Future of surfing

Solitude's picture
Solitude started the topic in Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 6:22am

It’s year 2022. Where is surfing heading, where can it possibly go?

As a kid I can remember watching in awe as professional surfers completed even the shortest of head dips, however tube riding has gotten to a point where foam ball wrangling and backside pig down dogging is a common skill amongst all good surfers.Barrel riding cannot get any better can it?

We seem to have mostly come out the other side of what I like to call the ‘tricky dicky’ phase with major manoeuvres including floaters, tail slides, fin drifts, carving 360’s, chop hops etc - which I’m glad to be past.

Aerial surfing is at a unusual juncture. An end move, ‘air reverse’ is less exciting than a solid close out belt. The aesthetics of a forced air (read: big chop hop) are about as appealing as a VAL and their bog-stanced bottom turn. Watching someone pumping down the line, ignoring sections of a wave, takes focus from the very reason we are allowed to do this thing we do and that is the wave itself. Kind of reminds me of the relationship a surf sports Ironman has with waves; that is to conquer/beat/surpass rather than to conform, flow and adapt to its unique form.

Despite what 10-15 years ago appeared to be the only direction high performance surfing was heading, you could say that barely 1/2 of the top 34 male CT surfers do frequent airs and very, very few of the women complete them with any regularly. Is aerial surfing becoming unfashionable? Is this aspect of surfing only viable for the young and malleable?

Rail-surfing AKA surfing, appears to be where the focus it is at presently. Although it feels like as with most things that have been saturated, more of a back to the future kind of situation. However it’s hard to deny the original lines being created by the likes of JJF, particularly in big open waves. The layback hack in heavy first or last turn sections appear to be a popular choice for the modern pro.

Has back hand surfing progressed in the past 30 years? Is anyone doing anything better or different than what Occy did in his heyday?

95% of pro surfers are still paddling out on craft that are more than fair replicas of what Simon came up with 40 years ago. I would also wager that more than 3/4 of mug punters are paddling out with the humble thruster also. Let’s face it modern boards are good, really good - I can’t even imagine what shapers could possibly do to these highly refined pieces of equipment to progress performance?

There is a lot more to be said and this is why I’ve created this topic as it would be great to hear other’s thoughts. Be it high performance pro surfing or every day punter paddling, it would be interesting to ponder what the future holds.

quadzilla's picture
quadzilla's picture
quadzilla Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 10:27am

Variability, diversity ...its just wave riding whether its with a body,Paipo,kneeboards or any of the stand up forms.
Competition KookNess exists for no reason apart from selling product or ego.

samerubi's picture
samerubi's picture
samerubi Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 1:00pm

disagree quadzilla about competition only selling product and ego (assuming you are serious??). competition led to the expediated refinement of the thruster to an extent that they are seriously adaptable to a wide range of conditions for both the average and expert level. this occurred by the late 1980s. further refinement occurred with the introduction of concaves, machine shaping and a better understanding of foil/volume. i am not overly fussed on competition surfing but it has led to better equipment for the average punter. This cannot be denied. this is true for surfing as it is true for motor vehicles. much of the advancement in motor vehicle performance, efficiency and safety can trace its roots to motor vehicle competition.
as to solitudes question, i would like to see competition by fin category. There is still a bit of work to refine single, twins and quads to the degree that the thruster has seen. The Burleigh single contest is good but riders must use old designs. it would be interesting to see a modern/new single division at that contest.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 1:13pm

Good point about backhand surfing Solitude.
I can really only think of a couple of instances that stand out.
- Kelly at Fiji going mental in a contest, hyper-speed turns, not sure what year. A little while ago.
- Andy in video parts in Indo and Fiji.
- Gabe at Bells a couple of years ago, massive bottom turns that went for about 20 meters absolutely flying into huge carves, reo’s and floaters. Epic to watch

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 1:22pm
samerubi wrote:

disagree quadzilla about competition only selling product and ego (assuming you are serious??). competition led to the expediated refinement of the thruster to an extent that they are seriously adaptable to a wide range of conditions for both the average and expert level. this occurred by the late 1980s. further refinement occurred with the introduction of concaves, machine shaping and a better understanding of foil/volume. i am not overly fussed on competition surfing but it has led to better equipment for the average punter. This cannot be denied. this is true for surfing as it is true for motor vehicles. much of the advancement in motor vehicle performance, efficiency and safety can trace its roots to motor vehicle competition.
as to solitudes question, i would like to see competition by fin category. There is still a bit of work to refine single, twins and quads to the degree that the thruster has seen. The Burleigh single contest is good but riders must use old designs. it would be interesting to see a modern/new single division at that contest.

This alleged competition led innovation is a furphy. Even if it were true the designs which were discovered would have come along sooner or later and in the meantime surfing is fun as fun can be.

Do you think surfers have more fun now than they did twenty years ago because there’s more manoeuvres and equipment is more refined? F course not.

Do you think that surfing is less fun for you today because the surfers of the future might have better equipment than you do now?

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 1:28pm

Switch surfing is the future of progression. That and bigger moves in more critical sections. Example being airs currently considered impossible at the outside peak at Margs Mainbreak will be winning heats for some future champion who launches North Point style airs out the back of mains.

