Meet the SLSA Directors – Sally LaSalle

Part 4 of a series of 5 by Flynn Sheridan

Sally - Jan 2013Flynn: Tell us how you got involved in Second Life (SL) surfing. What surfing experiences do you have in RL?
Sally: I was born in Australia. The beach is almost an integral part of life there.  I spent a lot of time at the beach on weekends or on holidays. I have windsurfed (a lot), boogie surfed but never surfed on a surf board.  My cousin is a surfboard maker so was around that environment a lot too watching boards being designed, made and decorated.

My SL Sim Chi was created at almost the exact same time that surfing was created in SL.  Thats kind of how I got involved in it.

Flynn: How long have you been competing in SLSA competitions? Do you participate in other competitions? What is your favorite thing about comps and what do you like least?
Sally: I have been involved in SL Surfing since before the SLSA was founded.  Initially I contributed as a Judge and then as a Head Judge, I have officiated in over 30 competitions.  My first season as a surfer was 2009 season 2 and i was rookie of the year that season :D. I enjoy competitive as well as non competitive surfing.  I have surfed at the ABSSL comps, the ASA comps, the Vibes Surf Jams, the PCX Tandem Events,

My favorite thing about surf comps is the excitement and the nervousness you get every time you get called to your heat, the jokes and the stokes of the other surfers in the heat, the whole shared experience and the fun party-like atmosphere on the decks.  The anticipation and excitement of seeing the event results unfold and seeing new surfers developing and improving.  The sense of achievement of seeing people enjoy a well run event, and knowing I was a small part of something special.

Flynn: What do you think was the most important contribution (or decision) you made during the prior board session for surfers? Sometimes its hard to say individually what you did, if so, then what are you most proud about that the group did for SLSA?
Sally: I think the introduction of new surfboard technology (HP) was a defining moment for the SLSA.  People are always uncomfortable with change but it is, I believe, change that helps us all grow and to expand our horizons.

Personally I was proud of the introduction of the new live surfing scoreboards I made that can be viewed on the Internet or on shared media prims in world.

Flynn: How will you improve the experience for SLSA surfers during the coming board session? How will you continue to connect to the various groups and personalities so that you can represent their interests and possible concerns?
Sally: Instead of “you” I always prefer to think of it as “we”. Not just ‘we” the board, but “we” the members.

We are developing a weekly newsletter for social surfing activities.
We are working on the Surf Quest non-competition activity concept.
We are working to improve reporting to the members on activities with reports from all directors, not just financial officer.
We are working on a whole batch of surfing courses.
We are working on a pre-season party.
We are going to hold a competition based on LSD surfing technology.
We are making a comprehensive edit of all the event rules to clarify each rule and to minimize any confusion.
(BTW we are using the SLSA Wiki to do this, and this new community contribution mechanism will be opened up to all members.
We have passed a motion recognizing Solace Estates as an honorary Gold Sponsor based on the monetary value that group provides in order to strengthen ties with them and their 6000 members to our mutual benefits.
We have purchased a communications system to help event staff avoid the unreliability of ad-hoc group conferences which should help comps run even more smoothly.

.. and apart from all that .. we are..
Planning for the next season … including ..
Selecting and fixing event dates.
Calling for Surf Sim Venues
Selecting board types for the comps
Calling for Sponsors
Training New Staff

So as you can see we are pretty busy 🙂
Flynn: We know you have worked your butts off, most of the surfers are quite happy with the decisions and directions the board has taken, others are confused by some of the changes. How can the board be more transparent in their decision making process?
Sally: Back in June 2008. I created the SLSA News Forum within the SLSA web forum and made the very first post providing an update of what the then board was working on, the goal was for that board and future boards to continue to provide monthly updates to the members on what was being worked on so that we could solicit input on projects/changes before they were enacted.  General updates have seemed to have slipped, although I recently made the suggestion to the current board that each of the directors makes a monthly report of the activities in their own area.  The financial reports have been consistently made and will be continue to be made each month.

I think that ‘confusion’ only arises when the members aren’t given enough notice of any upcoming change.  This typically happens when a rule change is made prior to season commencement.  The difficulty comes when a rule change is proposed between seasons, and the director proposing the change cannot get any input or comment from the other directors who for whatever reason are busy with other things.  This leads to a rushed implementation prior to the season so that a rule can be applied to the entire season and not (unfairly) to just part of a season.  It is important to remember that directors are unpaid volunteers and give their own time for the benefit of the members, sometimes RL interferes with the ability to contribute, and I think that realistically that is always going to be the case. We aren’t perfect but we do the best we can.  I would encourage anyone that has a concern to go to the source, or to cross-check rumors with the official staff.

Flynn: As founder, we envisioned that SLSA would be more than putting on competitions. Do you think SLSA today has a greater role to play in the SL surfing community and why?
Sally: The founders of the SLSA had great vision.

The SLSA has always been a non-proprietary and democratic organization.  Close to 12 months ago in one of my previous terms as director I floated the idea of “Surf Quest” as a fun activity to get people involved in all kinds of surf related activities that were unrelated to competitions.  This concept is being revived and revised and we should have something for the members in the coming months in that regard.

In my opinion the SLSA provides a lot more than just comps already.  We have the SLSA home sim, which is a place that any member can designate as their home sim, and a place they can try out the latest waves/boards or just hang out and relax.  It is the venue for social gatherings, and for training.  A rich schedule of courses on all kinds of topics is in the works too.

We encourage the participation of new surf sims as a way to promote those sims and to spread surfing culture across the grid, last season we had 3 new competition venues which was great to see :).

We have little power over the economics of surfing and surfing technology in SL has been dominated by a couple of players.  This is also going to change, with the development and encouragement of a number of open source surfing technology projects.

I also have worked very hard behind the scenes to try and broker a better deal for surfboard vendors and sims. I have to say that on the whole this has been fairly unsuccessful, because we have been working in a monopoly or duopoly vendor environment.  The vendors had no fiscal incentive to change what they were doing and so surf sims have struggled to make a living as a result.  This is what led me to conceive of the whole Open Source Surfboard idea as a way to potentially rejuvenate surfboard technology and also to give surfboard designers and sellers a larger proportion of the income from surf board sales.  Surf Sim owners have always struggled because they sacrifice large portions of their sims to create surf breaks and cant rent that area out.  This contribution by the surf sims was, in my opinion, never fairly rewarded by the surfboard and surf wave producers.

That’s it for the tough questions.  🙂

Flynn: What board is your current favorite and why?
Sally: Seems to always change, I like the HP boards at the moment, I admit i was a skeptic at first but once i got the hang of them they are fun and smooth to ride, and a challenge to master.

Flynn: What wave is your current favorite and why?
Sally: I think any of the new Maoli waves that are mesh and keyframe based, these are both smoothe to ride and very low impact (low lag) on the sim.

Flynn: What are some of your favorite SL surfing spots (a location is much more than a wave) and why?
Sally: Well of course I’m biased and love my sims Chi and Tai 😀

Solace Dreams has a nice vibe to it and a good rotation of waves.

Tsunami is always welcoming, a nice break and has a nice social vibe.

I have to say that one of the best things about the surf season is getting out to all the surf sims for practice and learning and experiencing them I’d encourage everyone to do that , even if your not going to compete.

Flynn: Anything else you would like readers to know about you?
Sally:I would like everyone to know that they are always 100% welcome to IM me and talk about any concern they may have.   My door is always always open and I will always listen and try my best to help.  But one thing you should know, while I listen to individuals, I always weigh decisions based on the nett benefit or cost for the majority of members.    Saying no, is the hardest part of being a director, fortunately its not something we have to do often..


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