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No Holds Barred: Power Rankings are Back

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The dust has settled following the trainwreck that was Surfline’s well-publicized dismissal of writer Lewis Samuels. It seems that both have moved on and gone back to doing what they do best. For Surfline, this means marketing swells and producing solid content. For Lewis Samuels, this means publishing unfiltered, uninhibited thoughts and opinions on anything and anyone associated with surfing’s ‘industry’.

power rankings

One of the biggest questions following Surfline’s bloody expulsion of Samuels surrounded the uncertain fate of his ASP World Tour Power Rankings. The rankings had become a hit on Surfline and were the place that most of us cut our teeth on the Lewis Samuels doctrine. They’re back now; and they’re as poignant and unrelenting as ever before.

“Anyone can win heats. It’s losing heats that distinguishes the real pros from the pretenders. Take Roy Powers for instance: the poor guy got absolutely shellacked by Michel Bourez in R1 – Roy only put up a 2.33 and 3.93 on his two scoring waves. The judges have been known to give Kelly Slater’s fecal matter scores like that for the turns it does while being flushed.”

Write or wrong, whether you agree with him or not…the sport of surfing needs a good dose of what Lewis Samuels brings to the table. The overbearing influence of advertising dollars combined with the chronic bro-bra’ism that plagues the industry often ends up leaving a lot unsaid, especially in regards to the World Tour. Does Samuels take it too far sometimes? Some might say he crosses the line every now and again; but maybe taking it too far is what’s needed in an industry where preserving and enhancing marketable images tends to be the bottom line.

“If Nathaniel Curran had surfed at Bells as well as Boal surfed, we’d be reading feature articles about his performance right now. Instead, Boal was arguably underscored against Californian Bobby Martinez in R2. The Frenchman surfed above himself, but was predictably rewarded with two sixes and a loss.”

When it comes to coverage of the Dream Tour, if you’ve read one event preview or recap you’ve read them all. All that really changes are the names and locations. Even quotes from the surfers themselves tend to be very predictable. I view the scribblings of Lewis Samuels as a welcome departure from the norm; an entetaining read that points out what most of us are already thinking. If nothing else, the Power Rankings offer a different perspective on what’s really taking place; a perspective that isn’t influenced by whether or not a certain point of view will result in the loss of advertising dollars. That type of writing isn’t exactly easy to come by these days.

“I mean, Surfline’s fact-checkers inform me Curran’s older brother Tim finished 6th in the world. His even older brother Tom Curran won three world titles. Brother Joe is a style master, cousin Lee Ann Curran is already winning WQS events… and family patriarch Pat Curran is on the shortlist for getting his face carved into surfing’s Mt. Rushmore. Does surfing talent run in that family or WHAT?”

You can find the Power Rankings and all of Lewis Samuels other diatribes at PostSurf.com

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

The Case of Surfline V. Lewis Samuels

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

lewis samuels power rankings

You gotta love a good old fashioned pissing match every now and again. Serving as a welcome departure from the chronic “bro,bra-ism” that plagues the surf industry, we have an entertaining little public feud going between Surfline and their recently-axed writer Lewis Samuels, as well as a healthy debate opening up about what each represents. On one side you have Surfline, swell-marketers with good content who recently partnered up with ESPN. On the other side you have Lewis Samuels, a passionate and edgy writer who, agree with him or not, was unique and unafraid to say what was on his mind. The firing came after Samuels recently wrote a couple of posts on his own personal website that weren’t exactly advertiser-friendly or conducive to Surfline’s goal of getting you and I to hand over $70 a year. After sending Samuels out the door, Surfline received a slew of e-mails regarding the issue and felt the need to justify their decision. The evidence lies below, suss it out and see what you think:


FIRED (Samuels clearly knew and didn’t care the Surfline Corporation wouldn’t take this too well)

“So the word came down from the higher-ups at Surfline that my signed contract for 2009 was no longer being honored. They specifically cited two incidents that led to my termination…”

“Yes. I know, I get paid to write for Surfline, a website that also licks advertisers’ balls, part of the machine.”

“In the recent Surfline article “Tavarua Time” we’re shown pictures of Billabong’s CEO Paul Naude scoring perfect waves…..Theoretically, there should be no problem with this. Billabong is a core surf brand, and the fact that their CEO is a core surfer should make us feel good, right? That might have been the case a year ago. But now, this article seems a bit off to me…”



-Surfline’s Statement Concerning Lewis Samuels (a new standard has been set for back-handed compliments)

“We enjoyed the contributions Lewis made to Surfline, and looked forward to working with him for years to come. The material he submitted (although often controversial), was, for the most part, well received…..Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the blog did not possess the standard of journalism that our readers demand from Surfline and that we believe is so important to uphold.”

There are quite a few interesting and entertaining opinions flying around regarding this little tiff and I’m super curious to hear more. I’ll personally just say this….Thank god I work for a site where passion, individuality, and unique opinions are embraced and encouraged. Hopefully we don’t ever get so big and money hungry that making fun of ourselves becomes a fireable offense.

Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

ESPN Action Sports Steps it Up, Partners with Surfline and Shred or Die

Friday, February 27th, 2009

espn action sportsWhen EXPN rebranded to ESPN Action Sports last month and updated the web presence, we grilled them pretty hard. Our reasoning is that we thought they were off better keeping their action sports content as a separate brand and we also thought they needed to work on improving their overall content quality. They must have been listening, because today they’re announcing several partnerships and strategy changes to do just that.

While we still think they have much improving to do–namely keeping the action sports content separate from all the other sports–they’re definitely heading in the right direction.

ESPN Action Sports announced that they’re adding several more bloggers and content partners. They’re teaming up with Tony Hawk’s Shred or Die to provide more user generated video content. They’re also partnered with On the Snow and Surfline to provide applications for snow and surf reports.

ESPN still has a long ways to go in regards to the authenticity and quality of their content. And please, do a better job keeping the regular sports stuff out of the action sports portal. But this move is one that takes them in the right direction. My advice is for ESPN is to keep creating more content partnerships like this one. If they’re not capable of providing good content themselves, they might as well partner with those who are.

Posted in Industry | 3 Comments »

Put Down the Crutch: Be Your Own Surfline

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

big swell

Believe it or not… there was a world before Surfline, Wavewatch, and the rest. It may seem kind of hard to remember for some of us… but there really was a time when webcams and the marketing of swells wasn’t what dictated where we rode our waves. It was a time when studying the effects of certain wind directions and weather patterns on different breaks, knowing the coastline and reefs around your home, and the overall hard work a surfer put in was what he relied on to find his perfect wave. Now whenever the Pied Piper comes along and blows it’s horn with craftily created “Epic Swell Headed Your Way” headlines, it sends masses of it’s rats blindly running in the direction of the breaks that are being forecast to receive the bi-monthly call for all-time waves.

If you stop and think about it, becoming a junkie to these swell forecast sites doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. If the swell does in fact come through, and you follow the same forecast that the thousands of others dropping $X9.95 a year follow, chances are you’ll end up in something like this.

What has been more common than that as of late, are the swells being marketed as the swell of the century that end up failing to live up to all of the unnecessary hype. The amount of moaning and groaning over such a scenario has reached a staggering level over the past couple of weeks, and it’s time to re-emphasize the tried and true techniques of local knowledge, buoy-reading, and good old fashioned hard work in order to reap the benefits of massive, middle of the ocean storms.

So go ahead and drop you’re money if you must, some of these sites do feature decent content. Surfline is our favorite of the bunch. But as far as forecasting goes, you have access to almost all of the same information that they use. The only difference is they’ve figured out how to market it.

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

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