The Next Big Thing

posted by / Magazine / August 12, 2014

kelly-jimmicane This is probably the next Kelly Slater. Photo: Jimmicane

People have been calling talented young surfers “the next Kelly Slater” since Kelly Slater was being called “the next Tom Curren.” It’s a cheap way to tug on the heartstrings of the surf world while putting ridiculous pressure on some poor kid. Eleven world titles? Please. Even John John Florence, the surfer that’s faired best under inflated childhood hype, will never get close to 11 world titles. So maybe it’s time to taper our expectations, set some more realistic comparisons and start claiming the next Taylor Knox and Mark Healey, ‘cause then all they have to do is have the world’s best cutback and ride sharks.

Jacktaj-cwilsonPhoto: Corey Wilson

Jack Robinson is the next Taj Burrow

Why? If Taj Burrow and Jack Robinson are any indication, Western Australia only breeds stylish, slab-happy, full-rotating surfers. (And good wine.) Taj says, “There’s not a better 16-year-old on the planet,” and Jack lists TB as one of his all-time favorites. Looks like they’ve got themselves quite the mutual admiration society over there.

Same, same… Regular foot. “Prodigy.” Billabong. Elusive nature. Love for fishing.

…but different While Taj was born to American parents (Aw, c’mon, can’t we keep him?), Jack’s as Australian as a cheap wine hangover.

connertknox-jimmicanePhoto: Jimmicane

Conner Coffin is the next Taylor Knox

Why? We’re talking power, baby. In the most traditional sense of the word. Full-rail, lead-footed, nobody-does-it-better power. TK has created the carve against which all others are measured, and Conner Coffin is ready to go rail-to-rail with it. And after their trip to J-Bay together last year, we’re having a hard time choosing a favorite power broker (but it’s like eating ice cream — regardless the flavor, you’re winning).

Same, same… Regular foot. Elk’s club. Southern California. Channel Islands. Highline.

…but different Happen to see Conner on our cover a couple of months ago? He was nowhere near the wave face. Which is to say, Conner brings an air game that Taylor Knox never chose to play.

koahealy-heffPhoto: Heff

Koa Rothman is the next Mark Healey

Why? Because of where they live (North Shore of Oahu), where they travel (Tahiti) and the waves they choose to ride (Pipe, Jaws and Teahupo’o). Koa Rothman is following the Healey formula of not being afraid of anything.

Same, same… Goofyfoot. Quiksilver. Sunset Beach. Sagittarius. Scrap metal for breakfast.

…but different In addition to Koa’s tan, he’s also got a local, talented and tight-knit crew (which includes a guy named John John) that push each other with an any wave you can surf, I can surf bigger mentality. Healey has that too, only with himself.

brisacarissa-CurleyPhoto: Curley

Brisa Hennessy is the next Carissa Moore

Why? We recognize that this is essentially the same thing as claiming “the next Kelly Slater,” but we can’t play it safe on this entire list. Both these talented ladies live on Oahu and consider “Town” their aquatic stomping grounds. Last year, Brisa was awarded the Carissa Moore Rookie of the Year award at NSSA Nationals, and by the time you read this the 14-year-old will probably have bagged herself a couple of National titles (just as her favorite surfer, Carissa Moore, did so many times before).

Same, same… Regular foot. South Shore, Oahu. Virgo. Young hype. Surfs like a guy.

…but different While Carissa was born and bred on Oahu, Brisa was born in Costa Rica and baked her bread there until she was 8 years old, when she relocated to Oahu.

noadane-maassenPhoto: Morgan Maassen

Noa Deane is the next Dane Reynolds

Why? About a year ago Noa told us in an interview, “If you like someone and try something that they’re doing and it works for you too, I don’t see anything wrong with that.” That someone was Dane, and while Noa’s not alone in his choice of heroes, he might be the only one with the necessary aerial and artistic talent to assume the throne. Plus, Noa and Dane are buddies now, so Noa can probably pick up a few bits of advice while they’re watching the new Police Academy movie together.

Same, same… Regular foot. Tall. On-land style. Abuse of waves. Art?

…but different You’d be more likely to see Noa onstage playing guitar than you would onstage hoisting a trophy. And while Dane never won that many contests, he did compete at the highest level, a path Noa won’t be pursuing. And that whole dressing-your-dogs-up thing…

Here are a few more comparisons. Some real, some real funny…

Luke Davis > Dennis Rodman // Kolohe Andino > Mick Fanning // Anastasia Ashley > Kim Kardashian // John John Florence > LeBron James // Peter Mendia > Wolverine // Kaiborg > The Rock // Nathan Fletcher > Bear Grylls // Zeke Lau > Sunny Garcia // Ian Crane > Ron Jeremy // Kelly Slater > Michael Jordan // Christian Fletcher > Chris “Birdman” Anderson // Kai Lenny > Laird Hamilton // Chris Ward > Dos Equis guy // Mark Healey > Chuck Norris // Koby Abberton > Ray Lewis // Evan Geiselman > Justin Bieber // Brett Barley > Tim Tebow // Creed McTaggart > Gavin Beschen // Laura Enever > Ke$ha // Alex Knost > Spicoli // Alana Blanchard > Anna Kournikova // Jordy Smith > Dwight Howard // Mick Fanning > Jimmie Johnson // Tia Blanco > Sage Erickson // Laird Hamilton > Gary Busey // Parker Coffin > Rodney Dangerfield // Gabriel Medina > Ayrton Senna // Aaron Cormican > Ricky Williams // Dane Reynolds > Albert Haynesworth // Glenn Hall > Rudy // Benji Weatherly > Charles Barkley // Beau Foster > Luke Stedman

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  • james

    luke davis—->dennis rodman. too good

  • Fat Sam

    Glenn Hall is Rudy!

  • John

    your comparisons are on point man! It’s impressive the amount of cultural understanding that you brought to this simple and fun article!
    Especially comparing Medina to Senna.
    Nice job!

  • poopyface123

    Evan Geiselman > Justin Bieber . the funniest

  • frydo

    Jake Halstead > Chris Ward