Bobby Martinez doesn’t mince words. With his fiery temper, brutally razor-sharp surfing and devil may care attitude towards authority, he losers as many fans as he gains – and he has a lot of fans. But what the hell’s been going on with him lately? He blew off the world tour event at J-Bay (without explanation), has been posting Tweets filled with everything from blinding optimism to incoherent babble and lost another major sponsor in O’Neill in the process. Whether it was his outspoken disdain for the current world tour format, the “will he quit the tour or not” question that’s been on everyones lips – every journalist wanted to speak to him but with no luck. Travis Lee, a friend of Bobby’s and the team and marketing manager for Channel Island surfboards, could and did. In this tell all interview Bobby reveals all… Why he’s NOT going to Teahupoo, why he IS going to New York and why he IS quitting the ASP world tour.
Strap yourself in folks.
This interview takes place as Bobby and his wife drive to LA to finalize his new clothing contract.
TL: Bobby, you don’t do too many interviews except at contests so It’s cool you agreed to this; I just think its important that people really know what you’re feeling right now and where you stand. So, lets basically have a conversation.”
BM: Yeah, for sure Trav Lee, I’m ready. Ask me whatever you want.
TL: So, it sounds like you just found a major sponsor, FTW or something? Can you elaborate on that a bit?
BM: Yes, I did! FTW is a new company that Bobby Vaughn from Von Dutch and a couple other guys started. It’s owned by Icer Brands and is based in NYC (Icer Brands owns Sean John, Roca Wear and Applebottom Jeans)
TL: Dare I ask what FTW stands for? I can probably guess…
BM: Don’t judge a book by its cover! It really depends on how you want to take it. The world is a screwed up place, right?, kids get shot in schoolyards and everything else but the owners’ perception isn’t just that. I know they are doing some stuff for MMA and that slogan is “Fight To Win.” Also, they are doing some things in regards to religion where it stands for “Follow The Word.” Then they have a cool project to benefit the families of the Navy Seals and Seal Team 6, “Fight Terrorism Worldwide.” So it really depends on how you want to take it, but yes the world is a messed up place. It can mean “F” the world, too, if that’s how you want to look at it.
TL: So, are you happy with the deal? You seemed a bit disillusioned with not being able to find a sponsor.
BM: I am so happy with it. They like me for what and who I am. I can be myself. They think I am perfect for the brand. I don’t have to kiss anyone’s ass either so it’s a perfect fit. I can travel, do trips; Its not about contest results its more about a lifestyle
Bobby’s backhand is a sight to behold when his clutch work and gear changes are in-sync. Pic: ASP/Kirstin
TL: You missed the J-Bay event; do you plan on doing Tahiti?
BM: No, I am not going to do the Chopes event. I love Tahiti and that wave; I just don’t like being there for an event with everyone there.
TL: Where do you actually stand in regards to the tour and its contests?
BM: Yeah, I am not too concerned about the contests. I’m not going to go to Tahiti anymore.
TL: But you won there twice and you stand a good chance to win a good amount of money. Are you seriously not going?
BM: It’s not about the money, I had big contracts and was making great money but I wasn’t happy. I would rather just be home and surf around here.
TL: So is it the new tour that has you fired up?
BM: Yes. I just don’t agree with the halfway cut. Not only do those surfers that come on at the halfway point have no chance of winning a world title, which is pointless, but they barely get a taste of it and then they will probably fall right off it. Everyone deserves a whole year. I think it takes at least a year to really figure it out.
TL: Are there other reasons?
BM: Oh yeah, I have a bunch. They said cutting it down to 32 means it would only take 3 days to run an event but I think it still takes 4 days anyway now. I think we need to be judged within our own ranks. You have an A+ tour(WCT) and you have a B+ tour (WQS). The A+ guys lose to the best guys in the world. Take Freddy P and myself for example, we lose to the best and aren’t re-qualifying as of now, but other surfers that aren’t on the WCT tour are surfing against ‘QS guys and are qualifying. I just think they should surf against themselves, keep it separate and the top guys get to come on tour. This year I’ve lost to Taj and Jordy, some of the best guys in the world and that’s fine if I don’t re-qualify. I can live with that, but who do they lose to? The One World ranking is just wrong. That’s why I hate it.
TL: Essentially though, it’s you the surfers (via the surfers’ reps) that approved this tour change. The ASP doesn’t change the rules with out your guys’ vote. Do you think the surfer’s reps speak or are properly representing the surfers on the tour as a whole?
BM: They go to the board meetings and say that they do — but they don’t! They don’t speak for me that’s for sure. They speak for themselves. I’ve never got an email from anyone and I’ve gone to meetings and voiced my opinion before, but look, at the end of the day it is a majority vote. So nothing is going to happen unless there is enough of us that want it to change. It’s just too much politics. At least that’s what I see from the inside looking out.
