On Style

Jimmy “The Impala” Lucas and the case for proper positioning.

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Positioning is a style fundamental. Reductively, it means surfing deep. Holistically, it’s more soup to nuts. Where you park, when you surf, how you pick through the rocks, what you bring—or don’t bring— with you. And where you choose to live.

Sure, surf-turkeydom calls for always being at the best spot on the best day. But the style play has always pivoted on the artful avoidance of crowds. The Venn overlay of stylish surfers and limelight avoidance can look like a lunar eclipse.

Jimmy Lucas, shown here at Sunset Beach in 1974, is a case in point. Something of a “writer’s writer,” Lucas hails from the island of Kauai, an early hothouse of creative surf expression well outside the blast radius of California and the North Shore. Known as The Impala (perhaps to imply a cliquey connection to fellow Kauaian Joey “The Gazelle” Cabell), Lucas was a surfer who the stars of the day referenced as “scary good.”

Known for sheer speed and a powerful elegance, he benefited from the world-class shapers who also called Hanalei home—principally Dick Brewer and Mike Diffenderfer, as well as Billy Hamilton, Steve Lis, and Terry Chung.

Not averse to the siren call of the air horn, Lucas surfed his way into the field at the Smirnoff Pro-Am and the Hang Ten American Pro, where he came across Jeff Divine’s viewfinder for this frame. Lucky for us. Not one to “do it for the ’gram,” few photographs exist of The Impala. This one will do. High and tight, steep and deep, bullet fast. And then, real quick-like, through the crowd and back home to prime position.

[Feature image by Jeff Divine]

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