Our WSL J-Bay Open Experience
by: Jasper Eales, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Sealand
2 min read
As a grom (young surfer) I always had the dream of being a professional surfer. Traveling the world surfing amongst the world's best while being in some of the most incredible locations any human could dream of. As time went by and the realisation that I would not make a life on the world tour become a reality, I split my time and love between the ocean and creativity. Fast forward 20 years and I land myself, as well as the creative brand that I have been involved in building, Sealand, partnering and sponsoring the most desirable surf contest on the World Surf League (WSL), the J-Bay Open. I continue to pinch myself and say, “Did this really just happen?”
The roots of the Sealand brand are people and planet. The inspiration is drawn from our natural playgrounds, the primary one being the ocean and surfing. We are not a core surf brand, but rather a purpose-led lifestyle brand that appeals to people who appreciate the outdoors and want to look after it.
Our partnership with WSL and the J-Bay Open showcases what is possible with event partnership and sponsorship. At Sealand, we like to do things in a unique way, a way that is unexpected, in line with our tagline of ‘Discover New Paths’. This is exactly how we approached WSL. We thought, “Let's make use of last year's event banners/waste materials and build it into epic new gear that we can gift the best surfers in the world, as well as the fans that come to watch the event.” And we did just that and grabbed the attention of the athletes, the WSL, and the fans. They received one-of-a-kind, personalised gear that was made from waste, but designed to last a lifetime.
One of the requests from the event organisers was to conceptualise an activation that would engage the fans on a lay day (noncompetition day) of the main event. This is where ‘Airs For Good’ (AFG) was born. The idea of AFG was to take a traditional air show, where surfers need to do radical maneuvers above the lip of the wave and add an edge to this event. AFG created a platform to showcase the country's best junior surfer to the world through the exposure that WSL offers. Instead of having one winner, we decided to make all the surfers a winner by combining all the individual points they created through the maneuvers they achieved. These points were then converted into bags, which were donated to a local community project called ‘The Recycling Project’.
A total of 29 points/bags were accumulated between all the surfers, which Sealand then decided to match and donate a total of 60 bags to the Recycling Project. The event grabbed the attention of the spectators on the beach, as well as a beautiful, local visitor that showcased its gracious yet powerful presence while gliding through the lineup below the surfers.
What an incredible two weeks up the East Coast it was for the Sealand team. Where the ethos of working hard and playing hard was embraced and overall success was achieved. To celebrate and decompress after a full two weeks on the road, a few of the Sealand members decided to take a scenic route home through the Baviaanskloof and spend a night under the stars to reflect on the previous two weeks.