Watch: TSJ Documentaries // Joel Tudor

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

In the intro of the last doco I railed against social media. Yet truth be told I dip into it every now and again, and when I do I'm often bemused by the carry on of the likes of Joel Tudor.

Judged solely on his social media persona, Tudor is the kind of guy who sees little difference between offence and compliments. It's all just thought bubbles made visible. He'll rail against someone one week, and next week pose in a photo with them. It's bemusing to me because when I hold a grudge it runs as deep as DNA. I can change, I can lose a grudge, but I gotta work hard at it. Nature is more tenacious than nurture.

I'm also bemused by Tudor appearing in this, the second instalment of The Surfer's Journal's documentary series. Reason being is that, with no offence intended, Tudor has been a complete non-entity in my surfing life. I was a twenty-something surfer through the 1990s, a shortboarder, a fundamentalist shortboarder like everyone around me.

I read every single surf mag so I knew what Tudor looked like, I saw him in the Oxbow ads, but I simply wasn't curious about him. He had no bearing on my surfing life. He made even less impact than bodyboarders, at least I had an opinion on them.

Understand that no-one I knew rode a longboard, no-one even owned one. I came from a region of slabby reefs, no-one walked the board or put their toes on the nose. So Joel Tudor was a name and nothing more....yet here he is, presented as one of the greatest surfers of all time.

Of course, in the intervening years I've come to understand what Tudor acheived, especially when he started riding different shapes, but this doco really rams it home. How in the late 80s he went against the grain, riding longboards when they weren't cool, then also went against the grain of modern longboarding shunning airs and floaters for a contemporary version of 60s style. How he seemed destined to never win a world champion, and how that played out for him.

Perhaps most bemusing of all is the surfing footage of Tudor and how I, a career non-longboarder, can now appreciate Tudor's light touch and slip o' the hip aesthetics, the delayed takeoffs, and cross-steps, and cutbacks.

It's tempting, I'll admit that, but there's no waves around here that suit longboards, so I'll treat this doco as a history lesson, a very good one, and leave it at that.

 

Comments

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 10:33am

geeze great quote by Nat in there around 3.17.......haha

simba

wozz's picture
wozz's picture
wozz commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 6:07pm

.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 2:55pm

He was surprisingly less annoying as a young lad than I thought. Not nearly as bad as his insta persona.

I'm not a huge fan of his surfing, but those easy, early takeoffs at Pipe and big Ombak Tujuh look so good.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 4:22pm

Wow, the weight and positioning at 8:20

And the single in large size, and his moves on thrusters which I think I saw early on.

He's literate. I don't insta so am unfamiliar with his opinions today, but back at about the time of this doco he'd come out with beauties such as "One fin, one God, one country." The early 90's was just so stifling that there had to be a revolution against it, Joel was in the right place at the right time with an incredible skillset and the heart of a troll - said in the nicest way possible. He's been entertaining.

I'd like to hear a bit about what he did after 2000 to today, as I got the message then got on with kids etc and fell out of the loop. As said in the thread on him winning Noosa this year, he's arguably the most influential surfer of the modern era.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 4:59pm

widely regarded as the greatest all round board rider.....um nope, not that I remembered.

knB

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 5:59pm

So the best all round boardrider is...?

Or have you forgotten?

JackStance's picture
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JackStance commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 9:01am

Dave Hubbard

Breath. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 11:01am

Today? Kai Lenny perhaps. Kite, SUP, shortboard, foil, small waves, massive waves, paddleboards, tow, guns. He can probably windsurf and longboard as well, and might even be good in those Dragon boat things.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 7:01pm

I agree with way less annoying when younger. Seems to be a thing, when you are currently the best at something in a generation, you become a tool. Slater is going the same way.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 7:07pm

Always has so much time, never seems rushed and his bottom turns are slick and so stylish.

bipola's picture
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bipola commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 7:40pm

i really enjoyed it
was a happy video

sirboonie's picture
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sirboonie commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 9:27pm

Style king. It's great surfing didn't completely lose its countercultures. Now go watch medina air revs on repeat and cringe.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Sunday, 29 Mar 2020 at 10:45pm

Good to watch. The name is vaguely familiar but that's it.

Loves a good stylin' on a longy, but the bottom line is, give me a 6' 10" .

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 9:32am

Good balance to the extremely radical short board Bertlemania. Thanks Stu.
Why do people get so hung up on personality? Ego?
The dude is obviously good on a stick.

festa's picture
festa's picture
festa commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 9:50am

westo, you have obviously been living under a rock.
he is right up there with the best of all time.

