Which 2024 Stab High Competitor Has Given Us The Best Surf Part?   - Stab Mag

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Which 2024 Stab High Competitor Has Given Us The Best Surf Part?  

Noa Deane, Chippa Wilson, Julian Wilson, Ian Crane and more duel for the most impactful edit of all time.

features // May 13, 2024
Words by Brendan Buckley
Reading Time: 5 minutes

One bit of feedback we heard from the surfers during the Lakey Peak edition of Stab High was that it ‘felt too much like a contest.’

That year was the third in a series of three episodic versions of Stab High. The prior two years followed a fairly simple formula. Get a bunch of surfers somewhere. Get enough cameras to see everything. Reward the best airs. 

Of course, we found ways to slice it up but, at a high level, that’s how we rolled. 

Lakey Peak had actual heats — a swear word, in some circles. 

With a wave pool as a venue, it’s fairly easy for surfers to accept that they won’t have all day to land an air. This year’s Stab High winner will only have to complete four airs, and they’ll have 15 waves to make it happen — with one extra wave if their ticket is stamped via the Sudden Death round. 

Before we do that, though, wouldn’t it be nice to see what our talent is capable of with (almost) no restrictions by analyzing their best freesurf edits/parts? 

We’ve already announced 12 of the 36 names in our main event field. And, upon closer inspection, many of them have been responsible for the best surf parts of this century. And why list them when you can rank ’em? 

It’s impossible not to be subjective here. Therefore, instead of tip-toeing around like a pajama-wearing lil bitch, I’m going to embrace the inescapably opinionated nature of such an endeavor. 

More than trying to establish the best surfing these people have ever done, I went after what I view as the most culturally impactful parts of their time — things that got people buzzing and still get referenced today. 

Full-length films will not be considered here. Sorry Zipper, Nozvid, Motel Hell, Crane Brain, etc. 

Now, chuck your debate blazer on and come see me in the comments. 

#12 Luke Swanson – Waco air camp 

Being one of the younger Stab High competitors, Luke reached his pro surf years in a different era than the man ranked #1 on this list. Thus, he doesn’t have a Taylor Steele part to his name. He does, however, have a few single waves that went viral. But I’m choosing this YT edit to strike fear in all souls who’ll surf against him in June. 

#11 Robbie McCormick – Stony Instagram edit

Some surfers do the whole negotiate-for-a-budget and make a long-form surf vid thing. Others go on a few trips, stack clips for a year or so, and release a part they feel reflects the best-ish they got. Robbie is more on the “take a massive bong rip, hope someone is filming, then post an IG edit of a few waves from one session in which your surfing looks borderline impossible given the wave quality” program. And for that, I love him. 

Sure, he’s got better clips, but this IG edit reeks of sativa and showcases the defending champ’s incredible make rate and ability to harness speed — which sticks around in waves of all sizes. 

#10 Kaito Ohashi – Behavior

Will you always remember exactly where you were when you first watched Katio Ohashi’s ‘Behavior?’ No, perhaps not. But he’s still a very stylish surfer, and we love to watch him twirl like a Whirling Dirvish in the soft glow of a warm Persian night (sorry, just read the Crane description). 

#9 Noah Beschen – YRUYNN

Do you like hot young shirtless boys? This thing is different from most of the other edits listed here, which I’ve selected because of my “taste.” I would say that I’ve carefully cultivated my “taste” by being so fucking core all the time, but the reality is that I was born at a particular time in a specific place (neither of which I chose) and I can’t escape the influences exerted on me as a result of those things. So, this edit may not be your vibe but it undeniably has a vibe. I don’t have a TikTok but I think this is what happens there? 

As an aside, Noah gave an incredible, heartfelt, and insightful speech during our Kalani David memorial paddle out at the last Stab High. Kid has depth. 

And he fucking rips. 

For a longer form hit, see: NOAH (it’s very good). 

