the fucken sun’s coming out. If the sun’s out the shirt’s off. That’s for sure. Tan it up. When you’ve got a rough head like mine, you’ve gotta get the rig out.

 

The Jack Black award for, like, being tot ally Tenacious D:
Mick Campbell

Yeah, he’s had ups and downs. But, how would it be if you could hold court just once in a beachside community, in front of an adoring audience of gals and guys, and retell again and again about the time you came…this… close to beating Slater for a world title at his absolute peak; or how you totally decked AI in front of, like, everyone just cause he got in your grill; or the time you tried to fight the entire Wolf Pak single-handedly? Old stories, sure, but as much as Stab loves a winner, we adore the underdog.
After his 98/99 peak, Mick turned to butter and slipped down the ratings, before dropping off all together. Then, he disappeared into the good-time wilderness for two years. And, then, not-so-famously cause it’s not as if Mick is a 20-year-old superkid so who’s going to notice the ratings climb of a middle-aged man, Mick spent a year getting up at five and training like the devil, chased the qualifying series, and came back to compete at the highest level. Totally tenacious.

I want to know about your tenacity. It’s famous. You refuse to lay down for any surfer, whatever their name and you nearly beat Slater at his peak. And, now you’re back competing at the highest level. What methods do you use to keep getting back up?
I hate losing to people. I’m always trying to better myself in everything. I need to prove people wrong. All my life I’ve had the industry tell me I couldn’t succeed. I want to prove to the kids that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you can always get up there and do anything you want if you have that drive. You don’t have to get paid millions of dollars to be successful or to get to the top of the spot. When I made my comeback, a lot of people I knew told me that I probably wouldn’t requalify. I took that to heart. That was all the fire I needed.

Describe how you feel when you’re channelling your famous tenacity?
When I’m in that mode, nothing else matters, but the task at hand. Everything comes to me. Nothing can stop me. Whatever the situation, I’m, like, bring it on.

How do you light your fire?
By sticking to a routine for six to eight weeks. I do everything the same. I get up at five, I surf, I train, and I do it right. Every day I follow in the same footsteps. You do that and you feel like you can beat anybody. But, there’s a downside. You start to feel so good that you think it’s okay to go out and get on the piss, that it won’t affect you, that you deserve it. It doesn’t work that way. I’m easily distracted. I have a halo and horns on each shoulder.
Realistically, a world title isn’t on the cards these days.

What are your ambitions?
To ride out my career, be stoked on what I’ve done and what I’ve seen, and then move on. Eventually, I want to pass on what I’ve learned to kids. My advice? If you wanna do something, do whatever you can to achieve it. If people say you can’t, you say, Fuck That!

 

The Ma Teresa Award for Kindest Human
ACE BUCHAN

Ace is the best man. He’s kindly and unselfish and goodnatured. In case you forget your ID at a San Clemente hotel,
he’ll make a massive detour to fetch it. He’s contemplative and caring and friendly. He gives homeless strangers helpful tips on how to pick locks. He’s genuine and introspective and enthusiastic. If someone is bothering you, and Ace is your mate, he’ll scalp that motherfucker with a motherfucking hatchet and nail the bloody wig to a North Sydney street sign.

What does Best Man mean to you?
Being a best man to me means being a friend that is always there no matter what. It’s great to be there in the good times but real friends are with you through everything.

Have you ever been a best man in anyone’s wedding?
No I haven’t. It seems like people are marrying later these days with everyone keen to invest time into their careers. But a couple of my good friends have recently fallen over and found themselves on one knee so it won’t be long!

Have you ever given a toast?
I’ve made my fair share of speeches around the world but no toasts to newlyweds just yet. There’s definitely a fine line of etiquette that needs to be followed though. Your job is to endear the groom to those that don’t know him as well as you. You want to be funny enough to capture the crowd’s attention and draw a slight blush from your mate and his lovely girl when you recall their early romance. This is a wedding though, not a 21st, you don’t want the in-laws cringing. So no crude jokes!
And one last thing. Remember some nice words for
your mate’s Mum. She is after all giving away her baby! What is the worst wedding you’ve ever been to?
Hey, I’m the best man here. I got to keep a smile on always no matter what!

