Oh, the perks of surf sponsorship — clothes, shoes, trac-pads, maybe a bro-deal on a new stick. An assortment of schwag and a minimal discount used to represent the Holy Grail for the ambitious and talented wave-slider.
Times have changed, however. Whether they’ve grown bored with the status quo or have finally hipped to the industry’s monopoly on surfer’s boards and bodies, today’s surf stars have branched out to rep everything from neon liquids with suspect nutritional values to big-box stores and pornographic websites (FYI: the previous link does not take you to a pornographic website).
And our local surf-celebs have branched out, accordingly. Aside from being a prominent member of the illustrious Vans surf team, Jax-based logger Justin Quintal counts Hotel Palms, Mellow Mushroom-Jax Beach and Big Fish Power Yoga as sponsors. A nice little assortment, to be sure, as Quintal could conceivably fuel up on pizza after a Bikram session, before turning down in a well-apportioned room at one of the area’s coolest hotels. Well played, Justin!
Meanwhile, local alternative surf-craft rider and skateboarder, Trenton “Tarpits” Phillips has been similarly astute in his quest to assemble benefactors with perks that are unquestionably utilitarian to his lifestyle. The always well-groomed Phillips recently added Neptune Beach’s Bold City Barbers to his list of sponsors and released a neat little video to announce the mutually beneficial relationship.
We recently caught up with Phillips and asked about the perks of his new follicle-related sponsorship and how Laird Hamilton inspires him. Of course, the always-opinionated, idiosyncratic longboard stylist gave us more than we asked for, even tangentially offering up his views on his hometown’s collective musical tastes.
Void: Congratulations on your new haircut! When the waves are lined up, do you find that you surf better when you, yourself, are similarly lined up?
Trenton Phillips: I don’t mess around. Long hair? Forget about it. In a world full of [Jeff] Spicolis, be a Max Fischer. Keep your fin loose and your fade tight.
It’s an interesting sponsor. How did you get hooked up with Bold City Barbers?
Those dudes have been tightening me up for years. I refuse to get my hair cut anywhere else. They cleaned me up before my wedding, even. It just makes more sense to me to represent the companies I actually use rather than something I don’t even care about like sunscreen, or water, or whatever. Last year I hit up Hostess, but they weren’t catchin’ what I was throwin’.
Yeah, who needs water, anyway? This seems like a perfect partnership, though. You get cool hair. BCB gets clips of you riding your surfboard with cool hair.
Match made in heaven. They already endorse a couple of MMA fighters, so they were down for the idea of branching out into surfing. We share similar interests as far as hockey, metal, etc.
It’s a little like Laird Hamilton’s being sponsored by his own health food company. In what other ways does Laird inspire you?
Who’s Laird Hamilton?
Exactly! With surfing being so commercialized in 2017, it’s easy to argue that there’s a lack of CORE surf brands out there and even fewer companies looking to sponsor surfers with an offbeat or unique approach. What’s good and what’s bad about the current state of surfdom?
I think there are actually a lot more [core companies] than people realize. Dark Seas and COS are both down to back my shenanigans, and I’m pretty pumped on the music people are using for surf edits now. I don’t think 5 to 10 years ago I would’ve ever heard Swans on an edit, but now I’m seeing all kinds of dark-noise and blackened-hardcore in major edits.
Locally, I would definitely say that culture is lacking, though. Our community seems content to accept the most accessible artists that happen across its path. As a result, there is a whole lot of crap-reggae — Sublime, Dirty Heads — and middle-of-the-road rock music being listened to. I’m pretty sure the whole town went to see Future Islands. Not hating — if that’s how deep you choose to take your musical tastes, that’s your prerogative. I just fail to see the merit.
As far as surfing goes, everyone is on a 5’6 short board, when it’s one-foot and mushy.
Seems like this topic got you riled up. Let’s move on. You’ve assembled a nice little crew of Northeast Florida surfers and videographers to work with on projects like your short film “The Contestant” and the Bold City Barbers commercial. Can we expect a consistent stream of clips and edits in the future?
John Massey, Nick Gunter, Cam Alvarez — that’s my blood. There are others too. I’m not going to say what we’ve got going. Y’all will just have to see.