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Beach Grit

History: Naming Josh Kerr’s Club Sandwich

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

When JK nailed the under-the-lip reverse who knew what to call it! He wanted yahtzee, I wanted Club Sandwich. Guess who won!

Remember back in 2007 when Josh Kerr nailed his first-ever under-the-lip-grab-rail-reverse in competition?  It was Snapper, his opponent was Mick Fanning and he… lost. 

Kelly Slater got so high on it he called it the best move ever in a contest. What’s rad is it still gets the spectators’ toes tapping and judges jabbing fingers in the eight range on their little scoring tablet.

I recorded this interview shortly after the event and christened it the Club Sandwich…

BeachGrit: I believe you’ve been calling this turn a Yahtzee. I much prefer the name The Club Sandwich purely because, like the sandwich, it has everything stuffed inside it: reversed, upside-down, rail grabbed…

JOSH KERR: Yeah, mmmmmm, I hear what you’re saying but I honestly don’t care what you call it – it’s just a grabbed reverse, really.

I’d wager that’s your modesty speaking. And, as an aside, no one has ever won a string of world titles by being modest. You and I both agree that it’s far more than a grab-rail reverse.

(Warming up) Yeah! It’s sick! It’s an upside-down-grabbed-reverse, that’s just what I call it. But I’m feeling The Club Sandwich. Shaun Hazza (Harrington) was trying them a while back and I was trying to copy him and I started to get really upside down. It’s the only way I can do those grab-rail reverses.

Tell me your response to Kelly’s hyperbole about the turn being the best ever in competition… 

It was heavy. I don’t think The Club Sandwich – see, now I’m using it – is that crazy a move. A lot of guys could do it if they tried it. It’s one of those ones that no one’s tried. But, y’know, it was pretty friggen crazy when I heard Kelly had said that.

In your quarter-final heat at Snapper, you needed a nine on your final wave and you didn’t get the score. Did you feel undervalued given the move’s entertainment value?

The crazy thing is, if I’d pulled into a little tube out the back, they would’ve given me the score – if I had clinged inside a non-critical tube, if I’d just pulled into a bit of crap out the back, I would’ve scored highly and got through. Judging should be about the critical turns you do on a wave.

Despite the talk of rewarding critical surfing, do you therefore believe it’s still the gentleman who rides the biggest wave for the longest time whilst spasming that gets the most points?

Yeah, but then they’ll go all crazy. Like in the first round, Bruce did a big layback snap and they gave him a nine plus – for one turn and a layback snap. Nine points. That’s good judging.

Perhaps, and this is just a theory of mine, no judge wants to be seen rewarding something that might, as time progresses, turn out to be easy. Like a frontside reverse in 1991, for instance.

Definitely, definitely. I’m sure none of those dudes have done of those things. Why should they be judging it?

But if we used your unrealistic standard, as you suggest, current WCT surfing could only be judged by Andy, Kelly, Joel and a few others.

(Conceding interviewer’s fatal lunge) Yeah, I know. It’s weird. It’s one of those sporting things. That’s why skateboarding’s not about contests, it’s about video sections. And that’s what makes a good skateboarder. Everyone surfs different; its such an expressionistic sport.

Okay, let’s talk about The Club Sandwich. I’m about to go surfing, I wanna do one, take me to my field of dreams…

Well. First of all, I try and fade before I go up so when I do the bottom turn I’m almost straight up, my board’s at 12 o’clock. When I hit I try and actually grab my rail just as I’m transitioning from the bottom turn to the other rail. This is almost mid face. It’s pretty early, but it’s the best way. You wanna be looking up at a lip that’s already start to throw out otherwise you’ll go through it and it’ll be an air. Start the actual turn early, mid-face, and as soon as your board hits the lip you really rip it around. Put your other hand in the face of the wave and put all your pressure on the front foot and throw your board and body upside down and throw the fins back toward the beach. It happens really quickly. Because you’ve got so much momentum, your board swings around really quickly from the fins grabbing. Sometimes I do that and my body keeps spinning and I fall off because my board wants to go straight but my body doesn’t. You’ve gotta stay low because you’re hitting a lip that’s gonna barrel. I mean, expect a barrelling lip on the back as you come out of it. Stay low.

That’s one of the better step-by-step descriptions for a move I’ve heard. Simple yet instructive.