'There is nothing sexier than personality and confidence. It’s called character.'
I'm a big fan of when 'zero fucks are given' to what other people think of you. There is nothing sexier than personality and confidence. It’s called character. Gabriel Medina has shown a lot of it in many different ways, good and bad – it all lays in the eyes of the viewer – but he’s definitely asserted himself in a certain way...
Earlier this year he has made Headlines with his Gucci-Editorial for Brasils GQ, which apparently shocked some in the surf world and now there are rumors he is signing with non-surf related sports brand Adidas.
Here are some comments on Surfing-Elites most infamous Megaphone (take a guess):
'Gabby - dropped by Ripcurl, picked up by Ed Hardy'
'A cross between vanilla ice ad Justin Bieber'
'If he’s not the biggest cunt in the world he’s definitely in the grand final for it' 'Thanks Ripcurl for investing half your budget on me I am gonna wear Gucci for that GQ shooting cause your products sucks …' 'I love this Shit. Surfing‘s cultural high point. Maybe Trump can run the WSL?'
According to these comments, the Surf Industry is more stuck up in their asses and conservative than Kim Jong Un and Putin together. And I'm so tired of that stereotypical Surfer-Image. Seriously, I can’t think of anything shallower than Surfers who are making themselves look even more cliché than Rob Machado in The Drifter.
Us Surfers, we identify ourselves as open-minded, throwing each other Shaka’s, while living an ‚Aloha‘ life-style but in fact we are hardly open to anything, other than new surf spots and waves. In fact, we rarely care about anything else other than surfing actually. Stephanie Gilmore said, that Surfing is the only thing she can remember of being consumed by. I couldn’t agree more. We all know, once you’re hooked, surfing quickly becomes your life! And there is nothing wrong with that.
I just think at some point a lot of us get this ‚tunnel vision‘ where we put our lifestyle as the best and don’t keep an eye out for other perspectives or views any longer. Caught up in this, it’s easy to judge way more than to respect. Especially when it comes to the question of 'what it takes to be a real Surfer‘. But do you actually have to correspond to a certain stereotype to be considered a Surfer?
The Surfing world is one tough market. It is important how you surf, what you wear, what you eat, how you speak, because we kind of even speak in our own language… how you live, who you surround yourself with, like do you hang out with the cool surfer guys? What boards you surf, which spots and what type of waves, Longboard or Shortboard, Single Fin or Twinny, Hipster-Surfer or Kook… Our scene is so incredibly core, picky and sophisticated that we simply don’t see the forest for its trees sometimes. But back to Gabs and Gucci!
Surfers haven't been for quite some time poor gobblers. Gabs is being judged for his Gucci ad, while Kelly Slater started taking on the advantages of the High Fashion Industry a long time ago. In 1997 he teamed up with Versace because Donatella thought, fashion was about dreaming and making other people dream. Right on! We all know how inspiring Surfing can be and Donatella has interpreted it perfectly right, if you ask me. And there are many more Pro-Surfers other than Gabs who have made big bucks with advertising!
Here’s a short and yet incomplete overview for you:
Medina’s popularity in Brazil is more comparable to that of Tom Brady in the US or Beckham in England. By no means, John John Florence is the Surfing world of the US, which is a tough one to swallow for many of us, but it simply is a matter of fact. Medina has made Surfing Brazils national sport. It has nearly reached the importance of soccer in their country by now and all thanks to him. This is huge! He is a Superstar in his country!
The US sports industry is dominated by sports like Football, Basketball, Hockey and Baseball and therefore it is still way behind with surfing and Athletes like John John Florence and Kelly Slater. Only in Australia surfing is considered close to the National Sport number one and yet wages and price money in Surfing are somewhat not comparable to what soccer-players in Europe earn for example, or football players in the US. And just to sum it up, Surfing in Europe was pretty much born a couple of decades ago…so not even worth talking about when it comes to making a living from it.
Estimated overview of yearly earnings of Surfings Top Athletes and other Sports Top Athletes:
John John Florence: approx. 5.500.000$ Gabriel Medina: approx. 3.500.000$ Mick Fanning: approx. 3.000.000$ Julian Wilson: approx. 2.500.000$ Stephanie Gilmore: approx. 1.700.000$ Soccer, Brasil Neymar jr.: approx. 90.000.000$
Formula 1, UK Lewis Hamilton: approx. 50.000.000$ Golf, USA Tiger Woods: approx. 50.000.000$ NFL, USA Tom Brady: approx. 40.000.000$ Basketball, USA Michael Jordan: approx. 40-90.000.000$ Tennis, USA Serena Williams: approx. 29.000.000$ Ice-Hockey, USA Connor Mc David: approx. 18.000.000$ Snowboarding, USA Shaun White: approx. 10.000.000$ Skateboarding, USA Nyjah Houston: approx. 7.000.000$
What Surfers earn is simply not comparable to what Athletes in most other Sports get paid. Not yet.
But this being said, Sophie Goldschmidt and the WSL are doing their best to make our industry and competitive surfing more marketable in case you haven’t noticed yet. High Fashion is knocking at Surfing’s door, handing out much needed sponsorships and advertising contracts, Olympia is calling and Surfers get more attention than ever before. Definitely not only an advantage, I agree. More attention means more surfers, resulting in even more crowded line ups…
But the industry and professional Surfing needs a breath of new life into it!
Billabong and Quiksilver didn’t merge because they wanted to hit the surf together. They’re sharing waves, because riding solo would have drowned them! And honestly, if Gucci knocked on your door, wouldn’t you let them in, seal the deal and just surf for the rest of your life? Recently, many surf brands have split paths with their long term representatives. Red Bull has thinned out their surf team and so has Oakley. On the other hand more and more brands that are not directly involved with surfing are interested in the sport. Fitness freak Sally Fitz has got her Boards stickered up with more Brands of the Health industry than you can possibly count in surfing.
Does it make sense? Say what you want, but she loves her workouts and has made it her side-business to write recipe and fitness books. Alana Blanchard has been making millions from modeling through her surfing career. In any Sport on a pro-level it is important to either have a post-career back up plan or a bank account full of cash for the aftermath. I mean, as silly as Medina might look in his tiger-lilly Gucci sweater he still makes most CT surfers look silly in the water. If he doesn't fancy tattered clothes and shaggy hair then that doesn't make him a worse surfer, does it?
Girls in Surfing can clean up nicely, do their hair, put on make-up and look all chic and petite but still rip at the same time. Laura Enever loves jet setting from NY-Fashion Week to Big Wave Surf spots with the guys, nothing wrong with that right?!
A ‚Stereotype‘ in its definition is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. My point is, one should not exclude the other. As Surfers, we can do both. Survive 5 days camping in the jungle to surf at a world class wave or stay at a 5 star Surf resort in the Maldives to surf a world class wave. All that matters to us really is that world class wave, isn’t it? Gucci sweater or not, each to their own. Some prefer to beach-bum in boardies, others like to leisure in Louis Vuitton or are managing to balance both.
But the ‚I’m Prada, you’re nada‘- attitude is a door that swings both ways, so drop it already and move on.
Thanks for your interest, Janine