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How three surfers made açaí popular globally

How three surfers made açaí popular globally

11/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31859670

Açaí: the superfood has always been one of surfers' favorite snacks | Photo: Sambazon

Açaí is one of the most popular fruits among the 21st-century generations. Believe it or not, three surfers are responsible for making it a global superfood, juice, and ice cream delight.

Açaí is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. In the Tupi language, it means the "fruit that cries."

It is rich in powerful antioxidants, heart-healthy omega fats, amino acids, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Açaí oil has a fatty acid portion reminiscent of olive oil and is rich in healthy omegas, substances that are believed to be beneficial for skin and hair.

The dark purple pigments of açaí are part of a unique class of phenolic plants called anthocyanins, known for their powerful antioxidant capacity, anti-inflammatory potential and ability to combat free radicals (unstable molecules that can lead to premature aging and degenerative diseases).

The fruit, also known in English as acai, has ​​10 to 30 times more antioxidants than red wine.

Açaí: a superfood with owerful antioxidants, heart-healthy omega fats, amino acids, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals | Photo: Shutterstock

The Surf-Açaí Connection

It was based on these assumptions that one day, two recreational surfers decided to launch an açaí venture that would change the world.

The story begins when two young American amateur surfers, Ryan Black and Edmund "Skanda" Nichols, go on a trip to Brazil to enjoy the turn of the Millennium.

During their stay in the country, they were introduced to açaí by surfers from the resort region of Porto de Galinhas on the coast of Pernambuco.

They were fascinated by that purple apple, chilled and served in bowls, which had incredible nutritional value and was very popular among the sportspeople.

Before the end of their vacation, the young people saw a great opportunity that would benefit local communities and preserve the Amazon Rainforest and began to put together a plan to share açaí with Americans.

Together with Ryan's brother, Jeremy Black, who was an American football player and surfer, they founded Sambazon on April 20, 2000, in San Clemente, California.

The company is an abbreviation for "Saving and Managing the Brazilian Amazon." 

Their goal was to introduce the small fruit of the Amazon palm tree in North America and be the first to register açaí with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and legally export it.

In April 2001, after a few visits to Pará, the main producer of açaí in Brazil, Ryan shipped a 20-ton container of frozen pulp to California.

It would be the first of many.

Sambazon: Ryan Black, Ed Nichols, and Jeremy Black (left to right): the original founders of Sambazon | Photo: Sambazon

The American Break-Through

The young Californians, who grew up idolizing surfers like Kelly Slater and Rob Machado, started sharing the açaí pulp in a bowl with friends.

If they liked it, they were asked to promote it using Sambazon t-shirts, putting stickers on their cars, and telling everyone it was the best thing in the world.

While Travis Baumgardner, a co-founder of Sambazon, was busy organizing cooperatives, certificates, and sustainable production in Brazil, Ryan Edmund and Jeremy distributed the açaí pulp/puree in bars and gyms in the United States.

However, the Amazon fruit did not pick up quickly in the American market.

Due to its exotic appearance, dark color, and earthy flavor, few distributors were interested in purchasing the fruit the young surfers brought from Brazil.

Sambazon invested in marketing and getting famous chefs from Los Angeles to create new açaí-based recipes, but the exotic fruit ended up sidelined to juice and smoothie bars.

Sambazon's destiny changed dramatically in 2002 when the company received a call from renowned dermatologist Nicholas Perricone.

The author of best-sellers on anti-aging treatments was looking for more information about açaí to include in his new book.

"The Perricone Promise: Look Younger Live Longer in Three Easy Steps" featured a list of foods rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.

At the top of these ingredients was açaí.

The publication was a best seller, and from then on, açaí rose to stardom, not just among young athletes but also celebrities and healthy lifestyle enthusiasts.

Suddenly, the creamy ice cream from Pará began to outsell protein shakes and became a huge hit.

Sambazon even set up a tent at Sundance, the world's most important independent film festival, to capitalize on the trend and promote the tropical fruit.

From Superfood to Surfer Bowls

Americans liked açaí because it was tasty and valued that it was an organic, certified product from the Amazon.

Furthermore, the product was advertised as slimming and rejuvenating food, thanks to its powerful antioxidants, omega fats, amino acids, fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Soon, the four entrepreneurs were selling açaí like popcorn and launching subproducts containing and mixing it with other tropical fruits.

From then on, açaí went from being a natural product to competing for a place in the competitive ready-to-drink beverage segment.

There were fit girls drinking açaí on the beautiful beaches of San Diego, naturalists from San Francisco back and forth with bowls of açaí in their hands, and Berkeley students smearing themselves with Pará's pulp.

The American company was investing millions of dollars in marketing and new açaí-processing facilities in Brazil, where the fruit is transformed into pulp up to 36 hours after harvest, the maximum period that the superfruit can withstand before rotting.

Sambazon ensured that the production process did not involve the use of pesticides, monoculture, or labor exploitation.

"These efforts have created sustainable employment for thousands of small farmers and continue to help protect the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest, making the forest more valuable standing than deforested," Jeremy Black once stated.

The growth was enormous, with influential TV presenter Oprah Winfrey also helping the cause.

To put things in perspective, sales increased 70 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $62 million to $106 million.

Rob Machado: the free surfer is also a Sambassador | Photo: Sambazon

Increasing Its Sustainability

In the following years, Sambazon launched several drinks containing natural ingredients such as açaí, acerola, yerba mate, and guaraná, opened cafés in California, and introduced its products overseas.

"We review our sales data just like any other company, analyzing our costs against our profits and trying to deliver the best products at the lowest prices to our customers," Black revealed in 2009.

Sambazon's link to surfing reached new heights when the California company sponsored the 2021 WSL Finals at Lower Trestles and the World Junior Championships in subsequent years.

Bethany Hamilton, Coco Ho, Rob Machado, Kassia Meador, and Bob Burnquist were ambassadors and team riders for the American brand.

Açaí is now a global product with multiple uses.

In 2022, the State of Pará produced 17,985,000 pounds (8,158 tonnes) of açaí berries, that is, 90 percent of Brazil's total production of the superfood.

Nevertheless, only between 5 and 15 percent of the Brazilian Amazon berries end up as food or beverage.

The remainder ends up in landfills and waterways, so new ways to transform the residue into bioplastics, wooden products, fertilizers, and ingredients for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries are now being explored.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
The ultimate guide to ferry and tanker surfing

The ultimate guide to ferry and tanker surfing

11/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31858334

Tanker surfing: wakes generated by cargo ships or ferries produce endless-riding waves | Photo: Ira Mowen

Long are the days when surfing was the sport of riding ocean waves. Today, it's more than that - it's about choosing one of the many ways to ride a wave.

Whether in the ocean, river, or inland, there are multiple options to get your surfboard moving on novelty waves.

A new type of surfing emerged in the 1960s for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. It's called ferry or tanker surfing.

It might sound like a post-industrial or post-apocalyptical activity, but it's more real and common than you might think.

In the heart of busy harbors and along the endless waterways where ferries and tankers weave their daily routes, there are exciting opportunities for wave-riding addicts.

When waves generated by the massive vessels that dominate these urban landscapes form, there's a growing number of surfers tracking around their route.

Ferry and tanker surfing take advantage of the substantial wakes created by these vessels, transforming urban waterways into unexpected surfing hotspots.

The alternative surfing niche began as a curiosity, a spontaneous decision by surfers who found themselves near these colossal ships and wondered, "What if?"

Experimental rides quickly turned into a passionate pursuit, with surfers from all over the world seeking out the schedules and routes of ferries and tankers and timing them with tides to catch their artificially created waves.

Tanker surfing: the pioneers rode these novelty waves for the first time in the 1960s in Galveston, Texas | Photo: Tanker Surf Charters

The History of Tanker Surfing

Tanker surfing can be traced back to the late 1960s in Texas, when a few intrepid surfers, who also fished in the bay waters, began riding the waves generated by passing ships.

Unlike today's open-water practices, these early surfers took to the shorelines of Galveston Bay's Redfish Island and Atkinson Island.

Some even caught waves along the western shores of the bay and near the Texas City Dike.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ships were smaller and less frequent, producing modest waves that, while surfable, also contributed to shoreline erosion.

By the late 1970s, this erosion had destroyed Redfish Island and other key surfing spots, causing both interest and waves to wane as the practice had not yet migrated to open waters.

The revival of tanker surfing came with significant dredging operations, which allowed for deeper channels accommodating larger ships.

These operations created new shoals and spoil banks, offering new opportunities for surfing.

Today, much larger container and tanker ships pass through deeper and wider channels, generating substantial waves that break over these submerged shoals and newly formed islands.

The resurgence of tanker surfing gained public attention in 2001 when the story was featured on Surfline.

This coverage stemmed from a fax received by surfer James Fulbright, who, along with friends John Benson and Peter Davis, had been exploring ship waves in the Houston Ship Channel for years.

The fax, sent by John Paul Beegly, producer of what was initially dubbed "The Endless Summer III" and later renamed "Step Into Liquid," sparked broader interest.

Despite an initial missed opportunity to feature tanker surfing in the film "Thicker Than Water" due to timing constraints, the buzz continued.

The release of "Step Into Liquid" in 2003, showcasing this unique surfing niche, propelled Fulbright, Benson, and Davis into the spotlight.

They became the focus of numerous media features, including appearances on CBS Evening News, ABC News, and Good Morning America, where Fulbright was famously shown surfing with dolphins.

Tanker surfing: these waves are generated by vessels' water displacement | Photo: Creative Commons

The Mechanics of the Wake

The waves created by ferries and tankers directly result from their size and speed.

As these massive vessels cut through the water, they displace a significant amount of it, creating a rolling wake that, under the right conditions, can rival some of the natural waves found on beaches.

These waves are typically more uniform and predictable, allowing surfers to anticipate and position themselves perfectly to catch the ride.

Ferry wakes tend to be smaller but more frequent, providing continuous practice and improvement opportunities.

Tanker wakes, on the other hand, can be much larger and more powerful, offering a more challenging and thrilling experience.

Longboards and funboards are usually the best equipment, as these waves tend to be fatter and mellower than, for instance, beach break waves.

Nevertheless, you might be able to ride a shortboard in some cases.

Ferry and tanker surfing is not without its challenges and dangers.

The proximity to large, moving vessels requires a heightened awareness and respect for the power of these ships.

Safety is paramount, with surfers needing to stay vigilant and maintain a safe distance to avoid the dangers of collision or getting caught in a ship's path.

Also, having a jet ski or speedboat around for support is recommended in case of an emergency.

The Best Ship-Generated Wave Spots

Picture surfers carving through waves with skyscrapers looming in the background or gliding past piers bustling with activity.

It's a juxtaposition that captures the spirit of modern adventure - finding nature's rhythms within the man-made world.

Cities like New York, San Francisco, and Sydney, with their extensive waterways and heavy ship traffic, have become prime locations for this burgeoning sport.

Enthusiasts share tips on the best spots and times to catch the ideal wake, fostering a community of urban surfers who are redefining what it means to ride a wave.


The United States has one of the most active ferry and tanker surfing scenes on the planet.

The East Coast is well known for its quality vessel-generated waves.

The Nantucket Express ferry in Massachusetts is a great way to start.

The traditional, fast, and high-speed boats sail on regular schedules, allowing surfers to plan their sessions.

In Atlantic City and Cape May, New Jersey, there are many ferries and cargo ships making their way in and out of Delaware Bay.

It's actually one of the most ridden regions for these types of waves.

In the Pamlico Sound and Savannah area, in North Carolina and South Carolina, there are also many large vessels and shipping activity generating massive, endless riding wakes.

In Galveston, Texas, there's even a business, Tanker Surf Charters, taking surfers on expeditions to the best spots.

On the West Coast, Puget Sound, Seattle, there's a community chasing tug and freighter waves in Ballard and Salmon Bay.

In the San Francisco Bay area, look for the ferry-generated wakes near Mare Island and Larkspur.

Gasoline: the wave generated by the catamaran that connects Barreiro and Lisbon in Portugal | Photo: Associação Gasoline


The Old Continent also has a few popular spots for riding these novelty waves.

In Portugal, "Gasoline" is a famous surf spot at Tejo River's Praia do Bico Mexilhoeiro, with artificial waves generated by the ferry that connects Barreiro and Lisbon.

In Dublin, the ferry connecting Ireland to the United Kingdom also generates waves that can be ridden at Dollymount Beach, near Bulls Island, near the long rock jetty that extends into Dublin Bay.

In Warnemünde, Germany, there was a ferry coming from Gedser in Denmark and entering the Baltic Sea channel toward Rostock. It produced a wave that was ridden for a while and documented on the movie "Surf Berlin."


There is also at least one ferry wave surfing spot Downunder.

In Cleveland, Queensland, local surfers have been shooting these shark-infested waves at least since 2003, when pro surfer Bede Durbidge unveiled it to the world while making the connection to North Stradbroke Island.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
Surfing through the eyes of Ivanka Trump and Scarlett Johansson

Surfing through the eyes of Ivanka Trump and Scarlett Johansson

09/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31856531

Surfing: some people have different thoughts on what the sport really is | Photo: WSL

It's quite a paradox, but summer in the Northern Hemisphere really is surfing's silly season.

For non-surfers and the mainstream audience, June, July, and August are the months more commonly associated with surfboards and surf equipment moving up and down the beach and back and forth on the road.

And in a way, they're right.

Surfers tend to have more time available to catch some ankle-to-chest-high waves than in any other period of the year.

Over 95 percent of the world's surfing tribe is a beginner or intermediate wave rider, so small, gentle waves are just fine.

Hence the paradox. There are more surfers than ever out there, and simultaneously, nearly nothing is happening in the surfing world.

But let's be honest.

The surf industry and competitive surfing are experiencing some of their hardest moments in history as they fail to listen to fans and adapt accordingly.

Despite the fancy marketing stunts, innovation levels are at their lowest, and not even the wave pool furor can compensate for the lack of creativity and investment in the industry as a whole.

Not even the fact that 2024 is an Olympic year with surfers battling it out at one of the most challenging waves on the planet - Teahupoo - seems to stimulate things a bit.

Gladly, there are some popular celebrities willing to entertain us through this rough period of surfing's life.

"The Hardest Part of Surfing? Paddling Out"

Let's start with Ivanka Trump, former senior advisor to the President of the United States and potential future presidential election candidate.

In one of those in-depth, one-chat-covers-it-all interviews with Russian-American computer scientist and podcaster Lex Fridman, Ivanka discusses her views on nearly everything that matters in life.

For instance, surfing. Have you fastened the cliché seatbelt? Ready, set, take off.

"You feel so much more connected knowing how minuscule you are in the broader sense, and I feel that way when I'm on the ocean on a surfboard," expressed Ivanka Trump.

"It's really humbling to be so small amidst that vast sea, and it feels really beautiful, with no noise, no chatter, and no distractions - just being in the moment."

"And you can't fight it, right? You just have to sort of be in it."

"It feels like a lot of water sports are manipulating the environment, and there's something that can be a little violent about it."

"Like, look at windsurfing."

"Whereas with surfing, you're like in harmony with it, so you're not fighting it, you're flowing with it, and you still have like the agency of choosing which waves you're going to surf, and you sit there, and you read the ocean, and you learn to understand it, but you can't control it."

"I actually had the unique experience of one of my first time surfing."

"I only learned a couple of years ago, so I'm not good. I just love it. I love everything about it. I love the physicality; I love being in the ocean, and I love everything about it."

"The hardest thing with surfing is paddling out because when you're like committing, you catch a wave, obviously sometimes you flip over your board, and that doesn't feel great, but when you're in sort of the line of impact, and you've maybe surfed a good wave in and now you're going out for another set, and you get sort of stuck in that impact line, there's like nothing you can do."

"You just sort of sit there, and you try to dive underneath it, and it will pound you and pound you."

"I've been stuck there while, you know, four, five, six waves just like a crash on top of your head, and the worst thing you can do is get reactive and scared and try and fight against it."

"You kind of just have to flow with it until inevitably there's a break and then paddle like hell back out to the line or the beach - that's to me that's the hardest part, the paddling out."

"Having a Pina Colada On Air Commenting Surf? It's Not Technically Work"

Found Ivanka Trump's surfing analysis fun(ny) and entertaining?

Well, if not, we've got more.

This time, a Hollywood star makes fun of her comedian partner's Olympic surfing participation as a commentator for Paris 2024.

Scarlett Johansson's husband, Colin Jost, will provide live insights for NBC's Olympic coverage at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

While promoting her latest movie, "Fly Me to the Moon," on the TV channel's "Today" show, Johansson commented on Jost's task ahead.

"How did he get this gig? Is this a job?" the actress joked.

"When they announced the Paris Olympics, he immediately found out that they were doing the surf competition in Tahiti, which is so cool."

"He loves to surf. We have a place in Montauk, and he's always out there surfing."

"And somehow the dream became a reality, and now he's going to be in Tahiti for two weeks, and I'm like, 'Poor you.'"

"He's like, 'Poor me, I'm going to be all over the place,' and I'm like, 'Are you?'"

"I think if you can have a pina colada on air while you're working - that's not technically work."

Scarlett Johansson may be right. If pro surfers are paid to have fun, how could surf commentary be an occupation?

What are we doing here? We might all close up shop for good, don't you think?

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
The forgotten tale of Oceana Park, America's wave pool pioneer

The forgotten tale of Oceana Park, America's wave pool pioneer

05/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31850627

Oceana Park, Newbury, Ohio: the first wave pool in America was not designed for surfing

History is a complex puzzle of dates and facts, and sometimes, a small clue or hint can change our solidified perspective of the past.

On October 4, 2023, I penned an article titled "Big Surf: the story of America's first modern wave pool."

