Three’s Company

21 01 2010

For the greater part of three decades three surf companies have dominated professional surfing in terms of event sponsorship money and world titles. Nugable takes a closer look at the situation.

Most sports have Nike and Reebok. Surfing has Quiksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl. Since 1982 only four surfers have won the ASP World Championship without one of the Big 3’s stickers on their board (Barton Lynch/Instinct, Derek Ho/Gotcha, Martin Potter/Gotcha and CJ Hobgood/Globe). Since 1990 it has essentially happened twice.

It leads one to wonder if there’s a conspiracy and whether or not a surfer not sponsored by Rip Curl, Quiksilver or Billabong will ever win a world title again?

“I think the answer is yes,” says veteran Australian journalist Tim Baker. “I don’t think there is a conspiracy. Have a look at event winners over the past few years and there is not a high incidence of surfers winning their own sponsor’s events. It happens here or there, Parko at J-Bay, Mick (Fanning) in Portugal, but not enough to suggest a conspiracy, and there was nothing contentious about those wins. It would be a bit too obvious anyway and I think ASP head judge Perry Hatchett is a man of enormous integrity.”

The last time a surfer not sponsored by the Big 3 won the title was in 2001 when Florida’s CJ Hobgood took home the crown in a season cut short by the tragedy and uncertainty of the events surrounding 9/11.

“I was the last one to do it, but mine doesn’t count,” said former ASP world champion CJ Hobgood. “Look at any sport…golf, tennis, etc.  I mean when was the last time a world number one in golf or tennis wasn’t sponsored by Nike or maybe Adidas? (When) you have the most money it’s pretty easy to get the best athletes.”

Looking back, 2002 was the turning point for the ASP when the majority of the events (8/12) main sponsors were one of the Big 3. Since then the Big 3 have essentially controlled the ASP’s World Championship Tour. In 2010 they account for 8 of the 10 events.

An oligarchy is a form of power that effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals. It can be argued that the ASP operates as a corporate oligarchy. Behind the scenes there are always people who complain about surfers getting “pushed” in heats.

Transworld Surf editor-in-chief Chris Cote suggests there is a morsel of truth to that argument. “I don’t think it happens often, but I think the judges, just like the media, get caught up in the hype and push the ‘it’ guys through sometimes.”

Let’s face it, today there are only a handful of surfers with a realistic chance at a title—Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbidge and Taj Burrow. All except Durbidge ride for the Big 3. The current number-three in the world was recently picked up by Fox when his primary sponsor, Mada, went belly up.

There is no question the large surf companies do a fantastic job of signing, finding and nurturing talent. Just look at the junior’s scene today. Owen Wright, a 2010 WCT rookie, is a Rip Curl Team rider, as is 16-year-old Brazilian phenom Gabriel Medina.

“The big companies have the resources to get the best guys,” says Cote. “It used to be kids would come up riding for smaller companies, and then get snatched by the bigger companies. Now you see big companies like Target and Nike snatching up kids from the biggest surf companies.”

A perfect example is the recent signing of 9-time NSSA national champ Kolohe Andino by Nike. He bolsters an already impressive lineup of young Nike surfers that includes Dusty Payne, Nat Young, Kai Barger and Michel Bourez. Yesterday, Target also signed the up-and-coming San Clemente teenager. He joins Carissa Moore on team Target and more surfers will surely follow.

Baker suggests subtler forces may also play a role. “Yes, these companies do a good job of picking up the cream of the talent pool, but they also do a really good job of marketing those guys and showcasing their surfing in video and photos, so that we all get a slightly elevated view of their prowess compared to their less-well sponsored peers. If, say, Tom Whittaker was sponsored by one of the Big 3 he would be a lot more visible and we would all be more firmly convinced of how hard he rips. I think this even unconsciously can rub off on the judges at times and get the high-profile guys through tight heats. But I think all concerned know if it became a case of obvious bias pro surfing would quickly lose whatever legitimacy it has.”

If you aspire to be a world champ someday, just to be safe, you’d better make sure you sign on the dotted line with one of these three companies. Or at least until Nike and Target take over.

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45 responses

21 01 2010
m

Interesting piece Nug, is this actual “journalism” here? Whats next, the New York Times?

21 01 2010
The Nug

@m
Thanks… I think.
“I tried to capture the spirit of the thing.”
-Dickie Dunn, Slap Shot

21 01 2010
Jamon Bagel

Nug, I don’t know whether to compliment your Photoshop skills or just take your software away entirely. That picture is hilarious/disturbing.

21 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

LMFAO@ Kelly and Andy in the photo. I even shed some tears I lol’d so hard. I better go change my knickers.

21 01 2010
Jordy Smith

Mick Fuckin Fanning! Bru! Never really noticed ya before!
Ya wanna go get a few pints tonight?
I’ll drive, hey?

21 01 2010
The New New Original Jimmy Football

Good post. Needs more kite boarding.

21 01 2010
Jesse

HaHa, Andy Irons looks like some trailer park whore I’d probably fuck!

