Seven Trends Of '22
The only constant is change
Seven Trends Of '22
An imperfect list of changes washing through the sport.
1) Online Coaching
To be clear, online coaching didn’t begin this year, however 2022 was the year when it reached critical mass. Largely, it was a result of COVID, as over the two previous years surfing was one of the few sports allowed and people with lots of time and money on their hands headed down the self-improvement trail.
Suddenly, what had been a fringe offering, generally targeted at the pointy end of performance or big wave surfing, had a bit of something for everyone. Ex-pros got in on the gig, ex-big wave riders too, personal trainers sold their services, and even traditional surf coaches hung up their clipboard and whistle for MPEGs and instant feedback.
Late in the year, Steve Shearer wrote an article that, in part, questioned the long term benefit of online coaching. Not everyone in the comments agreed with Steve’s point of view. Including longtime coach Martin Dunn who now has his own online coaching course and in 2023 Steve will be putting that to the test.
2) So White
This isn’t so much a new trend but the end of an old one. Way back in the noughties Hayden Cox created his FibreFlex, a carbon rail covering used in lieu of a stringer. For a few years Hayden licensed the technology, before other shapers realised they could come up with their own carbon solution.
Thus we had Carbon Wrap, Spine Tek, Tri Flex, Twin Tek, and for a while there black strips were as common as deck grip. However, in 2022 all but a few players had ditched their carbon technology. In part, this was also a result of the COVID hangover. For two years, the squeeze was put on domestic manufacturing and any order that was difficult to fill - such as carbon strips - was put in the too hard basket.
In order to get their work done, shapers had to ditch the garnish. Keep it simple. Oddly, many reported little difference to performance or durability.
3) Now Everyone Knows How La Niña Works
It started with El Niño. Peruvian fishermen noticed their territorial fishing waters would warm up every few years around the time baby Jesus would pay a visit. It was then discovered the phenomenon had far reaching effects stretching right across the Pacific Ocean and high into the atmosphere. It even had an opposite effect - La Niña, the little girl - when conditions would ostensibly swap over. Warm became cold, cold became warm.
For the layperson, the trick was remembering which was which. Did El Niño mean cool water or warm? Was that here or in Peru..?
Well, after three years of the little girl pouring her heart out, every citizen on Australia’s East Coast should pass a sitting test on El Niño/La Niña.
Yes, winds blow easterly across the Pacific during La Niña.
Yes, those winds are wet and bring rain.
Yes, they also bring easterly surf.
4) Kelly Expands His Empire
Not so much the start of a trend but the continuation of a pattern. Much as Greg Norman puts his name on all things golf: courses, clubs, classy housing developments for Boomers, our own Kelly Slater has been doing something similar.
It started with surf clothing, then wavepools, add a curious excursion into bed linen and chia seeds, then surfboards, and this year it was fins. Endorfins to be exact. Right now it’s just one extra click to buy them off the Firewire website.
The trend is catching on. A few years back, Mick started putting his name on softboards and bankrolling beer, while this year John John launched his own brand, Veia, with garments and accessories priced in the OuterKnown neighbourhood.
5) Alt Surf Gets Even More Elaborate
It started with finless, then SUPs, then foils, and in the last couple of years the cross-pollination began in earnest. Think SUP foils, tow foils, kite foils, while earlier this year, Kai Lenny released a video of himself at Jaws using a hand wing - known in the sport as wing dinging.
Wing dinging has been around for a few years, however it was flat water carry on, yet now it's being paired with foils and XXL waves.
Onwards and upwards!
6) Death Of The Surf Animal
More than just a committed surfer, the Surf Animal embodied the jungle law qualities of the lineup, eschewing the notion of ‘taking turns’ or other forms of civility, instead pressing their advantage whenever they could. Many of them did the same on land as in the water, and they got away with it for years.
Symbolically, it could be argued the Surf Animal passed away with Chris Davidson even though it’s a little more complex than that. The death of the Surf Animal wasn’t sudden, it’s been happening for a while as surfing democratised over the past decade.
The liberty and license formerly extended to the animal has slowly been declining. Overreach from other animals such as Mark Thompson, which would once have seen heads turn the other way, ended up in court, the defendant falling foul of the law, and also the court of public opinion.
Once hardcore companies, which proudly displayed their lengthy history in ‘since XXXX’ taglines, have sensed the market shift creating corporate clubs that communicate in the modern parlance of inclusivity, equality, and fraternity - each trait at odds with the old Surf Animal who saw themselves as lone wolves, even if reality didn’t always stack up to the imagery.
7) Hardcore Shapers Go Soft
Yeah, we’ve written about this recently, but it’s a trend so it goes in here. Now that the softboard has gone hard - i.e a fibreglass shell inside a foam cover - and doesn’t flex like it used to, shortboard shapers are wanting a slice of the pie.
A quick roll call sees serious shapers like Jon Pyzel, Hayden Cox, Lee Stacy, MR, Aipa, Luke Short, Darren Handley, and Jason Stephenson all moving into territory once subverted by Drag, Mullet, and Catch Surf.