The 10 Headlines That Stopped The Surf Industry In 2015

31 Dec 2015 0 Share

Sally Mac

Coastalwatch Digital Editor

Robbie Maddison Surfs Teahupo'o on a dirt bike, Photo by Deven Stephhens

Robbie Maddison Surfs Teahupo'o on a dirt bike, Photo by Deven Stephhens

2015 was a massive year in the surf industry. It has been a year of innovation, change, extremes and inspiration by surfers, surf media, companies, individuals, teams, photographers, technology and countries.

The thing about surfing in this new millennium is that it is challenged every day by the internet and the speed of communication via social media that continues to push the limitation of what is possible. Everyone wants more, bigger, better, faster, more mind-blowing entertainment at the minute that it's unfolding. That's what surfing can provide mainstream news these days and these are the 10 stories that did just that and made the headlines. 

In February, Tropical Cyclone Marcia provided a great start to the year and what looked like an amazing swell for the first World Surf League event of the year. Unfortunately for the WSL and athletes, it didn't last, but the Snapper pro locals scored big time. Mick Fanning got the most watched single wave of the year in this pre-event period and lots of people were very happy. As the swell dissipated over the week, it lead into what was the longest forced waiting period for the WSL. Lay day followed by lay day and when it was called back on the swell was nothing to write about.

After a couple of so-so events the World Tour travelling circus made it's way to Margaret River in Western Australia's south-west for April. Huey decided it was time to put on a show, rolling in some of the most gnarly looking sets for an event hosting both men's and women's competition. It wasn't just the size of the waves and the way they were being dominated by the surfers, it was the 1-foot of water and visible reef that the Indian Ocean monsters were breaking onto that kept us on the edge of our seats. A great event that pumped up the atmosphere of competition for the year.


In June, Margaret River local Felicity Palmateer surfed the biggest wave by a female in Australia. Palmateer said after the experience she hadn’t spent much time preparing for her first big wave experience and the 20-30 foot swell that put her in the news. “I was expecting a much more gradual approach, including a lot more practice in a variety of other waves, more practice on a tow board, finding the right kind of tow board that suits me, getting used to the feeling of wearing impact suits, life jackets – all that stuff that comes with being prepared for serious waves. I definitely wasn’t expecting my first session to be out Cow Bombie on a swell of that magnitude.” 

On 20th July, the world stopped and watched, and watched, and watched again in reply, the moment that Mick Fanning's life nearly ended. Pure disbelief. Shock. Unedited, raw emotion as one of the sport's greatest, punched and kicked his way out of one of the craziest moments anyone could ever experience. It was the middle of the night in Australia when the Julian Wilson and Mick Fanning paddled out for the finals of the J-Bay Pro in South Africa. Some people were watching it live via broadcast, within two hours the entire nation and the world were waking up to the most watched surf news story in history. 


Talk about innovation in surfing... In August motorbike legend Robbie Madison decided there'd be nothing cooler than riding a motorbike down a wave at Teahupo'o. That's right, surfing a motorbike, down a wave. Not just a normal beachie, the guy took off and rode through the lagoon and into a perfect line-up at the scene of one of the craziest waves in the world. What a champ. 

On September 8th, Australian brand Quiksilver showed face with a $300 million net loss and in the United States, the company would be filing for Chapter 11 of the US voluntary Administration process. Some said it was a strategic downgrade, others spoke of the demise of surf brands altogether. Quiksilver was acquired by US Investment company Oak Tree Capital, the same company that took over Billabong when it's ship also started to sink.


We all knew the day would come, just like when you were a kid and the Jetsons had phone watches... this year Apple released the iWatch. In October, a company out of the US called 360fly, brought to the market a virtual reality camera. It's in it's early stages but will change the way we use cameras and watch video. Surfing World Magazine editor, Vaughan Blakey took it out for a quick barrel in one of the first virtual reality surfing experiences and then pro surfer Jay Phillips took it through it's paces at Greenmount.


In November, a new era of surfing on the big screen began. John John Florence got together with his sponsors, brothers and best mates with an idea to create the best surf movie that could ever be made. He named it 'View From A Blue Moon' and it took surf filmmaking to a level that we all knew was possible and made it one of the most impressive productions of the year. 


Hawaii is always the best stop on the world tour, that's why they leave it till last right? Well that and the winter swells make their way to the North Shore and whip up the biggest and best, crowd-pleasing surf for the world to watch. This year was no exception. It was November when the first swell showed it's face and got everyone excited for what was to come. The prelude to the World Title showdown was the Pe'ahi Challenge, as part of the Big Wave Tour. You've never seen tiny humans ride waves so big. Jaws turned on alright and it separated boys from men. One of those men was Billy Kemper, he won the event but not before Greg Long slid down smashed a 9-point-ride on a 40-foot wave.


A couple of days later Mick Fanning won the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach and was a front runner for the 2015 World Title and to, perhaps win Pipe Masters. It wasn't to be. Amongst all this, Bede Durbidge skidded off a wave in round 3 and broke his pelvis in two places. Fanning, Florence and Slater surfed in what was certainly the heat of the year and Adriano De Souza won Brazil another World Title. The world breathed out. 



In 2015 surfing is more popular than ever, the crowds at Australia's prominent breaks are nuts. In December, just hours after the final event of 2015 wrapped up in Hawaii, Kelly Slater took us one step closer to making it, even more popular with the unveiling of his ultra-perfect wave pool. What the commercialisation of the wave pool will do for the surf industry is still unknown. There are plans to make it similar to the golf resorts of the world. Stay and surf perfect waves for a week... Something you might be into? entrepreneur 


Tags: surfing , 2015 , wrap , news , video (create Alert from these tags)

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