It’s a new year; the pseudo-battle between Parko and Kelly at Pipe, which dominated coverage of the event, has been settled. There’s some excitement about new faces on tour starting at Snapper Rocks next month, and brief mentions of those who will spend 2013 grinding through the QS trying to requalify. There was also some coverage of what I think was actually the most important portion of the Pipe Masters: Taylor Knox’s last heat as a WCT competitor. We should all sigh a little, because I think we lost something special with Knox stepping out of surfing’s most easily accessed limelight.
I’m not going to detail the events of Knox’s retirement or career, because those with industry access have already done so better than I can. But I think Taylor Knox brought something to the tour these last few years that was desperately needed. In an era of wiggling and pumping down the line just to try an air reverse, Knox kept a focused style of power surfing on tour. What’s more than that, Knox surfed with purpose. At no point in watching him surf do you ever think that he is merely trying to get down the line, hoping a section will develop.
Knox surfed with an intent to bury as much of the rail as he could manage into the right turn for every section, and boy did he do it well. It’s an attitude that some of today’s dog-and-pony aerialists would do well to incorporate more of into their surfing, rather than ignoring sections that might not offer a ramp and onshore wind. The good news is that damn near all of the tour recognizes the style torch that Knox carried so well for so many years, and some of them even might have the abilities to help hoist it themselves. I reckon we’ve got at least a few more years of Mick’s hacks to enjoy. Michel Bourez has one hell of a power carve to compliment his barrel riding abilities. There’s even a few shining faces in the newest generation that have a power game to back up their above-the-lip inclinations. John John has already proved his ability to blast a few turns on any given wave. This year we’ve got Santa Cruz’s Nat Young, who has a hell of a goofy-footed backhand game. Down the road, I’m looking forward to seeing Conner Coffin qualify for the tour in the next couple of years and bring his own take on power surfing into the mix.
So we bid adieu to Taylor Knox, world tour competitor, and hope that Taylor Knox, Rip Curl ambassador, graces us with videos and magazine photos galore, to keep our lust for good turns and good style sated. In the interim, thank god for YouTube: