Let’s try a little thought experiment. Lose yourself for a moment in the photo above. Pretty isn’t it? Imagine you are there, in the water, paddling out on your favourite board. What are you thinking as you look at that wave? If your heart rate has quickened because you’re looking at a wave which will give you the chance to duck into an azure tube just after take-off, before coming out and caning all the way down the line until you hit the sand, then l’m going to guess that you’re natural footed. If, however, you’re just seeing a bit of a close-out that looks better than it really is, then I’m guessing you’re a goofy footer.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as the majority of us beholders prefer surfing forehand, the beauty of a wave is often highly dependent on the direction it is breaking. Whether you are conscious of it or not, whether your day dreams are at Raglan or Jeffrey’s Bay, your surfing life is most likely shaped by a slight reluctance to get your back against the wall. Unless of course you’re looking at this wave and just admiring the colour of the water. If that’s the case then you’re probably lucky enough to be at the beginning of your journey into surfing, and the only direction you need to worry about for now is straight ahead.
“We’ve decided to buck the trend. We’re going backhand.”
By the very nature of how we stand on surfboards, we are forced to ride along a wave on either our forehand or our backhand. Given the choice, as we often are at beach breaks in the UK, most of us will spend a session seeking out forehand rides, because we find it easier to open up our extensive bag of tricks when we are facing the wave. If this is the case with you, as it is with me, then it stands to reason that the simplest way to improve our surfing and get more waves is to bring our backhand up to speed – which is exactly what Joel Gray is going to try and do for us this issue (p66). And whereas I’ll always long to be on that trip to the Telo Islands (p50), surfing fun head-high waves on my forehand, I cannot fail to be more impressed by the guys who took on an unpredictable Aussie slab on their backhands (p58).
With this in mind, unless you are reading Wavelength on your iPad, you will have noticed a change this issue. For some time, we’ve been told that print magazines are heading in one direction. With paper becoming ever more expensive it made sense to drop the quality to drop the costs — that was the easier way to go. But from this issue of Wavelength onwards, we’ve decided this magazine deserves to be seen at the highest quality. We’ve decided to buck the trend. We’re going backhand. It might not be the direction everyone else is going. It might not be the easiest direction. But hopefully you’ll agree, it’s way more impressive.
Finally, and on a more sombre note; whilst we were putting this issue together, we got the very sad news that two young, inspirational surfers from different parts of the country had passed away. Both have tributes in this issue, and both were, and still are, true legends within their surfing communities. Though they left our line-ups way too soon, they are a stark reminder that from the moment we are born, all of us are heading in one direction. So whilst we’re still lucky enough to be paddling out, let’s make the most of every wave we ride… whatever the direction.
Editor (and going backhand)