It's about the magical waterpark with artificially generated waves that opened on October 24, 1969, in Tempe, Arizona.

Big Surf was a multifaceted surf center developed by Phil Dexter.

It was open for business for 51 years and even welcomed Pope John Paul II. Not for a surf, but surely for a blessing.

Anyway, two months after my article saw the light of day, I received an intriguing email from a US Air Force logistics operations manager.

In his kind message, he told me that the claim that Big Surf was North America's first modern wave pool could not be 100 percent correct.

Apparently, Oceana Park was a facility that opened on Memorial Day, May 29, 1961, in Newbury, Ohio - eight years before the Arizona surf lagoon.

After a quick inspection, I found no evidence that the Ohio was open for surfing, surfboards, or surfers.

In my reply to the gentleman who kindly sent his email, I wrote:

"Wave pools are not new. The first facilities actually opened in the 19th century in Germany."

"In 1939, London's Wembley, England, was equipped with hydraulic technology that created ripples similar to the ocean's flowing motion."

"The thing is that on SurferToday, we're talking about wave pools for surfing, and while we know about previous concepts and patterns, Big Surf is probably the first unit specifically channeled at creating rideable waves."

"There are many types of wave pools and dozens of old and new patents granted."

"Was Oceana Park creating surfing waves or just waves for swimmers mimicking the ocean?"

"Have you got any pictures of it? Where can we know more about it? I cannot find any information about its operating period."

The US Air Force logistics operations manager got back to me.

"Unfortunately, there isn't much readily accessible information about Oceana."

"I had childhood friends that lived in the house right in front of Oceana, in the mid to late 1980s, and we used the [abandoned[ park as a Call Of Duty-style BB gun area."

"I know quite a few people that went to Oceana when it was open."

"Oceana was generating 3.5-4-foot waves. Whether they were suitable for surfing and whether it allowed surfing, I couldn't say."

"Not many people think of Northeast Ohio in regard to surfing."

"So I would believe that the intent of the wave pool was, as stated in Matrai's patent, to simulate the motion of the waves in the ocean without swimming in Lake Erie, which was highly polluted at that period in time."

"I'm biased towards Oceana's claim as the first wave pool in the US."

Fair enough, sir, even though, as a surf-related website, we at SurferToday were obviously referring to a pool with artificial waves that surfers can ride.

US Patent 3005207: the wave pool technology submitted by Miklos Matrai and protected on October 24, 1961

A One-of-a-Kind Water Park

But the story about Ohio's own surf machine stayed in the back of my mind for a while. The tale was too good to fade into oblivion.

And so I got to work. Here's everything I could gather about Ocean Park.

Oceana Park was a water world that opened on May 29, 1961, on Music Road/Street in Newbury, Ohio, just 25 miles southeast of Lake Eerie, one of the five surfable Great Lakes.

It was developed and built by three Hungarian refugee immigrants in record time.

Miklos Matrai, the inventor of the patent used at Oceana Park, and Edward Tibor Bory were two of the three partners involved in the project.

The complex had four water basins: an Olympic-sized pool, a kids' pool, a circular diving pool, and a wave pool, which generated 4.5-foot waves.

The facilities included multi-sports fields, food stands, 200 picnic tables, a snack bar, and grills.

The entertainment park charged $1 for adults and $0.75 for children on weekends and $0.75 and $0.50, respectively, during the week.

All visitors were greeted at the main entrance by a giant arch featuring the word "Oceana."

Oceana Park was a success among families, companies, and church groups.

For many locals, it was a source of some of the best childhood memories.

People who grew up close to the water park still remember the exciting times at the venue and the legendary dock in the middle of one of the pools.

The Olympic pool had two docks, one at each end. With a depth of only 6.5 feet, it was always the warmest of the pools.

The staff allowed boats and inflatable rafts, and those who experienced the amusement space say that, at the time, it was like a dream with no possible comparison.

Oceana Park, Newbury, Ohio: America's first wave pool opened on May 29, 1961, on Music Road/Street | Photo: Vintage Aerial

A Bittersweet End

Eventually, Oceana Park shut down in the late 1970s.

According to some local reports, the Geauga County Health District stressed that Olympic and diving pool filters did not follow the standards and would have to be completely redone.

Also, the diving pool wasn't deep enough for a three-meter board and would have to be dug deeper to remain open.

Last but not least, the 80-acre-plus property had to be fenced in for safety reasons.

Some people believe that America's first wave pool was forced to close after a kid drowned and his body was found at the bottom of one of the pools, resulting in a lawsuit.

But that is not true. The reasons stated above did, in fact, determine the fate of this "swimming paradise."

Nevertheless, it is rumored that influential individuals in the county with political connections aimed to buy the property, demolish the park, and build a housing development.

Their initial step was to close the park, and they succeeded in doing so, but the owner refused to sell the property for development.

The property was eventually sold in 1995, the iconic pools were filled in, and a house was built on the former Oceana Park site.

Gellért Baths, Budapest: one of the world's first surf pools opened in 1927 in Hungary | Photo: Creative Commons

From Hungarian Air Force to Wave Pool America

Hungary is not the first country you think of when the topic is wave pools and their history.

However, as unusual as it may seem, one of the world's first surf pools opened in 1927 at the Gellért Baths in Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

The large Art Nouveau complex featured indoor and outdoor pools, thermal baths, and spas.

The wave pool was obviously not designed for surfboards but to provide visitors with a taste of ocean waves without the need to travel to the coast.

Coincidence or maybe not, Oceana Park has a Central European fingerprint, specifically Hungary, the "land of waters."

Edward Tibor Bory was one of the three Hungarian entrepreneurs involved in the development of the Ohio water compound.

Born on April 22, 1929, in Marianostra, Hungary, Bory's early life was marked by the trials of World War II and the Nazi occupation.

Despite these adversities, he pursued technical training in Budapest and became an airplane mechanic and test pilot for the Hungarian Air Force.

Tibor's life took a dramatic turn in 1956 when he joined the ranks of the Hungarian Revolution as a freedom fighter.

