A discussion on the state of backhand surfing…
Do you like surfing on your backhand? When a teepee pops up, say, and you are exactly on its peak with priority either way do you go frontside or backside? Let us say each direction offers equal quality and no barrel. Just a fun shoulder high wall. Frontside? 75% of the time? 100%?
As a regular footed man, if I’m surfing a left I enjoy. I like the extra oomph off the top, but all things being equal, prefer life facing the wave. I assume most do and never thought about it much more than that before accidentally catching Heat 4 of Round 4 yesterday afternoon. It was a lethargic affair with Ciao Ibelli vs. Michel Bourez vs. Davey Cathels. Barton Lynch was invited into Ronnie Blakey and Ross Williams Lair of Boredom™. Ross tried to serve Barton some lukewarm fare, “How insane is the tour now! What’s your take on the evolution?” And Barton countered with a very thought provoking monologue. He said:
I do feel that when you watch the traditional backhand line that there has not been as much exploration into the possibilities of backhand surfing as there has been on the front side. If you take Conner or John John for example there’s just so many variations of the frontside turn that they have to add variety to their attack but I don’t feel that’s been explored quite so much on the backhand. The traditional straight up, straight down lots of board in the pocket, in the lip, is so consistent, delivers results, delivers points and is so consistent that people haven’t strayed far from that. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity, personally, I think there’s opportunity in the exploration of that backhand line.
And how great is that? How often do you hear a fairly technical description of surfing that makes you wonder? Never! I thought about it through the rest of the day pondering the state of backside surfing. I thought about Barton Lynch, who I never felt one way or the other about before. Matt Warshaw writes, in his grand epic The Encyclopedia of Surfing:
Lynch earned a reputation as one of the sport’s wittiest and most articulate figures, and for his willingness to express views outside what he correctly viewed as a narrow surf world orthodoxy. Surfing, he said in a 1989 interview, was nothing more than “another outlet for making yourself feel good,” and shouldn’t serve as “the be-all and end-all of your life.” Surfers, he continued, were on the whole the most “self-righteous, cocky and judgmental group of people you’ll find anywhere in the world.”
Which made me continue to ponder why he is not part of the commentary crew? There was a long pause after Barton Lynch finished his excellent discussion on the state of backhand surfing before Ronnie Blakey said, “Fun day out there today, Barton. Heats aren’t just won with the surfing on the wave alone.” Maybe that’s why he is not part of the commentary crew. Because he is not clinically retarded.
What do you feel about the state of backhand surfing? Will you be thinking about it next time you paddle out? Will you try draw a different line?