I reckon surfing the whitewash behind a section will get a lot more functionality in the future. Dynamic hits on the foam will become a regular part of surfing. Not just pragmatic foam climbs or belting oncoming foam but proper inclusion of whitewater as viable surfable area.

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 1:47pm

I think quadzilla is right -- variability and diversity will continue.

it's pretty easy now to get a good version of any style of board -- be it a mal, mid length, hp shortboard, kneeboard, paipo etc and with good fin set ups. so it's not likely one style of board or one shaper's idea is going to dominate because it's so much better than other board styles.

and as for media influences...it's hard to see one magazine or even pro surfing dominating as they may have in the past. so we won't see the majority following one style there either.

but I imagine there will still be trends bubbling up, like there was for quads a few years back. and more minor/fringe trends...like finless or mat surfing that will then just become part of the seascape

probably the biggest trend is already on us -- an ageing surfing population, and boards that suit that.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 2:02pm

Dsds - “ Do you think surfers have more fun now than they did twenty years ago because there’s more manoeuvres and equipment is more refined? F course not.”

When it comes to tube riding fkn oath it’s more fun on modern day refined equipment

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 2:03pm

I agree with the point that competition innovation has NOT been a huge or even net benefit.

In some cases I think the opposite is true.

Competition bred innovation has taken board design backwards.

Thats another story for another time though.

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 2:13pm
goofyfoot wrote:

Dsds - “ Do you think surfers have more fun now than they did twenty years ago because there’s more manoeuvres and equipment is more refined? F course not.”

When it comes to tube riding fkn oath it’s more fun on modern day refined equipment

I don’t agree. I think in some cases it’s easier on a modern board but the buzz felt by tube riders of the two decades ago and those of today is the same. Expectations might be higher but the fun levels are the same. Crew used to walk away from society to surf back when trimming across the face was radical.

Fun is the only true constant besides the waves themselves. Everything else changes .

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 4:18pm

The level of surfing has to be pretty close to the ceiling, i think we will just see more guys at the JJF, Gaby, Toldeo level.

I personally think pro surfing is at a real nice stage compared to the last ten years or so, seems we have got past this race the whole wave to do an air and judges give a 9 and that only happens now if the wave wont allow a big score from turns.

I don't hate airs they have there place but it did get a bit overdone for a while there, and its great to now see guys doing these big carves not just JJF either Toledo and others did some amazing power turns the last few comps.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 6:47pm
DudeSweetDudeSweet wrote:

Switch surfing is the future of progression. That and bigger moves in more critical sections. Example being airs currently considered impossible at the outside peak at Margs Mainbreak will be winning heats for some future champion who launches North Point style airs out the back of mains.

I reckon surfing the whitewash behind a section will get a lot more functionality in the future. Dynamic hits on the foam will become a regular part of surfing. Not just pragmatic foam climbs or belting oncoming foam but proper inclusion of whitewater as viable surfable area.

I used to think switch would be where it’ll go but I reckon it would’ve happened by now. What are the benefits? How would this be applied?

I can’t really imagine what they could do with the foam either?

Interesting ideas.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Friday, 13 May 2022 at 6:16am

Anyone learnt to do airs after the age of 18?
Seems like that style of surfing produces diminishing returns as surfers head towards 30.

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Friday, 13 May 2022 at 7:05am
samerubi wrote:

disagree quadzilla about competition only selling product and ego (assuming you are serious??). competition led to the expediated refinement of the thruster to an extent that they are seriously adaptable to a wide range of conditions for both the average and expert level. this occurred by the late 1980s. further refinement occurred with the introduction of concaves, machine shaping and a better understanding of foil/volume. i am not overly fussed on competition surfing but it has led to better equipment for the average punter. This cannot be denied. this is true for surfing as it is true for motor vehicles. much of the advancement in motor vehicle performance, efficiency and safety can trace its roots to motor vehicle competition.
as to solitudes question, i would like to see competition by fin category. There is still a bit of work to refine single, twins and quads to the degree that the thruster has seen. The Burleigh single contest is good but riders must use old designs. it would be interesting to see a modern/new single division at that contest.

I also disagree with competition being responsible for all the boards we have today.That's why i started riding Banksys hes a freesurfer/shaper who makes boards for indo and quality barrels so i started riding his boards. Also at the time it was before firewire so the boards were considered very durable compared to other four oz cloth shapes. I love his fishes too some of the best fishes available for indo, pretty hard to find a guy shaping fishes specifically for indo and the north west. Every high performance board ive ridden since is great but lacks that feeling of glide and feeling under foot i cant describe.
Nobody rides fishes in contests.

Solitude wrote:

Anyone learnt to do airs after the age of 18?
Seems like that style of surfing produces diminishing returns as surfers head towards 30.

Yep i didnt start riding a shortboard until i was seventeen, started doing airs at about twenty three but mainly on wedges where its piss easy to launch an air of the ramps coming back at you after taking off on the sidewash and going through a barrel then bam a launch ramp. Ive found there's not as many wedges in Australia as i thought there was so i was pretty lucky to live near one when i was twenty three.

