Nike Pulls Back

Footwear giant transitions athletes over to Hurley

| posted on November 27, 2012

The Lowers Pro will still run at Trestles, just under the banner of a different title sponsor. Photo: Bryce Lowe-White

Beginning in 2013, Nike will pull back their support of professional surfing and will shift all of their riders over to Hurley, which Nike purchased in 2002. The news came on the heels of an announcement in September that the footwear giant would no longer sponsor the U.S. Open. Come Jan. 1, all Nike head-to-toe sponsored athletes will officially move over to Hurley, and Nike will limit its surf sponsorships to footwear.

In a recent interview on Shop-Eat-Surf, Bob Hurley confirmed Nike’s decision to transition their surf team over to Hurley. “It reinforces our strength in surfing. We’ve always enjoyed a close partnership with the Nike brand in developing innovative product informed by top athletes. The opportunity for collaboration and leverage is limitless and will continue to allow greater focus.”

“We all know the surf marketplace is in transition, yet the energy and youthful nature of the sport make it more popular than ever on a global basis. It provides the ability to inspire, energize, and connect to a young, global audience. This is another chapter in our innovation and ‘Microphone for Youth’ philosophy within Hurley.”

Nike contacted GrindMedia, SURFER’s publisher and the license owner of the Lowers Pro at Trestles, to confirm that they have pulled their sponsorship of the event.

Sean Nielsen, GrindMedia’s director of event operations, said that the contest will still run in May 2013, just under a different brand’s banner: “Grindmedia has held the license to operate an ASP event at Lowers for nine years, and will continue the legacy of this event property moving forward. Nike has been a great event partner and was instrumental in elevating the Prime format.”

Nike’s decision to scale back their investment in surfing comes as a shock to many, including their own team riders.

According to Carissa, the announcement was made to the Nike athletes at a team dinner in Hawaii last night. “I had no idea that was going to happen,” she said. “Needless to say, a lot of us were really shocked when we heard the news last night at dinner and had a lot of questions. But it looks like all the Nike athletes will be going to Hurley. I’m still trying to process the whole thing, because it came as such a shock, but I’m actually pretty excited about it. Hurley didn’t really have a women’s team before and I really like all the clothes they make, so I think it’s gonna end up being a good thing. But to be honest, I’m still trying to let it all sink in.”

The following Nike riders will move over to Hurley in 2013:

Julian Wilson
Alejo Muniz
Nat Young
Koa Smith
Kolohe Andino
Kai Barger
Felipe Toledo
Michel Bourez

Carissa Moore
Lakey Peterson
Laura Enever

Kolohe Andino is in the 2nd year of his 10-year contract with Nike, which will switch over to Hurley come Jan. 1. Photo: Lowe-White

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Good riddance, I would never buy a wetsuit or anything surf related with the Nike logo on it. Guess its silly, but I still don’t mind Hurley… they have some great surfers such as Machado, Simpson etc where the Nike riders all “sold out” in my mind to a huge brand. I know its silly, but then again isn’t everything about brands more emotional than rational…
    I hope this has nothing to do with Billabong and the viability of surf companies in general, much as everyone likes to rag on these companies, if you are a cold water surfer (splitting my surfs these days between a 5mm and a 6mm) then you are dependant on the wetsuits that are being made. And the wetsuits have only been getting better

  • old dude

    Big Deal! quit turning surfing into a glamor sport and get back to the basics of riding waves for the joy of riding waves. I think competitive surfing is like fighting over the drumstick at Thanksgiving…kinda takes the whole meaning out of the experience!

  • Joe Mickey

    My history with surfing and sponsorships reaches back pretty far. There is not a lot new here. The big players come and go in surfing because its a brief image thing. Meanwhile, on the other side, surf companies get big and then head for the major retailers and usually that too is short lived and usually ends up with the demise of some company that gets used to the huge volume sales for a couple seasons.

    Its a get it while you can deal… Today, companies like Go-pro are making these types of transitions to… You would think these companies would maintain a strong division aimed at the core base … because its when their core base stops wearing them, they loose their ability to be in the major trends…

    but… really nothing to see here… its been the same since the inception of professional surfing which often is the fault because it also overvalues itself time after time, but, you can bet some people do laugh all the way to the bank in each cycle.

