Rawlins Vs Roberts.
By Dan Dobbin.
After putting the cue in the rack for a few weeks, number four of our five ” Generations” match ups sees the Australian icon Mitch Rawlins face off against the 2019 ( and technically still currently reigning world champ) Tristan Roberts. Read below to see how the hypothetically intense battle played out.
MR: The Rawlins style can be tracked through a number of interations.
There was boost happy Manta Sabre Mitch. Then there was prodigal Mitch, learning the lines from sensei Stews. Next came big wave Mitch, wrangling bombies with aplomb. Finally, we have rail rocking Mitch who’s redefining what hard turns on a bodyboard look like.
Roll all that together and your left with an undeniably well rounded rider with a unique skill set. Watching Mitch surf you can almost feel the mindset he’s applying; drive, power, hit.
Much like Rawlin’s, the Robert’s style is pedal to the metal and drive motherfucker, drive. Trimming down the line he’ll often have his outside leg lifted, forcing down more weight onto the inside elbow and thus the inside rail. The old Newtonian action / reaction dynamic coming into play surging Tristan forward at max speed.
Tristan sits almost neutral with his shoulder/ hip weighting ratio, making him nice and balanced across his board at all times. The Tully Beevor claw hand adds extra style points.
MR: Like Kingy in round 3, Mitch is a deep rail man, sinking hard bottom turns to project into each move. Where he differs from King is that he adopts a low, sleek profile as he comes of the bottom, striving to milk every possible ounce of speed before unleashing it into the following move.
Rawlin’s riding focus doesn’t lend itself to alot of work done in the pocket, but that’s offset by his arguably unparalleled ability to put a board on edge and maintain control through out a carve.
Tristan surfs like the young, fit energetic entity that he is. He’s not interested in working a wave over technically, moving from power pocket to power pocket, he’s imposing his will on it. He appears supremely confident that his body can absorb any impact from the launchs he throws himself into. It’s an uncomplicated but effective approach that fits reflects the mindset of the modern generation.
If you asked Mitch about the area in his surfing that has got the most attention and refinement over the past decade, it would be a fair bet to think it was his rail game. Mitch is on record as having been heavily influenced by shortboard surfers in the way they ride on the wave face. Hard bottom turn, hard turn of the top, repeat until the opportunity for an air presents.
The Rawlins rail game is about getting the most drive and carve out of 43 inches of foam. Prime example; the carving past 180 degree reverse Mitch, and only Mitch, has so far been able to master.
Starting on the back of the tail peg and finishing the carve with the middle to front of the rail buried in the wave face, it’s more a carving 360 than a spin of any description.
Everything in the Roberts rail game is about straight lining in a clean arc to build speed and boost. If you were playing a video game and had to track a certain line to gain maximum speed, the paths Tristan draws on a wave face would have you running at maximum power bar.
Watching Tristan take off on a wave you can almost feel the exclusive focus of gaining as much drive off of the rail to boost as high as physically possible.
Clean driving arcs to create maximum boost, that’s how Roberts uses his rails.
Almost all of Mitch’s techniques when it comes to the air game are highly unique. Flat and long, I’d wager he sits further back on the board than almost any other professional rider.
As a result, all of his rotations are popped from the tail which influences the shape and arc of his airs.
The classic Mitch silhouette invert; hinged from the hips, front arm flat on the deck, back treaked and pushed forward away from the body.
The Rawlins air reverse begins from the hips, similarly to other riders like PLC and BP. However, instead of the classic highly arched back and tightly crossed legs, Mitch remains mostly flat on the board and uses his legs as a counter weight to help whip through the rotation, like Iain Campbell’s approach from our last ” Generations” match up.
Watching the way Tristan approaches his airs, I’d be interested to know if he has any kind of grounding or training in gymnastics.
The body positioning, the awareness of the way the body follows the head through a manoeuvre. There’s no forcing or extra whip applied through his air moves, everything is controlled and allowed to develop at the right pace.
Watch particularly the Roberts air reverse. His body weight is neutrality poised between the shoulders and the hips when he’s hitting the lip. Once launched he settles into his form and simply holds it and trusts his technique to guide him through the rest of the rotation. His backflips are similar, put it up there, settle in, brace for the landing.
*(Last ” Generations” I wrote that Kingy was ” probably the best exponent of rail work and control that the boogieverse has seen thus far” and scored him a 9.5, thus Mitch loses 0.1 so I don’t have to contradict myself. That’s showbiz baby.