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Shane Powell, beloved in the Russian hacker community. Photo: Ellis

Corndogging: Russian Hackers Meddle with SURFER Poll Voting

Moscow-based group guilty of hacking into SURFER servers, being huge Shane Powell fans

CARLSBAD, CA—The FBI and NSA announced this week they've uncovered a monthlong hacking operation instigated by Russian cyberterrorists. The hackers gained access to SURFER Magazine's data servers in an effort to swing the results of the 2017 SURFER Poll, part of the annual SURFER Awards. During the hacking operation, thousands of fraudulent votes were cast in favor of surfers preferred by the Russian government.

"We thought it was really strange that we started seeing so many votes for former pro Shane Powell in the fan voting," said SURFER's editor Todd Prodanovich. "I mean, don't get me wrong, anybody who grew up in the ’90s watching him in epic movies like Feral Kingdom or Tripping the Planet love Powell's stylish full-rail carves and the way he had, like, the coolest hand placement ever with his fingers all spread apart—remember that? It was awesome. But anyway, yeah, we couldn't figure out why, all of a sudden, all the voters were really fired up on the guy."

The hackers have so thoroughly compromised the voting record, last year's SURFER Award fan vote winner, John Florence, doesn't even appear in the Top-10 as of press time, behind names like Powell, Marko Ramius (the fictional Soviet submarine captain played by Sean Connery in “The Hunt for Red October”), Turtle from the 1987 film “North Shore,” and Geek Topanga (the penguin voiced by Jeff Bridges in the hit animated movie “Surf’s Up”).

[Click here to vote for your favorite male and female surfers in this year’s SURFER Awards]

SURFER staffers were confused at first about the enthusiasm for Powell among Russian hackers until the FBI tracked down reports of a cargo ship full of bootlegged surf movie DVDs—including crates full of Rip Curl "Search" series films featuring Powell that ran ashore near the Kamchatka peninsula some 20 years ago.

"These guys basically spent the last 20 years holed up in a Moscow apartment feasting on Powell's incredibly cool swooping bottom-turn into the barrel, and his beyond smooth backhand approach to hollow waves," said Marcus Brubant, FBI spokesman. "They were annoyed that the surf world doesn't talk much about him anymore, and they took it upon themselves to right a wrong."

"Yeah, I've gone back and watched a bunch of the old Search movies since the hack, and to tell you the truth, I get where the hackers are coming from," Prodanovich said. "There's just no surfer on Tour today who's style can hold a candle to Shane Powell’s. In fact, I'll likely cast my vote for him, too."

[Editor's note: "Corndogging" is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk 'em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]