The Top 10 Power Surfers In The World, according to Taylor Knox
Words by Morgan Williamson In an era of surfing that gravitates towards the space above the lip, classically deep, drawn-out rail turns have become the works of Ludwig Van, while airs fist-pump to Gesaffelstein. Powerful carves are a timeless flavour that when performed well turn an open in face into a symphony. Taylor Knox has bridged […]
Words by Morgan Williamson
In an era of surfing that gravitates towards the space above the lip, classically deep, drawn-out rail turns have become the works of Ludwig Van, while airs fist-pump to Gesaffelstein. Powerful carves are a timeless flavour that when performed well turn an open in face into a symphony. Taylor Knox has bridged a gap from Momentum to Loaded with a 22-year world tour career in between, and done it all with a basis of sheer power and flow. “A good carve is about your positioning and how long you can stay in the carve,” Taylor tells us. “It’s about doing full carves that use the entire wave from top to bottom.”
Who, right now, is doing turns that make brain cells dance and the left eye twitch? When it came to listing the 10 most powerful surfers in the world right now, Taylor was our first stop…
1. Dane Reynolds
Taylor: Dane’s an automatic. His surfing speaks for itself. I would say my top three are Dane, Jordy and Mick; not in any particular order.
Says Dane; “A good turn is always relative to the wave. I think it’s just the facility of exerting as much force onto the rail with the most speed in a difficult part of the wave. That’s pretty key for me. It’s where you do the turn. If you get out into flat water it’s pretty rad to just exert as much force on your rail and hold it as long as you can wave permitting.”
2. Jordy Smith
Jordy went to Reunion Island to do airs and all he got was this huge fucking man hack.* (*Kidding, he got airs too.) Photo: Ryan Miller/redbull.com/surfing
Taylor: I’d especially include Jordy in the top three after his performance at Bells. That was pretty manly. That last wave of Jordy’s was amazing, that carve he did was the biggest power move of the contest.
Conner: Jordy is one of my favorite guys on tour. He’s just so powerful and smooth through everything he does.
3. Mick Fanning
Yes, yes, Mick’s the fastest, etc, but don’t let the smoke take away from the fire. Every turn is jacked to the max. Photo: Ryan Miller/redbull.com/surfing
Taylor: Mick trains and puts the symmetry together with his body. He’s really a lot stronger than people think. He trains like a mad man and has that whippet kind of body, y’know? I think that how strong he is makes for the quickness that he has. Sometimes people look beyond the power and just at his quickness and speed but that guy is really strong in his turns. I think he can lay down a carve as good as anyone.
4. Joel Parkinson
Despite burrying nose and nearly snapping boards from pressure through turns like this, Joel always rides out smooth. That’s power. Photo: Tom Carey
Taylor: Joel’s just super… well he’s got that kind of back foot glide to him. People like to focus on what a beautiful style he has but given the right section at Cloudbreak or Bells, you know he’s gonna lay it down with so much power and grace. Some guys can be powerful surfers and dig rail but that’s not power. Power’s about having the technique to go through the turn without catching an edge at the end. He’s just really graceful.
5. Kelly Slater
Kelly’s another gent who, like Mick, suffers from having the true power of his surfing overlooked. But Kelly’s career has been so long-standing that he’s had time periods to dedicate entirely to different aspects of surfing. The noughties have been for airs. But the 90s were for power. Photo: Damea Dorsey
Taylor: Kelly’s another guy who maybe doesn’t get the credit for being a power surfer but he is a strong human. Stronger than people know. How many critical late drops at Teahupo’o have you seen him take? Then going into like a layback barrel and getting blown out. All that is strength and he has strength in the most critical parts of the wave. He can throw down man hacks at point breaks and we’ve seen it for 20 years at places like J-Bay, Bells and Snapper. The basis of his surfing growing up really looked to Tom Curren and Martin Potter. He is kind of a binge trainer and is really into his nutrition. There’s no denying that he’s powerful, there’s no way he could win that many world titles without having the full package of carves, laybacks and everything. In power surfing there’s something called commitment and he definitely has commitment.
6. Julian Wilson
Jules’ air game is legit top three. His power game, through sheer determination, is on the come up. Photo: Ryan Miller
Taylor: Julian’s an athlete, he trains hard and works on his craft. I know that he’s one of the best aerial surfers in the world but I also know that he wants to be a really good well-rounded surfer. He put on a good display there at Bells. Maybe it comes from being a longboarder when he was a kid, he just knows good lines on a wave.
7. Nat Young
Nat knows how to open up harder than most his age. Nat shoots bullets at the judges tower like dealers sling crack to junkies. He gives ’em just what they want. Ryan ‘Chachi’ Craig.
Taylor: Nat knew coming onto the tour that he would have to have a point of difference in his surfing. He already had a great backhand from growing up in Santa Cruz. But I think what he did was went to the gym and came out with tree trunk legs and turned all his vertical snaps into not just windshield wiper turns but real critical, hard carving turns. He made what he was doing more explosive.
8. Conner Coffin
Conner was the first of his gen to value controlled power over the cheap flash of fins above lip. Photo: Tom Carey
Taylor: I think he’s light years ahead of anyone that’s on the QS right now as far as his power goes. I definitely feel like Conner is laying down carves and tracks as good as any guy out there, if not maybe the best. It’s inspiring to see guys like Conner taking it to the next level… or just keeping things real.
9. Michel Bourez
Michel does his best work when mercilessly hospitalising a lip. Watching him build speed towards the end section is like watching Jet Li assume the ready position. Photo: ASP/Kirstin
Taylor: Michel’s a beast, there’s a good reason they call him Spartan. He’s got that Tahitian blood. He works out and trains and the guy’s sculpted like a statue. He knew that his point of difference was gonna be his power. He can do airs and blowtails and stuff but I think that his focus in surfing is being a strong, committed 100 percent-in-every turn kind of guy.
10. Ace Buchan
Few men can do frontside cutbacks on their backside. Lowers, CA. Photo: ASP/Rowland
Taylor: Here’s a guy who can’t really rely on his air game. He’s out there to throw big carves and backside hacks. He’s pretty renowned for his backside surfing and definitely has a great forehand carve. He has studied his game and I just really like his commitment to the craft.
Wildcard: Tanner Gudauskas
Low centre of gravity is the key to Tanner’s mustard.
Taylor: Another guy I should throw in there is Tanner. Tanner is a real powerful dude. He’s really powerful to me, I’m super impressed with him. He should be on that list.
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