The following year, he led his family on a daring escape to the United States, seeking freedom and new opportunities.

Settling in Cleveland, Ohio, Tibor began working at the Ford Motor Company and later in the construction industry before leading the construction of Oceana Park in Newbury, Ohio.

Edward Bory passed away on July 9, 2016, at the age of 87, at his home in Delaware, Ohio, following a battle with cancer.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
How to draw a lifeguard tower

How to draw a lifeguard tower

03/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31849493

Lifeguard towers: a landmark of American beach lifestyle and surf lifesaving | Drawing: SurferToday

The lifeguard tower is an American landmark and an architectural symbol of US beaches and ocean safety. Learn how to draw these classic seaside structures.

They're all over the North American coastline, and they help save lives.

Lifeguard towers provide a privileged, taller view over the ocean and allow trained, certified rescuers to watch and perform surveillance routines in their designated areas.

Whether witnessing a potentially life-threatening drowning event or spotting sharks in the vicinities, lifeguards can better supervise the swimming zone from these open or enclosed wooden structures.

Lifeguard towers have constantly been featured in pop culture and have become the focus of attention in the world of arts and architecture.

The famous 11-season TV series "Baywatch" was shot at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, California, the home of several blue lifeguard towers.

But have you ever thought of drawing one of these beach life structures and hanging it on a wall?

Are you willing to give it a try? We can help.

Follow our simple, step-by-step lifeguard drawing tutorial and impress your family and friends. It's easier than you think.

Drawing Materials

  • Sketchbook or drawing paper;
  • Pencil (preferably HB or lighter);
  • Eraser;
  • Ruler (optional, but try to avoid for a more organic look);

Lifeguard tower: you can always change the perspective and style of your drawing or illustration | Illustration: SurferToday

Drawing Instructions

Follow these instructions to create a beach scene that brings summer vibes to your artwork.

This drawing uses a one-point perspective, meaning that the objects' faces parallel the viewer and converge at a single vanishing point on the horizon line.

Do it. It's simpler than you think - just pay attention to the 20-step guide and, if needed, watch the video below.

  1. Begin by lightly drawing a horizontal line in the middle of your paper. It will be the base of the tower and should be about six inches long if using a 12-inch sketchbook;
  2. Divide this line into thirds and lightly make small marks at each third. These will help guide the placement of different parts of the tower;
  3. Draw a vertical line from the leftmost third mark. It will be the left edge of the lifeguard tower;
  4. Next, draw another vertical line slightly right of the middle third mark. It will form the front face of the tower;
  5. Connect the tops of these vertical lines with a horizontal line. It will be the main railing of the lifeguard tower;
  6. Add two more vertical lines, one to the far right and one slightly right of the middle. These will form the base's back supports;
  7. Connect these vertical lines with horizontal lines to complete the base structure;
  8. Add planks or boards to the base by drawing horizontal lines within the structure;
  9. Draw the vertical support beams under the platform. Remember, these beams may not be perfectly straight to give a freehand, handmade, organic look;
  10. From the top of the left vertical line, draw an upward-sloping line to the right to indicate the roof's edge;
  11. Complete the roof by adding a horizontal line at the top of the right vertical line and connecting it to the slope;
  12. Lightly sketch a rectangle for the window in the tower's front face. Ensure the window aligns with the perspective;
  13. Add any additional details like window frames, small posters, or a door at the bottom of the tower;
  14. Mark the top of the lifeguard's head and the bottom of their feet to determine the height. Use the proportions provided: divide the height into upper body, lower torso, and legs;
  15. Draw the lifeguard with binoculars and casual beach attire, keeping proportions in mind, and add details like sunglasses and hair;
  16. Darken the main lines and add details like nails or bolts on the planks;
  17. Shade areas of the tower to indicate shadows, giving it a three-dimensional look. Consider the direction of sunlight and shade accordingly. Use three tones  to create depth: light, middle, and dark;
  18. Add a flag or antenna on top of the tower;
  19. Draw a shadow under the tower to anchor it to the ground;
  20. Personalize your tower with additional elements like rescue buoys, surfboards, or beach gear;

Extra Tips

Keep your initial lines light to make erasing, adjustments, and other corrections easier.

Focus on the structure's symmetry, but allow some imperfections to create a more realistic and organic, handmade appearance, for instance, by avoiding rulers here and there.

Be patient and remember that practice makes perfect. If something looks off, try redrawing the section until you're satisfied.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
Ka'ana Wave Co: the bathymetry-agnostic wave pool

Ka'ana Wave Co: the bathymetry-agnostic wave pool

03/07/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31848458

Ka'ana Wave Co: the technology features three interchangeable wave-shaping heads | Photo: Ka'ana Wave Co

Ka'ana Wave Co. is an innovative wave pool concept with interchangeable wave-shaping heads.

Created in North Vancouver, Canada, Ka'ana Wave Co. started like many other wave-generation dreams - with trial, error, and improvements.

The artificial standing wave market is highly competitive. Companies like Flowrider and citywave have dominated the scene with several installations worldwide.

Nevertheless, there's always room for groundbreaking innovations and increments of value here and there.

Ka'ana Wave Co. wants a share of this ever-growing market. It took a decade to get from the early tests to the final product.

Around 2022/2023, the Canadian startup launched CM7, a wave machine that can be deployed or integrated into an existing pool, lake, or lagoon.

Also, it does require a specific pool floor, slope, or contour to generate rideable waves.

So, how does Ka'ana Wave Co. create the artificial wave and its shape?

The secret lies in the device that pumps water into the water basin.

Ka'ana Wave Co: the wave pool technology can be deployed or integrated into an existing pool, lake, or lagoon | Photo: Ka'ana Wave Co

The Interchangeable Wave Shaping Heads

According to the patent submitted in 2021 and granted in 2023, Ka'ana Wave Co. provides a method and device for making waves in water by changing the water flow as it moves through an inlet, shaped passage, and outlet.

For example, the main flow of water is changed so that one or more smaller flows are created at different angles to the main flow direction.

