How Does the World #4 Pay His Bills?

posted by / Some Answers / October 5, 2009

Some Answers from Bede Durbidge

Bede Durbidge surfed most of 2007 un-sponsored. He financed his year on tour with a home mortgage. When he won the Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown that December, and got picked up as the face of MADA, things seemed all roses and fine vermouth for Bede. “The sponsorship chapter is closed in my life now,” he said at the time. “I’ve got the support I sought and now I just want to concentrate on climbing to greater heights.”

Now MADA and its paychecks are gone, Bede sits at #4 on the ASP World Tour, and the sponsorship chapter is back open. We asked him how that’s been.

Your MADA stickers have finally vanished. What’s the situation?

Well, I was sponsored by MADA and I had the Australian license, but they had to shut down because of the current financial crisis. So I’m not riding for them any more, which sucks. They had the most talented team behind the brand. Maybe in the future Vinnie [De La Pena, MADA founder] might re-launch the brand, but for me I have to move on and try and get a relationship with another brand.

So what company would you most like to ride for? No diplomacy here, let’s have a name.

That’s a hard question because I don’t want to single anyone out and wreck the chance of a potential sponsor. My dream sponsor would be a brand who is really stoked to have me and wants a long term relationship. I like most of the clothes out there. My favorites are the edgier brands, though, that don’t use big labels on their shirts.

That was terribly diplomatic, but fine. How has losing MADA affected your lifestyle? No more caviar and first class airfare?

It’s definitely made it harder, but I’m lucky enough to still have all my other sponsors sticking by me. It hasn’t really changed the way I do the tour, anyway. I always fly economy class. Maybe one day when I get a great contract I can go business.

How are you paying for the tour expenses in 2009? And what’s that cost these days, by the way?

From all my other sponsors’ endorsements. It’s super expensive to do the tour – it probably costs around $80k a year.

And how do you feel about the competition at this stage? Are you still excited by it, or is it stale and moldy to you now?

I absolutely love it. I like it even more now because I’ve learned so much from the previous years and I find it easier to win heats. It’s definitely not stale. The surfing happening on tour is better then ever. Everyone is ripping and putting on a show.

If you could add five faces to the World Tour, who would you add?

Julian Wilson, Dusty Payne, Owen Wright, Ozzie Wright, and Occy.


Bede Durbidge vs Adriano de Souza – Hurley Pro Trestles 2009 – Quaterfinals Heat One

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  • Jason

    Bede’s sweet. Seems like a really good guy. I really hope he gets what he deserves (new tour maybe??)

  • MKW

    The problem with Bede is that he has no edge. His surfing is solid and faultless and predictable. If this were tennis, his unforced errors would be lowest on the tour. Bede is kryptonite to edgy brands (…poor Mada).

    Either build in some controversy or attitude or maybe look outside the usual endemic surfing brands to tourism or banking corporations. I would love to see Bede sponsored by Beachley!!!

    He is a safe, smiling ambassador that is guaranteed exposure by default, but of little interest. Proof: This is the only response to this article.

  • CharlieC

    Only in Surfing is one of most consistently good competitors in the sport unable to get a sponsor, wtf is the world coming to? What incentive do kids have to pursue a career in this sport if there is a chance that even if they work ultra hard and make it to the top, they will still have to be scraping for cash to even compete at that level. Takes the piss.

  • MKW

    If Pauline Mencer can make it work surely the boring Fijian can.

  • Voice of Reality

    If the ASP contolled it’s events instead of allowing the sponsors to dictate the playing field, the prize money for the athlete’s could increase dramatically as one caveat of underwriting an event. As it is, prize money is embarrassingly low, but the brand icons consider the winning checks just gravy anyways. This has been an endemic problem from the IPS days and the clothing corpo’s have grown exponentially in those 30 years.

    And they will hold another “historic” meeting tonight…. and do what Obama is doing, status quo. “Yes We Can, Hope For Change”, as long as Quiksilver continues to gorge on the lions slice of the pie. Kelly is the lowest paid “lead athlete” of any brand in any sport. They can’t pay him enough for what he means to that corp.

    Meanwhile, Bede can’t make a go of it making the semi’s. The playing board is upside down, time to revolt CT surfers. You make them, not the reverse equation.

  • Sean Davey

    Bede finished No 2 in 2008, and No 5 in 2007, so he aint no flash in the pan. He’s the real deal. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in Australia, we love a grass roots hero. Someone who excels despite lack of support. People really get behind that in Oz. I wonder what kind of signal, Bede’s situation sends to all those juniors out there with their careers ahead of them. You can bet that more than a few of them are wondering WTF’s up?..

  • Heath Nutty Walker

    MKW how fucking dare you make a comment like that. Your A grade piece of nard.

    What because Bede doesn’t have a fro, jesus beard, a pair of $300 skinny jeans and sucks off modern collective he isn’t cool.

    I work for a big named brand that is corporate owned in this industry. I believe the fact of the matter is that any athlete is worth whatever any company will pay no matter who they are. It depends on what you are selling and what you want. Shit guys like Rasta, Ozzie, Noodels, Stedman Donavan, Benji etc are the perfect examples.
    Bede doesn’t have a sponsor right now because the industry and economy has tanked. Too many expectations of corporate growth on a over glorified surf industry thats tapped.

    Don’t worry Bede its the times we are in mate. Your a class professional, elite athlete, a all round top Aussie bloke and surf the balls off most people especially nard tooth like MKW.

