After weeks of speculation and insider gossip, it was officially announced last month that Bobby Martinez, the biggest and brightest 805 raised surf star currently shinning on the ASP’s World Championship Tour, has parted ways with longtime surf board sponsor Channel Islands – a pillar of the Santa Barbara surf scene since 1969 – and hooked up with Australia’s DHD label.
Rumors began months ago that Martinez was less than thrilled with C.I. since it was bought out by snowboard industry titan Jake Burton of Burton Snowboards in a multi-million dollar deal last year. But little was made of it as he continued to ride the designs of Al Merrick, the same man who has been making the 26-year-old Westside Santa Barbara native’s boards since he was a teenager.
However, this spring, after test-driving some of Darren Handley‘s DHD shapes during the Australian leg of the WCT, Martinez became an official convert. In a statement announcing the arrival of his newest team member, Handley said, “It wasn’t one of those million-dollar deals that you read about:We just felt we were heading in the same direction, things clicked, and it just made sense.” Not only did Martinez ride a DHD board to a third place finish at the Bell’s Beach event in April along the south coast of Oz, but both the Men’s and Women’s 2007 World Champions, Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore, also ride for Handley.
Currently, Martinez is ranked 10th overall on the 46-man world tour with 4 of the 11 international events completed. Sitting atop the leader board with a commanding lead is one of Santa Barbara’s newest part-time residents and longtime Channel Islands devotee Kelly Slater. The next stop on the tour is Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa, kicking off on July 10.