The Untouchables: 8 Surfers that you just can’t hate
Words by Ali Klinkenberg The internet’s given everyone a voice, whether for good or ill. If you wanna tell a politician, pop star, artist, model, or in this case professional athlete, that they suck, then you totality can, and chances are they’ll read it. Especially if that athlete is a surfer, and the platform you’re commenting on is […]
Words by Ali Klinkenberg
The internet’s given everyone a voice, whether for good or ill. If you wanna tell a politician, pop star, artist, model, or in this case professional athlete, that they suck, then you totality can, and chances are they’ll read it. Especially if that athlete is a surfer, and the platform you’re commenting on is Stabmag.com; The reluctant home of surf hatred! The comments on Stab are many things: Smart, witty, obscure (and crude!) but overwhelmingly, negative. Perhaps it’s because men who get paid to do what we do for leisure subconsciously spark jealousy, or perhaps it’s the default of human nature, particularly among males, to shoot down everyone that’s having more fun than they are? Sociology aside, some surfers escape the Stab jungle remarkably unscathed; without personal or professional insult, and occasionally, with praise. But who are the members of this elite untouchable gang, and, what binds them?
1. Jay Davies. Conversation around being “underrated” often throws Jay Davis’ name into the fray. Underrated means underdog. Everyone loves an underdog. “I don’t feel that underrated,” says Jay. “I don’t feel overrated, either. I’m supposed to be recognised, it’s my job.” Jay’s untouchable status brings masculinity into the discussion. It’s easy to criticise someone who’s physically inferior, that’s an age old tune, but Jay’s physically domineering, so that eliminates a certain battery of bully ammunition. He also has a versatile game, thanks largely to his WA habitat; exceptional in the tube but also with the power and finesse in the air to make waves under head high look appealing. Furthermore, the fact that Jay’s not on a huge salary, and has recently had to think about the possibility of entering the work force (before being scooped up by RVCA) further cements his status as the working class hero. Bonus material: His performance at the Drug Aware Pro.
2. Albee Layer and Matt Meola. The Maui folk bring a certain macho to surf. Pig-hunting, wind-hucking, Jaws-charging, beer-swilling. With every new clip it’s pleaded, “when are one of the big brands going to sponsor Albee and Matt?” Both the boys won the Taylor Steele experimental flop Innersection. And, it’s not hard to see how. In three and a half minutes, a medley of wild windy spins and Jaws heroics is hard to top. And, the titillating commentators tend to shy away. Jay Davies and Maui’s hottest couple have two clear traits in common: Versatile surf games and unbefitting pay checks.
3. Dane Reynolds. DR had no equal for almost eight years; in surfing and in popularity. Marine Layer Productions was here and now before the web cottoned onto the importance of topicality. An exceptional individual thriving in everyman conditions. The session-based nature of the films is a significant part of their charm. It’s easy to fault three minutes of landed airs from multiple sessions, but the fun, power, and consistency that Dane fits into one edit from some mediocre looking waves in Ventura is what really heralded him a grunge surf icon. Among other things.
4. Shane Dorian. You gotta love a good career change (what is that, hope?) Doz went from being a Momentum-gen punk (and Taj Burrow’s favourite surfer growing up, BTW) to being the best all-round big wave surfer in the world. He even managed to weather In God’s Hands relatively unscathed (anybody else’s guilty-pleasure hangover soother?) It’s hard to throw stones at a handsome, quietly-spoken gentleman who traverses the world’s best big wave sessions and regularly jags the best wave. Mr Shane Dorian, you are, an untouchable.
5. Craig Anderson. Now this one might surprise you. Dear Craig’s rife for the hatred. He’s young, handsome, groovy (read: not immune to alternative equipment), and he gets payed a considerable sum to circle the globe and play the role of ‘the surfer.’ And, he does it better than McConaughey ever could. You see, the un-surf-enlightened masses like their cars new, their coffee black, and their surfers to look like surfers. Ando looks like a surfer in every way. So where’s the hate? Of course this study is a generalisation (but that’s what studies are BTW), and there’s exceptions in every experiment. So it’s in general terms we must speak. And, in general, you like Craig Anderson. And, I don’t blame you.
6. John John Florence. It seems a given that the best all-round surfer in the world is an untouchable. But, if you scratch away that flakey outer-skin, there’s a little more to it. John’s from truly humble stock. A single parent family, raised on Mom John’s student loans, Pipeline, and love. What you have there ladies and jellyfish is a back story. It’s one that’s subconscious as you sit there watching John casually scoop off the bottom at flawless Teahupoo, or landing backflips at evil looking backdoor, but you can’t shake knowledge of John’s background. Rags to riches is a horrible cliche. But, well…
7. Kelly Slater. Talking smack about King Kelly is kinda like shooting your mouth off about Uncle Joe Stalin in Russia, circa 1936-38. You can try, but there’s a strong likelihood that the thought police will come and take you away. So don’t bother, you shameless attention-seeking blasphemer. Kelly’s untouchable. Whatcha gonna do, tell him he’s bald?
No Contest Off Tour Heads To Thumping Fiji
Inside: Julian describes the mongo Cloudbreak milieu and AG does a Kava cooking course.
“I Always Had A Mega Chip On My Shoulder”
UnSound Surf's Mike Nelson and Dave Juan have been the backbone of New York surfing…
Unlocked: Leonardo Fioravanti’s Stab Edit Of The Year Entry
Watch 'The Cut' now, and baffle at the quality of both the waves and the…
The Pro Surfer Who Filmed A War Documentary In Ukraine
Damien Castera's got a story to tell.
Honest Review(s): O’Neill Hyperfreak Fire
Pushing the Limits of Wetsuit Tech for Men & Women
How Much Would You Pay For A Session Like This?
A cost-per-vision breakdown of Kian Martin and Tai Buddha's latest strike mission.
Ongoing Dialogue: Jack Freestone And Album’s Matt Parker On How They Get Sparks To Fly
"Nowadays, a standard thruster feels pretty alt to me." -Jack
Davo’s Death Strikes At Surfing’s Core
The underground icon battled demons til the end. His untimely demise is yet another cautionary…
Introducing A Brand New Travel Series (With A Familiar Name)
Watch the first New York episode of Stab & Red Bull's No Contest Off Tour.
Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach
Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.
Long Read: An Angel At My Table
From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…
Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance
A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.
Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight
Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.
Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?
Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…