Former WSL CEO Erik Logan did some great work with the WSL, not all of which was approved by surf fans. So who’s next? Photo: Thiago Diz//World Surf League

The Inertia

Okay, we just finished J-Bay, so it seems a good time to go down the World Surf League rabbit hole. Fresh off a sweet, sweet victory on home turf in Brazil, Yago Dora is still punting like he never lost a season due to a broken foot – mad man. With his win at J-Bay, Filipe Toledo is still on a  serious roll and Lakey Peterson finally got a result this year that she’s been after. Elsewhere, the League is still ghosting us. No news on the vacant seat at the top or why former WSL CEO Erik Logan is no longer with the company.

The rumor mill, though, is still working over time.

So let’s give people what they’ve asked for! A look at who could be next. From my seat, it might be time for an industry guy to wear the WSL CEO’s hat. Granted, I’m talking a whole lot of hypotheticals, but let’s pretend the two-pronged interim CEOs, Chief People & Purpose Officer Emily Hofer, and Chief Operating & Legal Officer, Bob Kane, have shortlisted three candidates who:

–Know the industry better than anyone
–Have never seen an Oprah Winfrey show in their lives

My three names invited for a WSL fruit salad and Zoom meeting are; the winner of the comment sections – Kelly Slater, the actual smart choice – Bob Hurley, and the outta-left-field wildcard, who, no doubt, would stir the pot – Barton Lynch.

What would these three names bring to the WSL? Pros and Cons, and why none of them will end up in the League’s corner office?

Here goes nothing!

Here Are The Scenarios Where Kelly Slater Could Surf on the Championship Tour in 2024

What does it all mean? Photo: Aaron Hughes//World Surf League

Kelly Slater

First up, the people have spoken. Congratulations, Kelly, you got the job. Imagine the once Jimmy Slade and Pam Anderson’s muse would take on the top seat of the organization he has been carrying on his back since the ’90s. But could he swap his perpetual tan for the pallor of fluorescent office lighting?

Slater’s resume is impressive. It includes everything from an unbroken winning streak and eleven world titles to Chia Seeds, a sustainable clothing company mortal people can’t afford, indestructible boards with funny names, sandals, and, of course, making waves in a pool, literally.

It wouldn’t get more core than Kelly. And that’s apparently what people want – someone who actually surfs. He surfs pretty well for an old-ish man, but he also golfs better than most people with a corporate job, so there’s that.

There are a few problems, though, with Kelly at the helm. For starters, Slater, with his notorious disregard for wearing shoes (no, sandals don’t count), might just be too unconventional for an organization trying so hard to impersonate an American football league. But his Achilles’ heel might be his love for the waves themselves. If you think Kelly will host press conferences and sponsorship events in Brazil when Couldbreak is 6-8ft and cooking, you’re silly.

The man with the brand plan.

Bob Hurley

Another name requested by the keyboard experts is Bob Hurley. Now, this makes sense. Bob Hurley is as business savvy as they come. Responsible for the success of not one, not two, not three, but four surf companies, Hurley is the most accomplished name on this list. The guy literally has a legacy brand named after him, which trumps Kelly’s statue in Cocoa Beach by about 150 miles.

There is more. Bob isn’t just a great entrepreneur, he is also an excellent shaper, which means he’s well-versed in handling tools – in and out of the office.

As good a candidate as Bob Hurley is for the job, the probability of him ending up as the CEO of the League is about as low as the chances of Zeke Lau re-qualifying next year. He’s building sandcastles (and high-tech gear) with John John Florence, his sons and Pat O’Connell at Florence Marine X. They have a good gig going, and you don’t break up the band when things are working, unless, you are One Direction.

The Stoked Bloke is Barton Lynch

The Stoked Bloke? Photo: Barton Lynch//YT Screenshot.

Barton Lynch

The last name on my irrelevant list is Barton Lynch. He only made the cut because of the WSL’s decision to pivot the business to reality driven content. Ultimate Surfer first, Make or Break second, the appointment of one of the League’s biggest critics third. It’s an Oscar-worthy plot (twist).

Lynch is a fan favorite. The sharp-tongued savant has charisma and wit for days, is well-connected and respected in the industry, and isn’t afraid to throw punches.

Lynch could turn the WSL into an episode of The Stoked Bloke Show and clean out the house to bring some cheeky excitement back to the WSL. He strikes me as a guy who would throw a shark into a kiddie pool, so imagine, for a second, the thrill of Lynch’s notoriously cheeky commentary turned executive decisions?

If that’s not fun, I don’t know what is.

But beards usually don’t make it into corner offices, so when all is set and done, Phil from Nebraska, who looks good in a suit, wears shoes and cleans up nicely, who missed out on Forbes 45 under list by one spot, river surfs occasionally, and threw a shaka once, back in 2018, will get the job to run professional surfing.

Let’s go, Sports!

Editor’s Note: A journalist by trade, Sunny Fassler has worked in the surf and action sports industry in various content and editorial roles. First at Surfing Life Magazine, then Firewire, Billabong, and Volcom before going solo in 2018.


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