6 October, 2023 6 October, 2023

The Last Zag… A Word from the Publisher

Soon after we took over Zigzag, I had a meeting with our guiding guru, Craig Sims, the man who took Zigzag to the heights of its business and cultural success in the early 2000s. He reminded me that no one really owns Zigzag, we’re all just caretakers. Established in 1976 by legends Mike Larmont, Paul Naude and Doug McDonald, Zigzag is now the 3rd longest running surf magazine in the world. Only Australia’s Tracks (1970) and Surfing World (1962) have been around longer. From 1976 to 2023, Zigzag has produced 297 editions. Since I’ve been at the helm (we took over in September 2013), we’ve made and published 64 of them. That’s almost 22% of all the Zigzags so far. No small feat.

For years people have been telling us that “print is dead”. But we never drank that Kool Aid and kept cranking out our beloved South African surf magazine. Mostly, the audience and industry backed us. When times got tight, (as they did during the end of the Zuma / State Capture years) we doubled down on quality and rolled with the punches. Throughout, Zag continued to break even. Any gains, we pumped back into the business. No one got rich, this is surf media after all, but we were having fun, doing something we love. The evidence was right there printed on the pages.

When COVID struck, we did a little mid-face redirect, then cut back to 4 issues a year but increased the overall quality and almost doubled the amount of pages, offering a premium African surf story-telling experience in print that holds its own alongside other premium surf print operations like The Surfer’s Journal in the US and White Horses in Australia. The ‘new template’ of the modern print surf magazine. For 4 years we held up our end!

And then 2023 happened. Loadshedding, emigration, inflation, the Rand’s decline and general pessimism about the future. Business in South Africa got even harder. We sell a premium, lifestyle product, that sits pretty close to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As much as I believe surf mags, and surfing, to be crucial to life itself, our audience has shown us that our product is just not as crucial as bread and petrol. Publishing Zigzag in 2023 has felt like the old Bruce Springsteen line in ‘Highway Patrolman’: “Them wheat prices kept on dropping / til it was like we were getting robbed”. The energy going into each edition, was just not coming back to us. Every issue left us a little shorter than the last. Relationships with our contributors and creditors became frayed. And eventually, on a personal note, burnout caught up with me.

Ironically, the 3 issues of 2023: Exiles, Mozambique and Groms, are to me at least, among the finest Zigzags ever published. But that’s how it goes. They may not have been the roaring financial successes that they should have been, the content, design and production are world class – and so is the team who produced them. Financial success or not, I am no less proud of them.

So where am I going with all of this? Ultimately, times of struggle demand that we face our existential questions. What is the the purpose of Zigzag? This is a fundamental inquiry. Answering it will illuminate the path forward. I’ve been turning it around in my head for a few months now. And while I think I know some of the answers, and attempt to answer them below. I invite you, our stakeholders, to contribute. Please drop me a mail with your thoughts and ideas.

As the veteran surf journalist, Nick Carroll says, and I paraphrase loosely from memory: “A magazine exists as a line between its audience and its owners. Everything else (the surfers, contributors, subjects and even the industry) is strung up, somewhere along that continuum.”

For the audience, Zigzag offers entertainment and information. We facilitate connections to our shared surf culture, community and experience. And in so doing, hopefully, we inspire and create value in your lives. Simply put: surfing makes people happy. And happy people do more good in the world than miserable ones.

For the surfers, we offer a platform for exposure. This leads to recognition and affirmation in their skills and abilities and hopefully engenders a sense of belief that drives their careers forward. By showcasing talented surfers doing amazing things, we play a role in inspiring others to match and exceed those exploits and this contributes to the cycle of innovation.

For the contributors, it’s an opportunity to mix passion, technical ability and talent, to capture unique and original moments, that become surf history and this documentation, story-telling, myth-making creates the culture. The stories we tell ourselves shape who and what we are.

For the surf industry, we offer access to an audience that is enthusiastic, inspired and fixated on surfing. A market that aspires for exactly the products our surf industry manufactures. It sounds simple, but in truth, our role for the advertiser is much more important and nuanced. Brands can only be ‘surf brands’ if they invest and participate directly in surf culture. To be a ‘surf brand’, they have a purpose, and responsibility, beyond just selling apparel and products dressed up as ‘surf’. In order to be relevant and credible partners in surf culture, brands must invest in surfing’s cultural capital, (sponsoring athletes, events, exploration, while simultaneously developing innovative core products). The longevity of their businesses depend on it. And as Africa’s largest surf media platform, our goal is to not just to be a mouthpiece for the tribe, but also to facilitate (and at times mediate) the surf brand’s investment in surf culture.

