Beginning in 2013, Nike will pull back their support of professional surfing and will shift all of their riders over to Hurley, which Nike purchased in 2002. The news came on the heels of an announcement in September that the footwear giant would no longer sponsor the U.S. Open. Come Jan. 1, all Nike head-to-toe sponsored athletes will officially move over to Hurley, and Nike will limit its surf sponsorships to footwear.
In a recent interview, Bob Hurley confirmed Nike’s decision to transition their surf team over to Hurley. “It reinforces our strength in surfing. We’ve always enjoyed a close partnership with the Nike brand in developing innovative product informed by top athletes. The opportunity for collaboration and leverage is limitless and will continue to allow greater focus.”
“We all know the surf marketplace is in transition, yet the energy and youthful nature of the sport make it more popular than ever on a global basis. It provides the ability to inspire, energize, and connect to a young, global audience. This is another chapter in our innovation and ‘Microphone for Youth’ philosophy within Hurley.”
Nike contacted GrindMedia, SURFER’s publisher and the license owner of the Lowers Pro at Trestles, to confirm that they have pulled their sponsorship of the event.
Sean Nielsen, GrindMedia’s director of event operations, said that the contest will still run in May 2013, just under a different brand’s banner: “Grindmedia has held the license to operate an ASP event at Lowers for nine years, and will continue the legacy of this event property moving forward. Nike has been a great event partner and was instrumental in elevating the Prime format.”
Nike’s decision to scale back their investment in surfing comes as a shock to many, including their own team riders.