Tuesday, July 23, 2013

EDITORIAL: What's REALLY Going on with IBA Pty Ltd and the World Tour?

EDITORIAL: What's REALLY Going on with IBA Pty Ltd and the World Tour?

Written by Steve "Action" Jackson

23 JULY 2013

  In late 2010, the non-profit organization International Bodyboarding Association (IBA) leased the running of bodyboarding's world tour and became the International Bodyboarding Association Limited (IBA Pty Ltd).  With the support of Red Bull TV, IBA Pty Ltd launched the newly formatted Grand Slam Series (GSS) worl tour in 2011, showcasing the top 24 ranked bodyboarders competing in some of the heaviest waves in the world.  What followed is considered by many to have been one of the most epic seasons of competition in bodyboarding history so far!  All of the marketing, production work, as well as the level of competition was driving the sport of bodyboarding towards new levels of performance and exposure.

  While the competitors on the world tour have been continuously pushing their performances to astounding new levels, the same cannot necessarily be said of IBA Pty Ltd.  The 2012 and 2013 seasons have been marred by difficulties and instability, riddled with unanswered questions, and very little in the way of answers being offered by IBA Pty Ltd.  I took it upon myself to contact IBA Pty Ltd, as well as others whom have been or are currently associated with the world tour, to try to find out as much information as possible.  Please keep in mind, I am merely asking the questions that a large portion of the international bodyboarding community have been asking, and providing the information that I have received from IBA Pty Ltd and those associated with the world tour.  I am in no way making accusations or insinuations...just asking the big questions, letting those directly involved provide the answers, and presenting that information.  With that said, here's what I found out.

What happened with the Snakes & Ladders production team parting ways with IBA Pty Ltd following the conclusion of the 2012 Box Pro?

Alex Leon, IBA Pty Ltd Tour Manager: "Can't answer, it was before my time as World Tour Manager."

NOTE: The members of Snakes & Ladders are unable to comment at this time.

Why did IBA Pty Ltd replace Red Bull TV with YouTube for the webcasts?

Alex Leon: "Again can't comment as I was not involved when this took place."

NOTE: Sources associated with the world tour have explained to me that the move to YouTube for the live webcast transmissions of tour events was a financial decision made in the best interest of the tour.  IBA Pty Ltd is paid royalties for each view received on the IBA YouTube Channel.  The deal between YouTube and IBA Pty Ltd has the potential to be much more beneficial for the world tour, the competitors, and the overall exposure for the sport of bodyboarding.

What happened with Manny Vargas being marketed and branded as "The Face of the IBA," then replaced in 2012 and again in 2013 after Pipeline?

Alex Leon: "Manny V is a great character and did a great job but the IBA cannot afford to pay him his new rate that he requested."

Manny Vargas: "I want the IBA fans including those five Manny V fans to know that I really wish I was doing the play by play.  I miss being on the tour, hanging with great friends, and calling all the exciting action.  Back in the beginning of 2012, the IBA and I had a great deal.  Unfortunately, I did not keep up with 'Manny Vision' and 'Sound Booth with Manny V' and was paid accordingly.  All good.  I couldn't wait to get back in there for 2013 and get 'Manny Vision,' 'Sound Booth,' and other aspects rolling.  I wanted it bad.  When I got back to the negotiating table before the Fronton event in 2012, I asked to re-instate the original 2012 deal.  Needless to say, they weren't having it.  No deal.  I did the 2013 Pipeline Challenge at the 2011 pay rate.  Mike Stewart made that happen.  Thank you, Stewbags.  Now, I put another deal on the table and I'm working with the new general manager to make this happen.  I would really hate to see the decisions of a few dismantle something great.  Huge props to Terry McKenna for doing what he did for the tour.  For the sake of the balls-out-go-big-or-go-home bodyboarders of the world and the most loyal sports fans, I'm having my fingers crossed.  Lastly, I want to thank all those that have supported me through all this...especially those that are a part of the "Bring Back Manny" Facebook group page.  If you're asking what you can do...just stay true people.  BOOM!"

What was the end result of the "Salvemos Puerto" campaign?  How much was raised and how much was donated to the local Mexican government for rebuilding efforts?

