Pancho Sullivan // 38 // Haleiwa, HI:
When I go to the contests I’m blown away at those kids that don’t really seem to know how to turn their board on rail but they can actually do an air reverse. But I think that’s just part of progression, and partially just what the kids are into these days.
I guess in this day and age, a lot of the aerial surfing is driven by, for lack of a better word, the marketing or the capitalism or the consumerism benefits. I think companies are trying to reach the youth and sell products, and everyone wants to be the coolest and most cutting-edge brand out there. I think the companies are trying to create broader appeal to the youth and people outside of our sport.
I think a lot of it has to do with the generation of surfers that are in the media’s eye or on tour — a lot of them learned on tiny, chippy high performance surfboards, so at least I’ve noticed from a technique standpoint that their body mechanics show that. Not that they can’t do a proper power turn — but you know, they’ve learned on this equipment that releases rather than holds in, and it makes a lot of these young kids surf off of their front foot more than driving through their back foot and down through the middle of the board.
Your average grom coming from Huntington Beach or Cocoa Beach or wherever, they’re dealing with real quick, short, punchy closeout sections, so you don’t really get a lot of time to put the board on rail. You definitely need a facier section to try and work on the technique of a turn like that. And I don’t think that there are as many [of those] waves on a day-in, day-out basis at places like that, which makes it a little more challenging.
I do believe that with all these surfers, whether you’re Dane Reynolds or whoever, as you get to a certain age you lose a little agility and you fill out as grown men, and then they develop more of a power base in their surfing. I see Jordy as a guy who has a good combination of both.
Kelly Slater has such phenomenal technique. He surfs with a tremendous amount of power given the fact that he’s, what, 5’9” and 155 lbs.? So pound for pound I think he’s able to produce a tremendous amount of power and torque in his surfing.
I see a lot of young kids working with coaches these days, and I think that will help offset the equipment they’re learning on — because that’s definitely changing a lot of these kids’ technique. They don’t have that low center, that powerful base in their surfing. They surf real front-footed and it’s just a matter of them learning to adjust. So I think that a lot of the kids who are getting coached will develop a lot more power base in their surfing, especially when they’re looking at video.