World Surf League Rides Airbnb, Facebook, and Jeep Partnerships Into Summer ‘18

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Joanne Defay at the Founders’ Cup in Lemoore, CA (Photo by Sean Rowload for WSL).

There’s nothing like a dose of surf, sand, and waves to help cleanse the spirit, reconnect with nature and get you out of your comfort zone.

Surfing is among the most popular reasons to travel these days, and now the World Surf League is offering 10,000 experiences available to book via its new partnership with Airbnb.

“Surfing is one of the top things people want to do when they travel, but many are scared to try at first,” says Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community for Airbnb. “No matter your experience level, we provide a more intimate, personal and welcoming experience than you’d get otherwise, and a chance for local surf communities to earn extra income doing what they love.”

To celebrate the surfing passion of the Airbnb community, the company has partnered with WSL to offer curated home options to travelers in top surf destinations. The new partnership brings unique and local surf experiences to travelers across the globe, marking the first time WSL has entered the travel and leisure market. Travelers can book one of 75+ trips hosted by surf pros, certified coaches and influencers across dozens of unique destinations for wave enthusiasts.

“Surfing, as a sport and a culture, is synonymous with breaking new ground and traversing uncharted waters so it’s a natural fit to be partnering with Airbnb in this incredible new engagement,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “The potential to spread the stoke of surfing across the world, and give people experiences that will last a lifetime, is enormous. With Airbnb we are confident we can take surfing to a new level.”

Surfing adventures now available include:

– Edouard & Antoine Delpero Surf School (Biarritz, France). Learn to surf or fine-tune your technique with the Delpero brothers at the major surfing destination in the heart of Basque country.

– Girls on Board Surf School (Phillip Island, Australia). Led by Jess Laing, Girls on Board will take you surfing at stunning Phillip Island.

– Surf Coaching with Leo Neves (Saquarema, Brazil). WSL veteran Leo Neves will take your surfing to the next level. Hone your skills with pro tips and video analysis.

– Learn to Surf with Luke Stedman & Damien Fahrenfort (Venice, CA.). WSL veterans Luke Stedman and Damien Fahrenfort will teach you how to surf in classic California conditions.

– Learn to Shape with Carl Schaper (Haleiwa, HI). Cut the foam and learn to shape a surfboard with Carl Schaper of Carl Schaper Surfboards on the iconic North Shore of Oahu.

One of the newest destinations on the WSL circuit is in the unlikeliest of places, Lemoore, CA. Located four hours north of Los Angeles, and 100 miles east of the Pacific ocean, the ‘Surf Ranch’ is home to the world’s largest man-made wave pool.

Professional surfer and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater created the idea and now this water metropolis will host a Championship Tour event in September.

Beth Greve, Chief Commercial Officer of World Surf League, details how this endeavor came together and what it means for the future of the sport.

“Being that up-close and personal with the waves and surfers is great for the fans. Our philosophy is ‘Always better, never best,’ and we plan to build off this event for the tour stop later this year.”

The Founder’s Cup was a trial run in May at the Surf Ranch, which was the company’s first ticketed event in history. Both days sold-out with over 10,000 people in attendance.

“Most people are used to going to a surf event at the beach, and we offer that to all of the public. For us, it’s about delivering a terrific experience,” Greve said.

The contest featured top surfers competing on international teams (USA vs. Brazil for example), and saw men and women competing together for the first time. The wave machine spans 700 yards (or seven football fields) and the waves themselves are calibrated to specific heights, making it one long smooth barrel to ride.

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If you were not in California or able to attend, WSL made it easier then ever for fans to view from a computer or smart device thanks to their partnership with Facebook. Earlier this year, the two announced an exclusive content and live streaming package.

“Facebook is our global live streaming partner and we have linear partners all over the globe,” Greve said. “Founders Cup, for example, aired on CBS here in the States. Moving forward, we will have coverage through our linear partners in addition to Facebook Live.”

Having fans obtain easy access to an event in North America is important to the company, as well as international viewers who follow the action all year long.

“Our goal is to get more people connected to the surf lifestyle and with Facebook being one of the largest platforms for engagement and viewership it’s a really great marriage for us,” Greve stated.

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If you follow the global tour, each stop features one male and female athlete dawning a yellow jersey. Like the Tour de Force, this signifies the overall points leader. The tradition began three seasons ago, when automotive standout Jeep became an official sponsor.

As the exclusive automotive partner of the World Surf League since 2015, Jeep extended their deal this year and continues to sponsor surfing’s most sought-after properties, the Jeep Leaderboard and the iconic yellow Jeep Leader Jersey.

Jeep brand manager Scott Tallon, who has overseen the lifestyle partnership with on-site activations, sees the league as a critical piece of the brand’s growth strategy, especially when it comes to action sports.

“Part of our growth strategy was international [competition]. Our manufacturing footprint, distribution, localizing production and aligning these key markets. These markets aligned very closely where WSL wanted to be as well,” Tallon said.

With surfing being added to the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics, Jeep has their eye on the Asian market.

“Clearly WSL is going to be an integral part of the event itself, how its judged and scored,” mentioned Tallon. “We will certainly be part of it and we work with key athletes who will be participating in the games. That’s a big part of the excitement, our partnership will continue through 2020.”

The sport of surfing continues to expand its audience base and Jeep’s universal brand appeal is a key element to both parties flourishing.

“If you think about where we both were in 2014 when discussions began, and where we both are projected to be in 2020, it’s really a fascinating growth story. It shows in tandem how we’ve both been able to grow together,” Tallon concluded.

The world of surfing can be long and stressful, highly competitive, and rewarding. Now featuring sponsors in the travel business, digital streaming markets, and automotive fields, competitions have higher stakes and purses. The future is bright for wave riders and with its Olympic inclusion and participation numbers increasing, brands will certainly be eyeing the oceans as the sport’s popularity continues to trend upward.

The surf season continues this summer with the next Championship Tour stop in Bali, Indonesia. For more information on dates and locations go to WSL Events and to book trips visit airbnb.com.