The outcome is a stationary, deep-water barreling wave coming out in three different shapes.

Thanks to the three shaping heads, which can be changed quickly and easily.

The first is the river jump wave, the most common type of stationary wave for surfing. It's designed for all ages and experience levels.

Then, there's the classic wake wave, which resembles the ripples generated by wakeboarding boats. It's a left and right wave that is harder to master and can be adjusted while the rider is surfing.

Finally, there's the right-breaking barrel that is challenging enough for advanced surfers and also provides a simple entry for beginners.

Ka'ana Wave Co: the pool or water basin does not require special contours or slopes | Photo: Ka'ana Wave Co

Customize Your Wave and Press "Save"

The wipeouts are low impact and safe and there's even a side channel with a current for a paddle back experience.

The riding times are adjustable, and the waiting times are kept short.

The size of the waves can also be adjusted in real time.

For instance, it's possible to customize a ride by setting different wave face height and pitch preferences.

By controlling the flow volumes across the width of a wave, users can shape asymmetric waves to match a surfer's session choices.

The central computer saves custom wave shapes with timed transitions to create repeatable dynamic waves, control ride duration, guarantee throughput, and reduce power consumption.

Drainage, Laird Hamilton, and Einstein

The history of Ka'ana Wave Co. goes back to 2012 when its founder, James Alexander Watson, noticed water forming a barrel in a dogleg gearbox-like drain in Peru during a rainstorm.

Two years later, the entrepreneur, inspired by Laird Hamilton's Millennium Wave shot by Tim McKenna and a story about Albert Einstein and relativity, wondered whether a continuous, barreling, bathymetry-agnostic, stationary wave could be a reality.

So, in 2016, the first model scale version of CM7 saw the light of day.

By 2019, the theoretical design becomes a reality and is validated through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tests.

In 2021, Ka'ana Wave Co. sets up a wave pool for a two-week pilot on its smallest surfable model scale.

One year later, the first pop-up surf park using the Canadian technology is successfully tested over two months at Britannia Beach, British Columbia.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
Big Wave Grand Prix debuts in Nazaré

Big Wave Grand Prix debuts in Nazaré

27/06/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31840278

Nazaré: the home of the new Big Wave Surfing Grand Prix | Photo: Red Bull

There is a new extreme surfing competition kicking off in Nazaré, Portugal. It's the Big Wave Grand Prix.

November 1, 2011, is a day that the small Portuguese fishing village of Nazaré and its population will never forget.

Garrett McNamara, 44 at the time, rode a 78-foot (23.7-meter) wall of water that was soon making headlines all over the world.

Since then, Nazaré and its infamous Praia do Norte were never the same.

The surf industry landed in the exquisite coastal community, changed its economy, and started all sorts of surf-related businesses.

Big wave riding might be a subdiscipline of surfing, but it is also a gold mine that attracts people from all over the world.

The business is content monetization (publishers) and brand reputation and awareness (companies).

The number of sports events and specialty projects running simultaneously in Nazaré is surprising for a once-peaceful town.

Until 2024, there were at least three entities holding events in the European wave: the World Surf League (WSL), the Big Wave Challenge, and the Gigantes de Nazaré.

Now, there's a fourth contest. It's called the Big Wave Surfing Grand Prix.

Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal: a gold mine for content creators | Photo: Red Bull

Scoring Entertainment Value and Social Impact

The Big Wave Grand Prix is an online platform that highlights and distinguishes big-wave surfers' best yearly performances.

It allows the public to monitor their achievements and vote on their favorites.

Daniel Krattinger and Katarina Patek Ghidirmic created the new event, which will start in the 2024/2025 season.

Krattinger, a 47-year-old with Swiss and Brazilian roots, has a background in water and adventure sports, including mountain biking and paragliding.

He began snowboarding and skating in 1982, and by 1989, he had picked up windsurfing and sailing.

He started kitesurfing in 1997, but his passion for surfing, which began in 1991, ultimately led him to move to Nazaré in 2023 to pursue the largest wave of his life.

Ghidirmic is originally from Bratislava, Slovakia. She is a passionate photographer and videographer who visited Nazaré for the first time in 2021 and was captivated by the town and the big-wave surfing scene.

The duo promises a new paradigm for the new competition - or, as they prefer to call it, an "entertainment award system."

"In recognition that surfers are providing entertainment value, Big Wave Grand Prix evaluates the surfers throughout the season based on several criteria that are unique to our platform," the team notes.

"We look not only at performance in the water but also at the surfer's relationship with nature and the surrounding community."

"​Through this surfer-owned and surfer-operated platform, the community and visitors become engaged in tracking the performances of their favorite surfers."

"Essentially, we score the entertainment value provided by the surfers as well as their impact on the local community. Performance is only one factor that distinguishes the award of final season prizes."

Big Wave Grand Prix features a balanced roster of male and female surfers and equal compensation regardless of gender.

Eric Rebiere, Joana Andrade, Kalani Lattanzi, Michelle des Bouillons, Lucas Fink, Michaela Fregonese, Nic Lamb, Hermine Bonvallet, Rodrigo Koxa, Polly Ralda, Tony Laureano are some of the names lined up for the new competition.

Big Wave Grand Prix runs over a three-month period when waves exceed 20 feet (6 meters).

Nazaré: the winter home of the surf industry | Photo: Red Bull

Nazaré Film Award

Daniel and Katarina are also putting up the Nazaré Film Award, an event that recognizes the most creative filmmakers.

The organization challenges creators to produce three-minute movies that showcase and blend surfers taking on the Nazaré's massive mountains of water with local traditions.

The short surf films will compete for six awards:

  • Outstanding achievement;
  • Exceptional rescue efforts;
  • Culinary excellence;
  • Environmental awareness;
  • Cultural impact;
  • Community involvement;

The winner of the best documentary film will be announced at a ceremony at the end of the season.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
The social and economic profile of the Australian surfer

The social and economic profile of the Australian surfer

27/06/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31838667

Australia: a country with 727,328-plus adult surfers | Photo: Red Bull

Surfing is one of the most popular sports in Australia. But what is the impact of surfing on the national economy? What is the profile of the average Australian surfer?

