This Has Everything To Do With Surfing

Illustration by Noa Emberson

We were sexy once…and young. We traveled the world in suits and our surfboards rode in airplane holds without being covered in surfboard bags. We slicked our hair back. Our passports were filled with exotic stamps and we caught exotic sexually transmitted diseases. We were ambassadors for a lifestyle. A lifestyle that the whole world envied. They stared at us in airports. They wanted to be us. And then we became athletes. We chased points on the NSSA and the WQS and the WCT. We spouted bland words in interviews. We thanked our coaches and nutritionists. And became not so sexy…not so young.

The world has turned, though. It has entered a crippling recession and exited a crippling recession. The world is looking for something to believe in and it is time for us to be ambassadors for a lifestyle again. To be envied. To be inspirational.

The "ambassador" model is very different from the "sponsored" model. The sponsored live reactively. That is to say, they simply react to what the brands want. They don't rock the boat. They are never photographed out with drinks in hand and three women in hand. They live safely. They live at the lowest common denominator.

Ambassadors, on the other hand, blow out the seams. They create, daily, what it is to live the dream. Maybe they are not the best surfers, like, maybe they are not winning multiple world titles, but they are fun to look at. Fun to want to be. Ambassadors stay out late and then throw amazing airs and get barreled amazingly the next day while people swoon on the beach.

The sponsored are dull. The ambassadors are hot.

Ambassadors are always hot, even in politics. Elected leaders grovel for votes. They go to Ohio and wear Carhartt jackets and try to look empathetic and tell the voters what they want to hear. Elected leaders embarrass themselves every two years or every four years. Ambassadors, on the other hand, blow out the walls. They are appointed to fancy mansions in Paris, Sydney, Dakar. Their whole job is to throw parties in those fancy mansions and wear Tom Ford suits. Ambassadors represent a dream.

And, thank heavens, we have some ambassadors. We have Mitch Coleborn. He drinks and airs and runs nude in front of Canadian schoolyards. We have Warren Smith, who, let us be honest, is not very accomplished in the water but just look at him. He embodies the sexy with that hair and those fine clothes. We have Steve Sherman, who takes gorgeous pictures of our lifestyle and names his child Taj after Taj Burrow. We have Kelly Slater who has dated supermodels and actresses, starred on Baywatch and wins surf competitions. But he is more an ambassador for his dating and Baywatching than he is for his winning. We have Sage Erickson. She is pretty and poses in various states of undress. We have Julian Wilson and Lindsay Lohan wants to make out with him.
We have some ambassadors but we need more and we need some of our existing ambassadors to blow off the rails a little more. We need Julian Wilson to actually make out with Lindsay Lohan, maybe even make a baby with Lindsay Lohan. He can name that baby Parko. We need more out of them and we need new ones.

It is time for us to shake off the sponsored model and embrace the ambassador model. It is time for us to each expect more from ourselves. Yeah. Cheers to the freaking weekend. Let the Jameson sink in. Don't let the bastards get you down. Drink to that. Drink to our lifestyle and get drunk enough to run nude in front of Canadian schoolyards.

Viva la surf. —Chas Smith