By BARRY CHURCH – Surfer West Coast Editor
The long season of contests for the past year is finally over and everyone can relax for a few months. The word is that 1969 was about the best year for contests anyone can remember. The best year for contest waves that is. In the last eight months of contest surfing we have seen two of the hottest goofy-footers in the sport take all the attention away from the veterans. The two are Brad McCaul and Rolf Aurness. We have heard Corky Carroll sing the blues until the Huntington contest. The WSA had its normal amount of resignations and reconsiderations. In fact it was a typical year with a couple of new stars rising and the veterans complaining until they finally won. So then what was happening this year that didn't happen last year and the year before?
It was the beginning of a movement and the Huntington contest is a perfect example of the new direction. Let's see an instant re- play of the U.S. Championships and go over some facts of a growing revolution.
Corky Carroll won, but that's nothing new; he's won before. The surf was big, but it usually is during most Huntington contests. You say the dory race was spectacular and you are right. But it blew minds before. Everyone wore helmets, there were disappointments, anger, elation, happy faces, sad faces, large crowds, wild announcers, rescues, police, blood thirsty people on the pier, wild parties at night and the usual fantastic surfing during the day. There were surfers from all over the world and most everyone agreed the contest was run like clockwork and is the best in the world. Nothing new. It's been said before. Sounds like the same old contest doesn't it?
Wrong! There was a change and it wasn't in the contest but among the surfers. The U.S. Championships in 1969 will not be remembered as just another year Corky Carroll won the contest; but it will be known as the meeting place for surfers representing the world. There were some unusual happenings going on during the contest that would shock most people. It was a minor revolt against the establishment and their rules and regulations. It was a petition not to wear the safety helmets most surfers felt more of a hazard than a help. It was a vote by senior men not to surf on the East side of the pier in conditions that would be hazardous to a person's health. It was the meeting of surfers to talk about change, to present ideas, to plan" experimental” contests, and to discuss the future. It was the beginning of a new era in surfing. Yes, Mr. Jones, “the times they are a changing.”
The revolution is here and we are all involved. In the last two years there has been much change in surfers and attitudes towards life and surfing. Many have dropped out of the contest circuit to live the life they love, to tune their minds and bodies years ahead of the contest surfer.
Barry Kanaiaupuni and Jackie Baxter are two prime examples. BK is powerful, radical, fluid, and a beautiful person. Jackie is right along the same lines. Neither one bothers with contests and consequently they are years ahead of many of the best surfers. Contests as they stand today are keeping surfing at a near stand-still. Many will argue this point but let's be realistic. Contests promote conservatism.
All right boys, you have 12 minutes to catch five waves. Three out of five will be counted and anything over five counts automatically. Twelve minutes is a hell of a long time to demonstrate years of surfing. A surfer may go out and catch the best waves of his heat and rip them apart and lose his heat to some guy who rode three bathtub bombers just to get his required waves. Why should this guy win when it was obvious who was the better surfer. Also, why should you be penalized for catching more waves. Then there are the rules on how you should surf and what you get the most points on. I'd like to know who was the surf-god. have-mercy-on-me-al- mighty-Kahuna. who said one maneuver was better than another. Who is to say that noseriding gets more points than roller-coasters, or, fin first takeoffs will win your heat. It's all B.S.! Surfing is freedom. Surfing is an art. Surfing is a way of live. Surfing is to break away from rules and regulations. When you are in the water you forget about everything else. You join with the most beautiful force of nature and express yourself on a wave like an artist does on canvas; like a pilot in a glider at 12.000 feet. You are free to express in any way or form you want and still be beautiful. Surfers are truly artists and are free to create in every sense of the word. Should we all paint Mona Lisas to be recognized? Contests have to change. Instead of inducing conservatism, it should favor innovation, radicalism, and freedom of self expression. There should be no ropes. There should be no collars.
There should be no twelve-minute heats. There should be no rules on how to surf. There should be no heat winners. Maybe there shouldn't even be contests. But let's face it, many like to compete, indirectly, manufacturers realize, from contests. Surfers sometimes get deserving reputations from them and it gives the public a better view of the sport. So let's have contests where there are no heat winners, no first thru fifth, no rules on what's better than something else. Let's have no twelve-minute heats, colors, or three out of five waves. Let's get rid of our surf god, point system, and even our judges.
The surfers met in Huntington Beach and they talked about change. Here are the conclusions among many of the top surfers and they need everyone’s support and ideas to help solve the contest dilemma and advance surfing to the ultimate. Contests should have no sets of rules on how to surf and there should be winners for every type of surfing-no heat winners or finals-just categories for all types of surfing such as: most radical surfer, most fluid, best ride, most consistent, most aggressive, best control over critical situations, and newest innovations. There could also be an award for new equipment if it is proved it has a possibility of working.
Maybe this type of contest is the answer. may- be not. Time will tell. Windansea Surf Club has been experimenting with contests of similar type views and have been praised for their contest at Windansea Beach. They held a contest with witnesses, not judges, who decided who won the heat by watching and not by points. This was a step in the right direction. Windansea has some invitationals planned in the near future, using the new plan suggested by the surfers themselves. The main idea in the contests is to promote the surfing artists to be themselves and express surfing as they see it and not by the book. This system is in its infancy and only if every- one becomes involved will it work. There is no closed door and it is open to all suggestions and ideas. Remember. if you know the surfing life.you will love the surfing life. Enjoy and make love to the waves!