Surfing is Australia's second-most-participated water sport and has profound economic and social impacts on its coastal regions.

Despite its historical significance, there has been limited scholarship quantifying surfing's contribution to the country's economy.

However, a study led by Ana Manero, a postdoc research fellow at The Australian National University's (ANU) Crawford School of Public Policy, estimates that surfing has an impact of A$2.71 billion on the Australian economy per year.

Applying economic multipliers for retail (1.77) and tourism (1.84), the overall annual contribution of surfing to the Australian economy is estimated at A$4.88 billion, split almost equally between retail (A$2.39 billion) and domestic travel (A$2.49 billion).

The research titled "A national assessment of the economic and well-being impacts of recreational surfing in Australia" concluded that the average Australian surfer spends A$1,858 per year on retail and A$1,861 on domestic travel, i.e., A$3,719 yearly.

The analysis considers the following data unveiled by the Australian Sports Commission's AusPlay survey:

  • 727,328 adult Australians (18+ years) practice surfing;
  • Surfing is among the top 5 outdoor forms of exercise;
  • The number of surfers increased by 46% between 2016 and 2023;

The ANU study also mentions the existence of 1,440 documented surf breaks, of which only 20 are protected in some legal form.

It's unclear how the author reached this conclusion, given that there are around 12,000 recorded beaches in the country.

It is also unknown how researchers came up with the number of worldwide surfers at 50 million when most sources, including the International Surfing Association (ISA), estimate it between 25 and 35 million.

Last but not least, the sample, although scientifically valid and statistically relevant, could've featured a wider audience and not just the 569 responses, given the dramatic differences between the Australian surfing regions and six states.

Australia: surfing is one of the top 5 favorite outdoor sports in the country | Photo: Pridham/Creative Commons

The Profile of the Australian Surfer

Survey data reveal nuanced spending patterns among surfers.

Expenditure on retail surf-related items and domestic travel varies significantly with factors such as income, age, skill level, and surf frequency.

For instance, highly skilled surfers spend more on both retail items and travel, reflecting their greater engagement with the sport.

Regional differences also emerge, with surfers from Western Australia and Victoria spending more on retail items than New South Wales (NSW).

Most respondents identified as intermediate surfers (41%), with fewer categorizing themselves as having high (advanced or competitive, 22%) or low skill levels (competent, 26%; beginner, 11%).

The most commonly used surfboards were shortboards (53%), followed by longboards (33%).

Surfing is typically practiced twice a week on average.

Over two-thirds of respondents reported regularly surfing with friends (67%) or other acquaintances (6%), including members of social groups like boardriders clubs or "surfing mums."

Among those living with direct family members, 32% regularly surf with their children, and 28% do so with their spouse.

Survey respondents reported spending an average of A$8.30 on regular items such as food, drinks, or parking each time they visit their usual surf spots.

Based on their reported surfing frequency, the estimated annual expenditure per surfer on these regular items is A$697.

Excluding second-hand surfboards, the average annual expenditure on surf equipment (boards, wetsuits, swimsuits, accessories, etc.) and other items (e.g., car roof racks, board repairs, surf lessons) is A$1,381 per person, with new surfboards accounting for the largest portion (40%).

Most of this expenditure is domestic, with 93% of respondents reporting that 75%-100% of their surf-related spending occurs within Australia.

When accounting for the proportion spent domestically and excluding second-hand boards and travel, the average surfer spends A$1,172 in Australia each year on equipment and other surf-related purchases.

Adding domestic expenditure on regular items results in a total annual retail expenditure of A$1,868 per surfer.

Total expenditure for the last trip, including costs covered by the respondent for others, averaged A$1,480, with accommodation (A$616) and travel (A$382) being the largest components.

Based on the average overnight expenditure from the last trip and the average number of domestic trips per year, the annual travel expenditure for those who took at least one overnight trip was calculated to be A$2,347 per surfer.

Assuming zero expenditure for those who did not travel, the average domestic travel expenditure across the sample was A$1,901.

Gold Coast: one of the epicenters of Australian surfing | Photo: City of Gold Coast/Creative Commons

Skilled Surfers Spend More

Ana Manero and his team also observed a strong positive correlation between household income and spending on surf retail, indicating that for every additional dollar in household income, surf retail expenditure rises by about A$4.23.

Conversely, there is no significant link between household income and spending on domestic travel.

Australian surfers aged 45-54 exhibit a significantly higher expenditure in both models than those aged 65 and older.

The domestic travel model also reveals that surfers under 35 spend less on travel than their older peers.

When other variables are held constant, households with children show significantly higher travel expenditures - A$709 more than those without children - likely due to the higher costs associated with family travel.

Surfers who primarily use shortboards spend an additional A$209 per year on domestic travel compared to those who favor longboards.

The difference may reflect the greater convenience of traveling with smaller and lighter surfboards.

Surfers who consider themselves highly skilled spend an average of A$386 more on retail surf-related items and A$512 more on domestic surf travel compared to intermediate or beginner surfers when controlling for other variables.

The gap likely stems from skilled surfers purchasing higher quality gear and possibly spending more on trips to premium surf destinations.

High skill levels are also associated with increased surfing frequency and more domestic trips, supported by positive and significant correlations.

Surf frequency demonstrates a robust positive correlation with retail expenditure, suggesting that for each additional surfing session per year, surfers spend approximately A$12 more on related items.

This expenditure aligns with costs for essentials like sunscreen and surf wax and the increased need for equipment maintenance, such as wetsuits and boards. 

As anticipated, in the travel expenditure model, the number of trips per year and the duration of the last trip significantly correlate with higher spending.

According to the researcher's model, each additional trip contributes an average of A$133 to total expenditures, while each additional night away adds A$42.

These figures appear conservative compared to typical travel costs within Australia, indicating the estimates likely underestimate actual surf travel expenditures.

