What began as quietly whispered rumors between fellow surfers has now been confirmed as 100% FACT. Beginning in 2013, Nike will be removing its hands from the surf world, and rolling all of it’s sponsored team members under the Hurley name. This is huge news for an industry that is still in the midst of rebuilding after one of the worst natural disasters to hit the eastern seaboard in decades. Nike has the power to influence everything that it touches, and it absolutely left it’s mark on surf culture.
A mega-conglomerate like Nike, in theory, should have no business in the slow and mellow surf world. Their business motto of “Just do it” seems counterproductive to the slacker adolescent who is skipping school to go waste time out catching waves. This was the thought process in the past, but times they are definitely changing. Today’s up and coming surfer eats well, treats his body with respect, trains hard both on land and in the water, and strives to excel in all activities. A surfer like Kolohe Andino fits the mold of today’s pro surfer. And he also conveniently fits the mold that Nike Surfing was looking for. He proudly displayed the sponsorship swoosh on his lost sub-scorcher, which many saw as the ultimate form of “selling out.” Similar to how Nike Skateboarding took time to grow on the culture that it was infiltrating, Nike Surfing’s debut was met with harsh criticism in the early days. But after signing such amazing talent right out of the gate, the critics soon realized that Nike would be a real contender in the surf world. But after 2 years of surfer and contest sponsorships and endless magazine and online media blitzes, the plug has finally been pulled.
One cant help but ponder what a team like Hurley is going to become with the absorption of the Nike team. Hurley was an already stacked team, consisting of 7 hugely talented surfers, 2 of whom are living legends. Rob Machado and Tim Curran set the precedent for younger surfers all over the world. And now the family has 3 new babies to welcome. Julian Wilson, Carissa Moore and Kolohe Andino, all of whom are under 21 years old yet have a TON of experience on the tour circuit.
All told, I feel that 2013 is going to be a huge year for surfing. The east coast is recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and coming back stronger than ever. A huge name like Nike is now out of the picture, with Under Amour possibly sneaking in to take it’s place very soon. Groms are landing airs that were never thought possible 5 years ago. Spirits are as high as they’ve ever been, and hopefully we gets a full year of waves to match.