By Ben Mondy
There are 4 or possibly 5 main methods of determining a surfer’s greatness. After Instagram followers, number of craft breweries co-owned, famousness of wife/husband, surely come style and power.
Seeing as we have already investiagated all matters style, it’s time to talk power.
Ever met Tom Carroll in the flesh? He’s fucking tiny. The stats record his height at 5’6”, but that’s surely on tippytoes, standing on the yellowpages.
‘That he maintained that power and control well into 50’s, whilst being an ice addict, only makes his feats more impressive’
Once you digest that he is so short, you then notice the mass of the man. He looks so goddamn strong and perfectly balanced, you soon forget he is half of the size of you.
It was this physicality that he brought to surfing. He took his low centre of gravity then torqued it with sheer athleticism and a huge set of (metaphorical, we think) testicles.
Add the shift to the tri fin, his big wave balls, commitment to fitness and his ridiculous timing and he might be surfing’s most powerful surfer, ever.
No wonder then that it was in Hawaii where Tom set new standards. He was the first backside surfer to be able to manhandle Sunset and the first guy to do snaps at 12-foot Pipe.
His style wasn’t exactly smooth, having that much power added rough edges and weird transitions, but it didn’t matter, for when Tommy connected with a wave the results were a brutal magic.
That he maintained that power and control well into 50’s, whilst being an ice addict, only makes his feats more impressive.
Of all these power surfers on the list, none can hold a candle to Andy Irons. Cause Andy had power, but also he had style. And the combination was made him one of the best surfers to watch.
‘Even now seven years after his untimely exit, and a good 15 since he was at his peak, the old footage of Andy simply hasn’t dated’
Now surfers are as good at mythologizing our heroes as any other sport. The early death of Andy has only served to ramp this up, but even now seven years after his untimely exit, and a good 15 past he was at his peak, the old footage of Andy simply hasn’t dated.
When he was on, few surfers have been able to put the same energy into the lip of heavy water waves and it do with such flair. He could crunch 10-foot Haleiwa lips, release his fins at 8-foot Cloudbreak and muscle through Pipe and Chopes with ridiculous ease.
The power surfers on this list were many things, but they were rarely sublime. Andy was that, and it is that surfing that makes him so revered.