Surf Summit 17 – One for the Books

If you weren’t able to join us in Cabo this year for Surf Summit 17, I’m here to tell you what you missed! I’ve been told on multiple occasions that this year was one for the books – some even went as far as to say that it was one of the most memorable of all times. Since it was my first Surf Summit, I can’t weigh in on those opinions and compare it to other years, but it is pretty hard to beat a line up that includes Metallica, Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank, and athletes like Tom Carroll, Matt Archbold, and Joel Tudor. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

Day one started with attendee check-in where each attendee received a Herschel backpack filled to the brim with some of the best swag you could imagine – each attendee got a Braven speaker, Incipio headphones, a phone case from Tavik, an exclusive Surf Summit 17 hat thanks to New Era, Stance socks, a Surf Summit 17 Mizu water bottle donated by Coast Law Group, swag from ISA, and of course the necessary sunscreen and wax from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and Sticky Bumps. I know, I know – we’ve only covered the first day’s check-in and you’re already bummed on what you missed this year. Just wait, it gets better.

After settling in, and probably checking out the pool, attendees were able to enjoy cocktails, dinner, and Metallica…wait, what? That’s right; Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo of Metallica joined us in Cabo. They mingled with attendees, surfed with whoever was up for the adventure, and delivered an unforgettable keynote address. Kirk and Robert sat and chatted with SIMA Executive Director Sean Smith about everything from getting stuck in the Baja 1000 early that day, to favorite surf spots, to their early days of just joining the band. One thing that they talked about that resonated with everyone (besides Hammett sharing that surfing hands down saved his life) was about the band’s integrity. They were the first to call Metallica selfish – making music that the band members want to hear, not what the rest of the world will want to hear. They couldn’t stress enough the importance of protecting the band’s integrity, which when relating back to our audience is exactly what each brand should be doing as well.

Day two started after some morning surf, which included beginners getting out in the water during the TransWorld Business SURFari. Thanks to TransWorld, Surf Diva and all of the volunteer instructors, all the first-timers were catching waves! The best part is that it was all caught on film – the surf and the wipeouts! Head over to the SIMA Facebook page to check those out (Thanks Jon Steele!). When it was seminar time, Daymond John, Founder and CEO of FUBU and TV Personality on ABC’s Shark Tank, kicked it off with what was probably one the most entertaining presentations many of our attendees had ever seen. With a walk down musical memory lane and his own personal presentation DJ, John shared with guests his journey through creating a brand and his advice on how to keep a brand at its best. He left attendees with ample amounts of valuable information, including the reminder to always take inventory of yourself first and foremost – know the strengths and weaknesses you have, because YOU are your brand. So important! Following Daymond John was ISA President Fernando Aguerre. He took the stage with Steve Astephen from Wasserman Media to discuss his efforts in getting surfing into the Olympics and the many hurdles he has already overcome. One major area that Fernando has seen advancement success in is with wave pools. These have now evened the playing field and made judging the performance of surfers more manageable. To say the least, everyone is grateful for Fernando’s persistent efforts. After these seminars, attendees jumped into moderated roundtable discussions that touched on key topics in the industry from social media interaction to growing event platforms.

Day three continued the trend of great seminar speakers as we heard from Data Scientist Hilary Mason. Mason shed some much needed light on the world of data, what it means and why it’s important to brands and retailers. After her presentation, attendees were able to pick her brain during the Q&A portion of the seminar. Guests also heard from SIMA, BRA and Surf Expo on the state of the industry as of late, which was a key time to hear about what’s going on internally with these organizations as well as externally in the surf industry. Following that was an in depth discussion with a panel of key retailers including Bruce Cromartie of BC Surf & Sport, Jamie Heritage of Heritage Surf & Sport, Milo Myers of Hangar 94, and Pete Censoplano of Sun Diego. Electric Visual’s Eric Crane moderated this discussion, which was a very valuable time for brands to hear retailer input, ideas and frustrations.

The conference finished as incredibly as it started with this year’s Closing Ceremonies featuring three major legends – Tom Carroll, Matt “Archy” Archbold, and Joel Tudor. Attendees sat in awe as the three sat down with the talented Sal Masekela and took us through their individual journeys as athletes and what they’re up to now. All three of the athletes gave insight on the hardships they faced and how grateful they are for their passion for surfing that helped them out of the dark times. It was amazing to see the parallels between each athlete’s story and how much they could relate to each other, and to many in the audience. Don’t worry, for as many intense details shared, the night was filled with just as many laughs as Carroll, Archbold and Tudor poked fun at each other and reminisced together. Archy even told the story of one competition when he beat Tom, joking that while Tom was preparing for the heat by stretching Archie chugged a beer and hoped for the best. You couldn’t have scripted a better conversation. The night was filled with stories like this – what better way to close out Surf Summit right?

So, from hanging out with Metallica and hearing exclusive details from living legends, to uniting the tribe while lounging on floaties at the pool (thanks Surf Expo!), Surf Summit 17 was definitely a one-of-a-kind conference. Was it the best one yet? I’ll let you decide. Of course, none of this would have been possible without our awesome sponsors – Surf Expo, Moss Adams, and Ritholz Levy. Thanks guys!