Alex Leon: "Cannot comment as this was before my time again."

NOTE: The "Salvemos Puerto" campaign was an initiative by IBA Pty Ltd to raise money for Puerto Escondido, Mexico in the wake of a devastating hurricane and bring the IBA Zicatela Pro back for a second year in 2012.  During the writing of this article, I was unable to find any records pertaining to the "Salvemos Puerto" campaign.  No information regarding how many shirts or gift packs were sold, how much money was raised, nor how much money was donated to the people of Puerto Escondido for hurricane reconstruction efforts is readily available to the public.

What happened with Terry "Teza" McKenna leaving as IBA Tour Manager?

Alex Leon: "I cannot comment once again on this as I took over from Terry in November.  Terry and Gregg (Taylor, former IBA Pty Ltd General Manager) worked together for several years and obviously they didn't agree on certain direction and as far as I know Terry parted ways with Gregg Taylor.

Terry "Teza" McKenna: "This was one of the toughest decisions of my life.  I worked my whole life to get that job and build up an amazing network of friends and promoters around the world.  I believe that we had built something extraordinary with the team I assembled and I was proud to say I was the IBA World Tour Manager.  But towards the end, the wheels started to wobble off and things weren't adding up.  I just could not be a part of something I did not believe was ethical or professional.  IBA was racking up debts and treating the people within the organization like shit and some of the stuff I witnessed was blatantly corrupt.  I had to distance myself from IBA Pty Ltd.  It was like I was standing on the bow of the Titanic and saw the iceberg coming.  I had to get out of there as fast as I could before it crashed."

Why did Gregg Taylor step down as IBA Pty Ltd General Manager earlier this year, and who is running the tour now?

Alex Leon: "Gregg stepped down to pursue other interests.  The tour's new General Manager is Richard Nimmo, and I'm the Tour Manager."

NOTE: According to anonymous sources, an ongoing criminal investigation is looking into allegations that funds from IBA Pty Ltd were transferred to other projects without investor approval.

When did IBA Pty Ltd acquire shareholders, who are they, and what background do they have in bodyboarding and/or action sports?

Alex Leon: "The IBA Pty Ltd acquired shareholders in 2010 when the IBA Pty Ltd started with the lease from IBA non-profit with the GSS series.  As far as knowing anything about certain shareholders, I cannot comment and the information is not disclosed as they are private investors and do not need to be mentioned."

NOTE: "During the 2013 Itacoatiara Pro in Brasil, new General Manager Richard Nimmo stated outright that he has no background in bodyboarding or surfing, saying, "I'm a businessman.  I'm here to assess the profitability of the tour for the shareholders."

Why was The Box Pro in Western Australia replaced with the 2013 New South Wales South Coast Crusade?

Alex Leon: "We wanted to try a different location this year and the east coast has some of the best bodyboarding reefbreaks in the world plus the NSW state government were behind having the event and were a major partner in this."

NOTE: There is no arguing that the NSW South Coast Crusade was a great event.  Despite the "delayed webcast"...it was filmed and then aired later due to the extremely remote location of the competition site...the epic, progressive performances of the riders was one for the history books.  There may have been another deciding factor, though, in moving the Australia event from WA to NSW.  According to my sources with knowledge of this situation,  IBA allegedly failed to pay Surfing Western Australia sanctioning fees for the 2012 Box Pro.  An email was sent to Surfing WA regarding this matter, but they had not responded at the time of this article's release.

What is happening with the second half of the 2013 GSS world tour schedule?

Alex Leon: "We are currently holding discussions with certain event promoters and will have confirmation in the coming weeks regarding this."

NOTE: "The 2013 GSS world tour got off to a tumultuous start with the cancellation and reinstatement of the season opener at Pipeline, followed by the NSW South Coast Crusade being confirmed only weeks prior to the competition window.  According to the official IBA World Tour website, The Zicatela Challenge in Mexico (Originally scheduled for August 1st-12th) has been dropped from the tour schedule.  I have been informed by sources close to the IBA that the South Africa Challenge at Herold's Bay (originally scheduled for Sept. 26th-Oct. 5th) will not be happening.  IBA Pty Ltd just recently annouced that the 2013 Encanto Challenge in Puerto Rico (Oct. 23rd-27th) will be run as a Global Qualifier Series (GQS) event and not a GSS event.  The remaining event on the GSS tour schedule, The Fronton Challenge (Nov.  11th-22nd), is still TBC (To Be Confirmed).

