witzig : nat vs. nuuhiwa, 1967
Nat vs Nuuhiwa
Drouyn vs Doyle
McTavish vs. Miller
Hughes vs. Harrison
How Do We Compare?
said that his nose riding contest was just a game.
It seems a pity that he didn't tell all the surfers in California.
For when this game has come to be accepted as 'surfing' then the time has come for re-evaluation.
It appears to me that a largely false set of values has been created in Californian surfing.
The East Coast, following blindly along the path that has been set, has not only copied the mistakes that have been made, but has taken this Californian type of surfing to a further ridiculous extreme.
thrash Nuuhiwa, and make Bigler look like a pansy."
These were the words of Bob Cooper when he saw Nat at Rincon in the week prior to the World Championships.
It was far more than a superficial comment when Cooper noted, "I haven't seen power surfing since I was in Australia."
Cooper knew that Nat and Drouyn were not two isolated instances, but were indicative of the new school of thought in Australia.
Those of us
who were conversant with the present trend of surfing in
Australia, were astonished at the corresponding lack of
development in this direction in the United States.
Probably nothing has had such a profound influence in leading Californian surfing out on a limb than has the nose riding fixation.
I need no
justification to claim that this obsession with nose riding
has been initiated and vigorously promoted by the commercial
interests in the sport.
The number of 'nose riders' that have been sold gives more than credence to this argument.
The real aim of surfing has been lost in a morass of con caves and the idolatry of David Nuuhiwa.
be no greater indictment of Californian surfing than the
fact that Nuuhiwa took only his nose rider to San Diego for
the World Championships.
Surfers had been telling themselves for so long that they were right and that they were good, they had come to absolutely believe in it.
How much a shock has it been to see the idols, the graven images, fall so unceremoniously to the ranks of the also-rans.
What was it
that made Nuuhiwa take only his specialist board to San
If this can be honestly answered, then this curious ailment that has striken Californian surfing will have been partly remedied.
Not only did Nuuhiwa think that all he had to do to win the World Championships was to perch on the front of his board, not only did he know that ...
happened to surfing?
On one hand there are the Specialists who have made surfing 'nose riding': on the other, an uninspired personification of normalcy, neutrality, and mediocrity.
In the middle somewhere is the group whose members are not really good at either.
state that there are no good surfers in California.
I cannot state that David Nuuhiwa cannot surf well according to the standards which I seek to establish.
I do state that the 'system' has created a standard of surfing, a pattern of riding, that does not allow surfers to perform to the full extent of their ability. Nuuhiwa is simply a product of this system.
system should work to draw from the competing surfers their
When the surfers have to work for, to surf for, the system, then the system has defeated its purpose.
The Huntington contest is a prime example of a restricted wave contest.
Through Australian eyes this was the most tedious and uninteresting contest that I have ever seen.
Even the stupidity of the mass public enthusiasm for nose work did little to arouse interest.
The surfers, restricted and confined by the system, did not attempt anything which would constitute a chance.
Indeed they could not.
system must simulate as closely as possible, those
conditions that are experienced in the ocean.
If the freedom that we find so inherent in riding waves is not expressed in our competitions, then they are not true contests of surfing.
If we are to derive any value from contests then they should encourage the surfer to draw on greater talents than he is aware he possesses.
A surfer must have that freedom that allows him to attempt far greater things, and make a mistake in the process.
To my knowledge achievement has never been laid at the door of the ordinary person.
Consistency becomes mediocrity unless measured in terms of challenge and achievement.
with whom Greenough first came into contact was Bob
A theoretician in his own right, it was only reasonable that he and Greenough might spur each other to greater levels of creativity and experimentation.
McTavish and Greenough talked and surfed, and began applying their principles to surfboard design.
While everyone else in Australia was turning to longer boards, McTavish built short and more manoeuvreable boards which he could use to place himself in the best part of the wave.
McTavish's words best describe his principle motive:
"The direction is involvement.
Getting into tight spots and getting back out of them.
This is of course, a supplement direction to the all powerful 'make the wave' motive.
The way to get involved, obviously, is to place yourself in a critical position, under, in, over, around the curl, quite often in contact with it."
The trend is to push things to the limit:
"The tighter you push them; the longer you hold them; the more involved you are; the more situations you can overcome; the hotter you are."
This then is the McTavish philosophy.
The desire to attempt the impossible; to transgress into the realm of the unattainable; to power.
the master tactician of the perfect wave, saw his personal
limitations in the transference of his thoughts into general
He chose then to infuse with his enthusiasm and his aggression a number of other surfers in Australia.
The result of this union was the surfer that the world saw as the best in San Diego.
Nat has an
enormous reservoir of surfing talent.
He has a feeling for the surf that he can express in his riding.
He possesses that superb control under all circumstances that mark him as a fine surfer.
He is part of this 'power' school ...
Nat is the
best surfer in Australia.
Australia is represented by its best.
How is it that the United States is not?
Of the ten Californian surfers, only John Peck showed some sort of aggression, and David Nuuhiwa showed that he was capable of it.
While Australia presented its finest, the U.S. had only its run-of-the-mill ordinary, and its specialists.
Surfboards expressed as clearly as any other factor, the extent of the deviation in direction that has occurred in Californian surfing.
There was the ever present concave, the stretch, the 50 50, da cat, the performer, the eliminator and the penetrator.
Against this imposing list we put the small, light, thin and sensitive Australian board.
It is the concern of this Australian surfer that. his board should express, as he himself sees it, the whole, rather than a series of unrelated or specialist manoeuvres.
The Australian concern is with 'the whole' and the Australian board is designed with this purpose in mind.
The direction is positive.
It is towards dynamic and controlled aggression in surfing.
What is the
As I see it, a continued domination of world surfing by the Australians.
Californian surfing is so tied and stifled by restrictions that are its own creation, and other countries simply do not have the necessary ability.
is there that California will free itself of its
This is something that I cannot answer.
General social conditions will continue to exercise an influence over the surfing scene.
The drug situation is something which cannot be ignored.
While surfing progresses, the creative era, is being credited to those who participate, and indirectly, because they participate, I cannot forsee much change.
Strangely enough, the effect of these stimulants seems to have a depressant effect on challenge and aggression.
I felt like yelling, "let yourself go, take a chance."
But as is the pattern, this was not to be.
Everyone was so confined, so under control, so absolutely without the apparent freedom to express.
An end must
come to this monotony.
Vigor will replace lassitude: aggression will replace meek submission.
The dynamic will force an end to the commonplace.
Power will be the word and surfing will be surfing.
the following pages are the views of Australian surfers
presented by leading Australian surf writer, John Witzig.
Witzig writes of the new "power" school of Australian surfing and says...
We're Tops Now by John Witzig-Australia
That's all that can be said about that story in the last issue- rubbish!
After our Nat Young completely dominated competition at the World Surfing Championships at San Diego, we might have expected a more accurate assessment of California surfing than "The High Performers."
Yet not, since this history is indicative to an absolute degree of the California scene as a whole.
Has everyone forgotten that David was beaten?
Up pours the smoke.
To laud, to deify, to obscure.
To obscure the fact that everything the pedestal of California &urfing is being built upon means- nothing!
"The whole sport is following Nuuhiwa now" ..."and another thing was my rollercoaster" ... My rollercoaster, David?
McTavish has been doing rollercoasters for years.
Off with the rose-colored spectacles and look beyond the David.
If everyone is not too conditioned by the propaganda: STOP.
Establish the real value in California surfing.
"Tell us, David. ..how does it feel to be told that the whole sport of surfing is following you?"
Are you kidding?
Volume 8 Number 4
Volume 8 Number 2