Rocktober swells and Xcel-lent Sunset

Gary Kewley
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Friday - October 26, 2007
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Bobby Morris
Australia’s Bobby Morris getting ready to bottom turn at Sunset Beach at the 2006 Xcel Pro presented by No Fear

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers!

Wow, what a run of swells for the country in the past week! Rocktober finally turned it on! Wave warriors got one swell for Thursday (Oct. 18), one for last weekend, one for Tuesday, a small one for Thursday (Oct. 25), and have one expected for Sunday - that’s five swells in 10 days! This doesn’t include the small SSW swell this past week and the bigger one for this weekend! You just gotta love our Hawaiian paradise. Surfers were (and I mean “were”) complaining how small October was the first two weeks. Not anymore. Stoked!

The timing works perfectly for the 24th annual Xcel Pro presented by No Fear at Sunset Beach. Owner Ed D’Ascoli is renowned for scoring big, perfect Sunset Beach. They make the call for the three days of competition somewhere in a two-week holding period, Oct 27 through Nov. 10. For the majority of the last 24 years, Sunset has produced classic 6- to 10-foot jacking surf. Now that’s what I call “Xcel-lent” judgment and fortune.

Of course, Ed doesn’t exactly see it like that. He humbly believes in making his own luck with a healthy dose of hard work and experience mixed with respect for Mother Nature. In fact, his business and his contest depend on adapting to her. Xcel Wetsuits has been doing this for about a quarter century. His reward comes from scoring the best Sunset for the best aspiring local and international surfers. Most of these talented athletes have no other way to break into the ranks of the Vans Triple Crown. The Xcel Pro gives them their chance of a lifetime.

Another great event in Ed’s professional life just happened - he sold to Billabong. He gets to relax a little more and run the show for the next four years while transitioning his way out. Then it’s ... who knows?

I had the privilege of interviewing one of Hawaii’s most successful businessmen, a fine surfer and friend, Ed D’Ascoli.

GQ: Hey, Ed!

ED: Sunday, Monday ...

GQ: (He’s already focused and knows when he’s going to run the Xcel Pro.) Yep, ‘cause after that it goes a little quiet ... gotta get it while it’s hot, right?

ED: Right, they’re calling for a swell every three or four days so we can gauge by that ...

GQ: So how does it feel to be an employee vs. employer? Probably a little bit better?

ED: (Laughing) Oh, God ...

GQ: There are rumors on the surf street that Xcel has a new $10 million wetsuit, but you can’t say and I’m not going to ask.

ED: It’s undisclosed (the amount Billabong paid Ed).

GQ: Fair game ... but what was the sales process, like dealing with Billabong?

ED: It wasn’t hard, just tedious ... they have experts in every area ... but I knew what was going on since I’ve run most every area of the business. We did our due diligence all the way. It was still a learning experience.

GQ: How about words for the young businessman?

ED: Just keep your administrative side of the business in order and it will always serve you well ...  make it a habit ...  daily, monthly, yearly.

GQ: Xcel is 25?

ED: Yes; in fact, Xcel Wetsuits began in July of 1982, so 25 years this year. Reid (Inouye, from Heavy Water mag) came to me and wanted to start the HPAC series to give opportunity to local surfers. So we traded product at that time and set up a tent and called it the “Xcel.” So, this is the 24th year of the event. I knew Reid from surfing Sunset.

GQ: 24 years ... what does that feel like?

ED: Didn’t we just do this (the other day)?

GQ: (Laughing) I thought I was ready for how fast this year was going to go ... but I wasn’t. So, what would you like to say to those who work for Xcel?

ED: Xcel is the people who work for it ... Xcel is the sum of its parts ... I’ve had lots of people for 25 years and many for more than 20 years ... there’s a lot of loyalty in the company and they’re excited about the change because it’s for the better. I’ve set it up to grow without me being there.

GQ: Billabong and Xcel are two great companies ... one great marriage.

ED: Yes, and we’re in it because we like the lifestyle of surf.

GQ: So, do you get to surf to your heart’s content?

ED: Seems like for some reason since I’ve turned 50, I’ve been surfing as much as my body will allow.

GQ: (Laughing) I know what you mean, Ed. I’ll be talking to Ed every morning at around 7 starting Saturday to know “on, off or standby” status. The hotlines are 596-SURF, 638-RUSH, 596-WAVE as well as SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM. The chances of going Sunday are Xcel-lent!

See you there and back here next week.

GQ, dropping in 4 U!


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