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6 of the Best | Styles

Half a dozen of the smoothest operators ever to commit rail to water

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then those wave-riders who display the best surfing styles is surely at your very own discretion, right?

Hell no! It’s up to us.

You can keep your, ‘you say tomato, I say tom-aaaa-to‘, agree to disagree nonsense.

This is no matter of broad spectrum of taste… it’s either have taste, or have an absence of.

And if you come under the former, you’ll surely appreciate that six of the very best surfing styles belong to Messrs Curren, Irons, Rastovich, Parkinson, Machado, and Miss Gilmore. Well?

 

“Curren could surf better than anyone who could surf more stylishly, and more stylishly than anyone who could surf better”

Tom Curren

 

Is Tom Curren the most exquisite, the most supremely stylish being ever to ride a surfboard? The surfer most likely to induce in the discerning surf fan a state of aesthetic bliss, and/or a semi?

Probably, yes. He’d top most people’s lists, anyway, and he’s surely not far from the top of many “best ever” lists either. The mildest way of putting it would be this: Curren could surf better than anyone who could surf more stylishly, and more stylishly than anyone who could surf better.

And here’s another question to which the answer is almost certainly yes: is Curren plus pink fluoro wetsuit plus J-Bay the best combo in surfing history?

 

Bruce Irons

 

“When young Bruce bewitched the surfing masses in the late ‘90s, he was possessed of a wiry and virile magnetism almost impossible to resist. The chiselled features and sunken eyes of a fallen angel helped…”

 

When young Bruce bewitched the surfing masses in the late ‘90s, he was possessed of a wiry and virile magnetism almost impossible to resist. The chiselled features and sunken eyes of a fallen angel helped; so did the casual swagger and abundant natural ability. Other qualities included an easy, limp-wristed fluidity and a first-rate hair-flick.

At his peak, he only had to get to his feet on a wave and he made it look like the coolest thing in the world. His section in Volcom’s Magna Plasm is a case in point. He sits on a wall, dangling his feet; he fries an egg; he inspects a surfboard. And then there is a right-hand barrel peeling across the screen, and the guitar solo commences, and Bruce makes his exit/entrance in time with the spit, flicking his hair insolently — and it’s sheer perfection.

Joel Parkinson

 

The smoothest caarnt on tour, to borrow a term from the Australian vernacular. There was a time when Joel Parko Parkinson was rad as well as smooth, a wild, unpredictable beast as well as a graceful one. Latterly, however, he seems content with just being smooth — “buttery smooth”, as WSL commentators are contractually obliged to say every time he gets to his feet.

Yes, he’s as smooth as the fat from a cow’s tits, although some would argue he lays it on a little thick. These days Parko serves up bread and butter and not much else.

But what did being rad ever get him anyway? His 2009 world title campaign, which began with three event wins out of five and seemed destined for glory, was derailed (to use the mot juste) by an awkwardly landed air reverse and a buggered ankle. Probably underscored in the first half of his career, he’s benefitted in the second half from a sizeable points rebate, but who could blame the judges for falling under his spell? He’ll be remembered as the pre-eminent stylist of his generation.

Rob Machado

 

“His simian silhouette — the spindly arms dangling down to his ankles, the thick mane and the waterlogged goatee — is one of the most instantly recognisable sights in contemporary shredding”

Machado’s is a low-fat, easily spreadable brand of butter, possibly even margarine, in which there’s a decent chance of finding a frizzy sun-bleached hair that when stretched out to its full length could encircle the Earth.

If you look can look past his recent flirtations with dreadlocks, and the tedious Drifter musings, and the fact he once mercilessly snaked the Surf Europe editor, who’s pursued a vendetta against him ever since — the man looks beautiful on a surfboard. His simian silhouette — the spindly arms dangling down to his ankles, the thick mane and the waterlogged goatee — is one of the most instantly recognisable sights in contemporary shredding.

Stephanie Gilmore

 

To watch Stephanie Gilmore in full flow is one of life’s chief pleasures.

To watch her ascend and descend the head-high face of a long right-hander; a top turn here, a tunnel there, the occasional soul arch, the odd hair-flick; her face a picture of joy, her rear knee a thing of exquisite delicacy — it could warm even the coldest heart.

For every ab workout, for every cross fit heave, vein-popping, sinew-snapping striving for physical primacy in our non-sport and the collective damage duly wrought by its modern proliferation, the silken flow of Stephanie Louise Gilmore delivers us back onto the path of the righteous with an easy smile and a beautiful everything.

“For every ab workout, for every cross fit heave, vein-popping, sinew-snapping striving for physical primacy in our non-sport and the collective damage duly wrought by its modern proliferation, the silken flow of Stephanie Louise Gilmore delivers us back onto the path of the righteous with an easy smile and a beautiful everything”

Dave Rastovich

 

“There was once a man who became unstuck in the world, and each person he met became a little less stuck themselves. He travelled only with himself, and he was never alone.”

Hmmm. Sounds like a bit of a tool actually. Anyhow — Rasta, he’s a stylish so-and-so isn’t he? He may have an unfortunate penchant for soliloquising, but he does some fine work for the whales and the dolphin folk, and possesses a mean cutback, so will almost certainly go to heaven/be reincarnated as something good. His surfing is notable for its atavistic caveman oomph, a distinctive and visually pleasing up-and-down pumping style, and an aversion to the industry standard tri-fin sled.

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