On an aesthetic grid, the act of stalling a surfboard occupies space up and to the right for lifelong surfers. It started as a way to hang in the hook. Picture the Paddleboard Cove boys dragging a hoof to slow down or to initiate a turn. Then the First Point crew, bolt upright, gently weighting the tail before a measured walk to the tip.
The shortboard revolution and the tri-fin evolution saw such subtleties take a back seat to figure-eight wraps and bottom-turn fade stalls, but some lasting beachheads were achieved in the e-brake category: Buttons’ whole-body drags. Guy Ormerod’s to-the-elbow backside arm bars. Johnny Boy’s glute plantings at Pipe. Hynd’s frontside laybacks. And while the platinum card of the genre—the nose-breaking kick stall allowing a shearing wall to overtake you, as exhibited here by Noa Deane—remains a wildly flamboyant if seldom seen showstopper, it’s due for an encore.
The stall, regardless of variation, is a telltale, a demarcating line between intermediate-level surfing and the beginnings of accomplishment. It speaks to gearbox understanding and knowledge of wave speed. Like a poet deploying end-stops and enjambment, artfully enacted stalling shows a surfer to be versed in the totality of an individual ride. And it looks straight badass.
[Feature Image by Brenden Newton]