    Nice of him to make a bold statement and just leave his initials… Says alot about what kind of a MAN he is…or isn’t..


  • MKW

    Bede’s one wave at the Search event in 07′ was one of the best of the event. But overall, Bede and his surfing don’t stand for much other than ‘Safe’. I cannot think of his signature move, I cannot conjure up a wave I would love to see Bede surf, I did not run out and buy Mada when Bede was picked up.

    The underlying point is that the brands run this show and they want representation that resembles their brand essence. The surf apparel industry is far bigger and extends way beyond a consumer audience that follow the competition. This is not the NFL Draft. Showing support for the best WCT surfers just on the basis of their ASP ranking would only influence a tiny portion of their sales. Brands need bold character that transcends competition and stand for something. You should know that – why have Reef not picked up Bede? He would be head player right now after Bobby left right?

    Bede needs to marry up with a company that reflects him: shiny, do-good, credible, solid… or just accept 2nd tier position in a bigger brands team. Its not because of the economy, this is not new.

    My name is Michael Wasserman. And fuck you for your half-baked contradictory milk-riddled response.

  • Heath Nutty Walker

    Yeah I’m man enough to say that my response was acted in rage and some comments made were unprofessional.

    I can pick my battles and can tell with your education of book smart intelligence you will have the upper hand, but your comments made in your first response were just plain mean and spiteful. You put your own intellectual twist with your words which just showed your arrogance .

    Lets remember we are talking about a former world number 2 and currently top 5 surfer in the world. Weather you like it or not Bede is there and looks like he could be there for a while.

    Lets remember your comments / our debate is not about an athlete thats siting outside top 16 or top 10. Or a guy that carries such arrogance or ego. We are talking about one of the nicest guys on tour.

    Bede brings a great competitive side to the ASP. He amps the shit out of his competitors. The big names like Burrow, Fanning, Parkinson, Hobgoods know that when they draw Bede they gotta bring there A+ game and put on a show if they are to advance to glory.

    How would sports be if Tiger Woods was the only golfer on the PGA or Le Bron and Kobe just played one on one every week in the NBA. Our sport of surfing needs more athletes like these.
    As an elite athlete Bede fires the brilliance from his fellow competitors during competition which in return can create memorable performances enhancing the level of professional surfing competition which puts on a great show for all watching.

    Michael you dropped your arroagnce and in the response today and I enjoyed and was educated on what you had to say.

    I appologize on my comments previous keep me educated and keep em coming.


  • Vincenzo

    Heath I agree with you…..Michael Wasserman how dare you FUCKING say something like that about Bede. What the fuck do you know about the surf industry and how it operates? I do work in the industry and yes times at the moment are hard for some guys, even the pros. How fucking good do you surf? Probably pretty damm shitty, so who are you to come online and criticize Bede and his surfing.

    You want to see a signature move from the guy? Jump on a plane and fly your ass over here to Hawaii this winter and watch Bede surf. Fuck, I’ll stand next to you on the beach and point out how good he rips. What, you’ve watched him surf online during a contest in 2 ft slop or seen a clip of him in a video and now you can judge his talents? Your fucking lame. Get off the internet and go surf. Just do something other than sit on the computer and try bash the pro surfers because your life sucks!!!

    Bede good luck in Europe and I hope to see you on the beach at Off The Wall soon.

    Michael Wasserman…….BEAT IT!!!!

  • Jordo

    Ha, best signoff to a comment ever.

  • MKW

    Bede you are a great guy, great surfer – no dispute. But don’t listen to industry pundits blind to how it works (or lying to you). If this topic is about money and how to earn it as a surfer, wake up to how the cash flows. You need to separate the appeal of surfers from good competitive surfers.

    Brands leverage Intriguing surfers to gain credibility from core influencers (index 5). They then use that credibility to sell to the masses (index 100) – nothing new here. More intriguing surfers amplify brand identity and have greater cultural clout and in turn higher sales.

    Competition: Surfing was not built for competition. There are way too many variables and opinions to make it consistent & credible to the masses. With limited appeal the competition prize purses are on par, if not high, relative to the audience (audience size = tickets/ media rights/ advertising).

    The link: Big brands prop up competition as proof of their credibility, and to strengthen the association between their culturally intriguing team surfers and the brand.

    To Summarize:
    Intrigue = mass merchandise value.
    Good Competitive Surfer = Prize money commensurate with audience watching

  • MKW

    Nutty – Your passion would go a long way to helping the masses understand and follow competitive surfing. Bring it to the forefront of your marketing communications…create games around it… create a manufacturers competition (F1)

    Bede – Didn’t mean to offend, just making a point from a dark office in cold place at the back of your mind

  • Rhys

    Good to see the industry peeps like Nutty weighing in with a perspective from inside the corporate world.

    I’m an average joe surfer like Mike Wasserman and I think he raises a good point: what’s Bede’s angle? I don’t know what his signature move is. I hear he is a nice guy and I saw him surfing in the Quik Pro in France and he rips. But that’s probably not enough these days, given the economic climate.

    Some of the blame must go to his former sponsor, for not giving him a big push and differentiating him from Taj and Parko and Andy when he was a team rider.

    And some blame must go to Bede, for just being too damn nice. Maybe he could start a blog, have some footage of him drinking and partying with the girls…

  • vincenzo Wassermans Nutty Beads

    did that guy really say “beat it”?