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Axxe's Devon Howard On the Longboard Tour, Midlengths, and His Favorite Wetsuit

Mr. Howard, and that beautiful, signature bottom turn. Photo: Michael Townsend

The Inertia

If you were to objectively look at a guy like Devon Howard from the outside – cool, calm, level-headed – and his recent run as the World Surf League’s Longboard Tour Director – chaotic, crazy, tumultuous – then you could understand why Howard might want to step aside. Apparently, that’s exactly what Howard did, reportedly resigning from his position as tour director.

“(The tour’s) in a really great place right now,” he told Log Rap. “The hardest part was helping the WSL implement it’s traditional longboard criteria. People think I wrote it, but it had already existed a few years before I took on the role. However, it wasn’t being implemented and it was creating confusion with both the surfers and the judges. I was called in to fix that…I think my time there was very worthwhile and helped bridge things from where it was to where it is now. I look forward to seeing where the WSL takes it from here and how the surfers evolve it over time.”

Indeed, since 2018 the silky mid-lengther has brought an air of stability to the tour, not only doing a bang-up job of scheduling events in places that were relevant to the culture, but by bringing traditional longboarders back into the fray. All while guiding it through the pandemic. The tour was deemed a success in 2021 when it was able to crown world champions at Malibu. “Like most of the world, Covid came along and we had to put the season on pause,” he told me late last year. “We started 2020 with the event at Noosa and got three more events in before going on pause. We came back and lost one of the events because of Covid (the funding went away). It was a little strange to go on pause for well over a year but I think we made the right decision. When we got going again with the Surf Ranch, I think people were quite surprised and delighted with the surfing they saw. A longboard works really well on that wave. It seems to favor horizontal surfing. We went quickly into the final event at Malibu and it was a really fun title race .”

During his reign, Howard had to swim upstream against some serious current: the aforementioned pandemic, then early this year, men’s world champ Joel Tudor unleashed a torrent of displeasure on the World Surf League through social media that ended up spelling his demise, including accusing the League of wanting to scrap the tour. Sources now tell us Tudor is gone for the entirety of 2022 after the WSL’s review of his suspension. The tumult could have turned any sane-person’s stomach. Howard also has a family and currently helps care for his father. All-in-all, he’s got a lot on the plate.

The WSL hasn’t returned my request for a statement.  When we hear more, you’ll hear more.


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