If you had your eye on last month’s North Shore action, you likely noticed a certain South African on a tear. Jordy Smith took home the win at Sunset, nabbed a quarterfinal finish at Pipe, and was seen eviscerating open faces at Rocky Rights with his trademark combination of power carves and technical airs. But his recent head-turning freesurfing performances aren’t anything new. For almost a decade, Smith has delivered plenty of video sections filled with huge punts, huge turns, and huge barrels. Here’s a look back at some of his finest work captured on film throughout the years:
Stranger Than Fiction
When Taylor Steele’s Stanger Than Fiction was released in 2008, Smith had just been thrust into the limelight of the surf world. He was the ASP Junior Champion in 2006, and then a year later, he qualified for the Tour and was hailed as one of the world’s most exciting up and comers. People touted him as a future world title contender, and by the look of his surfing in this film, it’s easy to understand why. After a shot of Smith attempting aerial maneuvers in front of a green screen (the whole movie is filled with skits exposing how surfers fake high-performance moves), Smith surfs his opening wave by pulling two lofty alley-oops. He also scores a handful of beautiful sand-bottomed barrels before the end of the scene, showing the world that he was–and is–more than just an air guy.
Kai Neville’s first major surf film came to define modern high-performance surfing. Mod Coll‘s star-studded cast comprised the most progressive surfers of the time, Smith included. Throughout the movie, Smith and his cohorts pushed the bar to spectacular new heights, throwing down full rotations, rodeo flips, alley oops—you name it. One particularly lofty no-grab from Smith even earned him a SURFER Poll award for best maneuver. Other highlights include Smith throwing blow tails and hucking his 190-pound frame well above the lip of the onshore ramps in Reunion Island and Indonesia.
After Modern Collective, Smith and co. continued to push the boundaries of progressive surfing in Neville’s second film, Lost Atlas. There are many reasons to love this film, including the frank and informal conversations between surfers (i.e. the candid chat between Smith and Dane Reynolds about interviewers with bad breath), but also because the Modern Collective crew was back and surfing better than ever. In the second section of the film, Smith and Reynolds put on an aerial clinic in the peaky beachies of France that will still blow your mind years later.
Smith’s biopic, Bending Colors, gives us a candid look at the South African’s life at home and on the road. If you’d like to see Smith go mental on the waves he grew up surfing around Durban, or if you’d enjoy watching him and Tom Curren take turns tearing clean faces apart at a secret spot in S.A., you should definitely rewatch this film.
When we spoke to Smith about what motivated him to release this hodgepodge of old, unused A-grade footage, he told us: “Basically it was just a collection of footage that never really fit into any of the sections that I put out before. They were basically just collecting dust over in the corner. So I thought I might as well put all that out online before it never gets seen again.” It was a wise move, because it featured some of the biggest carves and loftiest airs seen all year, including that crazy barrel-to-freakishly-high-alley-oop combo he did at North Point in 2015.