Why is IBA Pty Ltd attempting to raise the event organizers' mandatory requirements mid-season?

Alex Leon: "The IBA Pty Ltd is not raising any mandatory requirements mid-season.  The minimum event requirements are set all year and will not change until 2014."

NOTE: During the 2013 Itacoatiara Pro in Brasil, IBA Pty Ltd held a meeting with event promoters from Chile, Brasil, and Puerto Rico.  I was indirectly privy to several conversations, some including new General Manager Richard Nimmo himself, which suggested IBA Pty Ltd was discussing an increase to minimum requirements for the remainder of the 2013 GSS events.  According to comments made by GM Nimmo, IBA Pty Ltd has been losing between $25,000 and $30,000 per GSS event this year.  Also, according to anonymous sources, IBA Pty Ltd owes nearly $2.8 million to its investors.  I contacted Flavio Brito, the Event Organizer/ Promoter for the Rio Bodyboarding International GQS, who was in attendance at the promoter's meeting.  When asked about the meeting, he had this to say...

Flavio Brito: "Yes, we had a meeting during the waiting period for Itacoatiara.  We were presented to Richard, the new "boss" for IBA.  They told that IBA loses money on every GSS event and that they were figuring a way out to stop this bleed.  One of the alternatives discussed was to raise the minimum requirements for the tour.  The promoters were totally against the idea.  IBA needs to sell the sport correctly and earn their profit from companies that would like to invest in it.  A reasonable raise on the sanctioning fee is tolerable, but not a significant increase of the minimum requirements.  For my event, Rio Bodyboarding International, nothing was discussed and no raise was made.  The losses that IBA have are on the GSS events, the GQS are profitable for IBA."

What is going to happen to the world tour in 2014?

Alex Leon: "We are planning a few new events for the schedule.  Bali is one of those and possibly South Africa.  There are still many hurdles to jump but we are closer and closer to securing our 2014 calendar by November."

NOTE: According to the offical IBA World Tour website, the final event on the 2013 GSS World Tour schedule, The Fronton Challenge (Nov. 11th-22nd), still has not been officially confirmed.

  For all of the questions, comments, non-comments, and information accumulated for this article, I can't help but feel as if I have barely scratched the surface.  Honestly, I feel like more questions have been created than answered.  All of this troubles me.  As a bodyboarder, it should trouble you too.  There should not be so many questions regarding the running of the world tour.  It's not fair to the professional bodyboarders who put it all on the line competing on tour.  It's not fair to the employees of IBA PtyLtd working countless late-night hours to create a spectacular product for the world to see, nor to the promoters committing so much of their time and energy organizing world-class events.  It's not fair to the die-hard fans who loyally support the sport of bodyboarding.  If the people resposible for running the IBA World Tour exercised even a small degree of transparency and were just the slightest bit more forthcoming with information, maybe we wouldn't have so many questions.  Maybe then, all of us in the world of bodyboarding might actually know what's really going on with IBA Pty Ltd and the world tour.


  1. Is it just me or does it sound like an oxymoron to have investors involved in a non-profit organization?

  2. Yes! These are the type of hard hitting questions that have needed to be asked of bodyboarding peak bodies the world over since the 1990s. How can "the fastest growing sport in the world" not progress in over 20 years to produce a self-sustaining professional sport? Well done for having the balls to ask the challenging questions Steve. The bodyboarding 'industry' is such a small and incestual one that no one ever seems willing to ask fundamental questions regarding transparency, logic and ethical operation in fear of being 'outed' as a non supporter of the sport or industry. This transcends all levels of the sport from local clubs to the IBA. It's simply toxic. If only for a moment would some of the sports 'leaders' acted altruistically then this sport would be in a very different position and actually make progress. When non-bodyboarding investors are involved in guiding this sport, we can only expect a tragedy of the commons.