  • Fred Hellmar

    Can’t say I’m sorry to hear Nike has dropped professional surfing which is more of an exhibition than a sport anyway. A diminished professional profile can only benefit those of us who have had to put up with its silliness both in the water and in the media. Hopefully this is the start of a trend to put back the soul in surfing and relegate its stars to just another guy in the water.

  • rob

    screw nike and there little swoosh! i would never purchase a nike surf product,just like i would never run 5 miles in a running shoe that was made by VANS stick with what ya know. but if there lame ass board shorts and rashgaurds work for u surf on kook

  • max

    and Michel Bourez???

  • spaniard

    You forgot the euros. Jonathan Gonzalez from Spain, Nic Von Rupp, Germany and Naoum Ildefonse, France.

  • Muncher

    Thanks ”old dude”. Get back to the basics and quit the bull shit, surfing is not about a brand.

  • Joe

    I say stick with Maui Rippers board shorts!

  • Lyb

    This just announced…who cares! This changes nothing for anyone except the the few people listed above. Send them a letter informing them that they will no longer adorn a swoosh but instead a Hurley. End of story. Stop wasting valuable Interweb space and go surfing.

  • Sam Spec

    Does this really mean the U.S. Open is no more! That has been my favorite event every summer and I just wont know what to do without it!

  • Mik

    Reality is that NIKE was not getting any real revenue bump from the surf segment, so they likely decided to reposition themselves through their investment in Hurley, which is a core surf / skate / snow brand. Not surprising. Surfers are iconoclastic. We live in our own world, and we have our own brands. Hurley is a great company, so this is a plus, overall. Bob Hurley MADE Billabong USA into a massively successful brand. Bigger than the original OZ market, yeah? So Hurley sponsorship should be very very desirable for these surfers. Hurley’s crew are real surfers, and Bob is one of the best guys in the industry, and started out as a shaper. My first trip to Tavarua, he handed me his self-shaped Tavvy gun to take, and he hardly knew me, as a design freelancer. Hold your tongues haters. There is nothing to hate here. Hurley’s team just got massively stronger, and that’s good for them and the USA surf industry.

  • Center Line

    Good bye. Good riddance Nike.

    We don’t need shoes and clothes to surf.
    The surf industry should be comprised of surfboards, wetsuits, and things that go on or are atatched to surfboards(leashes, wax, fins, and Astrodeck). Nothing else. Bob Hurley can go back to making boards for a living and (with the exception), Jack O’niell could make surf shorts, board shorts, trunks what ever people call them now days for be who live by warm water and everybody would be fine.

  • jay jarvis

    Nike is synonymous w/running, golf, bicycling,football; however,the surf industry was maybe not a perfect match; nevertheless, this is a win win for the nike company, they own Hurley and will continue to innovate research & development through their subsidiary.The sponsored riders should realizee thiss was ephemeral& could not last foreverr! The tides wil still l rise &fall, only w/ more water in the ocean!

  • Whamo

    If Nike owns Hurley then it’s just a marketing move. It makes sense. Hurley has an authentic “surf” image. It’s not like the riders will have to get real jobs. Is it? LOL.

  • Thonas

    This is very bad news for the surfing industry. Nike was a big plus to the sport of surfing. Long live Nike 6.0 I’m sure Hurley will drop some surfers soon
    I hope all the nike sponsored surfers can survive thsi poor economy.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Thonas – while your emphaty with these nike sponsored pros is touching, I think you can rest assured that none of them are going to go hungry anytime soon…

  • Judge #3

    Nike = $ for this industry and goes against core surfing. Hurley is basically Nike anyway but at least the swoosh won’t be on golf clubs AND surfboards…. good move Nike

  • G$

    Screw Nike, why would you want to be associated with all those doped up athletes anyway!? Shit they probably dream of being surfers anyway traveling to sick exotic destinations for work – stuck on those basketball courts, baseball fields, lame overpaid cheaters….I think Nike should go for the power move and have Bob spearhead a move to buy Billa. Would be rad and maybe he could turn it back into what it once was and not what some Target consultant chick wants to do………

