Julian Wilson: wave face manager

Aerial surfers are ruling the world of wave riding. Will surfers ever return to the roots of wave face performance?


In the beginning was the drop. The roots of surfing saw nobles and kings riding waves toward the beach. The pleasure was immense and sand was the ultimate goal.

In the 20th century, surfers discovered the surf line. They could ride a wave parallel to the beach. They needed more and Tom Blake, in 1935, changed the history of surfing by adding a fin to the surfboard.

Trimming the surfboard gave birth to carving and wave face surfing was born. Take off, cutback, bottom turn, re-entry, floater, roundhouse cutback, off the lip and tube riding made the first surf stars.

Mark Richards, Mark Occhilupo, Tom Carroll, Simon Anderson, Sunny Garcia, Martin Potter, Pancho Sullivan, Taylor Knox, Tom Curren, Dane Reynolds, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, among many others, played power surfing in the wave face.

The 21st century brought the aerial hype and buried power turns in the wave lip. Judges and fans wanted airborne show and the new generation of young guns is ready to serve it for the photo op.

Aerial surfers eye the landing site. Power surfers read the wave face to apply their skills. Is the world surfing community ready to get back to the future, when wave face management was critical in the sport of surfing?

If retro surfboards are back in the surf shop rack, why can't long and fast roundhouse cutbacks return to the judges' sheet with a 10-point wave score. Are the aerialist acrobats ready to be dethroned by muscle surfers?