22 01 2010
FLA

good call

21 01 2010
carter

good article……but wasn’t cj on rusty when he won the title………not that it matters since there not in the big three anyway………….this year’s tour might be real interesting with the new blood…..

21 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

Upon second review… is that NOT Steph Gilmore that Slater’s feeling up with his left hand???

Mick Fanning you say?

Psshhhhaaa!

I know the thirteen times Ladie’s World Champ when I see her.

21 01 2010
Shamus McRearload

As usual, I plan to make this brief.

I pride myself on my exactitude. As you’ll see from this comment, I provide copious detail and try to be as precise as possible when describing the ways in which the Big Three Surf Corpos have the seeds of its own destruction built right into its polyloquent worldview. Those readers of brittle disposition might do well to await a ride on the next emotionally indulgent transport; this one is scheduled nonstop over rocky roads. As soon as you’re strapped in I’ll announce something to the effect of how BillaQuikyBong will seize every opportunity to rape innocent meadows with their chainsaws of greed. I cannot believe this colossal clownishness. Any sane person knows that it is legitimate to have misgivings about unrealistic, revolting rapscallions who manipulate public understanding of emotionalism. Regular readers of my comments probably take that for granted, but if I am to recognize and respect the opinions, practices, and behavior of others, I must explain to the population at large that the Big Three know how to lie. It’s too bad they don’t yet understand the ramifications of their incessant lying.

Favoritism and unilateralism are not synonymous. In fact, they are so frequently in opposition and so universally irreconcilable that these corporations aver that WE SURFERS are a magic purse that never runs out of gold!! Fuckin’ A! As you can no doubt determine from comments like that, facts and the Big Three are like oil and water.

For 65 years now, I’ve been warning people that surf corporations plan to open new avenues for the expression of hate. However, that’s not my entire message; it’s only a part of it. I also want you to know that they recently claimed that “the truth”, “the whole truth”, and “nothing but the truth” are three different things!? I would have found this statement shocking had I not heard similar garbage from them a hundred times before. As I conclude this comment, let me remind you that my goal in writing it was not only to force BillaQuickyBong into deserved bankruptcy. I sought also to use this comment as a means to go placidly amid the noise and haste.

That… and The Nug rules.

Thank you, and good night.

P.s.

T.D.T.F. can blow a monkey’s knuckle and die a terrible death in a vat of cottage cheese and Chas Smith’s shaved chest pubes.

21 01 2010
Squirrel

You lost me Shamus. Please rewrite in simpler terms.

Oneill and Jordy are probably the only ones with a chance to crack the big 3 world title spell in the next couple of years.

21 01 2010
trauzersnake

@BR and TDwhatever-tha-fuck-

Thanks guys. My SPEED READING skills have gone thru the roof! Speed reading generally involves picking up the most salient points through scanning…and I should probably say I’m becomoing the “quick draw mcgraw” of scrolling. C’mon guys, brevity ÷comedy=good stuff.

That is all.

21 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

@Trauzer,

Are you insinuating that not EVERY word was gold by our dear brother Shamus??

Heresy!!

Perhaps he will unfurl a three-fold pox uponst your lilly-thin knickers.

Or, we’ll just declare him the victor in this small skirmish amongst intellectual knuckleheads and move on to bigger and better things.

Like raping small cardboard cut-outs of Alana Blanchard’s derriere.

Nug, make it happen.

21 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

And another thing:

When PeterPerfect□ surfs, he resembles a lumbering slobber-fuck that gropingly squeezes its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorways of tainted two foot closeouts that reek of poison and madness.

Word tuh yo moms.

22 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

Mike will back me up on the PeterPerfect□ comment. He has witnessed that debacle first hand on his first tour through Ollie’s camps in Nicaragua during their war on the Nazi’s in 1941.

Dude knows his shit.

22 01 2010
trauzersnake

@Shamus….I can’t wear knickers..for obvious reasons.

22 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

@Trauzer,

Just curious: Are you about to drown?

Because right now, where I am, I think I need to call in the coast guard. Shit is raining SERIOUS.

Peace out.

22 01 2010
trauzersnake

@BR-
Not so bad today…yesterday was gnarly.

22 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

@Trauzer,

If you’re anywhere near the cursed OC, then you are in for some HEAVY shit.

Cheers!

22 01 2010
you gave it to him/why don't you give it to me

the american armed forces are keeping the world safe for surfing by occupying and blowing up all the non-surfing baddies and surfing mag should shine a monthly light on their efforts and sacrifices for the sake so we can keep searching for surf and getting barrelled in peace! more recipes for before and after surf grub and victuals be good too! why just this morning i felt an itch in the kitchen and wondering what to cook up couldn’t decide.

22 01 2010
you gave it to him/why don't you give it to me

it appears i’ve commented on the wrong thing. who would have thought the commenting game would prove so tricky.

