Ping Pong tournaments, multi-million-dollar wakeboarding boats, free beer, $10 sandwiches, half-pipes, SUP Yoga clinics, polar bear mascots, tiny bikinis, fashion shows, the latest surfboards, clothing, and accessories, your favorite top pros, and the head honchos who run the entire surf industry. There’s only one place you’ll find all that under one giant roof: Surf Expo. The biannual trade show held each January and September at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, is the perfect place to get an overview of our industry, from its wackiest, most far-fetched and obscure components to the truly innovative, core, and even inspirational. It’s a place for catching up with old friends and making new connections, discovering what’s now and what’s next, and just coming to terms with the sheer magnitude of what a simple love for the ocean has grown into.
Though Surf Expo’s September edition is traditionally a smaller show heavier in the wake, skate, and resort departments, the surf industry presence was still strongly felt. Beneath the festive atmosphere, complete with blaring music, flashy colors, flickering video screens, and fancy product and booth designs, key industry players were flexing their muscles. After all, Surf Expo is a place to see and be seen; It’s not a place to show weakness. And behind the scenes, all the big companies were jockeying for position. Like the industry it represents, Surf Expo is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, it’s a fun celebration of a wonderful sport, culture, and lifestyle. On the other hand, it’s ultimately fueled by a corporate agenda with dollar signs as the bottom line. But, taken for what it is, Surf Expo will always be an important and valuable part of our surf society. Which is why ESM will always be there to bring you the highlights, from the most comical and ridiculous to the most ground-breaking. So here it is, the best in show. Enjoy.