Stab Magazine | Sorry Griff, Besch Did It Better

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Sorry Griff, Besch Did It Better

Why Shane Beschen’s ’96 performance at Kirra still rules them all.

news // Mar 18, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes



Context, people. Context.

Surfing and hyperbole make terrible bedfellows, unfortunately, tune into a WSL webcast and it’s “best ever” this, or “historical” that.

It’s all been done before, man.

Coming off the latest “all-time” run at Kirra (was it really all that all-time?), there were definitely some performances worthy of note, but a little historical context is always a valuable asset. I’m talking specifically about the 10-point ride heard around the world.

Now mind you, I live, work and surf in San Clemente, like everyone here I’ve been following his career for years, and what Griffin Colapinto just did in his Rookie Debut has without a doubt raised the vibes around town, noticeably. Everyone’s stoked.

But through it all, I couldn’t help but flashback on another of San Clemente’s Pride, Shane Beschen and his triple 10-point heat (and he got a 9.90 on his fourth “throwaway” wave) and how the world would have reacted today.

Bugs brought it up on the webcast because Bugs knows. Another San Clemente kid, another World beater (like Griff will be to John John, at the time, Beschen was the proverbial thorn in Slater’s paw), and another perfect performance… perhaps a more perfect performance?

“The day was perfect little Kirra, definitely smaller than the recent WSL event, but still super fun,” recounted Beschen to Stab.

Considering this was over 20 years ago—we’re talking pre-Internet days—it’s okay if folks are remiss to recall this jazzy little epoch in surf history. It was Round 3 of the Billabong Pro, pre-Super Bank days. Kirra was spinning with little four-foot tubes. Beschen was up against Fabio Gouveia.

“I was riding 6’2″ Al Merrick, which is funny because now I’d be riding a 5’8”,” Beschen continues.

Beschen clocked in back-to-back-to-back 10s. At the time, Slater held the record for the highest total heat score, a 29.70. Beschen’s 30 would prove to be untouchable. And if they counted all four of his rides he would have had a nuts 39.90 score.

“I was definitely psyched on beating Kelly’s record at the time,” says Beschen. “Even today it’s really cool to be the only human to have ever done that.”

There’s a rumor that constantly swirls around Beschen’s performance that day, that his near-perfect four-wave heat had enjoyed a psychedelic shimmer. That he’d surfed the event on acid the whole time.

There’s even speculation the judges were frying. Were they? Was he?

Well, we put it to Beschen and he declined to chase us down that rabbit hole. For now that’s the one question that shall remain unanswered.


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