Last updated January 26, 2024 by Balyn McDonald
Sorry. Lame title; I know.
If you’ll temporarily excuse the cultural appropriation associated with an Australian who’s never set foot in Hawaii using the term, I’ll explain my choice of words.
Usually, this time of year is one of my busiest. By now I will have reset and built my spreadsheets for the new season, created profiles for new athletes, updated all of the other parameters, and locked in the schedule. I’d be writing algorithms to establish surfer prices, running mock events to check for anomalies, and writing my contest preview for the 2024 season.
But I’m not. I’m taking my kids for swims and keeping on top of my regular job.
Hell, I haven’t even looked at choosing a fantasy team.
If you are one of the dozen or so* dedicated users who even remembered that FSS exists, then you would have noticed: trading is closed, no new articles are up, nada.
Hence the title. Yes, it’s a goodbye, but it’s more than that. Firstly, we don’t know the full extent of our goodbye. We DO know that we won’t be creating any fantasy content for the 2024 season, either as a fantasy game or source of analysis. Beyond that, who knows?
When we first started FSS, the WSL fantasy game was complete garbage, and the Fantasy Surfer site was being strangled of funds and running on purely on the vitriolic energy created by its forums (a truly renewable energy source, it seems). We saw an opportunity to provide something of value, and we took our shot. I’m proud of what we made, but I also realise that the WSL game has improved a lot, and we simply don’t have the legacy staying power of FS.
But, aloha is also about showing love, respect and appreciation. This was always a passion project, and, while the financial and temporal demands have become a little too much, we were always doing it from a place of love. Love for the sport, for the community, and mostly a love for talking smack and beating your friends in a game that, really, doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Aloha is also about giving thanks. And, if you’ll indulge me, there are a few people who deserve a shout-out:
- Ewan Frith and Grant Drinkwater. Sure, through my analysis and posts, I may have written at times as though FSS were my own personal project, but these two fine gentleman were the heart and soul of FSS. It was Grant and Ewan who came to me with idea of starting an alternative to the WSL fantasy game. They hustled every which way and how to make it a reality, payed for development, came up with prizes, and basically breathed life into this whole project. They have encouraged my ramblings, humoured my stupid ideas, and kept this little site humming for as long as it did. Thanks, boys; it’s been a pleasure. I’ve absolutely loved working with you both.
- Peter Nguy and Jason Boissonneault. If Grant and Ewan were the under-appreciated chiefs of this whole operation, then Pete and Jase were the silent engine room. Or guardian angels. Or patient parents dealing with children who had bitten off more than they could chew. That is to say, they were the development team behind the site and its gameplay. Thanks for everything, gents; you’ll finally get a break from my parsing issues and uninformed, last-minute ideas of how to improve UX. You were unflappable. If you haven’t already, check out their mobile game Dizzy Dwarves on Apple and Google.
- Ray Bisschop. Ray wears so many hats at Surfing Life, that he’s had to start shaving his head to avoid hat hair. The fact that he’s running a successful print magazine in 2024 is testament to his acumen and instinct. Ray helped us clean up our aesthetic, negotiate incredible prizes, and achieve the sort of legitimacy we could have only dreamed of before joining forces. Please, check out Surfing Life if, like us, you value high-quality surf media in a glossy, tangible form that arrives in your letterbox each quarter. Ray makes a great mag.
- Mike Jordan. He probably won’t read this, but Mike was the original Surf-Stats maestro. When he was poached by the WSL, he passed the site on to me. Along the way he offered advice, statistical tutoring, and even a foot-in-the-door regarding some (since failed) partnerships with the WSL itself. He has long-since moved on from the surf industry and is no-doubt enjoying time with his young family and making much more money with one of his side-hustles.
- Ray Bergman. If you’ve ever played FS, then you have Ray to thank. He had this whole fantasy-surfing-game thing up and running decades ago, and he’s still doing it. Surfer Mag as we knew it may have died, but Ray is immortal. He’s also a super-nice guy. It sucks when your ‘competition’ is so damned likable.
- You. Yes, all 37* of you. Sure, it was a small community, but it was a great one. It’s easy to just click the tab on the WSL app and play their fantasy game, but you didn’t. You came here, played our little game, read our musings, happily claimed our prizes, and made us feel a little aloha from time to time. And, really, that’s all that mattered for the most part.
So, yeah. Aloha.
You can follow me as surfstats on Twitter (yes, that’s what I still call it) or occasionally on Instagram, where I will no doubt find myself still throwing some analysis and even statistics out into the ether.
* I make fun of our user numbers, but there were actually 1315 registered accounts at the time of writing, several of whom have signed up in the past few weeks (sorry for the bad timing, guys).
P.S. If you want to hear one last prediction from me regarding this whole surfing / fantasy / championship business, then here’s a little parting gift (that is 100% opinion, and made without a single spreadsheet):
- Filipe will win again. With the tour events being what they are, and the finals running at Trestles, it’s his title to lose.
- Caitlin will win her first title. A massive call, I know, but I’m sick of underestimating her, so I’m getting in early this year.
- John and Carissa will win Olympic gold medals, Jack Robo and Tatiana will win silver, Joao and Caroline bronze.
- John will quit the tour at some point this year, maybe after the Olympics.
- Steph won’t return.
- The women’s tour we be reinvigorated by the idea of Steph and Carissa’s absence, with 2025 ushering in a truly new era.