Miki Dora’s Concept For A Surf Contest - Stab Mag

Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy Will Be Broadcast Live On June 21st and June 22nd from 5 PM - 10 PM PDT


Miki Dora’s Concept For A Surf Contest

It’s, “The last chance to retrieve the soul of surfing.” You down?

style // Jul 9, 2017
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Next week, the world’s best gritty hungry sharp warrior surfers will come together at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. They will speed, power and flow their way into a $579,000 purse, of which the winner will take home $100,000 or possibly get torpedoed by a Great White shark. The event will be organised by a League.

One of the most iconic figures in the history of surfing, Miki Dora, also had an idea for a surf contest at J-Bay. Fair to say it was somewhat dissimilar.

I read about it on the Surfer’s Journal site. I go there whenever I crave a timeless long-form surf story and/or feel like it’s been too long since I last shared an aeroplane ride with a kind and educated Caucasian male who asks you many questions about yourself and seems genuinely curious but also has eyes that twinkle condescendence. That’s what it feels like to me, at least.


Bruce Brown interviewing Miki on contest strategy. Is there such thing as a video you can glean more old-school wisdom off of than this one featuring such a historic duo?

Penned by Dora, the article was originally published in 2003, a year after his death. It was a concept he’d considered on for a while, continuously tweaking it, and this is the last published version. You can read the whole article here, which provides more detail on the inspiration behind the event. It delves into subjects such as Polynesian culture, Climate Holocaust, and “how fabricated surfing has degenerated into such a mockery of hypocrisy that it is almost impossible to recognise anything of merit.” Well worth the investment of your time.

For now, though, let’s simply examine his contest idea.


It’s all about speed, so just pretend you’re like Miki, racing from Third Point all the way through to Malibu pier. Photo: Malibupier.com

This is a down-the-line speed test and going for distance. There will be no counter-productive judges (whatsoever). The purpose of aim will be to get from point A to B. In other words, the one individual, like a bat out of hell, who at top speed covers the longest distance, wins the esteem of the day.

No judges! There will only be a few official referee-estimators. Similar to a broad jump. Flagging the sand at the end of the ride. The furthest flag down-the-line wins the esteem of the day. Clear cut, no disputes, one victor. The entire progression will methodically take place on a minimum size of 8′. There will be no tents, food stalls, rock music, T-shirts, judging stands, bullhorns, fat hanger’s on, groupies, pretenders, or any other commercial rip-offs.


No logos, a single fin, absolutely no petrochemicals and the tail must square off at 10″. Anything else is a mistake and will therefore be deemed unacceptable.

All equipment must be ozone friendly and biodegradable. Absolutely no petrochemical products may be used in any of the construction. No fluorocarbons or other harmful chemical processes. Nothing that might affect the physical condition and growth and development of natural organisms.

The only restriction on board design is that the maximum length cannot exceed 9’6″. The tail must square off at 10″. Single fin only. No logos on the board, whatsoever. No endorsements. No artificial devices to help keep the rider from slipping. Wax only. No colours. A clean stick is essential. Otherwise, anything goes, anything is possible.

Only natural fibres can be worn—cotton or wool. No labels can be visible, no wetsuits, boots, gloves, etcetera. And to keep everybody honest and upright, no leg ropes.

And One Quick Condition
All serious devotees who plan to launch into this engagement must place a Reliability Bond of $200 to prove competence, good faith, and to help verify that they’re not biting off more than they can chew. This bond is refundable after the conclusion of the exercise, that’s if the entrant engages throughout the whole test and actually rides a wave more than 200 yards. All entry monies will be matched by myself and used for the aesthetic beautification of the area chosen by replanting indigenous vegetation including planting trees in probable ground-soil erosion areas.

In effect, according to Dora, this achievement is the last chance to retrieve the lost soul of surfing. So, what do you think? Are you sprinting in your loincloth to go mow some balsa?


