Hard to believe it’s been seven-plus years already since Noa Deane’s uncomfortable to some moment at the Surfer Poll Awards.
“Fuck the WSL.”
Yeah, he said it, and yeah he may have been a bit lubricated at the time but the underlying context of that comment still rings true today.
Upon perusing the Interweb a few days ago we came across Steve Shearer’s piece on Beach Grit (Read here) which revisited the moment and, as only Longtom can do, he framed it within some intellectual context well above our pay grade.
That noted, our take hasn’t really changed much since we wrote about it at the time (Read here). In our view, it wasn’t really a literal “fuck you” to the people involved or the organization as a whole (although it was seen that way to some) but more of an all-encompassing diss to surfing being portrayed as a sport by people who have little or no real investment in the world in which we play.
Noa was simply stating the obvious and he chose a damn interesting place to do it.
As Steve and others noted, the usual suspects immediately defended the need for organizations like the WSL to “jockify” our favorite little pastime and in turn, completely missing the point of what makes surfing so unique.
Although comp surfing may be a means to an end for some, to many of us it just ain’t about jerseys and scores.
Never has been, never will be.
The irony of Noa’s moment of clarity is that his career actually went forward in terms of new sponsorships as well as a marked development of his surfing ability, especially in waves of consequence in places like Hawaii.
Noa’s gift to the surfing world, as passed down through a legendary bloodline via his father, the late Wayne Deane, was always going to be one of a much more authentic approach to wave riding than any contest format might offer.
Thanks for that moment Noa and thanks for continuing to just be you.