The Flyer: 'An Instant Arrested In Eternity'
Surfing is full of lopsided ratios.
Thousands of dollars spent on a surf trip for a handful of waves ridden. An hour-long session for a minute spent on your feet. Excesses of money and time are distilled down to mere moments, yet it’s the moments we hang onto.
“Great art is an instant arrested in eternity,” said James Huneker and he may well have been referring to surfing’s way of distorting time; how we pause the action to savour the moment.
This week we ran a Wave Of The Day photo Chris Peel took of João Chianca at Cloudbreak and it’s an instant that deserves further scrutiny.
Taken earlier this month, it shows João pushing hard against the wave’s energy.
2023 has been a good season for ol’ João. He first made the tour in 2022, was arguably the season’s most exciting surfer, and yet he failed to make the cut.
He requalified through last year’s Challenger Series, then took a stand when the Championship Tour resumed earlier this year. You see, instead of toning it down, João reprised the swashbuckling approach that’s made him a fan favourite and stormed the castle all the way to a fourth-placed finish.
He kept on storming, beyond the contests to the tropical South Pacific.
Modern high-performance surfing involves sudden bursts of acceleration, something multi-fin boards are willing to oblige. Direct your bodyweight towards those fin faces and feel it turn into lateral speed. Deep tube riding, however, requires deceleration. Slow down, allow the wave to catch up, then hit the pedal once you’re out of sight, hoping you’ve got the timing right.
The hand drag or extended bottom turn are the usual deceleration methods of choice. Each allows the surfer to maintain the same line into the barrel while granting last-second adjustments should timing be off.
On the other hand, the tail stall - similar to what João’s done here - is the free climbing method of deceleration; putting it all on the line just before the moment of glory.
But why do it? Will not the coming barrel feel good enough?
Your guess is as good as mine. But I imagine at least part of the answer is because few people can swap rails while hitting the handbrake on any wave, let alone big Cloudbreak. João is a competitive surfer, a successful one too, so first ascents and Never Been Done’s are hardwired into his brain.
The other part, I imagine, is child’s play: feeling that rapid loss of speed, then the rapid boost, not unlike the sensations felt by a kid on a swing set.
In real life, the moment would be over in less than a second, its difficulty disguised by haste. But fortunately Chris Peel saw the light and sensed the move, opening the aperture for 1/60th of a second to arrest the instant, which I’ve now stared at for a small eternity.
Yet another lopsided ratio.
A Gumby’s Impression Of Teahupo’o
Last week, Steve Shearer wrote a first-person account of a hardcore trip to G-Land, and this week Gra Murdoch does the same after a trip to Tahiti. However, where Steve's pen bends towards sincerity, for Gra it's all just set-up work for the next gag. Enjoy misadventures, faux pas, and cable-eating parrotfish, from the most beautiful island on Earth. Read More
The Boy II
'Loud quiet loud' is how someone once described the music of The Pixies, and Dan Dobbin does something similar with his words, mixing short, abrupt sentences with longer elaborations. Subtlety then emphasis.
This piece of writing - I hesitate to call it fiction - continues on from an earlier story, and recounts a surfing version of teenage uncertainty. Read More >
Photos: Island Swapping With Ethan
Rights for lefts. Sand for coral. With Cloudbreak back on the CT schedule and a late-season swell moving up the Tasman, Ethan Ewing grabbed Bede Durbidge - who clocked thirteen trips to Fiji during his pro career - for a trip that was as much about familiarity as great barrels.
Namotu photographer Josh Bystrom captured it all while swimming - yes, swimming - the lineup at Cloudbreak. Read More >
North Pacific El Niño Outlook
Last week I made mention of Craig's forthcoming article about the most recent El Nino findings from climate scientists, and here be it.
There's an assumption that El Nino means great waves for Hawaii's North Shore, however it turns out there's more than one kind of El Nino, and part of the difference is how much Hawaiian surf it delivers.
So, as we're entering an El Nino phase, it's worth asking what kind it will be. Read More >
Watch: Jaws // Return Of El Nino
Well if you didn't already guess, the type of El Nino unfolding is one that bodes well for Hawaiian surf. Testament to that is the swell that hit Jaws last Tuesday. I know we've already run a video on the day but I'm a sucker for a Tucker Wooding drone clip. Read More >