My mornings are pretty routine. Coffee, scroll the gram, make kiddo breakfast while some sort of angry pundit screams partisan bullshit on my tv while I don’t pay much attention- a stereotypically domestic Orange County morning. But today, boy, was I gifted a surprise.
Mid scroll I stopped to watch a video posted by Captain Fins of the BSR pool. “Ugh, another wave pool video of a 17 year old doing a flicky god damned air reverse” I curmudgeonly thought to myself, even as I was about to watch the video like the media-hungry surf lemming I am. I have, after all, been programmed by the WSL to watch flicky air reverse after flicky air reverse and like it or otherwise I will be exiled to Dirk Ziff’s Home For Grumpy Locals, a shittier and less endearing version of the Island of the Misfit Toys.
As the video started something struck me as different. The angle was wide. You could see the entire wave pool wall. The angle certainly wouldn’t capture any of the stickers this young stallion of a shredder was hoping to display with a corked out rotor we’ve seen a hundred times.
You have my attention.
Then, he stood up in all his glory- JJ Wessels. He runs assertively to the nose, hangs five, does a full blown 10, runs back to the tail, and puts the thing on rail. It was the first time I had been genuinely stoked on pool clip other than that time I accidentally saw the pool scene with Phoebe Cates from Fast Times as a 9 year old.
Ever since Kelly Slater stoke Adriano’s title thunder in 2016 by dropping his wave pool teaser, we have been inundated with videos of racey crouched barrels, no bottom turns, single maneuver waves, half turns, and air reverse variations galore. Waves at the KS Wave Co are all shot from the shore or ski, BSR are all shot from the same wall, and absolutely nobody’s shot a WaveGarden clip since Jordy surfed the Basque.
I watched the clip probably ten times. I sent it to my group chat where it was met with similar excitement. IT WAS SPECTACULAR. But why? My friends and I have never had any real interest in long boarding. Sure, I mean we’ve always been around it but we grew up surfing 6’1” x 18” and watching Taylor Steele movies. Long boarding isn’t something we were ever really drawn to the aesthetic of, were exposed to via osmosis only, and respected merely for historical reasons. This was different.
And there it was, the answer to my question. This clip was exciting because it was different, even if it wasn’t something we’d normally seek out. We got to see an entire wave, surfed differently but well, of a different discipline, from someone who wasn’t on the CT (of short boarding at least I couldn’t tell you if JJ is a WSL longboarder or not to be honest). Also, for the first time I REALLY understood how long and how perfect the BSR wave is.
So I guess what I’m saying is we should see more of this style of clip. At minimum, it made me follow JJ Wessels because I want to see more. The real question now is will we ever stop being force-fed pasteurized and homogeneous speed barrels at the Surf Ranch and McTwists at BSR? Is there a diminishing point of returns where we all scream “This is fucking boring now!”? Probably. When that happens though you better bet is that the wealthy owners of the tech will call us “jaded grumpy locals” or “scared of change” or some other nonsensical bull shit to tell us we don’t get it- probably not from the guys at BSR because they seem cool, but definitely from Dirk Ziff, who seems to be an elitist asshole who would rather dismissively throw shade than take a single iota of critique from actual surfers.