The 5th annual Global Wave Conference, set for March 4-8, 2018 in Santa Cruz, California, will bring together the surf community, alongside outside leaders from the tech and conservation spaces to discuss what we can do to protect our oceans.

Save the Waves Coalition will host this year’s Northern California event, and in partnership with other organizations like SIMA and Surfrider Foundation, have pulled together a group of more than 70 panelists and 10 keynote speakers throughout the four-day program, which will focus on several themes concerning environmental threats and protecting vulnerable surf areas, explains Executive Director Nik Strong-Cvetich.

“All of this is so critical, we can’t ignore it,” he says. “We have to work together.”

global wave conference

Save the Waves Coalition Executive Director and Global Wave Conference organizer Nik Strong-Cvetich

For Strong-Cvetich and others involved, the question isn’t why should the industry attend, it’s how can the industry not be there? “Surfing’s future is dependent on oceans and these coastal places,” he says. “Without healthy ocean environments and waves that break we have no sport. It’s the heart of surfing.”

With topics ranging from “Technology for Change,” to workshops arming attendees with social activism tips from Patagonia ambassadors Greg Long and Kyle Theirmann and Environmental Coordinator Jenn Hewiit, the lineup is poised to both educate and get discussions flowing.

Former World Champion Shaun Tomson and social media guru Guy Kawasaki, as well as Patagonia ambassador Liz Clark, are just a few of the prominent figures lined up to share their views.

global wave conference

Former World Champion surfer and author Shaun Tomson will give a keynote alongside Guy Kawasaki on Monday, March 5, at 1 p.m.

An impressive roster of respected industry figures are also on the docket, including Vissla Vice President of International Business and Sustainability Chris Evans, Bureo CEO and Co-founder David Stover, Finisterre Founder Tom Kay and Firewire CEO Mark Price.

“Today's consumer concern for the environment and how companies actually address this within the constraints of capitalism is growing by leaps and bounds,” says Firewire’s Price. “Events like the GWC, that share conservation case studies and business best practices around these issues, are an important part of the path towards a better future."

global wave conference

Firewire CEO Mark Price is scheduled to speak alongside Sustainable Surf’s Michael Stewart, Finisterre’s Tom Kay and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s Kahi Pacarro.

This level of transparency is the new norm, at the forefront of focus for many companies in our industry and beyond. Strong-Cvetich views Santa Cruz as the perfect hub for innovative minds to congregate and make change: “It’s home to the world’s best surfers, brightest conservation leaders and is right around the corner from Silicon Valley. The Global Wave Conference is an interesting intersection of how to use technology to solve some of the problems we face.”

Price and Finisterre’s Kay will sit on the “Climate and Sustainability in the Surf Industry” panel, Wednesday, March 7, at 10:15 a.m. Vissla’s Evans and Bureo’s Stover will lead a workshop Monday, March 5, on reducing marine plastic pollution. For a look at the full conference agenda, visit

The event will also include the annual Save The Waves Film Festival on Tuesday, March 6, at the Patagonia Outlet Store, hosting filmmakers Chris Malloy, Sachi Cunningham, Rodrigo Farias Moreno and Greg MacGillivray.

For those interested in attending, tickets are still available for this year’s Global Wave Conference. More information can be found at

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