As for progression i believe you will see surfers going switch as blowin says and can do it...but will also see people going through foamballs from behind the foamball, kelly almost did it at chopes in 2014 final heat against gabe. if he did make that one he would have won the contest.You can backdoor foamballs on a bodyboard going prone and maybe even on a kneeboard but ive only ever seen standups go through shockwaves standing up and making it through it, not foamballs.

I believe surfing may get too big then die out as its too crowded everywhere and people don't like waiting or getting dropped in on. Like what happened to skateboarding in the early 90's, i was once skateboarding after it went out of fashion and a guy up on the hill yelled at me "get off that skateboard you faggot".

philosurphizingkerching's picture
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philosurphizing... Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 2:32pm

I think the future of surfing is a set of questions, like how come recreational surfers are not interested in forming a recreational surfing association with the aim of crowdfunding surfing reefs, or even better crowdfunding a Kelly Slater wave pool.
I think it is a bit sad that surfers are just going to sit back and allow the corporate ownership of wave pools, if only we could wake ourselves up from our 'collective coma' and get to a place in the future where all the surfers who like wave pool technology own a share in this technology, which would entitle them to a wave pool surf session every few months when their turn comes around.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 2:39pm

I reckon hydrofoil goat boats, with hand held windsurfer sail thingys. Look out for them at your local.

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 3:14pm
velocityjohnno wrote:

I reckon hydrofoil goat boats, with hand held windsurfer sail thingys. Look out for them at your local.

This is close

Optimist's picture
Optimist's picture
Optimist Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 3:51pm

Wave ski Looks good for people like lieutenant dan….philo, you don’t need an association or money to build reefs….just get a few mates to collect old bricks and concrete from demolition sites and make your own triangle reefs in spots where it just closes out all the time…no money required …just determination…..oh and don’t tell council….shhhh.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 7:31pm
philosurphizingkerching wrote:

I think the future of surfing is a set of questions, like how come recreational surfers are not interested in forming a recreational surfing association with the aim of crowdfunding surfing reefs, or even better crowdfunding a Kelly Slater wave pool.
I think it is a bit sad that surfers are just going to sit back and allow the corporate ownership of wave pools, if only we could wake ourselves up from our 'collective coma' and get to a place in the future where all the surfers who like wave pool technology own a share in this technology, which would entitle them to a wave pool surf session every few months when their turn comes around.

Wave pools are so 2019.

On a serious note though, most of my mates think they’re a novel idea, might surf one at some point type attitude.

Me, couldn’t care less about them.

juegasiempre's picture
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juegasiempre Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 12:17pm
Optimist wrote:

Wave ski Looks good for people like lieutenant dan….philo, you don’t need an association or money to build reefs….just get a few mates to collect old bricks and concrete from demolition sites and make your own triangle reefs in spots where it just closes out all the time…no money required …just determination…..oh and don’t tell council….shhhh.

Has anyone ever done that? With all the multimillion dollar artificial scam dream reefs that have failed, I reckon what you described would work, given heavy enough rocks.

Optimist's picture
Optimist's picture
Optimist Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 3:15pm

You only need enough rocks to catch the sand….a triangle that domes in the centre a bit is best…many of you have surfed perfect banks extending out a long way just from two small sea floor pipes side by side….what a few mates and a Tinny could do on a flat day is up to your imagination.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 3:47pm

.

quadzilla's picture
quadzilla's picture
quadzilla Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 4:54pm

Surfing has no future
Surfing has no past
comp surfing, stick it up yr arst.

Just todays poetry.

peppa bluey's picture
peppa bluey's picture
peppa bluey Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 6:14pm

What if some of the events on tour became one design spots? Forget sponsors and shapers for a moment, get everyone on the same board, with some variation in volume to account for height and weight differences. It’s been done before as novelty events but it could mix up finals day at trestles if everyone had to jump on the same board, with not surfing it beforehand. Or throw it out the window one year and say everyone has to ride a single fin or twinnie at jbay. I don’t think this would be advancing surfing but it would sure be fun and could show us some new takes on surfing those waves by the tour surfers

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 6:29pm

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay

I think that you can predict what will happen through watching the advancements in other industries.

1, longevity - enhanced human capabilities, - physical, exponential muscle growth but with massive weight reduction. ( hulk hogan strength - baby gram weight )
2, Immortality or slowed / suspended time - looping memories of favourite surf sessions, but with memory wipe, so multiple experiences of the same session without actually surfing.
2, mechanical animal assisted surfing - mechanical dolphins pulling surfers into monster waves, ulu etc
3, sky or air surfing - surfing in wind / hurricane, man made barrels, swell etc,
4, wetsuit in a pill or liquid drink form.
5, sunscreen in a form of vaccination
6, digital board shorts

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock Wednesday, 18 May 2022 at 6:38pm

Can I come round to yours Mick, and sample some of your digestables.

nolocal's picture
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nolocal Friday, 27 May 2022 at 7:22pm

Sustainable Eco boards, men in g-strings, and the metaverse.