Surfing Empty Rights and Saving Lives. Why Mark Price, Machado and Shane Dorian support SurfAid

Join Firewire’s SURFAID Cup team here.

If you’re friends with Firewire Co-Founder and CEO Mark Price you receive the same email each year, in June. It begins

“It’s that time of year again when we raise money for SurfAid through Firewire’s participation in the SurfAid Cup. With that in mind, anything you’re able to donate would be greatly appreciated – no amount is too small, and of course no amount is too large either 🙂 Join us here.”

Mark Price surfing in the SurfAid Cup at Malibu.

To know Mark personally is to understand how literal the 🙂 at the end of his email is. Perfect rights excite him. But what motivates his yearly note most is experiences he’s had personally in the Mentawaiis and the time he’s spent listening to Dr. Dave Jenkins directly.

If you’re not yet in the know, Dr. Dave is the founder of SurfAid, and he is the perfect example of what often happens in life when you make plans – you end up with something different than you planned.

In 1999 Dr. Dave went on a surf trip for the same reasons you do. Work was stressful. He wanted to surf perfect waves. And he did. in Sumbawa. Surfed out one day, possibly with a familiar combination of noodle arms and burnt eyeballs, he played tourist in a nearby village and was shocked. He states it plainly:

‘I was the first doctor ever to visit the village. I saw women and children dying from malaria, malnutrition and inadequate living standards – things that I knew were treatable and, better still, preventable by helping them change behaviors such as basic hygiene and better breastfeeding practices.’

As a Doctor he was able to see opportunity in a scene that may have struck you or I as merely sad.

The gist of it was this: The simplest and easiest education efforts could cause an enormous and seismic shift in the health and well being of thousands of people. And by educating these indigenous populations about some things that we take for granted in the first world, SurfAid could improve the health, well-being, and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions.

Today SurfAid empowers individuals in Nias, the Mentawaii Islands, and Eastern Indonesia. And Mark Price with his team (that you can join here) are proud to support.

Rob Machado and Mark Price are on the same team. Click this image to join them.

SurfAid’s Erin Miserlis caught up with Mark this week to discuss what it’s like to be a three-time SurfAid Cup champion, what’s meaningful about Malibu and why Firewire supports SurfAid throughout the year.

How did you become involved with SurfAid and what inspired you to help support their cause?

I went to the Mentawaii Islands for the first time in 2002 and saw the small SurfAid donation boxes on our charter boat, which piqued my interest. A couple of years later I attended the SIMA Surf Summit when Dr. Dave gave a presentation and it was clear that he was the real deal. What impressed me the most was how inexpensive mosquito nets are when you consider how good of a job they do at preventing malaria. They’re a simple and easy solution to a terrible problem.

Surf exploration can bring us into contact with people whose needs are greater than ours. We often want to help the local communities, but don’t know how or where to start. How do you see SurfAid bridging this gap?

SurfAid has paid its dues and then some – establishing long-standing, deep relationships in the Mentawaiis. This is no fly-by-night operation. In fact, during the Tsunami relief efforts, large global organizations like the Red Cross had to rely on SurfAid to help direct their relief efforts.

Firewire has a creative partnership with SurfAid that involves donating boards throughout the year. How else do you leverage support through Firewire Surfboards?

Obviously, we field a team in the Malibu SurfAid Cup each year. Last year we raised over $16,000 for the organization, and thankfully we were able to enjoy Malibu with only a handful of surfers in the water!

What advice would you give other CEO’s or business owners who would like to get involved with SurfAid?

In our view, successful companies of the future need to address how they do business as much as what they do. Lowering carbon footprints and the overall toxicity of your business operations are two avenues that need to be pursued, and giving back is another. We also believe that no matter your business success from P&L perspective, if you don’t also give back along the way, everything else you have accomplished is diminished. And just in case anyone thinks that only pure altruism drives us, we’d also argue that your customers would appreciate your efforts and reward you with increased loyalty – so there is actually a business case to be made if you prefer to look at it from a strictly profit and loss point of view on your balance sheet.

Mark’s favorite wave outside of Indonesia. J-Bay in South Africa.

What’s your favorite wave break outside of Indo, and how does it compare to surfing in Indo?

J-Bay is my favorite, aside from needing a wetsuit. It’s a perfect right-hander so there are many similarities to many of the breaks I’ve surfed in Indo. In Indo, my favorite break is probably Rifles.

The SurfAid Cup Malibu is scheduled for September 9th. Firewire is on a winning streak and has a title to uphold. What’s your secret to winning?

I think it’s because we are a surfboard company, so we have great surfer-employees like Chuy Reyna, and our team riders like Taylor Jensen and Rob Machado are totally into it and love to compete. We’re also fortunate to raise quite a bit of money so we usually get first or second choice from the Pro Surfer’s list for our 5th team member.

The Firewire team in known for its incredible roster. Last year you brought Rob Machado along to surf with you in Malibu. Any names from this year’s roster that you’d like to share?

I hope we can field the exact same team. If Rob is not traveling he’s in, and Chuy, Taylor and myself are all confirmed to round out the team.

Behind Mark is the iconic wall at Malibu. Part of a beach landscape that has gone unchanged for decades.

What is one of your favorite SurfAid Cup memories?

Probably last years event because the waves were so good, and to share the beach and the water with legends like Rob Machado and Shane Dorian, as well as old friends like Alan Sarlo was incredibly special. Malibu represents a huge chunk of surfings history and it’s one of the most recognizable spots in the world. When you surf in the SurfAid Cup you’re surfing the same place Dora surfed. And visually, the beach looks the same from the water as it did forty years ago. No condos. No hotels.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Please support SurfAid – no donation is too small and their effectiveness in putting your contributions to work directly, and improving and saving peoples lives, is unparalleled in philanthropic circles.

Want to join Firewire’s team (and receive a Tomo Surfboards hat?) go here.