Railwork theory inside!
I could say where this is, but I won’t.
That’s a dual reference to the wave that John Florence and Ian Walsh are surfing (below) and Sean Doherty’s book, MP (on my nightstand). Michael Peterson was many things, but a rat wasn’t one of ’em. At least not yet… I’m only halfway through the book.
To tell you guys where this wave is located would be a pointless endeavor. It may give you a slight sense of relief, but ultimately you’d never end up going there. It’s too fickle, too far away, and likely too expensive for any of us industry insiders. So I’ll just keep it here on my list of incredible, secret waves I know everything about but will never see firsthand. I suppose it’s something of a power trip.
John’s surfing in this video reminded me of a conversation I once had with Surfing Mag‘s gifted ex-video producer, Sean Benik (who I believe edited this piece). He claimed that while certain surfers tend to surf on top of the water (Adriano) and others surf through the water (Jordy), it likely had more to do with the board they’re riding than their ability or technique.
At first I didn’t believe him. I was convinced that top-of-the-water surfers were just inherently worse, or that they lacked a certain X-factor to pierce through walls like the Micks and Joels of the world. But that doesn’t make much sense.
Take Gabriel Medina for example. Easily one of the top five surfers in the world, but he floats across the surface as if riding a Michelin tire or worse, a Firewire. He still does amazing turns, sure, but he isn’t able to slice through walls in the same manner as JJF. On steep sections, Gabriel’s board will flatten or skip out while John’s board will remain on edge through the entirety of the turn.
In my mind, and this is a mind that knows very little of surfboard construction, the biggest factors involved would be rails and volume. A thinner, sharper rail can cut through water more easily, and less overall volume allows the board to ride lower in the water and become buried with less force. By riding boards that vary in rail shape and volume, two similar size and skill surfers (John and Gabby) can appear to be surfing very differently, despite performing the same maneuvers.
There are also obvious variations in technique, but in terms of how the surfer appears to cut through or ride atop the water, the board itself is mostly to blame.
So why would Gab want to ride a board that makes him surf worse? Because anytime the wave goes flat, he has the distinct advantage of maintaining speed and flow, whereas John will flounder. Gabby rides the anti-Banana to ensure consistency, AKA heat wins. This comes back to another theory of mine, in which a country’s socio-economic status can be directly linked to their surfers’ “styles”. But that’s for another day.
For now, sit back and enjoy this aptly titled video, “Ian Walsh Surfs Perfect Barrels with World Champ, John John Florence”. And you guys think I suck at writing!