Morning of the Earth, Footwork, Wilson vs Otton and Pleurisy
I'm not sure who this is (Terry Fitzgerald?) from the beginning of Albert Falzon's "Morning of the Earth" but it's been captivating me and has stuck feverishly in my head. Footwork on a shortboard: cross-stepping to nowhere. It is so balletic as the surfer moves forward and then back as if, having learned to surf on a longboard, he can't shake the urge to perform the fundamental steps of a surf-dancer. 'First-position'... 'second-position'... la la la... There's something wonderful about moves that aren't performed out of necessity or function but just for fun and... decoration.
I've had plenty of time to watch surfing movies as I've been suffering from pleurisy. It's no fun I can tell you. It feels like you're being stabbed in the chest every time you cough (and as for sneezing - yikes!). Surfing is right out of the question. I sunk to a new low a week ago paddling into lovely clean head high super fun peaks... only to find I could barely get out back. I put up with the pain enough to catch two waves and then gave up. Sincerely and deeply depressing considering how rare waves like that are here. And: especially frustrating after watching the absolute joy sparkling out of the frames of "Morning of the Earth".
Watching the ASP tour in Portugal was curious. Just as I was nostalgically lamenting a possible lack of grace and footwork in contemporary surfing and uttering disapproval of the biased scoring of one-air-tens came the most dramatic surf competition I've ever witnessed. Nobody watching will forget Kai Otton vs Julian Wilson: the most unbelievable heat. Nine after nine, amazing waves and unbelievable surfing. You had to feel sorry for Otton but Julian Wilson is fast looking like a title contender. If you didn't see it just watch this:
Judging a surf contest has got to be a nightmare task so I'm not going to give a critique of the criteria of high scores in the ASP World Tour. And watching the Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2011 ranks as perhaps the most exciting sporting event I've ever watched. So I'm grateful for that.
That said, it's wonderful to go back to older surfing movies and watch the more elegant styles. Styles that have perhaps been worn away by the leash, the performance thruster and lack of longboarding experience. Many surfers don't seem to move their feet at all. I'm not trying to slag off contemporary surfers. In the Rip Curl Pro I remember Taj Burrow coming out of a tube practically hanging five and I've just watched Dane Reynolds getting his feet all over his little stubbie so I'm not thinking that contemporary surfers only wax 'up to the logo'. It's just interesting how things change - I just realised that cutting out of a wave by turning and diving up through the face must have been created by the invention of the leash. This maneuvre itself would allow deeper tube riding with less risk of a swim and also less emphasis on board control. The 'kook cord' or 'save a swim lariat' also makes cross stepping a bit more tricky.
All I'm saying is, well, I'm not really trying to make a point at all really. Just sitting back with my pleuritic lung enjoying all aspects of surfing from my sofa. But just make sure you watch Derek Hynd in "Litmus", David Nuuhiwa in "Free & Easy" and Michael Peterson in "Morning of the Earth" as well as the Modern Collective. (Even as I write that the memory of the first time I saw David Nuuhiwa in his kooky 'crash hat' in "Free & Easy" makes my spine tingle.)