For Your Viewing Pleasure: Julian Wilson

25 09 2009

The following webisode is a snippet of the yet-to-be-released Scratching the Surface. It’s an Irons Brothers production featuring Julian Wilson as the protagonist with a little Dane, Dusty and Taj thrown in for good measure. Today I’m licking Julian’s stamp and mailing it in. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Enjoy the weekend you bastards. And get in the water.–Nug


Style Bandits: A Case Study

23 09 2009

Style pioneer Miki Dora at Malibu circa 1966.

Style isn’t any exact science. In fact, it’s not science at all. In competitive surfing style is undoubtedly the most overlooked aspect of the judging criteria. If you commit and do something radical, nearly fall, and foresake any resemblance of style you’ll get a better score. If one makes surfing look too easy, the scores will suffer.

There are exceptions, but those with the best style usually hone their skills surfing points and reefbreaks. It makes sense, right? Stinkbug punters and grovelers, for the most part, grew up surfing beachbreaks. Surfers like Curren, Parkinson and even Dora perfected their gifts at world-class pointbreaks.

There is a shift that’s been slowly happening for decade or so. Sadly, style is not what is once was. I see it every day in the lineup. Kids are trying to emulate the Dane Reynolds and Julian Wilsons of the world. But Reynolds and Wilson are fin-free freaks…with style. That is a rarity. Not the norm. These days groms learn airs even before they perfect a simple cutback.

The ASP judging criteria states… “A surfer must perform radical controlled manoeuvres in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow to maximize scoring potential. Innovative/Progressive surfing as well as variety of repertoire (manoeuvres) will be taken into account when rewarding points for waves ridden. The surfer who executes these criteria with the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves shall be rewarded with the higher scores.” (Note: It was obviously written by an Australian, hence the spelling of “manoeuvres.”)

Did you notice anything peculiar other than the funny spelling? You guessed it. It does not mention style. Repeat. It does not mention STYLE. Not once. Sure it states “flow” will be scored, but not style. Webster’s Dictionary defines flow as “proceeding smoothly and readily.” So if I’m reading it correctly, this means Jihad Khodr will score a perfect 10 on every wave as long as he shaves his entire body, lathers his skin with baby oil and gives the judges a playful San Francisco bath-house wink. If it’s flow they want maybe Marlon Lipke should cohearse Jay-Z to be part of his entourage. Would he then have a better chance of ever making it past the first round? It couldn’t hurt. 

Earlier I stated style is undoubtedly the most over-looked aspect of the judging criteria. Disregard that. I was wrong. It’s not even a part of the judging criteria.

ASP judges, much like a kitten that just witnessed a bird fly past him, are easily distracted. Waving your arms wildly (also known as claiming) scores points. Don’t believe me? How do you explain the longevity of Gary “Kong” Elkerton and Victor Ribas? Maybe the problem is that the long-time ASP head judge was a Brazilian and the system is still recovering, even years later. The irony is the average Brazilian wouldn’t know style even if it crawled up his ass, built a campfire and started roasting marshmallows. But this isn’t about the proper technique for making a Brazilian s’more. I’ll cover that in a future post.

Most will agree Joel Parkinson is perhaps the most stylish surfer on tour right now. His surfing is like sex on satin sheets. It’s slippery smooth. It’s wet. It’s exciting and fun. He’s the world champ-elect for good reason, despite a judging criterion that has always been a few steps behind the times. In the September issue of the Surfer Magazine Parkinson stated this in regards to claiming a wave…“People can give me shit about claiming, but if that’s what it takes to win a world title, then I’ll claim every wave.”

So there you have it. If you wave your arms after that last turn, you’ll win a world title. Now that’s science.