  3. The part about it being corrupt gets me the hardest,bodyboarding is my life and this has crushed me because it seems as though there is no hope for me to even try and make this a career in the future.

  4. I've been involved with other sports at this level, and this all smells familiar....
    Events happening on a shoestring budget, organised at the last minute on a wing and a prayer. Lies, deceit, disappearing funds, people lower down the scale not being paid, or being asked to work for favours, others taking advantage when sponsors money comes in to events, and grabbing big chunks of that money, and those in the know keeping stuff under their hats "for the good of the sport", when really, they should be shouting about some of it.....it's all just bubbling under the surface right here.

    Alex isn't giving the full picture on what went on because he's got his corporate hat on and is in charge now, and just maybe he wants to make "it" happen, thats fair enough in my book, a dignified silence is the right move here going forward ( we still need better oversight regarding what has happened in the last 12 months though), with Gregg out of the way and a new team in place there is a chance to build a solid foundation for the sport again - it might not be five star to start with, but we need to get behind it. Alex make your actions over the next year count mate - give the people a reason to not see you as another Gregg Taylor, give them some updates and as much transparency as you can - it builds trust.

    Gregg Taylor - the fantastic vanishing Gregg Taylor.....read into that what you will, but from my standpoint it stinks.

    On the upside, we should all be immensely proud of Mike Stewart and Ben Severson and all the crew for just getting on with it at a grassroots level and making the pipe comp happen, thats the best thing thats happened in the last 12 months in my book, it shows what can be done when you have a passion for the sport, and not the dollars behind it. Message these guys on facebook - thank them, and mean it - they deserve it.

    Manny - if you didn't do the bits in your contract that you agreed to, then (to some extent) you have to suck that up in your negotiations, and come to an arrangement thats fair for you and the IBA, based on what you reasonably expect you can deliver - you know it. I'm sure you'll sort something out, because, like it or not ;), you really are the "screen face" of bodyboarding right now, and noone can argue that you don't do a great job, you have the history and knowledge behind you, and we all appreciate the passion you show, fix the commercials brother and get back in the game....

    Alex (if you're not already) - go talk to some real professional people about marketing the sport properly for gods sake. It's a multi milion dollar industry, events are still coming together at the 11th hour, and it shouldn't be that way. It's the first piece of groundwork to securing the future of the sport - securing the events.

    It's easy for me to be an armchair general, but I don't care - that's my 2 (and a bit) cents.

    Steve, thanks for sticking your neck out and trying to get some "real" information thats not dressed up as corporate bollocks with wooliness and a bit of vague and a dash of bs sauce on top. As a bodyboarder, to see this is so shit, and to see people just getting away with it is even shitter. Keep up the good work mate, and thanks again for your efforts.

  5. IBA just needs to get their shit together.

  6. This is why I refused to support the "Salvemos Puerto Escondido" campaign. I never trusted that the money would go to the right people. I previously worked with Gregg on the Milkshakes brand and he proved himself to be incredibly difficult to work with and completely untrustworthy. This is why I left the brand. I have no respect for the man. I'm just so sad that he ever was involved in the sport of bodyboarding because he screwed over every good person in the industry and has left a huge mess in his wake. I do hope for a good future for the IBA and the athletes. Our sport really is just so incredible. Fronton last year was the most mindblowing event I've ever seen in any sport. The potential for this sport to become something big is ridiculous.
    I agree with Crispy's comments ^^

    1. Lilly I felt the same as you however I did dontate. I brought 2 tees and had them sent to Steve to give to a couple of the kids over there in Brazil. I dont regret it -I knew I was spending my money on giving rather than taking.
      At the time of the fundraiser I sent an inbox to GT confronting him over the funds being given to the community of Mexico.
      After a long rave from Gregg on where the funds went I was told my negativity was becoming tiring....
      Around that time I posted a photo of the new life-saving towers rebuilt by Nike on PMBA.
      These towers were the very same towers we were being asked to donate to.
      Last year before the Port Macquarie Bodyboarding Festival was ran Port Mac council handed $20,000 over to GT in support of the event. Whatever happened to that money I dont know. What I do know was that the winners and the runner - ups of the Teams Challenge did not receive their prize money totalling $7000. The prize monies were to be paid out of the $20,000
      That act of deception took from our local club any future support from the council - our reputation was tarnished unfairly. PMBA were held accountable.
      We have not completely recovered.