Westofthelake's picture
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Westofthelake commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 4:03pm

hahaha yea, he's got the skillz no doubt about it, but I still don't recall hearing much about him.....it's a rock thing :)

the-u-turn's picture
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the-u-turn commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 1:54pm

That's a fair introduction, Stu. And, respectfully, coming from where you grew up and what that microcosm held as 'cool', understandable. That's life. Just like wearing anything other than Black in the water in Santa Barbara.

Best all-rounded surfer, across diverse craft? Yes, I'd find it hard to nominate someone over Tudor.

As for the attitude. Well, from 12 years of age he was exposed to Edwards (God, at the time), Carson, Frye (his major influence) and of course Nat. Takayama, who was a revelation at a young age as well, shaped for him from 14. He travelled with Dora and, no doubt the Dark Knight lit the fuse, only increased an already sharp tongue from the experience.

He was immersed in history and didn't take kindly to those who didn't appreciate where they came from and how.

Of note, at a function a few years back here in Sydney I introduced a local 'name' to Joey Cabell & Mark Cunningham over casual drinks. At the end of the evening, the fella leaned towards me, as sincerely as possible, and said, 'and who were they?'.

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 1:25pm

JT got an incredible apprenticeship...

saltman's picture
saltman's picture
saltman commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 2:28pm

Joey Cabell now there was a surfer with a great style

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 1:36pm

Let's discuss the flip side of this success. In the late 90's being on a longboard your mates would question your sexuality and the types of wave you went out in "small, fat burger waves". These waves a surfer got to enjoy alone, or with only a few crew of crazy others on old style equipment - and all got significantly higher wave counts as a result. It was hard to find videos of how to walk a board, drop knee turns etc until "The Seedling".

Today, JT and the longboarding renaissance has been so successful a majority of learners and new incoming surfers will choose the cruise and log path, and breaks known as good for logs are ridiculously crowded. Like Malibu levels of crowded. This is the downside, if you experienced what it was before; now swamped by an aestheticism and love of style from a gargantuan number of people. I don't really have a solution for this - until this current event sweeps everything away for a while.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 6:08pm

Nah, not convinced at all. Longboarding is fun to do, but I can only watch about 30sec of it before I’m over it. It’s just so fucking dull. I’d probably place it somewhere between lid riding and goat boating in the Spuddups surf hierarchy.
His shortish boarding is better though, he has a great style, but once again it gets a bit boring after about five mins. I’d much rather watch someone like Russell Bierke who’s doing shit that’s infinitely more difficult and dangerous in waves of major consequence, with just as much style.
Greatest all round surfer? Who are they kidding? He’s a good at one aspect of longboarding, which as I mentioned is crap, and he’s okay at some other shit. Someone mentioned Kai Lenny: a much more suitable candidate for the greatest all rounder I reckon.
One JJF hack at Margarets is worth more than all the nose riding that’s ever taken place in history. It’s just such a stupid move.
That’s all just my opinion though. People are welcome to disagree. That’s the beauty of surfing really: it’s anything you want it to be. If you like watching noseriding then go for your life. Don’t let me stop you.

dandandan's picture
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dandandan commented Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 6:13pm

Given that Indo is likely off for the rest of 2020, I really didn't need to see the Ombak Tujuh wave at the 6 minute mark.

Elliedog's picture
Elliedog's picture
Elliedog commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 5:11pm

Cant watch it Stu. Seems to have been removed from your site. You been stealing???

Luba

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 5:47pm

Ha...nah, removed from the web altogether. Not on TSJ's YouTube channel either.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 6:08pm

best all round board rider ever?

not even top 10, maybe not top 20.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 6:19pm

You seen Italo Ferrera on his 3 foot foamy ?

Or getting spray-blind mausoleum barrels at heaving Box his first surf out there ?

Joel Tudor isn’t even the best all round surfer of the last 6 months.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 6:25pm

Finally clicked on this thing after experiencing the same non-exposure and utter lack of interest as so eloquently put by Stunet.

Now the vid is gone !

Anyway, as an aside to a few points made by Spuddups , VJ and a few others , I’ve noticed that there is a younger crew -almost exclusively from a Sydney it seems- who’ve not just focused their concept of surfing on longboards but they’re living a period piece theatrical production of the 1960’s down to correct wardrobe and assumed attitudes.

Birdswell boardshorts , Bikinis on the Chicks which look like high waisted nappies , long john wet suits * . Era appropriate haircuts. I’ve seen a beaver tail wetsuit vest paired with boardshorts...the tail flapping around behind the rider like some kind of unthinkable prolapse scenario.

They’re all desperately having fun. It’s a saccharine beach blanket bingo vibe.

Look , I’m sure they are loving it but all the hooting of each other’s 1 foot waves and broad smiles in the world can’t disguise the fact that they’ll paddle past you or cook you on a wave at every opportunity. I saw one chick do it three waves in a row the other day. Big smiles as she dropped in relentlessly. But she never dropped in on the Faux Nat Young’s or the pretend McTavishes they share the van ride North with.