  • Wambulance

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw, Jules is butt hurt cause he left Quik for Nike so he could improve his golf game and maybe carry Tiger’s bag someday. I can’t understand how you can show anything but gratitude for getting paid to travel the world and surf

  • Adriano

    Nike 6.nooooooooooooooooo

  • The Truth

    The Real Deal seems that Rory Mcllroy was signed for Nike Golf at 250 Million for 5 years, which does not even come close to any surf endorsement, therefore these little surf wankers and their globe trotting fun is terminated. Plus GOLF sells a whole lot more product than those stupid wannabee trunks NIKE was putting out, I personally never saw the line anywhere???? Now… You transfer the guys onto Hurley and guess what happens? You have so many guys that all want exposure and have HUGE EGOS and not enough ads or ad space… Are we going to see CUTE COLLAGE ADS FROM HURLEY NOW??????? I see a demise of something taking place… Maybe they can clone like 5 more Pat O’Connells to handle all the BS…..

  • MRob

    NIKE doesn’t surf. Thank the forces of nature that Nike is out of the sport and we don’t have to deal with the swoosh stealing the soul of surfing like it has every other sport, team, athlete, or event that it touches. So long, Nike stick to pushing overweight wankers chasing little white balls around a mowed field.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    If Hurley are obliged to honor the contracts of guys like Kolohe etc then I am guessing that a lot of the guys that were sponsored by Hurley will be let go. Not good for the Hurley guys, and won’t reflect well on Hurley if they do this… But luckily for the nike guys, they won’t have to wear a logo that makes them look like wankers anymore

  • Paul F

    Makes 100% sense and it surprises me it didn’t happen earlier. Nike & Hurley was a conflict of business interest. (cannibalizing each other in the same marketplace)
    Smart move to buy Hurley to enter the surf market, silly move to then try to compete w/ Nike 6.0.

  • bob

    Okabashi shoes, the best, made in America, and no superships to transport them ten thousand miles. Cut off jeans, a bar of surf wax, and to hell with nike, take the tv and smash it into little pieces, go riding.

  • Iron

    I always hated Nike. I like Addidas though, they make cool shit and sponsor Skateboarding and Mark Gonzales. I do see no need for a shoe company to sponsor surfing unless they make allot of boardshorts that don’t suck.

  • renee

    good on ya bob, i agree with you there

  • Wannabet

    When mainstream companies came into surfing it was the dumming down and demise of REAL SURF Companies….
    To hell with Nike buy TRADITIONAL Surf company paraphernalia..

  • !!!

    Oh no! Now Julian can’t wear that lame orange wetsuit anymore. Nike is just mad they can’t rape us for money the way they can with snowboarding. Snowboarding welcomed nike with open legs, while surfing more or less said no thanks.

  • Allen Chapman

    Somewhere back twenty plus years ago my roommate had a buddy who worked for Standard and Poor’s. He picked my brain about surfing since I used to work in wholesale and retail.”{ What do you think about a sporting goods company getting into surfing?” I told him they can’t buy soul. Funny Nike went for it and for a while they even sponsored LAIRD! I guess it just took them a while to see you can’t own everyone! Keep Surfing! Keep It LOCAL. Support Your LOCAL Shops and Shapers! The NOID.

  • pascal

    It’s all about money, it’s business, that’s what it is!
    Some might say: “keep it real!” or: ” this is why i love Volcom!” or shit like that. But it doesn’t matter what brand we’re talking about. As soon as it comes to making money, people usually do it if they can, why wouldn’t you?
    And btw, Volcome is owned by the same shareholder as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent…

  • Josh

    You guys do realize that Nike had to let go their entire surf support staff. Photographers, film crews, in houe shapers, etc. If you would like to have a carreer in the surf industry but are not an elite level surfer your chances just went down. The more choices in the industry the better. Just because you dont like once choice doesnt mean someone else wont.