    2. I can't believe there is any legitimacy to the 2013 IBA tour after Lily and Margo's posts. Why is the organization continuing to run events in light of the unethical allegations? Its not acceptable to the fans, the riders, or the sponsors.

      Stop the tour and open the books to public scrutiny. To move forward without a vetting process will institutionally compromise the IBA. Why would a legitimate sponsor want to associate its name brand with this kind of behavior.

      Stop the 2013 tour and end the farce.

  7. As Teza has previously noted in some of his commentary on the politics of the administration of bodyboarding, as soon as you put out the cheese, the rats will come... So it comes to pass that the biggest, fattest rat who was blatently feasting away greedily on the sport and often leaving a telltale mess in his wake, could no longer be ignored by the bewildered onlookers - those who had set the table, prepared the meal and come to the party to dine sensibly were all left shaking their heads in disgust. Geez if I was the CEO of a respected global company and was approached to support the "IBA" world tour and I had done even the bare minimum to research its track record I wonder how impressed I would be with my findings and how likely I would be to invest in Bodyboarding? Then again if I had my own company and was ruthless enough I could claim to be the next messiah, then spin it all for personal gain and with some clever accounting divert a heap of funds out of the tour and into my own pocket. Oh, wait, sounds familiar... hmmmm, maybe it's time we called the IBA something else and started again...

  8. When Action Jackson approached me with his idea of running this article, I warned him that it may ruffle some feathers. He took that in consideration but simply wanted to inform the bodyboarders of the world. Simple as that. The great thing about this piece is that'll get you, the bodyboarder, to take our sport by hand and guide it yourselves. Where do you want to take it?

    1. thanks for finally the truth, just hope get the right curse of action soon and we can have our beloved tour like it should cheers !

  9. Jesus, can't some real men step up and handle business for the good of bodyboarding? You guys had the BEST event broadcast I've seen, what a waste! Time to work with the mofuckin USA (mainland) again, ignoring us is killing you!

  10. Steve, thanks very much for trying to know what's going on with the tour..
    I'm really worried with the future, especially reading the comments by icons of the sport like Lilly and Manny V..
    Let's hope that Alex can turn the situation in the best way possible..
    Also, i think that there are some people that make a huge amount of money with bodyboarding that could help to change the actual scenario, but i'm not really sure if they are interested in doing so..
    Crispy really nailed it.

  11. I am really saddened to see this all coming down within the sport of bodyboarding. Lots of fingers being pointed in lots of directions.

    IMHO, at the end of the day all of this would best be suited if the sport was promoted by the business people of the sport and not any investors that want to make a buck.

    The industry HAS to come together if we are going to make it....thanks Steve for your thorough accounting and questions to the right people....Patti Serrano

  12. Why do you want the sport to be popular? who cares about the comps? The more people bodyboarding the more crowded the waves. Let the IBA have their party.

  13. IBA needs to begin from the bottom .. Needs a good team to build something strong, people who loves this sport; Another thing, you can have an event with great and perfect waves but without FANS is nothing... and Puerto Rico wants a GSS