I’ve overheard them discussing how “ Jock “ surfers are so repetitive and strictly adherent to their snaps and reos. The thinking was that shortboarders were restricted in their thinking. They were surfing robots. Dictated to by a competitive style which required manoeuvres to the degree that they were imposing them on the wave.

Then I’d watch the long boarders for a while and realise that they were all trying to mimic the movements of Midget and Nat. There’s a famous shot of Midget with his hands raised in cutback and I swear you’d see that exact style replicated most waves.

I reckon they’re painting themselves into a corner myself. Riding waves in an old person’s style when they should be spending their reckless youth chasing as hollow waves as possible. Getting tubed is where it’s at. It’s the pinnacle of surfing and they’ll never experience it , settling instead for ad nauseam repetions of running up to the nose and back in boring, crumbly shit.

That seems a more confined interpretation of surfing than short boarding to me.

Whatever . As long as they’re having fun. Fucked if I’d be doing any more long boarding than the waves demand.

And their behaviour in shit surf makes me glad that they’re confined to protected crèche breaks.

* Most pointless wetsuit ever.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 7:56pm

What you described is probably the major factor that turned me away from longboarding for a long while now. (Seeing Joel turns me back toward it). I liked it as an uncool, fresh, irreverant, undercurrent way to surf heaps of little waves but to be able to do proper bottom turns and drive without the need for poo stance pumping in little waves. The way to surf the boards was not dissimilar to a single down south at margs - and there was always a shift in equipment in bigger juice, for me at least... Bigger waves were more like the litmus single approach and I'm still puzzled that the hipsters transfer to twinnies rather than go the pintail single. I was reasonably good at the longer boards, making semi finals at biggest state comp.

And then it got fully retro'd and cool'd beyond all recognition. And most devastatingly, crowded beyond all recognition. Clubs stopping the midlength divisions was another reason to wander. There's a great era of history between the long and the short that is a treasure trove of innovation to go have a look at. Australian vee bottom/foils/displacement hulls/pintails/Rolf Aurness by '70 - the shortboard revolution doesn't have to be short boards... If that's a Tudoresque spray, this is the article for it...

So in recent years, a midlength is enough for the little days, and shortboards ranging from HB Rainbow TFs through to modern thrusters for surfing with my young one. However, seeing Joel in historical retrospective reminds me of the feeling of setting up a little wave with the bottom turn, the position and weightlessness in the hips and back, the counterbalance going forward and the sheer speed my 9'6" can crank in small waves. That needs to be felt again before lockdown.

I'd really like to see FR's best 10 surfers of all time list. Do you get disqualified for poo stance?

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 6:16pm

When’s the Tom Carroll one coming out ?

AndyM's picture
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AndyM commented Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 8:30pm

Give us a top 10 FR, or a top 20 if you're really bored.

tango's picture
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tango commented Wednesday, 1 Apr 2020 at 8:25am

I found Stu's intro interesting in the way long boarding wasn't really a feature in many places back in the 80s-90s. I was a teen grom during the mal resurgence in the early-mid 80s and we hated them - no sharing, paddle past you and straight around into the next one. But we did ride the old mals stashed in the racks in the surf club on small days and got half an idea how difficult they were to ride.

A couple of mates went full rockabilly longboard in the late 80s in line with the Mambo thing, ably encouraged by Phil Carroll who was happy to see young guys get on mals. Moose and Fuzznuts surfed Merimbula Bar all the time on them and surfed really well, and weren't greedy like most of the older mal riders out there. A few of us would have a go on them but tried to ride them like thrusters and failed miserably.

I've now got a few in the garage - HPs and logs - and ride them at different waves around here when I can't be bothered with crowds at the name breaks. The local longboard club are also a great bunch of people and full of characters without too much ego involved.

I reckon it's a lot easier to appreciate riding any craft, especially long boarding, if you've done a bit of it. So I watch Tudor and see mesmerising control and grace - what he does is so damn hard to do, and he does it with style. He stays up the nose for that bit longer and in more critical places than most people can even think of doing. If you haven't had a go at doing that properly it's hard to get your head around how difficult it is, and easy to criticise.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Wednesday, 1 Apr 2020 at 10:27am

No doubt longboarding has its place. I have discovered in recent years though that I can ride my quad fish in very small waves. The longboard only comes out in sub thigh height waves these days. Then the tables are turned.

steve mcallon's picture
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steve mcallon commented Wednesday, 1 Apr 2020 at 9:13pm

Joel is Joel and could surf a pole.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 1 Apr 2020 at 10:13pm

True he learnt jujitsu after getting choked out at Pipe?

Mort's picture
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Mort commented Friday, 3 Apr 2020 at 12:01am

A poem for Joel Tudor

Cruisin
Crusin
Cruisin