sponsoring surfers...

ok. i know that we are more focused on the design and manufacturing of fine surf craft, but i need some input from you guys.

we are considering sponsoring a few of the kids who are surfing in some of the local chapters of the esa. my boss asked me to put together a sponsorship program that we can implement, but i dont really have any experience in this area. so i’ll tell you my ideas so far and if you feel so motivated, i would love some feedback as well as any advice you think may be beneficial.

multi-tiered program:

-level 1 sponsorship(for surfers ranked in the top 3 of their division the previous season): we will cover all entry fees for contests entered. 1 surfboard / quarter. assorted company branded clothing. in return they must surf all scheduled contests each season (on our surfboards). permit their name / image to be used in advertising and promotions related to promoting our brand.

-level 2 sponsorship (for surfers ranked 4th - 6th previous season) same as above except we will provide 1 surfboard every two quarters.

-level 3 sponsorship (for surfers ranked 7th-10th) same as above except we will provide 1 surfboard / year.

all levels can purchase additional boards at wholesale prices.

well this is what i came up with…am i anywhere in the ballpark of a reasonable proposal???


All those guys and gals probably already are sponsored

You could make a 14 footer or a 4’5" fish and send it to Randy Rarrick for more bang for the buck.


thanks for your time and input. but lets say ,hypothetically speaking of course, that some of these surfers have contacted us seeking sponsorship? would the basic frame work i have presented above make sense or am i off base?

its funny you should mention Mr Rarrick. he was the first person i contacted, and while he said he was honored, he would be unable to take us up on our offer due to prior commitments.


how big is your company? if you are taking the creme de la creme that seems like a fair deal. Don’t forget photo incentives. They can show up and blow up in every round, even if they don’t advance their image can still be thrown out there. Shots in ESM or even when the major mags looks east.

If you are serious about it then…Those seeking, if they are decent surfers and dedicated to the sport have interviews with the parents. If the parents aren’t kooks seriously consider them. Any of those you are considering, take any that are home schooled. They can surf the most. get a contract for three years with all options for you to be able to drop them at any time. Instead of having lots of kids sponsored have 2 or 3 and treat them like kings. Enable them to get advice and lessons from expert surfers. If they get caught selling any of the team boards for crack, cut their nuts off and get that in the contract too.

If you guys are just looking to spread some aloha to the community then sponsor as many as you can,even those that have no chance of elite progression.

either way your image and product will be noticed by different means. Just remember as your reputation goes , so goes those of who you sponsor and likewise those who you sponsor reflect on your business. Take the good mannered kid over the better skilled surfer who is a punk.

I am looking for a sponsor for my north shore quiver this year. I will take 3 of whatever you think. And can you make the checks out to Otay Cash.


If you are serious about it then… If the parents aren’t kooks seriously consider them. I’d Take the good mannered kid over the better skilled surfer who is a punk.

Best Advice

In my opinion, for smaller shops it will cost you more than you’ll gain if you use such a generalized approach. The parents/riders will expect deals on accessories, additional boards, free repairs, and the same for their friends and family. Now if you’re doing this more as a community service, discounts should be based on the need and the parent’s ability to pay. Use your judgement and handle it on a case-by-case basis. There’s no point in giving a kid a board whose parent’s can buy him/her a new MBZ in a couple of years if not already. Conversely, if you give a disadvantaged kid a board he may choose to surf rather than hit the pipe. Like anything else in this falling economy, make your investments carefully.

ideally pete, i would like this to be about both, spreading aloha in the local community and getting some exposure for the label. i’m really hoping this doesnt end up having to be one or the other.

this is just my first shot at this, and since i value the opinion of the guys here at sways, i thought i would bounce my idea off you all and see what kind of advice i got back.

i’m sure that there is going to be a lot of headaches that go along with this, but this is what the man that signs my checks wants me to do, so here i am.

once again, thanks to all of you who took the time to reply


Maybe instead of actually just giving them a board each time make them trade in their board. You can resell it and make them give feedback on that shape for them. That way they will earn to figure out what is working best. Merrick has a piece in the latest issue of Transworld. He only gives away boards to his top tier surfers (as in ASP) and makes them trade them in. Maybe you could talk to a team manager from another shop, someone like Wes Laine at WRV perhaps.

Most team riders pay for their boards, unless their image is already plastered over everything. Typically they pay the actual cost of producing the board. They should be able to buy as many boards at the team price as they will actually use. Your goal is to make sure they always ride your boards… in all conditions.

If they’re too poor to come up with cash… take their old boards in on trade. You may want to make this a requirement anyway, just to make sure they don’t ride them when the photographers are out.

If they have a clothing sponsor… see if the sponsor will pay for their boards (at cost).

You can always comp a kid a board, and tell them you’re doing it because they’re special and you want them to know how much you appreciate them. Doing well in contests doesn’t always translate into sales. The personable kid that everybody on the beach loves will bolster sales way better than a grumpy aggro local that burns people to catch waves. Make sure that all team riders understand that they are ambassadors for your brand.

If your team riders hit the big leagues, expect to start kicking down big-time or working with their other sponsors to insure you don’t lose them. Al Merrick gives Kelly about 85 boards per year. Pros don’t typically make bank from their shapers - relative to what their clothing sponsors pay - so their loyalty to you when they hit it big will be based on the ties you form now.

You may also consider photo incentives. A cover shot on Surfer is worth way more than a win at the local contest.

You may also want to help them land other sponsors. Hook them up with the clothing companies you know. Get them shwag whenever you’re hanging out with reps or whatever. Write letters of recommendation. these things will build their loyalty while helping them climb the ladder.

Give them all the free branded clothing you can. Softgoods are cheap.

Beware of scammers that resell your boards for profit… that even happens with the big-names… unless that’s part of your distribution plan :wink: