Generations: King Vs Campbell.
Okay, we’ve reach the midpoint in our somewhat sciencey ” Generations ” series.
It’s neck and neck after the first two rounds, with a tie between Hardy and PLC in round one
(Read here: https://infoamed.com/2020/11/28/hardy-vs-pierre/ )
and a slight points victory to Ben Player over Jared Houston in round 2.
( Read here: https://infoamed.com/2020/12/05/generations-player-vs-houston/ )
Round three pitches two times world champ Damian King against one time world champ Iain Campbell.
DK: There’s something about growing up surfing wedges that impacts on a riders style. It’s probably the fact that they grow up learning to harness and control speed and power rather than trying to generate it.
Your author witnesses a young King on one of his first photo trips at a North Coast breakwall that isn’t in Port Macquarie maaannny moons ago. What was striking was the way he approached waves in a similar manner to Gold Coast legend and breakwall officianardo Paul Barnard and a local legend at the wave name Dave Hoddle.
The ability to hug the power source of the wedge and then power off it at the opportune time for a carving reverse or air, the tight spins in and around the pocket. Kingy surfing 101.
Perhaps breakwall surfing 101.
IC: The Campbell style is based around a relatively flat, low profile position on the board. Weight forward and centred under the shoulders, rail hand in the centre or slightly forward of the mid-point. This has the effect of streamlining the body and disengaging the legs from the water for maximum planning speed. For older Australian readers, recall Bullet McKenzie.
DK: The King platform stems largely from the rail hand being placed further back than the standard operator. Check early footage of Kingy to see this in full affect. This rearward positioning of the hand has the effect of allowing more weight to be placed on the back half of the tail peg, adding more control and drive. Give it a whirl next surf and feel the difference.
The extra leverage from the back hand makes Inverts and reverses the moves of choice for the King, however it’s his ability in and around the pocket that really seperates him from the pack. The spins (and double spins!) into or out of the barrel, the precise half snaps, with the exception of maybe Stewart, are unrivaled.
IC: The Campbell technique doesn’t have any glaring holes in it, nor does it have any noteworthy features that really stand out. Let’s call it solid. Workaday. Dependable. Iain can do all the moves with the symmetry and consistently required to be top rider.
DK: The rail game is the engine room of the DK game. There’s minimal downtime from one type of rail transition to the next, whether it be a bottom turn, carving reverse or jammed spin. Hard on one side, then hard on the other. Simple but effective.
It’s a big call, but Kingy is probably the best exponent of rail work and control that the boogieverse has seen thus far*.
IC: At the risk of repeatedly being repetitive when discussing the new school rail game, it just doesn’t appear to be an area that much time or focus is spent on with the current generation of riders.
As ” research ” your author trawled through countless clip online and social media of Iain and is unable to recall a single spin in the pocket or hard carving reverse off the top. Of course this may have been simply editing and representative choice but it may also be indicative of an area of Campbell’s riding he is yet to flesh out fully.
DK: Never a rider noted for blasting huge airs, Kingy is neither-the-less proficient in the stock air moves in both directions. As noted above, the invert and air reverse are the staple go-to’s in the King air game.
Interestingly, for a large chunk of his professional career King didn’t do any kind of flip maneuvers, something he developed in his surfing towards the back end of his time as a professional. (Pro-tip from Kingy via Amaury: look over your inside shoulder when flipping, not the outside shoulder).
IC: Iain’s body positioning and mechanics generally mean he’s approaching the lip at a more horizontal angle than someone with a more open, upright position. This translates to air moves generated more from the shoulder area, rather than the hips which in term impacts the shape and direction of the rotations through the air.
Exhibit A: The Campbell air reverse. Note the little “hop” off the lip sometimes as he pulls the board towards him with the arms and shoulders as he begins the air**. The knock on effect of this technique is that the legs are needed to act as a counterweight to help sling the body through the rotation, which is why you can see Iain keeping his legs out flatter and get a little over rotated with his body as the reverse progresses.
The upshot however is that flips are a more accessible move from this body positioning, and it’s no surprise to see that some of Iain’s more spectacular boosts are heels over the head.
* At the risk of labouring a point, watch some old Brian Wise footage on the YouTubes to see another example of how the hand further back can really help the rail work of a rider.
**It’s a technique your author shares with Campbell, except one of us is a world champion and the other is a never was who writes shit on the internet critiquing riders much more talented than himself.