#8 Ian Crane – Untitled 

Crane Brain would be the call here but, remember, we’re ruling out longforms. In the YouTube description for this, we wrote the following: “Ian Crane is a bright red strawberry in a golden field of heather. Come indulge in his sweet, carnal sustenance!” 

I don’t know what that means, but if the person who wrote that still works for Stab, then they’re for sure not allowed to share a room with Crane in Japan. 

#7 Mason Ho – Rock Lobsters

The quintessential Mason Ho edit. Surfing through rocks, before anybody (not even Mason Ho) surfed through rocks. Mason has since pivoted from Vimeo to YouTube and, as a result, has won the YT category of our Stab Surfer Of The Year rankings. 

But the loose, stony nature of ‘License To Chill’ existed in a different realm when it came out a decade ago. Thank you, Mason and Rory, for all that you have done. 

#6 Matt Meola – Innersection 

Meola has been responsible for some of the best airs ever landed over the years, even if they got unfortunate names like a spindle flip. Many of those moments are tucked into edits he shared with Albee Layer, but this thing is pure Meola. And you gotta follow the money — it netted him $100k for an Intersection win, which is almost enough money required to make a surf edit today! 

#5 Harry Bryant – RUST  

I was tempted to put Bio Haz here, but RUST was Harry’s Hello World edit IMO. This thing set Harry on his trajectory, and his nature hasn’t really changed — he’s only gotten more loveable and better at surfing. That also means Perfect Swell Shizunami better have a fucking sumo wrestler as a security guard cause Haz is coming at you in June. 

#4 Chippa Wilson – Octopart 

The early Christopher Wilson era was great for surfing — extraordinarily technical airs, Riley Blakeway in the editing bay, fun tunes, life was sweet. Remember Analog? Wow. RIP, I blame the snow bros at Burton for ruining it (even if it was started by snow bros). 

What I like about this Octopart is that we get tech Chip + psycho Chip. Every free surfer charges now, and I think Chippa low-key played a big role in that. 

#3 Mikey Wright – RAGE 

This, I feel, will be my most controversial ranking. There’s surely more technical surfing that I’m putting behind this. But a surf section should have attitude — and this wins in that respect. Keep in mind, this came out eight years ago, before every major surf brand went BACK TO THE CORE by digging up a graphic of little significance from the 1990s and putting it on shirts. Some people can see around corners, but not Mikey cause that cunt takes off too deep. 

# 2 Noa Deane – CHEESE 

Noz is an era-defining free surfer, and I’d argue that this edit helped make that entire era possible. This thing is from 2014. In 2014, Gabriel Medina won his first world title. Prior to to that, many of the best freesurfers doubled as comp surfers (see below). ‘Cheese’ showed how much impact a completely non-WSL surfer could have, and I’d argue, freed up millions of dollars for various surfers to create free surf content in the future — even though, ironically, Noa has to fund his own ten years later. 

#1 Julian Wilson – Young Guns III

Other than Dane and JJF, Julian Wilson had the most productive free surf career out of any CT competitor in this century. I wouldn’t be offended if you even put him above Dane when factoring in the comp/freesurf combo. 

In comps: He did 11 years on tour, won five events at dramatically different venues, finished #2 in the world, paddled towards a Great White while it attacked Mick Fanning, and is our most handsome Olympian. 

In freesurfs: Maintained an influential Vimeo channel with Jimmy Lees while winning events, regularly dropped stop and watching right fucking now edits like Bangers and Mash and Swamp Dump, had one of the best parts in Stranger Than Fiction, and how about that fucking sparring section with Jordy in Modern Collective? God damn. 

But we’ve gotta get back to the fundamentals here. The correct way to rank this is by looking at the amount of times the song has been ripped off and used in modern surf parts — this thing still pops up monthly on reels.

If you don’t feel something when this song kicks in, you might as well just fuck off now and go watch a Chris Burkhard film. 

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