Welcome to 2017!
Well, its nearly the end of the month so the time for happy new year and all that jazz is well behind us. There is still more than 11 months to go until we reign in 2018, so what will change in that time for those of us in love with surfing?
I certainly don't proclaim to be any sort of super power wielding future seer, but I have a few opinions. Read on to be enlightened by the mind of Mammoth.
What better place to start than the stick, our crucial water riding craft.
With the launch of Kelly Slater's own brand of boards, with some pretty funky shapes to boot, I think 2017 will be the year that the mainstream ditches the performance thruster (ok - so more recently for some brave souls, quad too) in exchange for fuller outlines. This won't only be for small grovelly days, but for pumping surf too. Lets face it, the general public will follow what the pros do - that is how sponsorships and endorsements work - and with arguably the most recognisable surfer on the planet leading the charge on some new shapes I think the minions will follow.
Personally I branched out a bit at the end of last year, and had a TONNE of fun on a Mini Simmons inspired board from The Lisbon Crooks. Epic stuff.
Yours truly in a flattering photo on a Mini Simmons from Lisbon Crooks (Image Luke Dawson Photography)
The environmental awareness and trend of the last few years is only gaining more traction by the day - and I for one am thankful for this. However, the common feedback I hear from testers is that it simply doesn't feel as good as the toxic boards we have been riding for so long. Is this like saying that a kale salad simply doesn't taste as good as the toxic Big Mac we have been eating for so long. Should we just go ahead and do what we know deep down is right, even if it causes some initial upheaval?
Sadly, I am not seeing much change in the day to day surf products on the market. I do tip my hat off to Patagonia for the release of this wetsuit which is made petroleum free and from natural rubber sources. Will this be the year we all start riding hemp, glass together by marijuana resin? Unfortunately for the sake of environment, I don't think so, but at least we are moving in the right direction.
Airs airs airs. Is it just me, or is surfing becoming more and more like those crazily unrealistic computer game versions of surfing/skating/snowboarding in the early 2000s? Y'know, where you could drop into a 100ft wave, then do a triple corked 1080, then grind the palm trees up to the bar. Ok, so slight exaggeration, but moves like this one here from Hawaii's Albee Layer are really pushing the envelope and things are only ramping up...
In the meantime, can someone teach me how to chop hop?
Jeremy Pooley - Moose Boost!
Will crowds get worse? Well, yes and no - here's why.
If you think crowds are bad now, - the next few years could see an escalation. Surfing has traditionally been relatively hard to access - which beach to go to, at what tide, with the right wind, swell conditions etc. This isn't something which you can learn easily, let alone if you don't actually live near the ocean. No need to fret, wave pools are here! 2017 will be the year where wave pools become more and more commonplace - not only have several popped up already, but more and more are in the pipeline (excuse the pun). As more people are able to learn in the relatively safe, predictable and accessible waters of a wave pool, when they reach a proficient level they will venture for the ocean, leading to increasing crowds.
But, here is our saving grace. By learning in a wave pool, this new wave (sorry, another pun) of surfer will not have the knowledge or experience that learning in the ocean provides, and as such will be restricted to popular beaches which are already overcrowded. Not to worry, your secret spot, or spot that requires a bit of meteorological knowledge is safe for sometime yet.
More or less people than this, do you think?
All in All?
I am an eternal optimist, so I hope that crowds will stay manageable, technology will improve leading to more sustainable materials in boards, and that overall we can ll get along in the ocean's giant playground.
There is sure to be other things happening in the months ahead - whats your take on all of this? Let us know in the comments below!
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James 'Mammoth' Marshall