A Job Interview

Balaram Stack and the empty space on the nose of his board

Balaram Stack lost the only main sponsor he'd ever known, but he's not showing any signs of that slowing him down. Photo: Frieden
Balaram Stack, New York’s 22-year-old surfing icon who was once a fundamental cog in Quik’s marketing machine, has reentered the market for a main sponsor. We caught up with him over a pizza pie that he claims is “nothing compared to Gino’s back home,” where he filled us in on his recent thoughts.

Did you see the knife coming?
There were a lot of cuts going on, but I didn’t see any faults or reasons for them to cut me. They have no team riders on the East Coast now, so I don’t know. But it sucks. It sucks to be with a company for your whole life, then you get a call and it’s done just like that. It wasn’t even a good send-off. There was no “See you later, you’ve been with us forever, it was a good run” or anything, it was just the call, done, over. My team manager, all he said was, “I don’t even know really what to say or do, I’m hoping I still have a job too. Hopefully one day we can have a beer and laugh about it.”

What will you take away from such a long relationship?
My whole surf career has been with Quiksilver; I’ve learned everything I know within the industry and professional surfing from them. Being on trips or at contests, all of it. When I first signed, it was like they were my family. They put me in the places I needed to be to be successful, whether it was contests or trips or anywhere in the world. I was able to see so many different places, people, and waves, so I definitely benefited from that.

Has this changed your outlook on a career as a pro at all?
Well, I won’t generalize the surf industry around this one company, but it does seem to be struggling. Still, I want to pursue pro surfing as much as I always have. You know, I’d like to be a traveling pro for as long as I can, see the world, get good waves, do trips and contests here and there. I mean, I had always thought Quik was kind of a lifetime deal. I was with them for seven years. To have this happen is a shock, but I’m just going to try and make sure that the next sponsor that I do get is long-term.

Did this remind you that you’re still an employee? Is that humbling?
The only time I ever consider surfing to be work is the promo stuff, but even that’s pretty fun. It is a job, and you still have to do what your sponsors tell you to do. I definitely feel like I have to work harder than ever, but I enjoy every minute of it. Surfing only goes so far, you can only be a pro for so long.

You do still have other side-sponsors, but for the sake of this interview, we’ll call you “unemployed.” What’s your résumé look like for a potential sponsor?
New York is a huge part of it. There aren’t many other guys coming from the East Coast, so that alone is an angle. There are a lot of things that factor in, but I had a good season in Hawaii, and put out a recent edit of what I’ve been doing. There are a lot of things to go with it. I just want to be at a company that’s like family, where there’s good opportunity and where they want me there as much as I do.

Does any of this affect your confidence and momentum?
Not at all. I’m still going to do what I do. I’m still going to try and chase the best waves and get the biggest barrels that I can. I mean, that’s pretty much all I can do in this situation.

[VIDEO] Balaram Stack doing pretty much all he can do in this situation.