In the long view, all of the stuff we do, this act of creating and promoting surf storytelling, becomes a record of our days: the people, the swells, the rides and everything else that advances this most enjoyable culture of waveriding as it plays out on the southern tip of the African continent. A continent that is perfectly positioned, pointing like an arrow into the Roaring 40s (where waves are born) and with vast, under-explored coastlines with their own original and unique surfing cultures and expressions, stretching from Cape Town up to coastlines all the way to the Middle East and Europe. That’s our zone.

So here’s what’s next. At the end of 2023 we’ll be dropping the LAST ZIGZAG! (Last, in the sense that this will be the final edition of our quarterly print mag format).

Thereafter Zigzag is going electric! A whole new world of original African surf content awaits and will come at you thick and fast online and across social media. But fear not, we’re not abandoning behind our legacy of 297 issues of print magazines…

After the Last Zag print edition – we’re committed to producing a NEW yearly Zigzag African Surf Almanac! Who knows, if there’s enough love and support out there for the idea, we’ll do it twice a year. Winter & Summer.

Right now we’re busy digitizing our entire archive, and making these highly collectible historical print mags available for sale online. Now you too can own the entire Zigzag collection spanning 1976 – 2023. Shop the archive here.

From 2024, you’ll see a lot more of Zigzag original content online and social media as well as events and partner projects.

Our beloved subscribers will receive our new annual (or bi-annual) Surf Almanac, plus merch, plus full access to our new premium online channel, featuring:

– Live Action
– News
– Swell Events
– Surf Discoveries
– Travel and Exploration
+ Special Projects, like our Clutch program with Monster and our deep Corona Open J-Bay coverage.

We’re still working out the finer details, but as a Zigzag Premium Subscriber you will get a suite of amazing value, including:

– The Last Zag print mag – December 2023 + A Free Gift
– The Annual Zigzag African Surf Almanac – July 2024 + A Free Gift
– Monthly Premium Original Zigzag Content
– Access to the entire Zigzag Archive online
+ Free forecasting and surf coaching resources, event access, exclusive discounts and once-off offers and opportunities.

More on the full offering coming soon!

Finally, a heartfelt thank you for your enthusiasm, inspiration and support.


Andy and the team at Zigzag


  1. Name (required)Andrew Launder
    6 October, 2023 at 11:10 am · Reply

    This is sad 😞 . As a 58 year old surfer who’s been pawing through zags like they were porn mags , Zigzag has defined my surfing life through the ages. When it came to getting the next zag later on in life, I’d have to fight my kids off so I could perv at it first. Thanks for dedicating a big part of your life to this project. Just remember that you gave us loads of stoke and inspired people to surf and travel. Thanks for your time and effort. All the best in plugging the Digital Jol ( old school, I prefer print on the loo )
    Dries Vorster ( Vic Bay Grumpy Oom )

  2. Rennie
    6 October, 2023 at 11:25 am · Reply

    Wow. Being an avid ZZ reader and subscriber (on and off) since the mid 90’s. I can’t help but feel a bit saddened by this news. I suppose change is inevitable, and it’s a case of adapt or die. For me the purpose of the ZZ is to create content for SA surfing’s core/community. Irrespective of the platform it takes place on. I would suggest (if you haven’t already) you take a look at the Stab Premium business model. Creating content similar to this but with a South African/African flair will engage with SA’s surfing community. More exclusive video content alongside an annual publication opens up plenty of options for you guys.

    I wish you all the best and I take my hat off to you for making what must have been a difficult decision. Keep the Zag alive!

    Vic Bay

  3. Jurie Zietsman
    9 October, 2023 at 8:48 pm · Reply

    No worries, bro. You’re doing the right thing – ensuring you’ll keep on delivering the best pics and articles – passing on the stoke and transporting us to all the great surf spots around rhe globe, as well as our own. That’s the most important of all – not the marketing channel you use to get it to your loyal(and very thankful!) readers. Having been a windsurfer/surfer/kiter for 40+ yrs and now wing foiler, I’ve seen/read most of what has been published. With that history and piles of Zags, I subscribed to the premier foiling mag, which is only available indigital format. Surprise, suprise – I feel no less appreciative of the effort publishers and contributors put in, nor any less of a rush when reading about new locations and /or developments, surftrips, etc. I applaud your idea of a calender – it’s a great way of softening the transition (plse include a tide table and some eye candy for guys and girls😁). Surf your new wave and we’ll join you!

