Style is surfing’s Holy Grail. It is widely accepted that if you follow the progression from popping up on a soft-top at Muizenberg or Marine and work your way through the levels to threading overhead pits and rounding out the kinks in your roundhouse cuttie, you can generally become an accomplished surfer and push it as big and far in any direction you please, or that pleases you. But what is also widely accepted is that you cannot learn style. Style is, in many ways, unattainable. Style is something that “just happens”.
*Cover Image – Greg Ewing/ Issue 43.5, The Senses Issue. Missing out on quality Zag content? There’s a simple fix, become a subscriber now.
Passed down in the DNA, living in the infinitesimal tiny movements and split-second decisions that affect not just movement and direction but poise and presence. Stylish surfers seem to have that smidge of extra time, time to relax, time to expand in the moment, to exert their will through the fibreglass more precisely on the water. Style is the sign of the thoroughbred.
Take for example, Koby Oberholzer. Not your average teen. Son of the soil. Fruit of Frankie’s loins. The apple never falls far from the tree. Plop. Witness the trademark waiter arm, casual wrist, kinked back knee. And the flow, it’s more about the flow than the gestures. Automatic. Father to son. Like fishing.
Koby is a man of few words. It took ages for him to reply to the WhatsApp and then just: “I got my style from my bailie. I’m just following in his footsteps.”
Can you learn style? “I’ve worked on my surfing, but the style just happens.” But he works towards his strengths. “I ride meatier boards, with more width and length. because I like riding the board, I want it to be smooth. I don’t want to force it or fight the wave.”
Style is one of those innate things. It serves you like being 6 foot tall, having a big dick or good hair. It’s aesthetic yes, but everything is. To answer the question, no, you can’t learn style. But you can draw closer. You can polish your turd moves and become a better surfer. Learn to kick your fins out the back like Medina, or jam one in the pocket and stall under the lip like Adriano de Souza and you’ll be styling, if not entirely stylish. And who knows, unburden yourself and flair hard enough you could end up establishing your own unique and original style, in the same way as a Bruce Gold, Roosta or Bugs Heathcote.
So how does your style compare to your dad’s, we ask Koby on parting. “The ballie doesn’t do many airs.” He says with a smirk.