About a month ago we decided to share some love and gave away some items of premium Merino outerwear from Pally'Hi, all you had to do was answer this question:
Who is the 'best' surfer in the world? Past or Present. Alive or Dead. (not the most successful surfer and this has nothing to do with comps or specific surfing genre). He/she can surf longboard, shortboard, fish, single, bodysurf, sponger etc.
Needless to say we had quite a few answers, some were a little predictable, some were just plain crazy and some struck a cord consistent with a winner. Without further 'fiddle faddle' I would like announce that first place goes to:
Winning answer 1: Joan Belatrix - Joan sent us an email that stated and I quote " Chris Ward is the absolute best surfer that I have ever seen. Not only does his raw talent exceed what I think is possible on a board but his frothing nature and amount of hours in the water makes him the happiest and therefore best best surfer out there."
SB**:**Not only are we massive fans of Chris in the office, but this answer also mentioned the 'froth' of Chris and the fact that he was happy. Boom, easy decision and thanks Joan - this long sleeve t-shirt that came via the kindness of snowboard legend Peter Bauer (founder of Pally'Hi) will be winging its way to you in France.
Winning Answer 2: Garry Alan AKA The Stoke Farmer - Garry's answer blew us away, check it out:
Perhaps the most misunderstood word in all of surfing.
Many will say Kelly Slater.
The human hands will have to evolve to count his ‘World Titles’ on fingers.
He has created the perfect mechanically generated wave.
You don’t even need to dip your little piggies in the ocean any more.
He has designed boards so you can surf just like Kelly too.
He is a major player, perhaps the most dominant, in ushering in a new consciousness of what it means to be a surfer and to surf.
Other wave parks are adding their own share to changing public consciousness of surfing as is ‘Mutant Wave’ riding as well as ‘Foil Boards’, ‘BodySurfing’ and ‘Handplanes’, ‘AirMats’, ‘Paipos’, ‘Kneeboards’, ‘BodyBoards’, ‘Snow Surfing’, etc etc…. However, if you were to take surfing as an accumulation of all things “surfing”, Kai Lenny is the fucking MAN!
But that is not my choice.
Because I have a different view of surfing.
In fact we all have our own little biased view of it based on our own experience but also because of the current common consciousness that explains surfing to us.
Up until the first time we saw surfing it did not even exist to us.
But then one day something happened that changed our lives….
We stood in awe watching people slide down waves while standing on a plank then paddling the plank back into the waves and repeating this miracle.
It was others who gave words and therefore “meaning” to what we were seeing.
We absorbed their consciousness because it seemed trustworthy or we didn’t possess the faculties to imagine what it meant for ourselves.
So it is not just that first encounter with surfing but also with the common consciousness of surfing that “sticks” with us and shapes our own consciousness.
But what if my first experience/consciousness of surfing was different than yours? Well for starters of course it was.
We each have a unique experience and that shapes our consciousness of what it means to surf and be a surfer and then we add our own consciousness to the common consciousness and it continues to expand like all things in the universe…..
So let us present the idea of Kelly Slater to the consciousness of some previous giants of surfing.
Let us look at surfing through Dora's eyes….
He was the antithesis of Kelly Slater.
Commercialism, contests, sponsorship, everything that fuels today’s surfing locomotive was abhorred by Dora.
Yes I know.
Some say Dora was a closet hypocrite who preached about the purity of surfing but failed to practice his own words.
That doesn’t matter though because it wasn’t just Dora. “Purity” was the prevalent consciousness of surfing.
Surfers were salty beatnik-hippie filled teabags bobbing around in the sea who rejected all that shit that was called “The Man”. (“The Man” is very much “The Man” of surfing today.)
Kelly Slater would have been the antichrist to the very people who have given us surfing.
But this “purist” consciousnesses was simply iterated from an earlier consciousness that had been passed to us by the two pillars of modern surfing, the Duke and Tom Blake.The Duke giving us the Hawaiian consciousness and Blake giving us American ingenuity and a sort of metaphysical consciousness of surfing.
I started surfing in the late 70’s.
True surfing was “soul surfing”.
That’s what mattered.
Lopez, Rory Russell, Reno…..
Even the powerful Aussies and South Africans that came later like Rabbit and Thompson couldn’t imagine surfing without “style”.
Buttons, Ho, Curren? The original prototypes of Power AND Style…
A new consciousness of surfing.
It was that era that shaped my consciousness.
And so I look at someone like Kelly who has no style whatsoever, embraces the commercialism of surfing and I scoff at the idea.
So what are we to do?
How can we choose a champion?
I think Mr. Phil Edward’s answer still stands as the best answer. “The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun.”
Peace out and I wear an XL.
SB: Yes, it's that same message of fun and a little more validation. Loving the answer, if you are not having fun go and play some golf. A black Pally'Hi t-shirt will be in the post to you Garry, all the way to California in the U S of A.
Finally we had to give points for arguing your case and that's exactly what Rainer Frömmel did when he said Kelly Slater was the best we had a quick back and forth on social and he made it clear that the 11x World Champ deserves to be in the discussion. The grey beanie will be on the way to you in Germany.
So in the spirit of giving we now feel like Santa with an empty sack, happy and ready for a new challenge, bring on the New Year, more products to test, people to discover and most of all pumping waves.