Joel Parkinson through Albee Layer, Ryan Burch and Filipe Toledo!
Are you new to the BeachGrit Global Power Rankings? It’s a top twenty of the best surfers in the world, including those who chase contests, those who chase clips, boy, girl, binary neutral etc. Read part one (surfers 20 to 15, here) and part two (surfers 14 to ten) here.
9. Joel Parkinson
Thoroughbred racehorse being flogged to go around a track one more time. The argument is the CT produces the best surfing on earth, from the best surfers. I argue the opposite: too often the CT forces the best surfers on earth to down tune their surfing to a level of excellent mediocrity, to make heats.
Joel being exhibit A.
He can rack up two sevens all day long. What about a detailed filmic exploration of Joel doing what he does best? Surfing J-Bay. Working title: Portrait of the Artist as Pointbreak Surfer. Set him up for months, allow total freedom of quiver, allow every minutiae of style and technique to reach it’s fullest flower and fruit. Is that a boring concept? Not as boring as watching the great thoroughbred grinding through the low gears of another year or two on tour for diminishing returns.
8. Albee Layer
Take the Snowdonia wave tub victory, add it to the Peahi Finals, under the lip take-offs to otherworldly tube-riding during the El Nino winter, throw in the recent backside 540 and you get a convincing case for Layer being the best surfer in the world over the last two years.
Put him up against Adriano, imagine any surf from two-foot to twenty and tell me who was the best during 2015. That’s no convenient truth for a sport that relies on the production and global acceptance of a continuous series of more or less agreed upon world champions for it’s credibility. John Florence restores the global balance for now but Albee Layer remains a fly in the ointment.
7. Ryan Burch
Hand on heart, I wouldn’t swap my hand-to-mouth existence, economically useless, taxpayer-subsidised higher education, loving family and surfing life at one of Australias best pointbreaks in the most consistent sub-tropical wave zone on earth for a single day of a competitive pro surfer’s life.
The futility of surfing to a subjective criteria and being judged in an incomprehensible manner would bring me to a homicidal/suicidal fury in weeks, even if I had the talent, which I do not.
But there are paid surfer mocassins I would cut a left nut off to walk a mile in. Mostly Ryan Burch’s. Psychic Migrations shat all over View from a Blue Moon, for feels. That South American light, so Californian, but a California with hollow lefts and no strip malls. A better world. Heaven.
I keep imagining that Burch could be the most influential surfer of a generation and I can’t understand why Burch, best surfer-shaper in the world with daylight second, is shaded by androgynous Aussie millenials like Craig Ando in terms of moving picture and editorial coverage.
6. Filipe Toledo
When you have the world on a string, like Toledo had in 2015, with a small/medium wave game that simply erased opponents like irrelevant amateurs then you keep doing what your doing, right? And fill in the missing pieces with the hollow lefts. Which he was on the way to doing.
But last year was mystifying. Take the injury out of the equation and he mostly tried to power surf to victory, with a few rare exceptions. What is that: a failure of will, of strategy, of intelligence in the Toledo camp?
Judges had already lost their marbles for him, no need for him to look backwards and try and meet them halfway back along a path he needed not traverse.
Daddy Toledo, take your boy back to 2015. Follow that template. There’s your Title.