Stab Magazine | Concerns Around The Predictability Of Pre-Planned Surf Runs From An Admittedly Sick Man

Concerns Around The Predictability Of Pre-Planned Surf Runs From An Admittedly Sick Man

That awkward moment where surfing meets a gymnastics routine.

style // Sep 6, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I spent yesterday becoming ill, started with sore glands in the AM and progressed into full-fledged chills and aches bedtime.

I spent Stab‘s weekly online writer’s meeting sipping rum in an attempt to stave off the sickness, which does work, though only temporarily. I feel no better today, and my physical state heavily influences my emotional one and I don’t have much nice to say.

Clicking on a WSL press release in my inbox hasn’t helped matters. I ignore most of them, but wasn’t thinking clearly, wasn’t mentally prepared to read the following:

The Surf Ranch Pro is less than a week away and Colapinto already has his waves planned from start to finish.

It’s an interview with Griffin, who surfs real good. Stab loves the guy. Ashton’s all fucking gushy over the kid. The interview is worth reading, which is not surprising because it was conducted by Zander Morton, who is a good writer, but because it’s on the WSL’s site.

It’s the content bothers me.

Griffin: “…after the last few days surfing it, I have a full-blown plan for each wave.”

Zander: “When you stand up on your first right in Round 1 next week, do you already know exactly how you’ll approach each section?”

Griffin: “Yes. 100 percent.”

Reading this, I was brought back in time, to the dark year of 1997. Princess Di had died in a fiery wreck; Gianni Versace and Biggie Smalls—murdered. The Heaven’s Gate crew had already laced up their Nikes and bid us all adieu, as the world was grooving to the dulcet tones of Hanson.

I was an awkward high school senior whose life revolved around skateboarding, surfing, and intermittent bouts of heavy petting with girls who, inexplicably, found me passably attractive.

We were two years into heydays of the X Games; rollerblading was white hot; BMX dudes were running doubles routines on the modular vert ramp that toured the country with the extreme sports carnival.

Soap shoes graced the feet of all the kids you couldn’t help but want to mercilessly bully.

It was hopelessly lame. And, like many things that are hopelessly lame, it made certain people a solid amount of coin. Money men had tapped into yet another way to exploit youth culture for profit: Take the show on the road.

The X Games managed to take something that based it’s identity on out-of-the-box thinking, specifically skateboarding, and cram it into a tidy little package that made sense to the ungrooved masses. Enforced a judging criteria that encouraged athletes to plan runs, and never deviate from them.

Look at them go back and forth! Their boards are doing spinny things! Is that Tony Hawk? OHYMYGOD!

Stadium seating, over-hyped commentary, bright lights, over-amped speakers—the circus come to town.

Skateboarders hated it. They understood the athletes were just looking for a paycheck. That they were capable of feats far surpassing the hi-jinx that passed for a winning run.

They knew that skateboarding was capable of so much more. That it’s potential had only just begun to be explored. That skateboarding’s progression would never be found in a competitive arena.

The year that saw this take place during the X games vert final…

…was the same year the world was blessed with the bone crushing insanity of Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell.

While the X-Games siphoned money out of the sport, Welcome to Hell breathed fresh life into it. It created a basis from which skateboarding grew, until we reached our modern state of insanity.

It’s a fact that skateboarding has always known- there’s nothing wrong with grabbing an easy check from some fat cat poseur. But if you want to improve, you can’t do it within the confines of competition. Creativity and freedom are what push progression.

Carbon copy, chest-high-to-a-full-grown-man, zippers that neither allow a proper bottom turn nor full cutback are a boring freakshow meant to entice non-surfers with an easily digested package.

Same same, but different, is bullshit.

Beyond Mikey February’s sick ollie front boardslide there’s been nothing from the Surf Ranch which smacks of new, unusual, or interesting.

It makes sense the surfers would plan runs. They’re just doing their job, which is to win—however they can, within the realm of the rules. But it’s nothing to feel proud of. 

The ability to react at a moment’s notice, on an instinctual level, to the ever-changing face of a wave is what sets world class surfers apart from those who merely try their best. Does atripping that aspect from the sport make it boring, mundane—an activity that can be mastered by anyone with enough free time and money.

It turns an awesome ocean past time, a pursuit based around mastery of an uncontrollable resource, into nothing more than rollerblading triples runs featuring dorks dressed like Star Wars characters.


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