When I was growing up there was one local surfer who set the benchmark for style. Mikey Beame was a short, dark-skinned natural footer of Sth Indian descent who always had a big smile on his face and a friendly word to say (and still does).
When Beamy, as he was known to most of us, went into a turn his limbs and torso would become malleable putty, which he somehow moulded into exactly the right shape every time. Other locals may have ultimately done a better job of busting into the pro scene, but Beamy still set the benchmark for surfing aesthetics. (And to this day, to watch him surf even the junkiest wave is to be given a lesson in seamless transition and surfing poise.) When Cheyne Horan made a speech at our boardriders presentation night a few years ago he went so far as to say that Beamy’s style is superior to that of Tom Curren. That is basically like being told you had more refined artistic sensibilities than Michelangelo.
Like most impressionable young surfers who find a stylistic approach that resonates with them, my initial response to Beamy’s surfing was to try and imitate it. When I became painfully aware that my pre-teen fumblings were falling well short of his svelte carves, I inturn tried to identify with a series of better-known style icons from the era. In my Kong phase I experimented with crazy hand-jive moves and attacked the lip like it had said something offensive about my mother. Pottz meanwhile gave every grommet a permit to try airs, but I soon discovered I was a flightless bird. And try as I might, I could never find anything black and white about Kelly Slater’s revolutionary approach to the wave. Still, my style evolved in its own distinctive way, moulded by the junky beachbreaks I mostly surfed, further impaired by a few injuries and finally doomed by a phase on boards that were far too small. When Tom Curren made his spectacular comeback I felt that perhaps there was still a ray of hope for me, but the only thing The Search for my own inner Tom Curren showed up was a three-stage cut-back and a karate chop lip attack.
I’m still scarred by that first sighting of my surfing on film. I’d imagined myself fluidly linking a series of well-placed but slightly understated turns. Instead I was presented with someone who looked like a break-dancer with aspirations of becoming a pizza-base tosser. Afterwards I rode mals for a month to remind myself that going straight and doing nothing was preferable to having an epileptic fit on the wave.
It is often our nature to obsess over and fantasise about the very things which we lack. And so it is that I find myself overseeing a style issue and perhaps still clinging to some vain notion that by rigorously discussing style and talking directly to those universally recognised as easy-on-the-eye performers, there might yet be some slim hope for me yet. Inside Joel Parkinson, Steph Gilmore and Craig Anderson have plenty to say on the subject of style, while Kirk Owers and Jed Smith examine what having style means and how it’s evolved. Who knows, if you share my affliction maybe some of this issue will rub off on you too …
- Luke Kennedy
…With Wayne Deane, Chippa Wilson, Rob Bain, Joel Tudor and Thomas Campbell : By Jed Smith
It’s a stinkin’ hot afternoon in Coolangatta when I sit-down with Wayne Deane and his son, Noa, to discuss the evolution of style in surfing. Wayne’s been helping his mate build a roof all day and looks visibly drained. After a Bavarian beer mug full of Schweppes Cola he whirs to life, recalling for myself and Noa’s benefit his early days competing in Hawaii during the 1970s, when competitors slept under the contest scaffolding on Sunset Beach, and personal style was everything.
Want To Look Good In The Air? Craig Anderson Has Some Advice : Interview By Luke Kennedy
Perhaps more than any other surfer, Craig Anderson has mastered the art of looking good while taking flight. However, his rep as an aerial impresario has only come about through spending long hours at the launch site and a willingness to act as his own, harsh style critic. When we selected a shot to run in conjunction with this interview we fired it off to Craig to gauge his thoughts on it. Immediately we received word that he was far from happy with the way he looked in the image and that he would much prefer it if we went with something else. Fortunately we had time to take his advice. In the following pages Craig discusses his flight manual, what he thinks of airs on the pro tour and why he likes to ensure we see only his best work.
Why great surf styles never die out: By Kirk Owers
If you had to sum up style in just four words they would be: Gerry Lopez at Pipeline. That’s the raw bones right there but it’s the details that nail it down. Lopez standing tall on a self-shaped bolt of lightning looking impossibly cool – front zippered vest, bowl cut, Zorro moustache, hands just so, knees slightly bent – in the trench of a 12ft Banzai Pipeline cavern. “It’s a cakewalk when you know how”, Lopez told us, adding to the mystique already swirling around this yoga-practicing wave poet. Surf movies of the 70s gunned toward a climax of Lopez arrowing through heaving Pipeline cathedrals – the epitome of grace under pressure.
Bonus DVD: Loco Loco – A Film By Nick Colbey
Featuring a boatload of earth’s most unique surfers tearing their way through two separate archipelagos set alight by the best back-to-back swells of the Indo season. From secret outposts, to new hi-fi wave parks and one of Indonesia’s true gems at its absolute best, Loco Loco will leave your head spinning and asking for more. Watch the trailer, right here.
Starring Clay Marzo, Chippa Wilson, Mat Meola, Mikey Wright, Luke Hynd and Billy Kean.