TL: Why do you think they want to do it this way?
BM: They think it will help grow the sport but I disagree. People don’t care about the One World tour; they don’t even understand it. They should rate the ‘QS guys on their tour and the ‘CT on theirs — it’s a different level and shouldn’t be combined. That’s just my feeling anyway.
When Bobby’s on (both in and and of the water), the fans can’t help but love him. Pics: ASP/Kirstin
TL: Do you have anything against the people that run the ASP tour?
BM: No, I don’t talk to anyone there except for Renato Hickel. I love Renato. He is super cool and has always treated me right. I just don’t like it as a whole; I don’t like the direction they are going.
TL: Will you go to the Quik NY event?
BM: Yes, my new sponsor is based out there and so I will go to support them and go out with a bang.
TL: So, you realize NY will be your last event?
BM: Yes, I really don’t want to be part of the tour anymore unless it changes.
TL: So has all of this taken a toll on you mentally?
BM: Yeah, the whole thought of it just makes me want to go surfing by myself and just get away from it all. If I stay around that scene, well, let’s just say it won’t be pretty.
TL: You don’t hate surfing do you?
BM: No, it’s been both a blessing and a curse to me. It brought me together with my wife and given me the lifestyle I have now, but I just hate the new tour and whole industry side of it and a quite a few people in it. It’s kind of a catch 22. What I have, I love, and I wouldn’t have gotten without surfing. But, the other stuff I could do without.
Not turning up to Teahupoo is an astonishing move considering Bobby’s won the event twice before. Pics: ASP/Kirstin
TL: Correct me if I’m wrong but for the last couple of years you have seemed more negative and unhappy than I remember you. Was there a realization that made you aware of this and brought you to this point?
BM: Yeah, I knew I wasn’t happy. This year, after the Snapper event in Australia, I met a guy named Gavin Topp. He brought things to reality for me. I don’t know what it was about him that made me listen, but he helped me figure out how and why I was so unhappy. He really got through to me. If I didn’t get his help I wouldn’t have ever seen things from the perspective I do now.
TL: You are back on Channel Islands boards now, kind of a full circle… Does that feel right?
BM: Yes, I was in a difficult place when I left but it feels good to get back and be around the people I am now.
TL: Your equipment feels good then?
BM: My boards feel better than they ever have and my heat at Bells or Winkipop this year showed me I can still do great. I am very happy to be back where I am at.
TL: Generally speaking, would you say you are happy now with where your life is at?
BM: Yes, I am happy now. I just need to get out of this contest mode. I wear my heart on my sleeve and pretty soon I am going to burst on this tour. So, when I am done I will be happy.
TL: What are you looking forward to? What else do you love to do besides surf?
BM: I love my wife, Cleo, my dog and I love to box and go to the gym. I would really like to start a family and have a home life. I’ve literally been traveling since I was 15 years old.
Two things we’ll miss; Bobby’s explosiveness in the water, and in interviews. One of the best. Pics: ASP/Kirstin
TL: I know a question everyone is dying to know is in regards to your Tweets. They seem so negative and angry. Some people come into the office here and say “Did you see Bobby’s tweets? Has he lost it?” What’s behind those?
BM: Hmmm, well it’s negative but in a positive way, if that makes sense. I’m unhappy with the tour and this is the only means I have to voice my opinion. The same stuff I say on Twitter I will say to anyone’s face personally. Other surfers are also unhappy with the direction of the tour, they tell me so. It’s bullshit and if I have to be the voice then I will.
TL: Some of your Tweets are pretty vulgar with a lot of cussing. What do you have to say to the parents that disapprove of this for their kids that may follow you?
BM: They don’t have to let them follow me. This is reality. Their kids are going to grow up and become their own person, just as I have.
TL: Are you saying that’s just you… take it or leave it?
BM: If I wanted to be like everyone else and please them all I would bleach my hair blonde, wear tight skinny jeans and put in blue contacts and become a “yes” man. I am just trying to make a living and reach my goals. It’s the real world; people aren’t perfect and proper wherever you go!
BM: I mean, I hear my 3 year-old nephew cuss all the time, he hears it from every one he is around not just me. That’s just us I guess –- we are who we are.
Cleo, Bobby’s wife who has been noticeably quiet throughout the entire interview must break her silence… This is killing her and she must interject.
Cleo: BOBBY! A 3 year-old is not meant to swear!
– By Travis Lee
Note: This interview was thanks to our friends at CI surfboards. Be sure to check their website for more exclusive interviews, blogs and of course all their current models on sale.
Top Photo: Bobby speaks out. Pic (left) By Travis Lee, (right) by ASP/Kirstin