You planning on getting married soon?

I’m really happy in my relationship right now. I have an amazing girl that I love and who is devoted to me me and right now I don’t feel like formalising anything would make it better.

And wedlock is just an institution really isn’t it? 
Seems like more things go wrong once the vows are taken.
In saying that, I did nearly cry at the last wedding I was at. I’m a romantic at heart.

What do you want me to get you for a wedding gift?

Oh no, not those horrible registries. Dinner sets, whitegoods and toasters…arggh! For a young family starting out I guess that all helps but I personally think it’s pretty tacky. What about something original… an artwork you may have done or a scribbled poem. Good wine and a few kind words will suffice though!

An Ode to Ace (for his wedding day ) 
I want you so bad, you know, I cry at night But all I got is a teddy bear to hold tight The only place where I ever want to be is by your side You just leave me hypnotised by your eyes Don’t let go
Don’t let go
I am having sleepless nights just thinking of you But with my teddy bear there’s not a lot I can do The only place I ever want to be is by your side You just leave me hyp-hypnotised by your eyes
Don’t let go
Don’t let go
Don’t let go
Don’t let go.

Best Island Holiday Beyond Bali:
Ben Bourgeois

Aruba, Jamaica, ooo Ben wants to take you to Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t you go to the Dee-ee R….
Off the Florida Keys. There’s a place called the Dominican Republic, that’s where Ben wants to go to get away from it all… Prostitutes in the sand. Tropical drink melting in his hand. He’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band down in the Dominican Republic. Oooooo.
Ben Bourgeois, North Carolina hotshot and current number 32 in the world, knows something you don’t know. He knows that half of the island of Hispaniola is surf heaven! The right half, which is also called the Dominican Republic. The left half is Aids heaven and called Haiti.
The Dominican Republic fetches fantastic winter swells that keeps Ben Bourgeois up to his eyeballs in barrels from November until April. Wet, slimy barrels.
A quick two-hundred dollar, five-hour flight sets him on warm tropical beaches surrounded by waves. Just south east of Cuba, the whole half island, literally, breaks and breaks good. Ben can go north, south or east. He can find shorebreak, reef break, point break. There are many cays off shore that provide even more waves.
The days are a perfect 25 degrees and the nights sway to the rhythms of merengue and prostitutes.
There are tons and tons of prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. It is the world’s fourth largest exporter of high quality prostitutes.
It’s also relatively uncrowded because surfers want what they know. They want Indo and Hawaii and Fiji and they don’t really know about no Dominican Republic.
But Ben Bourgeois does! He knows there is great surf and totally fabbo prostitutes.

 

The Charles Atlas award for fastest body transformation:
Luke Stedman

Whether thee believes in a god or not, we can all agree that Luke Stedman has been divinely blessed. I still recall, and not as a fond memory, the evening five years ago when he stood at our office door, dressed in a black suit with a purple scarf and bowler hat, inked brown from a Tahitian campaign, asking for bar-hopping buddies.
It was winter and we were in the middle of the production of a book, a time when all-nighters were common. I had just become addicted to coffee. My hair was black, my skin was alabaster and I dressed in the unfashionable manner common to the poor and overworked.
At that moment, a jealousy surged so powerful that I’ve yet to feel it again. My only consolation was knowing that beneath the gorgeous suit was a kooky pigeon chest.
Imagine, my disappointment recently when even that small gift disappeared. Congratulations to Luke Stedman, officially, now, perfect.

It wasn’t that long ago that you never used to remove your shirt. Why?
My shirt was firmly secured at all times for a couple of reasons. One, if I turned on a side angle to you I used to be invisible or extremely hard to see cause I was so thin. I’m still thin but now people can clearly see it’s me.
Two, I have an alien’s body. I get padded down in clubs and when boarding planes and they get to my ribs and they think I’m carrying a weapon. I have been asked to strip a couple of times. Seriously. Of course, now the shirt is rarely seen.

