Letter from the Executive Director

Vipe Desai, Surf Industry Members Association

My journey with the ocean began in elementary school. I was just an inner-city kid growing up in Los Angeles who had never seen the ocean, but a school oceanography field trip out of the Port of Los Angeles would change that - and my life.

That experience opened up a whole new world for me.

After that trip, it was back to my school - far from the ocean - and I was left dreaming of everything I experienced that day.

Instead of taking me to the beach, my parents decided it would be a treat to take me to see Jaws on the big screen. That stopped me dead in my tracks, and I decided that a large fish that eats people and boats was not for me. 

I soon forgot about the ocean.

But the universe would intervene and redirect me back to the ocean. One day, a young student at my elementary school came to school with a BB Gun and caused some trouble, a few kids got hurt, and fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

My parents had already thought about moving, and we made our way to Torrance. I made friends with a whole host of young new friends, and they introduced me to surfing - which I had no idea what that was - but I went along with it.

We hit the local surf shop (ET Surfboards) and got dialed in with boards, wetsuits, leashes, and wax.

Later that week, we headed to the beach in the middle of one of the most significant El Niño swells - frigid water and all, wearing only springs suits, and somehow we evaded drowning. We made it back to shore, laughing and seawater gushing out our noses, but we were hooked. The stoke had made its way into our hearts - even though none of us caught a wave or stood up that day.

We knew what was ahead once we learned how to surf.

My love for surfing and the business of surfing only grew - strike missions down to Baja, got an education at Point Loma Nazarene University while surfing in between classes, opened up a surf shop with one of my best friends, and helped new friends launch some of the most recognized brands in the action sports industry and along the way - finding my voice to speak out and stand up for our oceans - twice - before members of Congress.

Simply put, This has been a fantastic journey - the surf tribe welcomed me with open arms, and I now have family and friends worldwide in the best surf zones.

These experiences and relationships have led me to the Surf Industry Members Association. I'm here to support an industry that helped raise me, and now, our beloved sport is on the world's stage.


Duke Kahanamoku's dream has been fulfilled. We're all part of his dream, and the inspiration he passed along to so many along the way continues to bring new participants and enthusiasts into our world.

My work here at SIMA is to support our industry, help our members thrive, and use the full economic force of the surf industry to protect our ocean for future generations and our livelihoods.

There's a ton of work to do, but I know that we're up for it.

We have to be!

The planet is breaking down, but the surf industry is stepping up.

We have many exciting years ahead of us, and we will continue to create opportunities that support the growth of the surf industry through fearless innovation, stoke, and sustainability.

If you're not a SIMA member yet, I invite you to join us - we can only do this together.

Onward and upward, together.

Vipe Desai | Executive Director

Surf Industry Members Association