Derek Hynd has spent 37 long winters perched in his pyramid overlooking the Super Tubes’ Impossibles section, presiding over the tiniest exit keyhole, making notes on those surfers who ride the hallowed walls of J-Bay with skill, enthusiasm and aplomb. A timeless search for the vanguard of surfing revelation. Progress. Who better then, to give us a breakdown of what to expect from the current crop as they prepare to write their own surfing histories on these long walls.
But first, a little bit about Derek Hynd, for the youth are green and unlearned and our collective internet memories frequently suffer amnesia. Australian former pro surfer, Derek Hynd, is a writer, critic, legendary pioneer of finless surfing, or to ascribe one of his own quotes to himself: “freestyle jazz to surfing’s rock ‘n roll”. As if he needed an introduction. Hynd is the author of hundreds of insightful, witty and dry articles and columns since the early 80s, but is renowned for his unique coverage of the world pro tour. He practically defined the “Power Rankings” formula for Surfer magazine back in ’87. He has coached world title holders such as Mark Occhilupo, and remains one of the closest things surfing has to a “thought leader”.
In Part II of this Three Part series, Hynd offers insights on Mick Fanning, Julian Wilson, Conner Coffin, Caio Ibelli, Michel Bourez, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino and Joel Parkinson. Read Part I HERE.
By Derek Hynd
Worth noting that in three appearances this season he hasn’t failed. The hangover from the semi retirement of a maestro is that results usually continue. Lack of pin point form is offset by lack of pressure. Keeps the equation pretty even. Mick can win JBay should he indeed appear, and win it well.
Regardless of last year’s unanticipated end to the event any nervousness most likely won’t be reflected in his surfing. Whilst he may feel it, the crowd won’t see it and maybe even the judges won’t note it.
Amidst a shock slide over the past two events he gets the chance to showcase his linkage. Sure, every pro has linkage, but in there Wilson vein it comes via harnessed square drives off the bottom. He can arguably hold a drive better than any pro, allowing the lip at the “world’s best point break” to be at his mercy.
Like Fanning, Wilson’s form could be a touch off – but not noticeably so.
Much has been rumoured of parallels to Curren which of course is the Kiss of Death. He does have the Curren crouch and extend. What respectfully doesn’t is prime Curren era equipment – no tweaking allowed – to better develop his power. He’s kind of a Gerr/Curren rookie mix – and with just the two failures out of five – is in good stead to evolve within he WCT.
The results of Bourez epitomise the wide open nature of this year’s tour. Without a failure in five starts yet also without a big keeper, a big result here and he’s angling deep into the Top 10.
As with the bulk of the field in an incredible state of play. he too could go all the way or fall flat. With the type of relentless projectile approach akin to de Souza, failure is probably the less likely scenario. Yet, relative ferocity of will isn’t quite there. It’s no sleight on him. Most of The Tour lacks the facet alongside The World Champion.
In a screamer of a season everything needs to fire to bust telling gaps on the field. Bourez has the constancy of decent results to now push an advantage.
Hanging by a bit of a thread for a Top Five year end finish having had decent rookie year results but nothing stellar. Despite it, consistency suggests a potential Top 10 WCT career once he wires the system.
Ibelli is not the essential natural footer as stylist. Relative moreover to de Souza, the mix of turgid aggression makes points aplenty. That’s the upside. Now it’s time to keep a bath full of peers from sinking him down at JBay – especially with Teahupoo looming where rookies don’t generally look to keeper results against an experienced peleton.
In lieu of his one failure thus far, last up in Fiji, his stand has to be now. He could do worse than hire a good local cornerman because the talent’s there to fire up the place, no doubting it.
The antithesis of a Medina or de Souza, the bastard desire is not there. But really, should it be?
Despite results and kudos over his nine years on Tour, in the remains of the day he’s a breed apart. If given the choice of Title or No Title he’d probably compare old school South Coast splendour with the winds feathery west sou west and cane embers floating across the sky to nine months of the annual bull ring times a decade including the QS and rate it a no brainer.
Two years ago at Supers he smashed one of the most relevant rides in modern Tour history. Yet, such a wave would not have been too far out of the ordinary, if at all, compared to waves he’d ridden solo away from Tour life. Smith has sacrificed a lot of pure stoke in chasing contests. Under the reign of the so called Brazilian Storm one wonders if the fit makes much sense.
In the contest zone he’s not in bad physical stead: one throwaway result; enough meat and potato filler material to back up his 2nd place at Bells. The J-Bay Open coming before Tahiti, he now needs a big one to gain a breath deep in the Top 10.
With luck from the weather… size and consistency …he could yet cut the swathe.
The more you know about pro surfing, the more Andino matters. Without doubt one of the few electric surfers. So close to Florence in potential; yet as riveting to watch the travails he generates. The results are secondary to the intense theatre.
Distinctly unsettled KS in last year’s event. Despite the early round, small conditions and sporadic sets, the way he psyched Slater with the ultra late rock hop paddle out set a heat of the year in train. The Greatest never looked worse. The Younger started shaking too. FANTASTIC minutes of stuttered moments – both freaking.
Andino lost at the death but somehow won for the whole tour. He splayed The Emperor… who wasn’t quite the same again.
The short word this season is in Andino’s big opening result desperately needing backup. Without it, Top 10 relevance wanes. Plainly, epic scenes shall repeat(easily my favourite surfer on Tour).
It might be ahead of the curve to suggest Parkinson will front J-Bay in the form of his life after two no shows tagged as injuries. Hopefully, he returns to continue laying the tracks that have arguably made him one of the 10 best ever J-Bay surfers.
Yeah, yeah, a few others of the 10 are in this field too, sure enough.
Despite being top weight due to missing the events his results have held pretty firm. Nor is he out of complete contention for the Title. Not flippant to say that he just needs a win here and a non failure in Tahiti to set the stage. Stranger things have happened. Believe it, he could take the J-Bay Open far easier than all but five or six others.
*Part III of this Three Part Series Drops Tomorrow featuring more of Hynd’s insights on Nat Young, Wiggoly Dantas, Julian Wilson, Mick Fanning, Felipe Toldeo, Conner Coffin, Dusty Payne, Miguel Pupo, Kelly Slater and more.
**Read Part I featuring Stevie Sawyer, Matt Wilkinson, Gabriel Medina, John Florence, Italo Ferreira and Adriano de Souza HERE. Watch this space for more of Hynd’s predictions on the J-Bay Open 2016 starting Wednesday, 6 July 2016.
**Images © Alan van Gysen