Huntington Beach, CA — February 27, 2004 – In a truly historic development in United States competitive surfing, the nation’s three top amateur surfing associations have rallied around Surfing America’s Plan to create a new National Governing Body (NGB) for surfing in the United States.
The Plan, approved by Surfing America’s Executive Committee — and unanimously endorsed by SIMA’s Board of Directors — involves a restructure of the organization as the United States’ NGB. This includes the development of a new U.S. Surfing Championships along with a legitimate U.S. Surfing Team selection, training, and competition program. Surfing America will maintain its License Agreement with ASP and continue to perform its services as the ASP North America Regional Office.
Meeting of the Minds
On February 10th and 11th, representatives from NSSA, ESA, and HASA met with Surfing America in a closed session. After the two days, the three groups emerged committed to joining Surfing America as Member Organizations. All four parties then signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) documenting specific points to their agreement and endorsing Surfing America’s NGB Plan.
Included in the MOU was the outline for a restructured Surfing America–complete with a new Board of Directors, Bylaws, and Organization Chart. The document also set the framework for a new United States Surfing Championship format and United States Surfing Team Selection process that effectively recruits the best athletes.
“This is a very exciting moment for competitive surfing in the United States,” said Surfing America’s executive director, Mike Gerard. “And it’s long overdue. Getting the three most powerful organizations behind our Plan is an incredible development for the sport. ESA, NSSA, and HASA all stepped up in a big way to get this deal done. And they all should be congratulated for looking to the big picture.”
“Two years ago, Surfing America gave the ESA three WQS events to run on the East Coast,” said Kathy Phillips, ESA’s executive director. “And with these events we have had an incredible opportunity to give our ESA top ranked athletes like Petroni and Taylor a bridge to the next level. Now we have the opportunity, through Surfing America, to partner with NSSA and HASA to give our regionally top ranked amateur surfers the kind of upper tier Championship series they deserve and a direct route to a US National Team program the likes of which we haven’t seen for years. The ESA is excited to be a part of something that will benefit not only our top ranked athletes, but also gives us the means to encourage new surfers to get into the sport of competitive surfing and Surfing America has presented us with just such a program.”
Janice Aragon, NSSA executive director, sees long term benefits for her athletes. “One of our primary objectives at NSSA–in addition to keeping kids in school–is to prepare our top athletes for the pro tour. We look forward to playing a key role in this system as it effectively bridges the performance gap from success as a top amateur to the being effective at the WQS level.”
HASA vice president and competition director, Jack Shipley shared his enthusiasm on a more personal level. “Throughout my life one of my guiding principals has been ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ To actually be a part of this incredible, historic moment in American Surfing is my top experience in 40 years of participation in the sport.”
A Formal Application for the NGB
Surfing America submitted its NGB Plan and proposal to ISA within the deadline required for items to be considered for the agenda at ISA’s Biennial General Meeting next month in Ecuador. An agenda approval is expected by the end of this week.
Assuming the Plan is approved as an agenda item by the ISA Executive Committee, a team of representatives from SIMA and Surfing America will attend the ISA General Meeting on March 22nd. There, Surfing America’s executive director, Mike Gerard, will formally present the Plan, as a PowerPoint presentation, and ISA will call for a vote on whether to accept the application and replace the current United States NGB, USSF, with Surfing America.
Surfing America to Keep ASP License, but Drops Foster’s
Surfing America also holds the license for ASP North America and, as such, administers the ASP North America WQS Tour. As part of its view to a broad restructure, however, Surfing America has opted not to renew its sponsorship contract with Foster’s.
“Foster’s was a good partner,” said Gerard. “And, while they did commit participate again in 2004, Surfing America’s Board felt it was in our best interest to take a step back. In light of what’s developing for the organization as a whole, we are clearly at a turning point. The upside is huge if we reboot now–and repackage our entire sponsorship program with an eye to the future. It might sting a little in the short term, but in the bigger picture it makes a lot of sense.”
The Big Picture
“I’ve been around US competitive surfing for three decades now,” said Peter Townend (“PT”), former world surfing champion and Surfing America’s president. “And bringing ESA, NSSA, and HASA together under one roof for the first time in two decades–along with the signing of a “Declaration of Unity”–may be the most momentous occasion in US surfing history.”
Dick Baker, SIMA president, sees the development as a critical part of the sport’s big picture solution. “SIMA has reorganized over the past few years and has become significantly stronger as a result,” said Baker. “Now is the time to do the same with competitive surfing. SIMA stands behind this Plan to restructure the competitive surfing landscape and create greater opportunities for youth. Securing the NGB is an important step toward making this vision a reality.”
“Clearly, we can bring a lot to the table for ISA,” added Gerard. “With the Plan in place, the full support of SIMA, and the three top organizations onboard, we have the components for an incredibly successful program for the United States. And this will do a lot for competitive surfing on an international level as well. Given the opportunity, we will be good ambassadors for ISA and an active, positive contributor to the international surfing community.”