The Red Bulletin gives us the lowdown on some of the new breed of surfers to watch out or in 2011…
Sure, American legend Kelly Slater might have claimed the world title again in 2010, but last season marked a sea change, nonetheless. For the first time it was made clear the door is well and truly open for the next generation of young guns to storm through. And leading the new blood is young South African Jordy Smith. But blessed with unbelievable talent and drive though he is, Jordy’s not alone. Another three surfers – the enigmatic Dane Reynolds, goofy-footer Owen Wright, and the dynamic Julian Wilson – are matching his strides. These four are finding new moves, discovering new parts of the wave to ride, and are expanding what the human imagination thought possible on a thin sliver of glassed, high-density foam.
Thanks to an unusual combination of brawn, balance and vision, Jordy Smith has redefined what radical surfing is all about. It’s the kind of surfing that has seen journalists exhaust their barrel of superlatives. We’re talking about the kind of surfing that puts the sport in a new dimension. His moves are big, powerful expressions that explode into outrageous gravitational experiments. His surfing is exciting and easy on the eye – fluid yet radical, powerful yet graceful. And to this he has added consistency. Jordy Smith has something no one else has, not even Slater. A rare quality you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know will change things.
Last year was a landmark one for Jordy in terms of competition surfing. It’s the year he became the Contender. It got off to a good start, with a second at the Quiksilver pro Snapper in Australia… and then he landed the big one. In front of a roaring, vuvuzela-trumpeting local crowd, Jordy went one bigger and won his maiden World tour event at Supertubes, Jeffrey’s Bay.
At that mid-point in the tour year, he was leading the ratings, and expectations were high. It was a determined and scarily focused Slater though, who slowly made inroads into Jordy’s lead. At the death, Slater made his move, winning the final two events in Portugal and Puerto Rico – a historic 10th world title was his.
But significantly, Jordy’s performance got as much attention as did Slater’s title feats.
There were no signs of the usual suspects at the top of the rankings – Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, former world champion Mick fanning, and evergreen Bede durbidge were all blown away early on. It was quite simply the Jordy and Kelly show. New Skool vs old School. Experience might have seen Kelly take the title, but he knew that he had a game on his hands, and was the first to acknowledge Jordy’s talent and versatility.
Jordy finished the year second. An inspired performance that only has one more rung for improvement. We talked the year through with him.
Red Bulletin: An amazing 2010 – what are your thoughts, looking back?
Jordy Smith: I took a relaxed approach to competing this year and it seemed to have worked for me. I was able to put myself into the top five and maintain the pace. I also had a great support team, which counts for a lot. My aim was to just have calculated fun with my surfing. I wanted to keep my focus on surfing relaxed, fun heats and trying to adopt a more free-surfing heat approach.
RB: That big win at the Billabong Pro in Jeffrey’s Bay must’ve felt good
JS: yeah. It was from this point on that I knew I’d be in a good spot for the next events on the calendar. I also knew that the new format (the World tour cut down from 45 surfers on tour to 32 midway through the year) would allow me to hold my second seed, as long as I surfed myself into the quarterfinals. That was my challenge, to make quarterfinals or further.
RB: You must’ve known by then that it was going to be between you and Kelly for the world title?
JS: Kelly and I had a good lead ahead of the other surfers. We had pulled ourselves away from the pack. Eventually I needed Kelly to lose in Puerto Rico. Instead he went ballistic and secured his 10th world title, which was pretty incredible actually. I was just really happy to have been a part of driving him to his victorious finish.
RB: Were there any valuable lessons learned from the 2010 season?
JS: for sure! Sometimes it’s quite hard to quantify, as there’s always so much to absorb, and the variables are always changing. My semi-final heat in Jeffrey’s Bay was a perfect example. I was in deep trouble against Bede durbidge yet I managed to pull myself back into contention. With two minutes remaining and two high scores needed, I managed to get the heat win. So I learned to keep fighting till the last second. The crowd reaction to that result was really incredible.
RB: Looking forward, you must be pumped for 2011. Are you planning anything different in your approach this year?
JS: I honestly can’t wait for the whole thing to get started again! I have noticed that every year we all seem to get a little more comfortable with our surfing, and it’s a bit like being on a racetrack. You have to have a good grid start, but you also have to keep your foot flat to the floor, pedal to the metal, because if you’re not slipstreaming in the top five, you will be trying to keep the smoke out of your eyes.
RB: Are there any training specifics that we should know about?
JS: There are, but if I told you I’d have to kill you. No, fitness and a good eating programme will definitely stay at the top of my roster as well as working on new surfboard equipment through the year.
Check out the full article including profiles of up and coming surfers Julian Wilson, Owen Wright and Dane Reynolds in the Red Bulletin www.redbulletin.com.
Photography: Hugo Silva/Red Bull Photofiles, Kolesky/Nikon/Red Bull Photofiles
Name: Jordy Smith
Born: February 11, 1988 Durban, South Africa
A bit of both “I think talent and hard work go hand in hand and compliment each other. I think I have both”
Nearly lost it: His nipple. At 15, surfing Teopu’s notorious slab in Tahiti. Hitting the reef, the wave sucked dry. “I went flying onto the dry reef. Roasties all over my stomach, chin, and pretty much took my nipple off”
Jordy’s not alone though…
Of the 22 years Julian has been on this planet, he has been surfing for 19 of them. In his younger days, when he was only three years old, his dad was surfing two-up with him on his longboard out at backline. His mum was in on the action too, pushing him into little waves on the inside when the rest of the family went out on the big days. Despite coming from a strong surfing family, it was always going to be Julian who was destined for greatness. As soon as he was strong and competent enough to surf alone, he was recognised for the boundless talent he possessed. Quiksilver picked him up when he was 14 and have looked after him ever since. Red Bull signed him up in 2008 and have also strongly supported over the past two years.
This year, 2011, is the biggie though and for the first time Julian will be representing on the World Tour and, along with his mates, is sure to make a massive impact. Said Julian on his blog just after he had qualified: “The final result that secured my spot was Pat Gudauskas beating Tommy Whitaker in round two. It’s hard to cheer against a friend like Tom, so I wasn’t getting all fired up. I definitely had a big smile on my face when Pat won though. Thanks Pat.” Julian is small in stature compared to Jordy, but he still manages to exude power while performing his wild moves. He has also invented a new move, the Sushi Roll which is a backside aerial that’s part Superman, part inverted 360. Julian will sit very comfortably alongside Dane, Jordy and Owen, and has the ability to quite easily rise above all of them at any given time.
Son of standout surfer Dino Andino, Kolohe is so new school he exists somewhere in the future. He enjoys incredible sponsorship deals, riding for Target and Nike 6.0 along with Red Bull as his main labels. He is rumoured to be the highest-paid junior surfer in the world, but he backs it up with fast, hard surfing, and crazy aerial tricks. He has proved to have a sensible head on his shoulders and rolls with the hard questions in interviews like an old pro. Like his peer Jordy, Kolohe has something special going, and again, it’s not something that can be easily identified. And like Jordy, Kolohe is going to show us all exactly what that something is in the next few years.