22 01 2010
PeterPerfect

BR, can u give me some style tips? I’m going for Parko-style smooth but end up looking like I have sloped shoulders worse than Tom Cruise and can’t figure out how to balance with my arms by my side all the time. I’d love to go surfing with you and Mike one day, but I’ve said I’ll only surf with one transgendered person at a time but I’m currently on the Gold Coast with Peter Drouyn, err, I mean Westerly Windina.

22 01 2010
FLA

One thing was obvious in the events after trestles. The judges quit “pushing” slater. Even when he was surfing better. (Mundaka vs adriano) Retalliation for Rebel tour?????? (disregard Pipe event, though the only barrel of the final got a 3 something???)

22 01 2010
The Nug

Agreed that 3 was ludicrous. He still wouldn’t have won even if he would’ve gotten the 6 or 7 he deserved.

But they have “revised” the criteria this year. And by revised I mean they transferred it from paragraph form to bullet point form.

22 01 2010
Jimmicane

So you’re really telling me in Tom Whits was on a bigger company than say, Oakley, we’d all be seeing how “hard he rips”?????

Wow. That is a joke right? I’ve seen plenty of him surf, in person. I’m not convinced that he would crack the top 100 surfers in the world, and that is being generous.

I realize he might be a cool guy and you might be good mates with him Tim, but he is an average-at-best pro surfer.

22 01 2010
FLA

A better example would of been Neco Padaratz !! Moramii is holding him back

22 01 2010
The Nug

@Jimmicane
I think Tom Whits is Dharawalian for “do you know where the closest bar is.”

22 01 2010
The original Jimmy Football

Thank you for leaving Larry and Mr. Furley’s face untouched

22 01 2010
SmyrnaJeff

Mark said that he would like to star in a remake of Three’s Company.

Mark would be Jack, CaliGirl would be Chrissy, that chick from Point Break would be Janet, Trauzersnake would be Jack’s buddy Larry, Elwood would be Mr. Roper and Artie from Post Surf would be Mrs. Roper.

Mark said that when he gets back from where he is that he will speak to Nug about releasing him from his current contract so he can look into doin the new show.

22 01 2010
Elwood

That’s funny cause before I read your post I was remembering back to when I lived in Santa Barbara and would always see Mr. Roper and what a total doosh the guy was.

22 01 2010
SmyrnaJeff

And Mike would be that douchebag back in the 70’s that was always screaming about global cooling that is now crying about global warming.

Hey Mike we are sorry that you are so butt hurt after Frank Woodbury totally shut you down the other day. If I give Mark a call and have him speak to Frank and make him apologize will you start commenting again? Please?

Hey Elwood if you ever stop by Central Fla. look me up. You sound pretty cool for an old fuck.

22 01 2010
Larry from Three's Company

Bro I got hammered one night at a work party and found myself scootin on up Mrs. Ropers skirt.

Remember when Joey Buran won Pipe and stood on the event scaffolding screaming ” dreams come true man! dreams come true!”?

The way I felt the day after gettin after it with Mrs. R was the opposite of that.

22 01 2010
Squirrel

Jimmicane is right. Tommy Whits is average at best, especially in run of the mill beachbreaks.

22 01 2010
Regulator

@Elwood

SmyrnaJeff did not make a post. He made a COMMENT regarding a POST on Nug’s BLOG.

Don’t go all Gabe Kling on us here. No rookie bullshit.

22 01 2010
The Nug

Mike and I have been at the Regal Beagle all day drinking. I bought him a beer but he still thinks I’m a West Coast hack.

22 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

I would like to put my post in Alana Blanchard’s blog. And I would do so without comment.

Thank you, and good night.

22 01 2010
Taj's Burro

Kelly has been scorned by the AS frickin’ P. For sures.

On a second note, and by these pictures of Nug’s, i’ve heard that AI has applied at a go go dancer in this band.

‘Cause he’s sooo gnarle!

http://www.myspace.com/theofficialbarbarellatones

22 01 2010
PeterPerfect

Nug: “But they have ‘revised’ the criteria this year. And by revised I mean they transferred it from paragraph form to bullet point form.”

More of this please, sir.

23 01 2010
Marcus

CJ Rode for Rusty when he won the CT…way to pay attention Nug

23 01 2010
The Nug

Well. I asked CJ before I wrote this and he told me Globe and Rusty, but yep now that I think of it R. was he primary sponsor back then.

23 01 2010
Shamus McRearload

Yeah, Nug you should have remembered that CJ also wore socks by Fruit of the Loom.

Way to completely drop the ball on this one.

Loser.

25 01 2010
Blasphemy Rottmouth

I would assume that the lack of a post or comment over the last two days means that everyone besides me is being shacked by the rotten end of a bathhouse fuckstick?

… I hate it when I’m right…

27 01 2010
THE FUTURE!!!!

were all screwed I’m in the future right now and target has two for one super surfboards and wallmart just got every single person on the WCT on their team,in the year 2011!

27 01 2010
THE FUTURE!!!!

and no there were waves,no broomstick BR

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