Living in Western Australia or Victoria is linked to a notable rise in retail expenditure compared to the reference state of NSW.

In the travel expenditure model, only Victoria emerged as a significant predictor.

These findings hint at potential regional disparities in surfing culture, consumer behaviors, or accessibility to premium surf spots.

Surfing Australia: Aussies spend every year an average of A$3,719 in retail and domestic travel | Photo: WSL

The Feel Good Sport

In a survey covering 11 measures of perceived impacts, most participants expressed that their involvement in surfing yielded positive results, such as feeling "better" or "much better."

The most substantial improvements were noted in physical health (95%), mental health (99%), ability to manage stress and difficulties (94%), and time spent outdoors (96%).

Surfing also emerged as fostering community engagement, with over 80% reporting positive effects on "participation and sense of belonging to a community" and "ability to maintain and enjoy existing relationships."

While a smaller percentage indicated no change in healthy eating habits (69%) and a reduction in smoking/alcohol consumption (50%), those reporting positive changes may signify a broader lifestyle adjustment linked to their surfing activities.

There was a notable variability in responses regarding surfing's impact on work productivity: while 61% reported improvement, 6% noted a decline.

These findings suggest that while surfing generally contributes to overall health and well-being, its influence on work productivity may hinge on individual circumstances or workplace dynamics.

The survey findings shed light on how surfing influences the lifestyle choices of participants compared to other considerations.

This is evident in the high importance placed on surfing when making decisions about "where to live," "where to go on holidays," and "which car to buy," with 78%, 70%, and 69% of respondents, respectively, rating surfing as "very or extremely important."

These responses underscore a strong preference for residing near surf spots and embracing a lifestyle centered around leisure and community, core values within surfing culture.

Moreover, the survey highlighted significant concerns among surfers regarding their engagement with the sport and coastal environments.

Issues such as overcrowding, poor water quality, and climate change/coastal erosion emerged as top concerns, with more than three-quarters of respondents expressing moderate to extreme apprehension about these challenges.

Pressure from coastal developments and housing affordability also ranked high, with nearly two-thirds of respondents sharing these concerns.

In contrast, despite being a recognized risk, the presence of sharks was a major concern for only 31% of respondents.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of
Waves recognized as rights holders in Brazil

Waves recognized as rights holders in Brazil

26/06/2024, International, Surfing, World Surf League, Article # 31836749

Regência, Linhares: one of the best waves in Brazil is now protected by law

Linhares, a municipality in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, is the world's first administrative region to recognize the rights of waves.

Brazil's Atlantic-facing coastline is 4,655 miles (7,491 kilometers) long and is known for its quality surf breaks.

However, the Brazilian shores are also the final destination for all its rivers, meaning they carry whichever water quality to the ocean.

The Doce River crosses the municipality of Linhares and flows toward Regência, a surf town known for its several perfect waves.

Toxic Barrels

On November 5, 2015, a dam containing waste water from an iron ore mine in Mariana, southeastern Brazil, failed catastrophically.

The mine was operated by Samarco, a partnership between Vale and BHP Billiton.

The collapse unleashed torrents of mud that overwhelmed a nearby town, resulting in the deaths of at least 17 people and injuries to more than 50 others.

The disaster caused significant ecological damage, endangering life along the Doce River and affecting the Atlantic Ocean near its estuary.

Approximately 60 million cubic meters of iron ore waste were released into the river, with toxic mud reaching the Atlantic Ocean after 17 days.

Consequently, all the muddy waters destroyed Regência's waves by altering the seafloor and polluting the lineups.

Until the disastrous 2015 environmental catastrophe, the worst ever in Brazil's history, these tubular waves reminded us of Namibia, Supertubos, or some of Bali's finest barrels.

The eco-tragedy changed it all, and the surf economy of Regência only started to recover five years later, around 2020.

Mariana dam disaster, 2015: the contamination of Rio Doce reached Regência and the Atlantic Ocean | Photo: Creative Commons

The Rights of Nature

The idea of a bill that recognizes and protects the rights of waves of the Doce River mouth dates back to 2018.

The development of this legal proposal dates back to the first forum on the rights of nature that took place in Brazil in 2018.

The bill took shape around 2020 with the backing and support of the Regência Surfing Association, Direitos da Natureza, Regenera Rio Doce, and the Linhares Surfing Association.

The final draft was welcomed by Councilor Antônio Cesar and submitted as a bill under his mandate in 2023.

The bill is based on the Rights of Nature, a legal modality recognized by the United Nations (UN) and promoted in Brazil, mainly by the non-governmental organization Direitos da Natureza.

Waves as Legal Entities

The bill recognizing the right of waves to continue breaking perfectly at the mouth of the Rio Doce marks a historic moment for the surfing world and coastal communities.

It follows the steps of the work done, for instance, by the World Surfing Reserves.

However, it also adds a new layer of protection to unique wave-riding environments by establishing a shield around all ecological factors and variables responsible for wave quality.

These include consistent water quality levels, dam discharge, dune system protection, sand replenishment, ocean floor monitoring, shoreline armoring, coastal development control, etc.

When the mayor signs the bill, and it becomes law, the waves of the Doce rivermouth will be entitled to the following rights:

  • Preservation of their physical and chemical conditions to maintain ecological balance;
  • Protection of water bodies within the ecosystem from human interference to sustain essential ecological cycles;
  • Safeguard culturally, environmentally, and touristically important areas associated with the waves' ecosystem through the implementation and expansion of public policies;
  • Promotion of harmonious interactions with humans through cultural, spiritual, leisure, and ecological activities;
  • Ensure representation by stakeholders with a special connection to the waves' ecological cycle in relevant public decision-making processes;
  • Receive support from government, community, and civil society groups in public decision-making processes;
  • Integration of traditional knowledge and conservation practices into decision-making alongside scientific approaches;
  • Ensure accountability and remediation for human-caused damage to their recognized intrinsic rights;

A committee made up of surfers from the community, traditional custodians, and a member of the city council's environmental chamber will advocate for the rights of the waves.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of