“Evolution, is it coming to an end. Or is it just begging?” Says Miki. Prophetic? Possibly. But maybe not in regards to contest design.

I’m not.

Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea — it sounds lovely. Maybe Rhythm will pick it up. In the full text, Miki talks about the need for an environmentally sound surfboard, which couldn’t be more spot-on. But then there’s the bit about the soul of surfing nearing a point of unrecognisable decay…

In Dora’s generation, as well as ours, the soul has existed solely in the space between an individual and a wave. “Individual” is the important word there. What does commercialisation have to do with a true individual? If you want to ride a tree while wearing some wool, you go out there and fucking do it. And if you allow any of the external shit to effect how you feel when you’re on a wave, if you allow it to somehow disrupt that connection, then that’s on you.

Things change. They always have and they always will. Lineups will get more crowded, wave pools will be built, brands will do stupid shit, the WSL will do stupider shit, toxic boards will be sculpted by ugly machines and finished off by sweaty Chinese hands, The Inertia will continue to exist.

But you, and only you, can threaten the soul of surfing.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Allow Us To Introduce The YETI Ladybirds And Bottle Rockets Of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Here's our schoolyard pick for teams; who will win the most cred at the lunch…

Jun 17, 2024

Prediction: Moving The WSL Finals To Fiji Will Kill Off Two More Surfing Superstars

Is this JJF's time to collect his titles? We checked the stats.

Jun 17, 2024

Confirmed: Fiji To Host 2025 WSL Finals

Cloudbreak will remain on tour until 2026.

Jun 17, 2024

What’s The Secret To Powersurfing?

Taylor Knox, Kyuss King, and Jessi Miley-Dyer tackle a trio of questions in our third…

Jun 16, 2024

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024

Fuck It, Run The Entire CT In Indo

A historic beginning to the Indonesian dry season.

Jun 14, 2024

Ferrari Boyz: Holly Wawn

"I've had 4, 5, maybe 6 cars... I'm a car dealer I reckon."

Jun 13, 2024

A Miscalculated Shallow Dive, Neck-First, Into The Waters Of Japanese Surfing

How is surfing different in the land of cherry blossoms?

Jun 13, 2024

How Has Ian Crane Made 4/5 Stab High Finals?

And who he's most afraid of competing against in Japan.

Jun 13, 2024

“I Haven’t Seen Anyone That Young And That Keen For Heavy Waves In A Decade” —Shane Dorian

Jacob Turner is 16 years old and trying to paddle tow sets at Teahupo'o...on his…

Jun 12, 2024

Long Read: 1,000 Ways To Die In Indonesia

18,000 islands of beautiful people, world-class waves, and danger around every corner.

Jun 11, 2024

Watch: Craig Anderson And Kaito Ohashi Find (Mostly) Empty Waves In Southeast Asia

Oh, and enter to win a grand worth of DB gear.

Jun 11, 2024

Brad Gerlach Rode A 600cc Motorbike Through Europe’s 1980’s Psychedelic Renaissance  

"Fuck London. Let’s just buy motorcycles tomorrow and drive to France, man."

Jun 11, 2024

Caroline Marks Goes Two-In-A-Row And John John Florence Wins First CT Event Since 2020 At The Surf City El Salvador Pro

Plus, we asked Chris Cote for a look into the commentary team's psyche and Griff…

Jun 9, 2024

Why Is Mavericks Core Getting Overrun By Yuppies?

And other questions from our audience — answered by Pete Mel, Mick Fanning, and Joel…

Jun 9, 2024

Everything Worth Remembering From 4 (Mostly) Forgettable Quarterfinals In El Salvador

Plus, what's the consensus on the Griff vs. João kerfluffle?

Jun 8, 2024

Wildcard Big-dogs Italo, Yago Pops The Cork, And Griffin Cops An Ambiguous Interference On Day 2 In El Salvador

"Honestly, that was a bad... uhh I mean, a tough call." - Strider

Jun 8, 2024