The Truth About… Claiming

Good to go or still a no-no?

Not all that many moons ago, claiming a wave was about as cool as a French kiss at a family reunion. It just wasn’t the done thing, shunned, even considered a ‘Brazilian’ phenomenon, and not in a good way like Reef girls, Pele or the samba. Check Kelly getting spat out of the tube on video anywhere back in the early-mid 90’s and you’ll more than likely see a cool (if somewhat contrived) clearing-the-nose-with-thumb-and-forefinger, rather than any mad fist pumping, middle finger salute or ‘Oh my God I can’t believe it’ head held in hands gaze skywards.

Things have changed a bit since then, and now pretty much everyone claims. From A.I. to Kelly to Abdel el Harim, claiming has almost become standard. If you’re on the beach this summer, you’ve just pulled something pretty special and you’d like people to know about it, here’s a quick guide to some of the claims available to you.

1. Point/finger pistols. If you know the spot well, you can actually pick out friends getting changed in the car park and pick ‘em off one by one with a nice crisp point/gun shaped fingers. If you’re particularly happy with your last ride, don’t forget to blow the pistol smoke from the tip of your forefinger before you spin it and put it back in its imaginary holster. If it’s during a heat, try to gun down each one of the judges, and finally the head judge, one by one.

2. The go-forth-and-multiply. Another classic. Usually involves middle finger thrust at the beach with the other hand grabbing bicep for emphasis. A North Shore favourite but works everywhere, once championed by Johnny-Boy Gomes but now widely used by all, usually after escaping out of a deep throaty barrel. Seems to have particular effect when done at the apex of a flying kickout.

3. The close-out grandstand arms, like Jeremy Flores’ ultra-thick left at the Quik Pro France 2005. A powerful, more poetic and dramatic claim, you’re surrendering yourself to the whims of mother nature’s utmost violence, deep within the womb-like vortex of oceanic storm power.

4. Variations. Don’t be afraid to break the mould, go freestyle, come up with your own claim. Interesting variations include the Warren Deane pre-claim at J-Bay (where he salutes the crowd lining the point before pulling into the tube), the ironic point at the lip when you miss a section (a la Donavon), Andy’s pump-action shotty at dingo at Chopes this year, the list is endless. The next time you go surfing, don’t be afraid to get your hands up in the air and express yourself. Stake your claim.


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