Technique Critique: Jordy Smith

Ever wanted to know the secrets behind Jordy's fluid motion?

Isn’t this big oaf something to behold? At six-foot-three and limber as a lynx, Jordy Smith defies preconceptions of big men in sport. In this piece I will break down the noteworthy components of his technique, both good and bad.

He do these things V good!


The first thing people recognize about Jordy is his power. And yes, obviously size plays an integral role in Jordy’s water displacement, but unlike other big men in our sport (Sunny Garcia, Tai Van Dyke), he mostly uses timing and skill to make it rain, not raw aggression.

Jordy’s height gives him the ability to extend bottom turns to whichever length he pleases, be it 20 yards or half a foot. Remember his almost buzzer-beater against Jules in Victoria? The transition from one turn to the next was so tight, so exact, that he was able to able to perform the second maneuver on a section created by his own wake. The only other person I’ve seen do that with major turns is Andy.


Jordy has a fairly small stance, which is mainly beneficial. A wide stance forces drawn-out, rounder turns (see: Adriano), whereas compact positioning allows the rider to achieve sharper angles (see: Kolohe). Jordy makes best use of this technique with his carve-to-snap in the pocket, a turn to which he owes his 2016 Lowers trophy.

Knee mobility

A variation of the above concept is hip and knee directional mobility. One thing I’ve learned from surfing and watching the surfing of others, is that knees and hips are not all created equal. Specifically, some people’s bend inwards (Mick, Jordy) and others’ bend outwards (Adriano, me).

Outward bending knees are bad for surfing in ways both stylistic and technical. When your knees bow and extend beyond your feet, it not only looks like you’re taking a shit, but it makes you more likely to fall and less likely to recover.

Imagine you’re doing a big carve, and halfway through you shift your weight to the front leg. At this point the weight should fall onto the knee, which then passes it to the foot, which is supported by the board. If your front knee extends beyond the point of your planted foot, the weight is then unable to transition to the foot and has nowhere to go but down… all the way to the water.

If you manage to keep your feet on the board and find yourself in a layback position, you’re still screwed. From a stance where your knees are splayed, there’s no point of resistance to help get you back to your feet. Unless you’ve got abs of Tungsten, you might as well release your board stop and floundering in the white wash. It ain’t gonna happen.

But Jordy! That lucky sum’bitch has inward bending knees which are not only fashionable but also annoyingly functional. When Jordy lays it on rail, his triangular stance is much more stable, as it delivers weight efficiently from body to knee to foot to board, thus keeping him centered at all times. This concept goes back to the scientific principle of triangles being more stable than squares or parallelograms. In a triangle, the weight is evenly distributed to all sides, so there’s less risk of a collapse.


I find it interesting that the concept of mobility on the surfboard has come back in style since it was seemingly destroyed by the Slater era. Once Kelly and co. started riding the potato chip boards, the need to change one’s stance throughout a ride became outdated. Boards were constructed in a way that allowed riders to perform all aspects of surfing from the tail, so front feet never crossed the center-point of the board. That was until airs became a major aspect of the sport.

Nowadays most air reverses and nose-picks are landed in cheater-five. There are multiple reasons for this:
– It softens the landing. The more weight you have on your front foot and the further forward you land on the nose, the more the water receives your weight like a sponge. Ankle busters occur when you land flat and the board bounces back at unsuspecting ligaments.
– The front foot acts as a pivot point. By landing with your weight on the nose, you’re able to continue the spin without fear of the fins catching too early and throwing yourself off.
– Wider stance = triangular base = more balance. If your one foot is on the tail and your other on the nose, even the tallest man’s knees could not extend past his feet. This ensures the coveted triangular landing position.

But the footwork concept is not only limited to airs. While Jordy’s approach to turns is based around a tight stance, he’s one of the best at repositioning his feet to meet the needs of any maneuver. Whether it’s a giant punt or one of those Dane-turn laybacks, the front foot needs to be repositioned (For the air: forward. For the turn: forward and towards the heelside rail.) in order to transition his weight properly and complete the move. Jordy performs this seamlessly.

No surfer is without fault! Jordy, for me, falls short in two categories.


I’m not saying Jordy has a bad backside, but it’s nowhere near his frontside, so in my mind that’s grounds for criticism. It’s clear that Jordy has spent 80% of his life going right. Durban, J-Bay, Cape Town, all rights. Even in the video below where he’s surfing Lowers, a perfect split-peak, he opts to go right nine times out of ten. Jody doesn’t seem to have the same agility, wave-reading abilities or repertoire on his backhand. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but he could certainly make it better with a little effort.

Massive Pits

Jordy’s fatal flaw and the only non-psychological reason he’ll never win a world title are giant tubes. Don’t feel bad Jords, I truly believe this one is out of your hands. You’re either born with the masochistic, survival-instinct-overriding, twelve-pound-balls gene or you’re not.

Because riding big tubes isn’t that hard, physically. You paddle under the ledge, make a drop, set a line, and you’re done. Dion Atkinson did it at huge Chopes a few years ago, and he’d never surfed a wave half that size. At Jordy’s level of surfing, it’s all a state of mind.

Official: Sharks more popular than GMAC!

A sad day for our ocean cowboys.

A few short years ago there was one surefire way to get on a mainstream news outlet, if you happened to be a surfer, and that was to go and ride giant giant giant waves.

Like Garrett McNamara and his Nazare!

Who could ever forget the cutest clip of all time? Two best pals riding around, sharing a laugh…

Oh it warms the cockles doesn’t it just though?

But it seems these salad years are over. This winter has produced some of the biggest surf in recorded history and yet I haven’t seen GMAC on any normal news channels. I haven’t seen him on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, TNT, TBS… None of them!

