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Best I Ever Saw: Chris Christenson on Harrison Roach

“I have yet to see a surfer do what he did, to be honest with you.”

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We were in northern Costa Rica for a couple weeks, and there’s one session I won’t ever forget. I saw Harrison ride several different boards in one day—from shortboards to longboards, even an alaia—and he went from one piece of equipment to the next, and rode each appropriately. He was surfing at one of the highest levels I’ve ever seen, and after that I was pretty convinced he was one of the most underrated surfers in the world—he still is.

I have yet to see a surfer do what he did, to be honest with you. I think he was mostly riding Neal Purchase Jr.’s boards, so it wasn’t anything I did. To go from a noserider, to a performance shortboard, to a twin-fin, to a mid-length egg, all the pieces of equipment equally well, that’s what really stands out.

You see some guys and are like, “Oh he surfs a shortboard pretty well for a longboarder.” Or you see a shortboarder trying to rip on a longboard, and he’s surfing good but something’s a little off. But Harrison…