Come one, come all to the greatest surf show on earth…all right maybe not the greatest, but there sure was some cool stuff on display at the 2003 Long Beach ASR show. It’s evident that modern technology has taken a firm hand in the current development of surfing. From trunks to five fin wonders it’s all there for the taking, even wax is getting technical. But don’t think that all of this modernism has stolen the soul from surfing. The styles out there are more retro than ever. Not since ball-hugging corduroy shorts and feathered hair has the 70’s and 80’s been so alive. Top-name board makers are dusting foam off old templates and proving that a little volume never hurt anybody. It’s a great time to be a surfer; according to the folks at Board-Trac 2.25 million people can’t be wrong!
The state of the industry is healthy. With over 3.6 billion dollars worth of business done annually the surf industry has turned itself into quite the respectable industry. Probably the most telling insight into the industry is that with the exception of several publicly owned companies majority of the players out there are still owned by people that surf. This brings important integrity and authenticity to the business, which in the end is the best marketing tool out there. Surfers are true to who they are and don’t want a suit in some high-rise LA office making decisions about what we should wear, or heaven forbid, what type of board we should be riding. For the most part that hasn’t happened yet, and after listening to a few captains of industry speak there’s no plans on changing this approach.
Reef Brazil’s Fernando Aguerre had a few interesting points that should be mentioned because of their extreme relevance to the world’s current situation. With a flair for public speaking and the fire of a Spanish tongue he delivered his points that all should consider. First, he discussed how the surf industry is somewhat insulated from economic down times and fiscal bumps in the road.
He stated, “When you are feeling down you want to go somewhere that makes you feel good. The beach is that place, the mountains are that place. People may not buy cars or spend as much money in their everyday lives, but they still want to do those things that make them feel good.”
He makes a good point with this, but the real kicker came when he talked about the pending war, “War is not good for anybody. Nobody wants violence and death and war. Think about this, if Mr. Bush puts the draft back in place there’s gonna be a lotta 18-22 year olds missing from our industries demographic. This is not good! We don’t need war, we need to feel good and go to the beach.”
With that being said it’s time to move onto the product side of things. There’s so much innovation being done out there it’s hard to figure out where to start. Since surfboards are the key element in what we do we’ll start there. Channel Islands has some great boards on the market. Their Flyer series and Sashimi model all look like a lot of fun in the average, everyday surf. They have a host of longboards, guns and other shortboards that probably work pretty well too. Rusty has a solid line of boards going as well. The C5 series, the five fin gems, boast a lot of drive and enhanced thruster qualities. They’re also playing with fiberglass removable fin systems, which look to be a good step into the future. The epoxy laminate boards that Surf Tech is putting out are of the highest quality. They’re offering a lot more models these days. If you’ve ever dreamed of riding Tom Carroll’s Pipe Master’s winning board Surf Tech has put a replica model out there, it’s available in several lengths so you can get the right fit. Never before have there been so many options when if comes to what you ride.
In terms of boardshorts and wetsuits the revolution is on. O’Neill introduced the Fluid Seam Weld on their entire high end suits and what a difference it makes. The suits are practically water-tight (a bummer for peein’ in, but a blessing for those cold mornings). Quiksilver has a series of three panel suits that cut down the number of seems and stitches down pretty drastically. This helps the suit stay warm when it’s cold, and ultimately last longer. Rusty has picked up their boardshort line, and while 89% of their business comes from surfboards the trunks are pretty slick too.
In terms of gear there’s something for everybody out there. From spiffy camera bags to a bag for your boogie if you can’t find it chances are it doesn’t exist. Da Kine has a huge line of leashes, deck pads, back packs and board bags. All of their stuff is built with the surfer in mind, so you know it’s going to work. They make some real functional stuff that looks pretty good too. FCS has a bunch of new graphite and plastic fins on the market. Changing your fins can make all the difference. Oh yeah, don’t forget all of the shoes that are out there. Reef’s Dingo line was build with the surf in mind, nice and comfy after a long session in the water. Globe also has a solid line-up. They’ve taken some of the bulk out of their skate shoes and have a whole line of clean, everyday shoes as well. There’s way too much to talk about here, but that’s a little flavor for ya.
The show was fun, the Reef girls have nice butts, and now it’s all over. Deals were made and beers were drank. The world does in deed keep turning so hang on and see where we all end up next time the show comes to town.