That’s Bull***t: Whitewater Rafting

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whitewater rafting
By Jimmicane

Certain things about surfing piss me off. One of those things is the inability of the common surfer to distinguish what is good from what is bad when it comes to performance surfing. Seems like everyone is just “So stoked!” on what every pro does that they don’t focus on what actually is cool, and what is just lame.

I don’t want to come off as the bearer of bad news, but I just can’t think of another board sport where this is the case. In other sports, people actually pay attention to this kind of thing. It’s not only about what you’ve done, but how you did it, and how it looked when you were doing it. This might help explain the difference between a Parko as opposed to a Luke Stedman — it’s just different. They can both do essentially the same things on a wave (well, sort of), but who do you prefer to watch surf?

My point exactly: Style counts.

Many of you have heard me lashing out at the double-grab air. You know — it’s heinous. I’m not here to beat a dead horse. I want to kill a new one this time: the horse of whitewater rafting.

What does whitewater rafting have to do with surfing? Well for starters, it shouldn’t have anything to do with surfing. Unfortunately, it does, and I’ve come to my last straw with it being rewarded.

For best reference, I’ll look back to the Rip Curl Pro Bells final (held at Johanna) featuring Kelly Slater versus Mick Fanning.

In that heat, Slater pulled off what most people believe to be an impossible alley-oop on a closeout section. What I saw with my own eyes, standing there on the beach, looked instead like hail Mary that was unfortunately completed after roughly a decade of struggling in the whitewater. The amazement of the crowd (literally tens of people left hanging on the beach in the dreary rain!) when he popped back up was intense.

They all seemed to be impressed. I wasn’t.

The result: Slater nets an 8.93.

Really? An 8.93 for a one-foot-high alley-oop in which he struggled in the foam for half the duration of the entire ride? And don’t think he ripped the rest of the wave before that, either, because all he did prior to that horrendous-looking air was a boggy foam-climb that wouldn’t have scored well in an ESA Menehune heat.

This can’t be tolerated. No way. In fact, there should be a timer for these situations that subtracts one point for each second spent dicking around fighting with the whitewash.

The goal is to pull a maneuver smoothly and as effortlessly as possible, which could be highlighted in that part of the ASP Judging Criteria that mentions “Speed, power, and flow.” Yet for some strange reason, spectators get all giddy when they see the surfer disappear then pop back up out of nowhere.

I’m sorry, folks, but this is not tube riding. Pulling a Houdini in the whitewater is purely a combination of bad surfing, strong abdominal muscles, and luck. It should in no way, shape or form be rewarded.

So next time you see your friend complete a decent move but struggle in the whitewater to ride out clean, heckle him/her for botching it. Whitewater rafting is the equivalent to digging your rail on a turn, and that’s some serious bullshit.—Jimmicane

*This is an opinion piece (and it is endorsed by the majority of SURFING Magazine employees).