  4. EC cook
    18 October, 2023 at 2:39 am · Reply

    Right choice. Prioritize. Once a year could work well! Stay stoked with or without power and magazines. Shaka.

  5. Jerome Mosetic
    23 October, 2023 at 9:20 pm · Reply

    To everyone involved in the Zig Zag over the years, thanks for the great publication and content.
    Happy to hear there will be annual print edition. Also good to see there will be archives that can be accessed

  6. Jerome Mosetic
    23 October, 2023 at 9:21 pm · Reply

    To everyone involved in the Zig Zag over the years, thanks for the great publication and content.
    Happy to hear there will be annual print edition. Also good to see there will be archives that can be accessed online

  7. Jason Bowen
    6 December, 2023 at 6:38 pm · Reply

    Nahhhh guys, this is a shocker…..I’ve been reading and collecting almost every edition since I started surfing in 1989, including the 7 years I lived in the UK, never missing a hard copy of the Zig Zag…. no digital online presence could ever compare to unwrapping the cellophane off that fresh new edition, more often than not, on the front seat of my car, not even able to wait till I got home…. this is sad news….

  8. Torin Pfotenhauer
    16 December, 2023 at 11:20 pm · Reply

    Bro! That’s devastating news. It would be good to know the full story.

    I’ve bought your mag either subscription or retail for years. I felt lots was lost when it went to quarterly.
    Also I feel many of us have too much screen time, so for me nothing will ever replace the hard copy. What can we do to change your mind!?
    Love, respect, gratitude always.
    Ps why not ask African Birdlife how they survive (and thrive).

  9. Robyn
    19 December, 2023 at 3:21 pm · Reply

    Please tell me know how I can sign up
    for the new digital platform for ZZ and other current reading?

  10. Sven
    23 December, 2023 at 11:51 am · Reply

    Zigzag has been my bible for over 30 years. Nothing can replace the Zag in terms of local content. It’s great to overseas pics and waves but really special to see printed pics in your own backyard. I would read every page of the Zag and my favourite was the last page of all the REALLY interesting stuff that is going down in SA surfing. My absolute favourite was a photo of Mick Fannings car during the J Bay pro. On the side of the car was written ‘Mick Fanning’ and someone had changed the letters to ‘Lick Fanning’. Classic!!!!

    Another highlight was when it was reported, that Sunny Garcia had left SA early, during the J Bay pro. It was reported all over the surf industry that he was beaten up!!!
    Zag spoke to the bouncer of the establishment (bet his name was Koos) who said that Sunny Garcia was behaving like an idiot, harassing woman and people were complaining about him. He said he approached Sunny Garcia and told him to behave and Sunny Garcia gave him bad attitude. He said he just gave him a po*sklap and the next thing Sunny was on his way home with his tail between his legs.

    Such classic stuff, thanks to the Zag.

    The Zag will always be part of my surf experience and life experience. Just like fish paste….. etc.

  11. André, Somerset West
    25 December, 2023 at 3:21 pm · Reply

    I’m devastated. What a Christmas present! I would also like to know the full story. But no wonder – 115 pages, expensive glossy paper = R165. What laaitie can afford that? Next to this last Zag lies my latest Financial Mail – 46 pages printed on flimsy, cheap paper = R46.50. Go figure… Honourable motives, but bad management bro. I will mis Zigzag. RIP. André, Somerset West.

  12. Derrick
    31 December, 2023 at 6:53 pm · Reply

    Hi there, we are an investment Fund and have started our surfing / adventure entrance into SA during 2023 and would be keen to talk to you about a “not going out of business” deal opportunity (as we have done with a recent brand acquisition).

    Contact me if of any interest.

    Warmest Regards

    +27606568137 (global WhatsApp)

  13. Name (required)
    23 January, 2024 at 5:55 am · Reply

    please can you email me at harryboldnzdnz@gmail,com ? I need some information anddo notedo not know who to contact
    it is about who the original surfers were before me and friends were surfing next tothe W est st pier in the 50’s,who were the people before us like ErnieTomson and others ? I teally need to find out.thanks in advance !!

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