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The business of sliding sideways, and a time I thought I wasn’t gonna make it home for dinner.

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The business of sliding sideways, and a time I thought I wasn’t gonna make it home for dinner.

Customers are curious about the artwork we have kicking around the shop, so I figured I’d share a bit of story about this piece, the business of sliding sideways, and a time I thought I wasn’t gonna make it home for dinner.


This artwork was done by the so-damn-talented Randy Noborikawa, to promote a Quiksilver surf contest in El Salvador I was fortunate enough to manage for a few years.


I think this was the year one of the most stylish surfers of all time, Tom Curren, got a wildcard into the event.  If you appreciate style and flow on any type of board/medium, do yourself a huge favor and check footage of Tom surfing Jeffreys Bay.


I’d lend you my personal VHS of Searching for Tom Curren, but I burnt it out.


Back to El Salvador.


At the time of the event, E.S. was still rough around the edges, and you had to be mindful of your surroundings (note-things have improved drastically. GO THERE!).


As so prominently displayed on the event art, $55,000 in prize money was up for grabs – a fact that was promoted heavily for many months leading up to the event.


At contests like these, semi-pro surfers (think Q-School in golf, or Minor League baseball) are grinding it out, traveling the World on shoestring budgets, trying to earn points and crack the famed World Championship Tour.


The surfers needed to be paid in cash, on site, as soon as they were out of the comp, to use said earnings to fund the next leg of their journey.  Checks, wires, etc., were not an option.


No one used Venmo 10 years ago.


So, it was up to our local fixer/famed surfer/great friend, Jimmy Rotherham, and I to figure out how to dole out $55K in cash at a relatively unsecure location to a bunch of dudes in a rush.


For perspective, $55K was roughly 9x the avg. annual income per capita in E.S. at the time.


E.S. is a tiny country, and I felt like EVERYONE knew that the tall gringo was going to be the man with the cash come game day.  I had done my best to keep a low profile throughout the week, but keeping bad thoughts from running through my head was impossible.


As far as I was concerned, when the bad guys came, I planned not to look ‘em in the eye, hand it over, and quietly find my way onto the next flight home.  Gracias por todo, caballeros.


Fast forward to contest Finals Day, and Jimmy and I are STRESSING.


About halfway through, Jimmy, always a cool cat, came charging hard through the crowds straight for me.  He had done his part in going to the bank and getting the cash to the beach.


By now we had a queue of surfers waiting to get paid, and they were following me around until I got the cash, shouting to fellow competitors, “Jim is paying us.  Just waiting on the cash!”


I appreciate the discretion and concern for my general well-being, gentlemen.


The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur.  I couldn’t tell you how the final rounds of the contest went, what the waves were like, or how many viewers watched the broadcast.


I was instead hunkered down in my self-imposed sauna, sweat-stuck to the aluminum floor of the judges’ tower, passing wads of cash to athletes one-by-one as quickly as possible before I passed out.


Every so often, someone offered me a cold beer, which I promptly shotgunned to try to dull 1) thirst, 2) paranoia.


With every payment came a bit more relief.  Once the final cash left my hands, I felt weightless.


Normally we’d celebrate hard at the end of a massive event like this, but all I wanted was some peace and quiet.


I recently found a recording of myself, head judge and dear friend Gary Linden, and Jimmy.  It was the day after the contest.  We were lounging in hammocks, swinging in the onshore breeze, watching the waves and shootin’ the bull.


It was like nothing ever happened.


Fortunately, in my case it kind of didn’t.