You Can’t Take The “Competitive” Out Of Surfing
Even if there are no contests.
Ed note: the following is the third installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you’re into it, subscribe here.
In 1918 or so, a surf contest was held in Hawaii.
Everybody disagreed and that led them to believe that surfriding contests were impracticable, writes Tom Blake. Which means that we’ve been arguing over and questioning the legitimacy of surf competition for over a century.
That’s an interesting thing to think about right now, in 2020, the year of Nobody’s World Title.
I think competition is inherent to surfing for most. When I say that, I don’t mean doing aggressive warm ups on the beach or shouting 11-year old kids off waist-high waves and surfing the shit out of them like you need a 5.33 at a WQS 1-star in 2002. I mean a desire to get the best wave of the day, or even to do a banger turn in front of your friend. Doing good feels good and that’s certainly not unique to surfing.
I bring it up because our feeling of a spectrum when it comes to waves, turns, airs, barrels, sessions, etc, that personal sense of scale, speaks to the legitimacy of surf competition.
Now is a good time to consider the role of the modern surf contest. Do they need to be so structured that they create a sense of objectivity in a subjective world? Or would audiences be better served if organizers simply focused on exhibiting the best surfing possible in a digestible form?
Big question. But it’s the moment to ask, and to experiment — which is what the WSL is doing. And so are we.
On August 6th (7th in Oz), Stab’s first-ever Surf100 will air. It features Kolohe Andino, Griffin Colapinto and Ian Crane presumably abusing Lowers for 100 minutes while being judged by you. Is it the future of surf competition? No. But it will be fun to watch, and lessons will be learned.
But that’s next week. For now, let’s take a moment and review the past seven.
Does Bill Gates want to use the guise of a vaccine to plant a microchip in your body, monitor you, track you down, and have sex with you? Pro surfers might not necessarily believe that, but it appears as though they have some reservations about vaccines. You can learn more in podcast form. Give it a listen on a long drive, which you should be enjoying now, freely, before the Coronavirus vaccine comes out and Bill hunts ya down.
About a year ago, I watched the Andy Irons documentary Kissed By God for the first time. I couldn’t sleep after. I wrote 75% of this story that night, not sure if I’d ever want to publish it. I recently re-read it and decided to finish it and share. It was released around his birthday on July 24. Give it a read, if you please.
When paired up with a decent instructor, anybody can have a good time frolicking in the ocean for an hour or so. This concept drives tens of millions of dollars in revenue for surf schools around the world. However, giving somebody a surf lesson is not the same as teaching somebody how to surf. San Francisco’s City Surf Project exposes underserved children to the joy of truly becoming a surfer, and this interview with its founder is a great read.
One of the greatest perks of the internet is the feuds it spawns. Take this, for example — the drama around Jacob Szekely’s superman fingerflip and/or unwavering confidence. This story exposes some good battles and a few hot takes. I’m going to posit something here. It’s called the Curse Of The Zoltan.
Ever since the surf industry largely discredited Zoltan Torkos’ kickflips, the magician has put forth a hex on anyone who gets a surfboard to do that rotation. Jacob is the first victim, but there will be more to come. Remember this.
Jordy does. Here’s a moving portrait of him by Morgan Maassen. In it, he talks about how a World Titles can come down to thirty minutes in the ocean. The new system, whenever Coronavirus allows it to come to life, will only magnify that. Jordy speaks with candor and surfs, of course, with speed, power, and flow. Indulge.
The COVID-19 pandemic is undeniably horrible and it might allow you to go on the best surf trip of your life. We will regularly be reminding you of the second half of that sentence. This week, we explore the option of renting two Maldivian islands to enjoy all to yourself for a mere $130K per night. If, for some reason, that seems somewhat unaffordable to you then it might please you to know that Indonesia is set to reopen to tourists in late August or early September.
One last thing:
There’s a vast distance between pursuing what you think might feel cool (as in, internally, to you) on a surfboard and what you think might look cool on a surfboard. Have fun.
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