To What Do We Aspire?

The Continuation Of An Ideal.

By Dan Dobbin.

Most serious bodyboarders would say they can recognize good riding, a collaboratively agreed upon framework that has its foundations in on rail power surfing and aesthetically pleasing body english.

When you’ve been immersed in a culture and community for a significant period of time, you come to understand it’s nuisances and practice almost unconsciously.

The shot accompanying Ryan Hardy’s Instagram’s post last week questioning whether rail surfing needs to be more highly rewarded in competition garnered over 110 comments, almost all positive and praising the shot.

The thing that struck me the most when I saw that shot of Hardy on the ‘gram was that I’d seen it before.

Not that exact shot of course, but one almost identical.

After a 20-minute dig through the archives (by archives I mean old mags in the shed) I found what I had been looking for – the shot of Stewart juxtaposed with Hardy’s below.

(Initially I thought I’d blown it, with a Stewart shaped hole appearing in one of the pages from the article. There was also a Gina Bielmann shaped outline missing from the next page. They adorned my Year 8 Maths book from memory, both perfect for day dreamings of different kinds).

Mike’s on record as saying that his style developed purely from trying to find the most functional techniques to ride waves and perform manoeuvres – a science-based approach if you will!

Comparing the two images, it’s easy to see the continuance of an ideal, the need to acknowledge that there is a D.N.A. of ‘good’ riding that runs through the sport that will forever be more recognizable and remembered than contest results.

Ryan Hardy may have never won a world title, but he stands on the right hand of Stewart for the effortless and stylish way he rides waves. Never a titled champion, but a champion of how riders the world over would aspire to surf.

There is a growing groundswell behind the idea that changes to competition judging criteria needs to be made if we wish to see an end to the banal flip-fest that often comes to dominate large sections of contest heats.

We could do worse than to seek to place the legacy of functionality and power developed by Stewart and the sports early practitioners at the heart of what we wish to reward when deciding who titles and trophies are awarded to.

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