The Hurley Surf Team: John John Florence, Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore, Evan Geiselman, Laura Enever, Conner Coffin, Lakey Peterson, and Miguel Pupo. Where's Simpo?

The Hurley Surf Team: John John Florence, Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore, Evan Geiselman, Laura Enever, Conner Coffin, Lakey Peterson, and Miguel Pupo. Where’s Simpo?

The Inertia

One might argue that the biggest publicity for a surf brand is representation on the ASP World Championship Tour. Millions of people watch the live webcast, see the pictures that get published in magazines, and read surf articles online. If a surfer performs well, they will get media coverage, and wearing their brand’s logo sells. When Andy Irons won his third WCT title, he was wearing his signature Billabong “Rising Sun” board shorts. Those were the highest grossing shorts of that year. People like to wear what champions wear.

There are currently 13 brands backing the 36 riders on the WCT (including alternates). Thanks to the outflow of the Nike team, Hurley is now the most discussed name in professional surfing and has the most riders at the top. A perfect marketing plan with top names such as John John, Julian, and Ace Buchan, there is a large chance the next World Champion will be a Hurley rider.

Quiksilver and Rip Curl make do with nearly half as many riders. Both teams have a former world champion and the back up of potential followers. Their limited arsenal of top riders still gives them a large following and loads of publicity. Both companies are also two of the largest brands worn by the non-surfing community.

Oakley and Billabong follow in the rankings, respectively, with three and two riders each. Their teams consist of proven champions and repeating threats to the world championship. With Billabong having current world champion Joel Parkinson and Oakley supporting their WCT rookie, Sebastian Zietz, we should see these brands high up in the championship rankings coming season.

O’Neill, a well-established name in the history of surfing and a big contributor to surfing’s innovation, is the sick puppy of the litter. With only 2 riders, and after losing John John, they are struggling for global representation. If you look at any global top 10 list about surfing you will not see O’Neill. Their biggest name at the moment, Jordy Smith, has proven to be a possible world champion, but after losing some crucial points the previous season, he’s facing a tough challenge to show what he’s
worth this year.

Next up we have a series of brands with one rider each. These are well-known brands in the surf world but lack the publicity with non-surfing crowds. These include brands like Rusty, Volcom, Rhythm, and Reef. The only reason a non-surfer would know Reef is because it’s “a nice sandal company” or because of the Reef girls.

We also have some lesser-known brands. The least known would definitely have to be “To Write Love On Her Arms”, a non-profit organization aimed at recovering addicts. They have found a partner in CJ Hobgood.

Every now and then we have the solo rider. That one guy without a sponsor. Bobby Martinez competed on tour for a while without a major sponsor and this year it’s Raoni Monteiro’s turn. Usually these guys are just in between sponsors and are negotiating new deals, but there have been cases where a surfer would compete the whole tour without a major brand backing him and having to find funds elsewhere.

If I had to break this down to the bare essentials, I would summarize with these words: results get the sponsors’ coverage, which lead to sales, and results in the growth of the surf community.

Riders per brand:

John John Florence
Julian Wilson
Adrian Buchan
Michel Bourez
Miguel Pupo
Alejo Muniz
Kolohe Andino
Brett Simpson
Filipe Toledo

Kelly Slater
Jeremy Flores
Travis Logie
Fredrick Pattachia
Tiago Pires

Rip Curl
Mick Fanning
Gabriel Medina
Owen Wright
Matt Wilkinson

Adriano de Souza
Sebastian Zietz
Adam Melling

Joel Parkinson
Taj Burrow

Jordy Smith
Nat Young

Damien Hobgood
Bede Durbidge

Josh Kerr

Dusty Payne

Kai Otton

To Write Love On Her Arms
CJ Hobgood

Kieren Perrow

Glenn Hall

No clothing sponsor
Raoni Monteiro


  • bert

    “results get the sponsors’ coverage”

    Not that simple! It depends on the location, the character of a surfer, the media context…

    Result won’t necessary get the sponsor’s coverage, and lack of result won’t necessary bring a lack of coverage!

    “which lead to sales”

    Which SHOULD lead to sales…There are so many survey about the link between advertising and sales! And half of them would tell you the opposite, or at least that it’s not possible to know about it! It’s a gamble, but in a tight market, packed with children addicted to video and internet, you have no choice!

    “and results in the growth of the surf community.”

    Of course not! The woman in front of me, buying a quiksilver cap for her husband won’t bring him to the surf community! It’s the opposite, the aim is to sell your stuff out of your bubble, or you die! The billabong winter suits are for those 40 something guy, willing to look young and “in”, but he won’t try surfing for sure, he prefers the jetski!

    Think about Dane Reynolds, his outstanding results in the past two years and the media coverage he had in the same time…Think about Alana Blanchard, and the chance we have to maybe see her surf this year at last!