What transformed your body?
The Shirt, my friends, is still pretty much glued on. Although, nowadays the glue is only a soft, paper-based product and not an epoxy-based, strong-as-steel, can’t-get-this-shit-off motherfucker kinda deal. It was a pretty simple deal to transform the bod. I saw how good Otto was surfing and wanted to get on his caboose. He put me in touch with his girl Jan Carton and I bounced off to the Goldy to see if she could help a kid out. I was just trying to better my surfing, not my rig. She did a once-over of me and just said “We have some work to do boy!” She was bewildered on how bent and outta wack my body was. She even threw in a, “How are those ribs!?” I was, like, fuck give me a break. So, it was mostly in the corrective stretching that I had to do. I had to bend my body back to a how it should be, then work on strengthening it so it would not fall into the same old pattern.

Despite your interest in a bitchin’ skin care company, you’re always a gorgeous bronze. Tell me, does a little sun, taken carefully every day, beat a full-on onslaught of sun-tanning for best overall skin colour?
I still always wear a shirt in the surf and, yeah, I always wear my VERTRA. (Sorry for the gay plug.) To prolong the aging process and the good times that come with youth, stay out of the sun without protection, man. It’s like unprotected sex. Seems amazing at the time, feels so good yeah, right until you’re in the doctor’s studio getting things cut out or off.

Finally, who is that little man on Surfline (Lewis Samuels) who seems intent on the assassination of your character?
That little man is little, for sure. I honestly wanted to kill him. He drove a sharp stake into me several times and it fucking hurt. It seemed like he wanted to bash me way more than every one else, too. Anyway, after several therapy sessions at a really expensive, overrated Sydney shrink centre, I changed my train of thought – really, it was just sitting on my deck with a cold Corona and Tom Whits telling me to snap out of it. I used his words to motivate me. Kept a couple of his quotes he wrote about me, put them up on my wall and drew positive energy from it. Actions speak louder than words and that’s what I did. I’m now 12th on the ratings and I remember being referred to as Stuart Bedford-Brown (tradesmanlike goofyfooter from the late 80s) and would never make the top 16 again as that was a fluke and hell would freeze over if I made top 10. I’m not going to use that crap cliche that’s it’s getting cold in Hell, but I won’t rest till I’ve reached single figures on the ratings.

The Al Gore Award for Best Career Switcharoo:
TIM CURRAN

Timmy Curran is a visionary. An out-of-the-box whirlwind of passion and pop. From his air alley oop at ten years old, to “The Flip” at age fifty he he has shown us the way. This way. Down the aerial path. “Surfing will someday exist above the lip.” Now this way off the WCT. “Competition is for turds.” Now this way, followers, this way to a handsome surf-related income. “Hurley.”
Well what the fuck now, Timmy? The whole world has collapsed into an economic cauldron of pain. Surf companies are firing employees and non-employees. Quiksilver has outsourced their entire design department to five-year-old Mexican retards. What now? Oakley just murdered their entire surf team. Cost cutting. WHAT NOW?
“Music, my babies. Acoustic, homespun, low pressure, serendipitous, folk rock. Finance an EP by yourself and release it for free on the internet under your own label.” A way forward? You bet!
I’m not joking. Look at aerial surfing today and look at those who failed to embrace it. Sunny Garcia. Thumbs down. “And surfing too, my lovlies. There is money in progressive, moonlit, fabulous rail grabbing tube-filled get paid to go surfing.”
OMG! Music and surfin? Surfing and music?
Timmy Curran is a visionary. A crazed dervish of astral ambition. Just because it seems strange to jump back and forth from one sinking ship to another don’t mean it is.
Warren Buffet is the richest man in world. Forbes recently estimated his personal wealth at over $62 billion, all created through timely stock purchases. He just sunk billions of dollars into General Motors and Goldman Sachs.

Timmy Curran is a visionary and if he says there’s a future in crafting free guitar-based internet music then I’m buying. I ain’t no Sunny Garcia.

 

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