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Uncle Derek Knows

A friend in Australia recently passed along this edit of 16-year-old Luke Hynd, nephew to frictionless impresario Derek Hynd. Young Luke's talents are lauded in the land down under, and for good reason, wave-riding appears to trim through the family DNA. But as uncles go, Derek casts a broad shadow. His "Far Field Theory" performance is a tough act to follow. Mulling over the dynamics of generation and talent, we delved into the TSJ archives, where we found Derek riffing in "Fretless." The following is an excerpt, subscribers download the rest for free.

What happened?

It started with a fin, dime ticket to The Sport of Kings for a tribe coming off The Dustbowl. It breeds ten to one in a boxed mall, boxed electric, boxed Chinese conundrum. A fin spawned a compromise that shattered the surfing core.

The event horizon for creators and captains is paradox. Surfing is Non Surfing. Rid the root problem. Take back the culture.

In a parallel universe the surfboard evolves pure. The free surfer has no fin, no rope, no safety.

Skegs exist, pilloried. To kids they’re steppingstones to the frontier, to others a crutch to stay on the face. The first name of the game is to get off the fin and fast. Respect for heritage has kept it out of real surfing. The more the skill, as the saying has gone for 60 years, the less the fin.

Design contours across 100 years starting with melds of entry vee, roll and concave, have left surfers universally adept. Makaha, Sunset, Pipe, Waimea have long been mastered friction free. Discipline is God. A wave doesn’t yet exist that can’t be tackled this way.

Style can’t be bought, sold, copied, or cheated. Compromise isn’t an option. A benchmark of anti-pop culture since the mid-’60s, surfing has stayed an art form true to roots no matter the chaos or force of Man and Nature. At the core sits the need for sweet free speed through the highest line. Requiring years to learn and a lifetime to refine, the pursuit is impervious to deviation let alone exploitation.

The skeg was an archetypal American shortcut. It broke the back of beachcombers and fringe-grifters feeding from the edges, sucked a dry flood of humanity into a dance made easy. Dora’s jitterbug started the public killing of Bambi through the season of ’56, yet like the introduced virus it was, the outlander—in this case a girl—rolled the stone that was the meteorite that smashed the core.