  14. I've been told it costs US$150k to run an IBA GSS event. These are only educated guesses but the judges airfare, accommodation, expenses and payment for services must run at $3k per judge minimum. Multiplied by 8 judges and your looking at $24k. Same deal for the camera guys. 2-3 of those is another $6 - 9k. Add the webcast crew, photographer, commentator, contest director and you're well over $50k. Then you have costs associated with each event location including event work force, security, scaffolding, generators, tents, cables, relocatables for webcast crew, judges and commentary. Camera hire. Freighting of IBA gear to each event and I'm sure internet connection for the live web feed doesn't come cheap. Maybe another $40k for all this. Add another $40k for prize money and you're looking at over $130k. IBA General Manager is a full time job and no ones going to do that for free. Lets say the GM is on a conservative $60k per year. This must be added back into the IBA yearly budget, so divided by 6 events and you can add another $10k for GM salary to each event. That's $140,000 before any incidentals that tend to crop up when running a tour such as the IBA. Based on this info I think we have confirmed that a GSS event does in fact cost US$150,000 to run. Sponsorship offsets these costs by around $50k and sometimes more, sometimes less. But from what I know, the problem has been that for the past 2.5 years the IBA has been unable to secure the full 150k of funding for each GSS event. This means that each event has been run at a considerable loss. The investors that everyone have been hating on, have been taking a hit on each event, which ultimately comes out of their back pockets. After 2.5 years I don't doubt its somewhere well over USD 1 million and counting. I'm sure the investors went into this thing with the goal being to create an amazing tour that showcases the sport of bodyboarding, and on the back of that, to secure major backing to the tune of 1 million per year from a Red Bull, GoPro or the like. This is when the investors would have seen a return on their investment into the IBA. And that's what investing is all about. Taking your money and putting it into a vehicle that you think will yield a good return. If it wasn't for these guys we would never have had the IBA GSS events, like we've all witnessed over the past 2 and a half years. Now they have realised that their money has gone into a black hole and I'm sure they will not continue to throw away more of their money for too much longer.

    Plain and simple: the IBA GSS Tour is not economically viable in its current setup.

  15. Hi Steve,

    Feel free to contact me, no one has as yet, maybe I can help you clear up some of your unanswered questions. Lilly and Margo I'd like to hear from you to if possible.

    You can get my details through Alex Leon,

    Richard Nimmo IBA GM

  16. Richard,

    I'm glad you've posted on this thread, I'm personally excited to make contact with you, I'm primarily speaking for myself, but if my views coincide with some of the bodyboarding community, who love the sport, and who don't like to see it ridden roughshod over, then all the better.

    You clearly don't have to, but it would go a bloody long way at this stage to give an update to the worldwide community, and not just Steve, it would build trust, increase confidence, and give you a better foundation for upcoming events - it makes sense.

    Don't mince your words, tell us how it is, what you plan to do about it. The community will respect you more for doing that than we will for hiding in the shadows offering answers behind the scenes - we've just had circa 2 years of that, and it doesn't wash I'm afraid, transparency is key here.

    You obviously need to turn this thing around fast - that much is obvious, and with over 2 million owing to the creditors, it has to be the top priority, and since there are no tangible assets to sell, then your only options are to either make it fly, or let it die.

    The community is angry right now, we've been royally shafted, appeasement is the order of the day, tell us all how you plan to make it fly.

    Crispin Wright, Bodyboarder.

  17. Darn well said! I have been screaming communication - honesty and transparency for the past 2 years.
    Alex has given me your contact details Richard - I will email you over the weekend.

  18. Just to clarify to the community,
    the questions i couldn't answer were questions I couldn't give 100% clarification on and therefore i would have been speculating.
    This is not a blame game. Im not going to throw Teza or Gregg under a bus for the previous history, its not how I operate. This tour is a very difficult operation to make successful and we (IBA) as a team are all trying our hardest to turn this into a positive sport for the future. We have reached out to the riders who are also contributing to the help because in the end its their tour and its all about them. I just ask the community to stand behind myself and our team with your support, positivity and confidence. Our sport needs a positive community backing right now. If the IBA Pty Ltd fails in the next 12 months then sorry to say but Bodyboarding will be a sport that no corporations will touch or affiliate with for years to come. The sport relies on the growth and community support globally. Once we receive some major sponsorship support you will all be able to watch the the most talented Bodyboarders in the best waves on a regular basis and hopefully on your own television soon. The time is now people to support our drive and vision... thank you... Alex Leon- IBA World Tour Manager.

  19. Bodyboard community will support, but the IBA managing team must be honest, clear and professional. Don´t try to hide the truth. Show us a IBA GSS budget in an account report, like other sports do.
    The Bodyboard community believes someone is taking money from bodyboarding and if we dont trust IBA we don´t trust the sponsors. You show us your bills and if we see the money going back to bodyboarding, then a trust between us will born and IBA will have the support tha it needs