It seems like the public has tired of big big big surf. It seems like to get any attention you have to be a cute 10 year old doing a little midface cuttie while a giant great white rolls underneath you.

The above image went absolutely everywhere yesterday. Everywhere!

Poor Garrett.

Read about the boy, the shark and his father here!

Bruce Irons

Occ-cast: Occy versus Bruce Irons!

Two old guys talk shit!

Bruce irons, who is thirty seven, recently joined Mark Occhilupo, fifty, on the Occ-Cast to speak on Bruce’s Triple Crown efforts, The Andy doco, and children. It was an enlightening conversation between two surfing legends so without further fluff, let’s dig in!

Triple Crown

Bruce gained entry to the Triple Crown through the WSL’s Nepotism Wildcard and proceeded to lose first round in all three events. His heat total average across the events teetered around seven, and I heard rumors of his initial Pipe heat being surfed half-drunk on Luke Davis’ 5’5″ fun shape. I was on the beach for that heat and watched Bruce bog and flail a few times before walking down to Pupukea for a surf of my own. This is where I would have my one and only Rory Parker sighting. At the time I wasn’t sure it was him, but I knew he was on the North Shore and this manatee-esque bodysurfer fit his description to a T. A piece he posted the following day affirmed my beliefs.

The Andy Movie

Currently without an official title, the Andy movie is set to release sometime this century. Bruce speaks candidly of the film, mentioning that he’ll only watch the finished product one time, as the experience is quite painful for a still-grieving brother. He noted that all interviewees were encouraged to be open and honest, because “nobody wants to see something sugar-coated.” And he’s right. We want the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Really looking forward to that movie.


Isn’t it wonderful how (almost) everyone in the world can come together through the concept of loving thy children? So long as your kid is not gay, doesn’t date someone from an inferior race, doesn’t choose an unacceptable route of employment, and follows your exact political leanings and athletic activities, parents are so darn accepting! In a comical banter, Bruce and Occy trade stories of pushing their kids to surf and being given the cold shoulder. Occy’s youngest gravitated towards tennis, and Bruce’s five year old won’t surf unless someone other than Bruce proposes the idea. Amazing!


Or listen!

Mason Ho, Derek Ho, John John Florence
"Surfer Poll, the one time of year where the top surfers in the world gather to wear skirts too small and suits too large. But then again, judging surfers on their fashion sensibilities is as pointless as trying to critique Cara Delevingne on her barrel-riding skills. People have designated lanes." | Photo: Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Series: Mason Ho, Dez Ho and John John!

Two world champs and a jibber walk into a bar… 

You like this ooze, this boiled-down collection of reportage from the North Shore season? With his old Nikon and a portraitist’s eye, Justin Jay hits the shutter when it matters.

With his photographs, we’re able to scrutinise the minutiae of life on the North Shore. Today, three generations of Hawaiian icons, the two Hawaiian world champions, Derek Ho and John John, and Mason, who bewitches us with his jumps and jibs.

“The Surfer Poll is the one time of year where the top surfers in the world gather to wear skirts too small and suits too large. But then again, judging surfers on their fashion sensibilities is as pointless as trying to critique Cara Delevingne on her barrel-riding skills. People have designated lanes,,” says Justin. “The attendees that chose to keep it simple with a modest black dress or a button down shirt with closed toed shoes tended to pull it off best. JJF’s well-tailored blue suit was the exception that proved the rule, while Mason Ho made the sensible choice of a Hawaiian shirt and black pants. Classic look. Although these two Hawaiian locals have very different personalities, they share at least one thing in common. They are both universally revered on the North Shore. John is the humble heir apparent and Mason is the loveable wisecracking prince. Both of them have the upmost respect for their surfing elders and the DNA of the sport. Mason loves to get loose, but he also knows just where to draw the line. Shortly after this picture, he had to politely reign in his right hand man Burger’s rowdy backstage antics.

“Just because we won this award, doesn’t mean that they won’t kick us out, Burger!”

News: Laird Hamilton douches Sundance!

“I walk on coral for a living. This is nothing.”

When I was a young high school boy growing tall and skinny in rural coastal Oregon I dreamed of Southern California. I wanted the tan skin, the sun bleached hair, the coconut surf shop smell, the chill I-go-surfing-every-damned-day gait. I wanted it all. The only small problem was that I was growing tall and skinny in rural coastal Oregon. The sun did not shine, the nearest surf shop was 500 miles away and the surf was a giant washing machine that did not lead to a chill anything except literal chill. Like cold.

Like cold all the time. Wet cold. Get in your bones cold. Cold cold. But I wanted Southern California and was totally clueless and thought I could replicate my desires by wearing shorts every damned day. I would wear shorts in the rain, I would wear shorts in the fog, I would wear shorts in the rain. And, looking back at the few pictures that exist, I looked like a total douche.

Like Laird Hamilton!

Should we read about his recent trip to Sundance in support of his film Douche Every Wave by Laird Hamilton on the famous Page Six?

World-class surfer Laird Hamilton didn’t dress for the freezing weather in Park City, Utah, at Sundance — and stepped out in the snow in a T-shirt and flip-flops — but still managed to help people out in a blizzard.

Hamilton was on his way to the premiere of “Take Every Wave,” his new documentary from director Rory Kennedy, when their car got stuck on Main Street due to a snowstorm.

“He was wearing his uniform T-shirt and flip-flops, and he got out to help cars get off the road and park so vehicles could make their way by,” says a source. “He made it to his Q&A despite taking the time out to help people.”

When asked about the flip-flops, Hamilton said, “I walk on coral for a living. This is nothing.”

I’m on the floor laughing right now. Literally. Wearing a pair of jeans. Dying.

Ha! I walk on coral for a living! This is nothing! Ha ha ha ha ha! Somebody make it stop!