Taylor Knox // 40 // Carlsbad, CA:
Power surfing used to be the gauge of what a good surfer was. Back in the day it was style, but when we moved out of the longboard era it was style and power that set you apart from everybody else. That’s when you had such great surfers like Simon Anderson, Dane Kealoha. Then there was Occy, [Tom] Carroll, [Martin] Potter.
When I was growing up I was a huge fan of Tom Curren, and I just remember it was like, “Why does he stand apart from all of the other guys?” And the thing I saw as a kid growing up was how strong he was. You kind of had to be back then because he was competing against guys like Gary Elkerton, Tom Carroll, Pottz and Luke Egan and that was where it was at —going fast and turning hard and using your rail. I gravitated towards that.
Power surfing still has plenty of fans, and I think that if it ever went away, surfing would almost be a different sport, because it’s so embedded in our history and where we come from.
I mean, the new aerial surfing is amazing for sure. I watch it, but you’ve got guys like Dane and Jordy who can do both. So I think the future, and where those two are taking it, is not just saying one’s better than the other — you can’t just have one and not the other. But if you do, I think you have to have more of the power surfing skills because that will always be appreciated.
I feel like I’ve been judged pretty good, even recently. It still seems like the judges appreciate power surfing. It would be really sad, and would be a huge disappointment in surfing if it just became like street skating.
When you’re looking at a six-foot wave at J-Bay, you’re there to see one thing, and that’s a huge carve. Go fast and do a big carve. You’re not there to see a nose-pick tail reverse — although they might throw a couple [laughs]. And you’re not going to see an air reverse at 12-foot Sunset, either.
I really enjoy watching Conner Coffin and Kolohe [Andino]. I can tell that both of them care about having it all. Conner’s a pretty strong kid, he’s just naturally built pretty strong and has a low center of gravity. And you can tell with Kolohe too that he’s putting emphasis — I’ve talked with Kolohe a lot and he’s definitely into [power surfing]. He’s not going to leave that stone unturned.
If you have a bad style you’re going to get very exposed at J-Bay and Trestles. Especially a place like J-Bay and maybe Snapper where you actually have to draw lines and have technique and style and everybody…I mean, your peers know. That’s the bottom line. For me if I were to finish my career and I didn’t have the respect of my peers then my career wouldn’t really be worth much.
For the past six months to a year I’ve been trying [airs] a bunch and am having a lot of fun with it. It’s fun to learn. I wish I would have started before, but for whatever reason now’s the time for me. Physically I can do it, so it’s just a matter of practice and technique. I mean, I’m never going to be a true air guy or invited to air shows, but I’d like to have a couple in my pocket. That’d be kinda cool.
Interviewed by Taylor Paul. Portrait by Steve Sherman