For modern pro surfers Instagram can be the determinant of your fate. Winning contests is great for the self-esteem and the bank balance, but if you want a massive following and a fat sponsorship salary then the digital resume is often key.

It’s an evolution that Nick Vasicek understands all too well. 

Nick, who turns 30 this month, established his name as one of the Gold Coast’s finest goofy footers in an era before Instagram likes became a crucial determinant of surfing status. For several years he was a celebrated member of the Billabong team, but ultimately lost his sponsorship when the company’s fortunes and the media landscape changed.

Nick applies the body torque as he slashes down the line on a Coolangatta point. Photo:Blainey Woodham

While Nick’s own Insta account features some epic, mini-screen moments, he suggests it’s challenging to maintain a solid profile in a world of rapid-fire swipes. “It seems like a lot of brands are looking at your social media base. You’ve got to be pretty savvy and tuned in and selling yourself more and more…  there’s a lot of talented guys who don’t have sponsors and you wonder why.”

Maintaining an eye-ball-hooking Instagram account and online profile also means employing a filmer to track your every move and edit the hours of footage into a combination of slickly produced thirty second, one minute and long-form clips. All that gets pretty expensive.                   

These days Nick (who still gets local travel, and equipment support from Super surfboards) helps brother Jai run their art and design business, Ahoy Trader. While Jai takes care of the art, Nick handles production.

Fortunately, working with his brother means he has the flexibility to chase waves and still compete in the occasional contest.       

Nick’s profile recently received a re-boot when he made the finals of the Oakley Battle Clips. The event crystallizes the highly competitive nature of the digital arena while giving entrants the chance to play for cash as opposed to just likes and views. 

It’s now down to the final four, with Nick, Luke Hynd, Soli Bailey and Mitch Parkinson all chasing the $20 000 cash prize for first place.

To create an even playing field, all four surfers were flown to the Nth Shore to shoot their final submissions. Travel costs were taken care of and surfers didn’t have to worry about employing their own filmers. Although content with making the final four, winning would mean Nick could invest more money in chasing swells around the world. “It would be great to have a little kitty to travel and perform in waves of consequence,” he suggests … "It’s great that Oakley have that platform, there’s not many other people doing that.” 

Nick hasn’t completely given up on his competitive aspirations either, and is hoping that the WSL’s planned restructure of the WQS circuit makes it easier to combine working with competing. Under the proposed new system the major WQS events will be run over a three-month intensive season, allowing surfers to work, train and travel more extensively. “I think that will definitely suit a lot of the surfers. Probably 60-70 % of guys on the WQS are working now. We will be able to work for eight-nine months of the year and focus on competing for three months of the year.” 

Will the new system open the door to talented competitors who currently can’t afford the WQS grind? Will well-known free surfers be tempted to have a lash at a shorter three-month season? These are all interesting questions at a time when it seems tectonic shifts are taking place in surfing. In the meantime who will win the Oakley Battle Clips? See the other clips below and have your say here . Voting closes soon.