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13 June, 2012

They Blew It … but Kelly’s still King.

I’m still trying to comprehend the fact that on the afternoon of the best surf in recent history, the ASP World Tour decided to take the afternoon off. Apparently it was too big for the world’s ‘top’ 44 surfers.

Sure … I myself wouldn’t have been out there either in those 15 -20 foot Cloudbreak caverns. But I’m a kook. And those guys are calculated by a formula that apparently declares them the best surfers in the world. So if the best in the world weren’t surfing, who then was out? And does that then make them the best surfers in the world? Hmmmm.

CT-ers like Damien and CJ Hobgood, Mick, Parko, John John, Josh Kerr, Kelly and Gabriel Media all went out and some (though not all) were of the opinion that they would have liked the opportunity to showcase their surfing in an event that would have sorted the wheat from the chaff. Instead the ASP took the safe option and guys like Reef, Ian Walsh, Mark Healey and Ramon Navarro showed the world how it was done.

It wouldn’t have happened in ’74 at the Smirnoff Pro. Reputations were forged that day in the 30-foot waves at Waimea Bay. Nor would it have happened in 1985, when pro surfing made a statement about pinnacles, and Mark Richards conquered his fears to win at 30 foot Waimea. Many surfers stepped right out of their comfort zones on those legendary days. They faced down their fears of annihilation. Others didn’t and slid into obscurity as pro surfing re-wrote the history books.

Friday in Fiji could have been one of those line-in-the-sand days when the elite of the Pro Tour put their mettle and skill on public display as the ocean offered the ultimate challenge. Instead they took the safe option. Bummer for those who wanted to step up and show their stuff. Andy Irons would be turning in his grave.

Anyway … there were other highlights of course.

A 40-year old, Kelly Slater showed surfing brilliance, spontaneity and dominance to clinch yet another victory in hollow but tricky Cloudbreak barrels. His backside tube riding was phenomenal. But it was his critical turns off the top that impressed me the most. I love the way Kelly performs his bottom turns so low down the face. Right out in the flats in fact. See the picture below. The effect of this is to increase the propensity for a vertical angle up the face and seriously into the pocket. Right where it counts.

What can we learn from this?

If you’re a very average surfer who wants some coaching, start by realizing that you will never get radical off the top until you master a quality bottom turn.

You advanced surfers out there should try and delay your bottom turn and do it lower on the wave face. When you’re dropping down the face, ready to perform your bottom turn – DON’T. Instead – drop a little lower down the face and straighter out towards the beach. Into the flats. Assuming you then convert that angle into a quality bottom turn, your new found timing, positioning and approach angle will result in the most exciting surfing you’ve ever done off the top.

Bottom turns are everything in surfing. Kelly has the best in the business.


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