Did Evangelical Neck Positioning And Airplane Fingers Help Kelly Slater Win 11 World Titles?

by Brendan Buckley April 06, 2017 3 min read

Mild hangover.Comfortable couch. Phone in hand. I quickly found myself in some very strange internet territory. Come with? 

Now that, right there, is a hot take. It is Mount Saint Helens 1980. A stick of dynamite at an oil refinery. Adam Melling at Bells Beach. In other words: absolute fire.

@gbsurfcoach: While there’s a lay day at the contest today, here’s something for you all to digest…
Whilst watching the pros in West Oz, one of my students asked me who I thought the best surfer in the world was. 
I answered @kellyslater Not because of the way myself and @wsl judges can relate to his style, nor because of his longevity in the sport… but simply because of the way he has a knack of knowing how to play the game… That’s why !! Take this photo of the ‘King’ for example: Note the way he’s bowing his head down to us. Hanging his head as to say “I’m not worthy” yet at the same time, mimicking #jesus on the cross with his arms splayed wide in the crucifix position, so that we can’t help but think of him as anything other than holy ⛪ But note the way his left hand lets its fingers drag back like the wings of an aircraft

I’d look at that photo of the GOAT and note that it looks like he’s really trying to plant the rail so he can scoop that thing. Didn’t even notice his crucifixion arms at first glance — let alone the evangelical neck positioning and airplane fingers. That’s on me. Seeing as this all came from a coach, I figured I’d go ahead and test it out. 

Drawing 2

Results, so far, have been interesting. I’m not over it yet though. Just gotta try harder. Forgive a few people for their sins (SUPing, pulling back, unprovoked antidotes about the waves you scored, not power surfing). Turn water into wine and get hammered. Maybe canonize some of my crew. Strap up the old Birkenstocks and get to work, so to speak. Consider it a work in process. 

But in all seriousness, that post got me thinking about surfing, opinion and mostly where those two things collide. It made me realise how lucky were are to argue. 

Arguing over sports is nothing uncommon — but our situation with surfing is. Most people talking shit on an NBA player probably haven’t played a minute of competitive basketball since Gore was president and would struggle trying to hit a 3. But with surfing, we participate. We actually understand what’s happening. We form ideas and opinions based off of what we’ve experienced, not what we’ve watched. There’s a lot of value in that. 

And sure, some opinions may have more validity than others. Maybe lend more of an ear to Mick than you would to old mate up top. But if you dedicate a good chunk of your life to surfing, your opinion matters. If you’ve landed a solid air rev, you are entitled to make some analytic remark about back foot positioning if you happen to notice something extra spicy in Italo’s air game, If you’ve been spat out of barrels big enough to stand tall in, then you have every right to say the WSL judging panel is a clusterfuck of flesh-ghosts with the genetic makeup of potatoes if you ever happen to feel that way.

That’s the point here folks. 

Or, it’s that sometimes the internet just takes you too far. You can relate. You did, after all, click that headline. 

PS – Negative opinions don’t come from a place of hatred. They come from a place of love. I love surfing so much that I can confidently tell you you’re better off taking an alaia into an orphanage blindfolded and swinging it around violently than you are taking it into the ocean because jail is where you belong and you’d probably like the extra attention you’d get there anyways. That’s love. That’s positivity. 

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