    It’s the image that count! Most of those people buying sandals don’t know about reef, even with undergae girls showing their butt on a calendar! But as you can see, if you show such a girl just above the place where sandals are displayed, you’ll see young males and older females automatically going to check them…

    PS: I have trouble with CJ Hobgood’s sponsor. You say it’s a non profit organisation, and correct me if I’m wrong, but this association (which refuse to be labelled christian, but for some reasons looks totally christian) is selling tees to raise money…

    As a matter of fact, they use this money to help drug addicts, and to sponsor a surfer…sounds a bit strange to me…They give their financials for 2011, but I guess they weren’t sponsoring Hobgood at the time…Still knowing you’ll give money to a non profit in order to organise concerts and the life of a pro surfer is a bit too much for me!

  • Nice article. I have 3 comments though:

    – Where are Simpo AND Bourez?

    – Oakley is not the main sponsor of Adriano de Souza anymore (he has signed with Pena, a Brazilian brand). They probably decreased their investment with him to be able to sign Gabriel Medina…

    – Nat Young is riding for Hurley, not for O’Neill.

    • hello Blogosurf.
      at the time of writing this article my research showed that Adriano was still mainly sponsored by Oakley.
      as for Nat Young i did make a mistake there by not checking enough references. On his Oakley profile, O’neill is still listed as his main sponsor.

      Thanks for reading my article and be sure to check out my blog at http://www.yannickdebuf.com

  • disqus_mX7Ksu6AE7

    To Write Love On Her Arms does a lot more than aim at recovering addicts. Perhaps your writer should have done a tiny bit of research on the organization’s website, which would reveal a much broader message. Or perhaps The Inertia’s editor could have done a quick Google search for the plethora of interviews with TWLOHA’s founder, Jamie Tworkowski, and CJ Hobgood to get a better feel for the organization.

    • thanks for your comment. I’m sorry for short selling “To write love on her arms” but my intention was/is not to promote the brands/organisations I listed here. I just gave a quick description stating the main/most common goal of the organisation so the readers could get a basic understanding. I’m pretty sure that interested readers will look up more information.

  • bert


    I followed your advice and have a closer look to this organization, TWLOHA. But I won’t read interviews of the founder, neither than interviews of anti-TWLOHA, by the way!

    You’re right, they say they’re doing more than helping drugs addict, it’s more about youth depression, self mutilation and other really important topics.

    But that wasn’t my point of course, I wasn’t arguing about the need to adress such important matters. All things done to help people in need are good, when they are totally free of any other wuestion or issue, and not a vehicle for spreading a different message, no ma

    As I navigate on internet looking for inofrmation about TWLOHA, I must admit I was more and more uncomfortable with it!

    They are obviously a religious organization, they’re affiliated to numerous faith based organization, they organize concerts of christian bands, they use christian rethoric in their speeches and works, but, as the founder said: “Identifying something such as a band, store, venue or project as “Christian” often alienates those outside of the
    church/Christian culture, and we don’t want to do that.”

    But then, using christian philosophy and spreading christian belief and words during the organization interventions aren’t really fair! It’s about child depression, self mutilation, suicide, not about the christ! And using such difficult moment to talk about chrisitan values to people “outside the church” is not a fair way to try to help them!

    If you’re christian and want to use your belief to help other, no problem! But talking about christian values to people who are not there for that is not fair, to say the least.

    Then, I had a look on their financials, or, to say it better, the pdf on their website giving some insights in their accounts.It’s not to know what kind of money they have, but what they’re doing with it. They basically declare they’re doing most of their work in the awareness and communication domain. No problem with that, but then, if most of those speeches, programs and adresses are using to talk about jesus and christian belief, this is not about children and depression!

    More than half of their revenue comes from the selling of merchandising. A bit more than 20% from donations. That is why I point it as a normal sponsor for CJ Hobgood. They basically sell Tshirts and other stuff, so where’s the difference? And a subsidiary question: Where do the Tshirts come from?

    I’m french, and my “interest” for TWLOHA comes from what I heard when they came in France last year. I was amazed to hear a rethoric used by evangelists churches, in order to set a foot in France, where traditionals catholics are trying to keep their business free of competition.

    So here is my point of view, after following a part of your advice: For me, TWLOHA is a christian (evangelist, I guess) organization which does not want to be labelled as a christian organization, with an intervention in a really important topic, but with recipes I do not find useful (awareness to young kids with emotionally filled contents…) and that should be labelled as faith oriented but aren’t.

    I do not find anything bad as being a religious person, but when you use your belief and religious thoughts to try to help people, and when you use such help (willingly or not) to spread your religious belief, then I think it’s not a good thing.

    I’ve been awfully long and off topic, sorry for that, I wanted to answer the issue.

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