An amateur analysis of a professional rider.
By Dan Dobbin.
It’s Sunday and its raining and I’m sore from a very good surf yesterday so I am re-watching “Tender”.
“Tender” is a very good film because “Tender” tells the Pierre Louis Costes even story but “Tender” also tells the story of where bodyboarding was, and is, today.
But I am not watching “Tender” for the story or the action today.
I am watching “Tender” because I want to see how Pierre does what Pierre does.
At 41 years of I am realistic that the professional bodyboarding career that I dreamed of at 14 is probably not going to happen.
Still, that doesn’t mean that I can’t endeavor to surf better with experience.
So, how does Pierre do what Pierre does, what can I incorporate, and what is beyond me?
The most revealing section is probably the first surfing section.
Speeding down the line on the Moroccan point breaks Pierre has his weight largely over his back tail peg, chest high, flippers largely out of the water. The deep state style officiandoes amongst you would recognize the Tully Beevor claw hand bend in the wrist, the inverse to the bend in the spine. If you were to find a centre point between the hand on the nose and the end of his fins, this would fall almost exactly where Pierre’s hips sit.
The Tully claw.
Indeed, it seems that this pronounced inverted triangle pose may be the key to unlocks how P.L.C does what he does.
The old paradigm used to be that you moved forward on the board for more speed, backward for control. With Pierre it seems that his hip placement never really seems to shift from that centre position between the point of the hand, and the tip of the fin. At all times, as centred as possible.
This is perhaps best illustrated when P.L.C. is scooping into big drops. Textbook style calls of a wide-legged, both legs engaged in the wave face to control the descent. Pierre simply moves his hips to side of the board and employs an almost controlled slide down the wave face, dragging only the inside leg. Once he reaches the bottom of the wave, he’s already in his standard prone position, eliminating the need to change positions or move forward to generate speed.
This balance through the hips is what also what allows Pierre to almost effortlessly pop his trademark backflips, and add into his repertoire of late the vertical air forward technique first pioneered by Ben Player.
The classic technique for doing air forwards was that the pivot of the spin would rotate around the shoulders as the hips and legs were used as a pendulum to whip the body through the spin.
Pierre and Player both employ a technique where the air forward is generated by, and rotated around, the hip area.
Pierre especially seems to adopt an almost motocross like technique with his moves, often flaring the board away from his body as he rotates through the air, using it at times as a counterweight to either slow down or speed up his rotations. This is especially evident in through many of his flips.
As riders continue to push to ride waves in more high performance and controlled ways, improved techniques will continued to evolve as well.
So I guess I’d better see if an old dog can learn a few new techniques.