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.