The Billabong Tahiti Pro So Far

Posted in Events, Jack's Surfboards, Team Riders on August 24th, 2012
Tags:

tahiti pro 2012

Tahiti pro 2012

The first two rounds of the Billabong Tahiti Pro happened so long ago—almost a week now—that they seem more like qualifiers than the actual contest. But with the official Surfline forecast showing a promising swell for this weekend, it looks like there’s a chance of finishing up the contest in some pretty good to great waves. Here’s a look back on what happened in those first two rounds and what to expect when the contest resumes.

One third of the field was eliminated in round two, and the biggest surprise is probably Jordy Smith’s quick exit. Actually, it’s probably not that surprising—after Jordy’s injury in Tahiti last year he’s had trouble finding a competitive rhythm. It could be the lingering effect of the injury, it could be complacency, or it could be that the new kids on the WT (mainly John John and Gabriel Medina) are making the tour all that much more competitive. Whatever the cause, it’ll be interesting to see how Jordy fares on the back half of the tour.

The waves in some of the round-two heats were inconsistent with long lulls, and that’s what undid Jack’s team rider Pat Gudauskas. In his heat against Michel Bourez, Pat only managed a total heat score of 3.4. If you’ve seen Pat surf, you’d probably guess that the only way he’d get a score that low is if he was riding a chunk of sheetrock or if he didn’t get any waves. In this case, it was the latter. He waited the better part of the heat for a decent wave, but the only wave that came was a shoulder-high crumbler without a barrel—and it wasn’t enough to get much of a score, no matter what Pat did with it.

If the competition continues to see heats like Pat’s without many scoring opportunities, it probably won’t come down to who’s the best tube rider or who’s willing to take off on the heaviest wave. It’s more likely that success will come to the savviest competitors. Typically the tour veterans have an edge when it comes to competitive strategy, but some of the younger guys—Gabriel Medina in particular—have shown a knack for knowing how to win even when the waves don’t cooperate. So if the surf is inconsistent, the drama might be less about deep barrels and more about priority and positioning (and maybe even some hassling), which is still fun to watch, in its own way.

But the forecast shows that the waves should be okay by Tahitian standards—that is, hollow and overhead—so if the weather cooperates and the swell stays consistent, hopefully the rest of the contest will be decided on the waves. Strategy and savviness are an important part of surfing—ever try to catch a wave at Lowers on a summer afternoon?—but at Teahupoo it’s way more fun seeing who can take off deepest on the biggest bomb.

Neff East Vs. West Surf Shop Showdown

Posted in Events, Team Riders on August 18th, 2012

east_vs_west

Neff East Vs. West Surf Shop Showdown

Biggie vs. Tupac. Right vs. left. Chick-fil-A vs. In N Out. For ages we’ve battled over which coast is the best. But here’s where we settle it once and for all—the Neff East vs. West Surf Shop Showdown!

Neff East Vs. West Surf Shop Showdown Schedule
RD 1 Tuesday, August 21: SurfRide (West) vs. Heritage (East)
RD 2 Thursday, August 23: Jack’s Surfboards (West) vs. Sweetwater (East)
RD 3 Tuesday August 28: Town & Country (West) vs. IWS Deerfield (East)
RD 4 Thursday August 30: NorCal Surf Shop (West) vs. Inlet Outlet Surf Shop (East)
RD 5 Tuesday September 4: Spyder (West) vs. Catalyst (East)

You will decide the winner for each round, then we’ll team up with ya’ll to determine the grand prize winning team that will head home with $5,000 cash money!

U.S. Open Recap: The Rise of the Air Reverse

Posted in Events, Jack's Surfboards, Team Riders on August 8th, 2012
Tags: , ,

Photo courtesy of surfersvillage.com

Photo courtesy of surfersvillage.com

The best—or craziest, or most crowded, or whatever adjective you choose—week of the year at Huntington has ended, and Julian Wilson walks away with the most prestigious contest win of his young career. There were lots of memorable moments from this year’s comp—anyone see Dane Reynolds’s backside tail-waft snap-things?—but what I might remember most was that this contest was defined by a single move: the air reverse.

I briefly started watching the heats on demand to count how many air reverses were attempted in the pro men’s division throughout the contest, but it just seemed too daunting. So I’m going to make the claim that this year’s U.S. open featured more air-reverse attempts than any previous pro men’s contest. If you want to try to prove me wrong by watching a few hours of heats on demand, go for it. But either way, anyone watching this year’s U.S. Open saw an enormous number of air reverses. As Kelly Slater said from the guest commentator’s tower, “Everyone’s sticking air reverses. It’s literally the new drop in. It’s almost like nothing.”

Let’s back up for a second. Even pro surfers and pro-surfing commentators can get a little loose on their terminology sometimes, but for our purposes here an air reverse is that it’s when a surfer and his board leave the water completely and rotates his tail in the direction they’re moving down the wave and land with their fins forward. If that’s confusing, check out the first four tricks on the U.S. Open highlights video. Those are frontside air reverses, and good ones too. Backside air reverses are the same thing but—you guessed it—when a surfer’s going backside. A lot of times you’ll see surfers continue to spin after they land so that they’re again facing forward, but don’t be fooled—it’s still an air reverse. If the full spin is done in the air, it’s a full-rotation, like this, and it’s generally awesome.

Photo courtesy of stabmag.com

Photo courtesy of stabmag.com

Okay. So now that we’re all brushed up on our terminology: why were there so many air reverses at this year’s U.S. Open? Well, the air-reverse is a cool, crowd-pleasing move and—unlike big barrels or gouging turns—air reverses are one of the few cool, crowd-pleasing moves that can be done on two-to-three-foot onshore semi-closeout beachbreak, a la the Huntington Pier.

And, more importantly, this was a contest, and air reverses are one of the higher scoring moves a surfer can do on a closeout. Some of the heats didn’t offer too many open-faced waves, which means that the surfers either had to settle for low scores or make something happen on a bad wave—and usually that something was an air-reverse. All of the quarterfinal heats were won with the help of an air reverse. Without a reliable air game, you can’t get far in a tournament of less-than-perfect waves.

But an air-game alone didn’t win the contest. Julian Wilson—one of the best air-reversers out there—won his finals heat with traditional turns, four meaty backside snaps on two different waves. He won his quarterfinal against John John with one air reverse and one wave that was just smart competitive surfing—all he needed was a mid-range three, and instead of doing an air reverse he did a small no-rotation air. It was an air Julian would probably be embarrassed of in a free surf, but it got him the score he needed to edge out John John. Julian showed that he had the whole package: smart surfing, top-notch turns, and, yes, a solid air reverse.