#strikemissions are here.
Yesterday the WSL delivered the best coverage of Cloudbreak’s mega swell and in doing so showed how they have transformed into a surf media juggernaut.
The social media feeds first lit up with news that Hawaiian big-wave rider Aaron Gold had cheated death, surviving a two-wave hold down, eventually found underwater, unconscious, and foaming at the mouth. The lineup emptied as Gold received CPR and was rushed to Tavarua for further treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery.
But the show went on.
Footage began circulating of former CT’er – turned purple blob chaser – Damian Hobgood’s eye watering tube that signalled the big wave boys had come to play. In the past 24 hours the video has had over 180k views, 11k likes and a gobsmacking 1.7k shares.
It may not have been the perfect XXL barrels of 2012 but we were hooked.
Streamed via Facebook Live, the day’s session drowned out all other noise from surf media players. Surfing Magazine’s The Road Soda did a solid job of updating the action in the water but it paled in comparison to the WSL’s take over. While Surfline’s coverage was ho-hum. Matt Rott’s first hand report took the award for the most compelling reading over on Magicseaweed.
But back to live action.
WSL’s Facebook Live videos from yesterday alone totalled 265k views – sure it hardly compares to the Texas woman in the Chewbacca mask who set the record for the most viewed post ever but no one else stepped up to the plate.
We know the WSL have the infrastructure and deep pockets to pull it off. Beaming live free-surf sessions around the world to our smartphones seems like adding one more notch to their belt. If the WSL are intent on juggling their duties as the sport’s governing body and simultaneously flexing their muscle as a media hub it begs one question, just how much of surfing are the WSL planning to control? If you’ve been following the WSL posts they’ve increasingly been covering the movements of surfers in settings that don’t involve contest singlets and sirens. What’s Mick Fanning doing in his time away from tour? Tune in to WSL to find out. Mikey Wright just did the biggest air ever in a free-surf – WSL’s team of web trawlers have got the footage. Next time Kirra breaks will Strider be commissioned to deliver live updates from the tube? Are they planning to send a crew to the Mentawais to capture the best action from the season?
Is all this WSL overload making traditional surf media brands anxious – maybe just a little. However, given its mainstream sport aspirations and distinctly American Country Club feel will the WSL media ever reflect the true diversity of surf culture – unlikely.
The silver lining of course is that we are gifted, free of charge, images like this tube from Dane Guduaskas (arguably the wave of the day) from the confines of a land locked office or far flung corner of the globe, all in real time.
Footnote: Tracks reached out to WSL’s VP of Communications Dave Prodan for comment however had no success at time of print.