“A stallion, a revelation, divine!”
About a week ago, on the birthday of surf icon Terry Fitzgerald, Seattle scrabble enthusiast and surf archivist Matt Warshaw posted a moving tribute to his Surf Encyclopedia website called, Ode to a Sultan and which you should read, and published without the permission of Warshaw, below.
Fitz was a rock star. Not in our newly popularized use of the phrase by middle managers (“thanks for giving me those numbers so quickly, you are a rock star!”), But rather as if he belongs to some kind of artist who includes Robert Plant and Roger. Daltrey, more than Gerry Lopez and Jeff hakman. If Fitzgerland had picked up a guitar instead of a surfboard, his biography would be littered with ransacked hotel rooms, dozens of bastard children spawned by groupies, and a goddamn silent story involving a mud shark.
Anyway, as it was, Fitz performed in stadiums (Sunset and Bay J) and played all the way to the back seats. Striking poses. Move and grind this 28 inch size. At the end of a well executed race, it would have been quite appropriate, rather than throwing a two-fisted protest, for Fitz to hit a huge flaming gong.
Two or three weeks ago Lewis samuels got up in my business after one of my periodicals Barry kanaiaupuni fainted. BK surfing, Lewis said via Twitter, “hasn’t aged well,” and I’m 97% sure Samuels feels the same about Fitzgerald. I’m so sure, in fact, that I wonder if maybe I’m a little too in love with my little bunch of Zeppelin-era favorites. Fitz, in particular, is open to criticism. If the surf didn’t have the push and push it needed, it would try to make up the difference by amplifying the movements of the hips and the gyrations of the arms. Oversell. I squeak a bit when I see these clips. (And edit my own clips accordingly, using only the flower crown elements.)
On the other hand, Fitz operated in the Great Age of Style of shortboard surfing. In terms of basic performance – reductions, turns down, off the tops – those wide, wide-tipped mono-fins that everyone was using were being pushed to their most extreme limit. The twins and tri-ends would reset everything, but there were still a few more years left. What to do while waiting? When 15 other top surfers have a fiberglass bottom turn and a G-line of force on the top, how do you stand out? Form. Interpretation. Presence. “Skill and style,” said Wayne Bartholomew, who came of age during this period, “has never been so closely linked as in the early 1970s.” No one understood it better than Terry Fitzgerald.
As much as any other single surfer, Fitzgerald made the early ’70s. But the early’ 70s also made Fitzgerald. I can’t imagine it in the pre-shortboard era. And in the age of multi-fins, Fitz’s highly fashionable riding style has been left in the dust. Other surfers of the time, we can trace their stylistic descent: Lopez to Machado To Craig anderson. deputy To Kong To Bourez. The Fitzgerald Method, however, began and ended with Fitzgerald. (Derek hynd was and remains a great follower of Fitz, but Derek, true to the master’s example, designed his own unique way of riding the waves.)
When I was a kid older guys loved it Joey cabell and “speed surfing”, but no one in the years to come took his style back, and watching Cabell’s video from the late 60s, I don’t really understand what the problem was.
Will the same happen to Fitz? I wonder. I’ll ask this question to anyone reading this before the age of 35: In the clip posted at the top of the page, Fitz’s latest shot going to Mach 3 at Jeffreys Bay, does that merry-go-round sing to you? Or am I a sentimental old fool?
(Editor’s Note: You must subscribe, here, to see the video and the photo.)
All pretty over the edge, yeah?
The great Nick Carroll, however, had none of that.
“Matt, there are a lot of cheap shots in this mate. Not cool, ”Nick wrote on Facebook, prompting first male surfing world champion Peter Townend to step in:“ Okay! As a member of my slightly older peer group, Fitz had his unique approach to his surf, like many of us, as well as the equipment we fashioned and used, that was the beauty of that time. from the 70s!
Warshaw, of course, is not afraid of even the mighty Nick and the PT superstar, even though he was a diplomat.
“What about the part where this happens:” you could say – I would say it for sure – that Terry Fitzgerald is one of the greatest surfers of all time, just as surely as Robert Plant is one of the greatest rock singers of all time… My take on Fitz is just that he may be the ultimate “horses for lessons” surfer. But on the courses that mattered most – Sunset and J-Bay – he was a stallion, a revelation, divine. Less in waves that do not suit him or that annoy him. The same could be said of half or more of those in the greatest pantheon of all time, of which Terry is a platinum member. I apologize if my comments were disrespectful, that was not my intention. “
Now where are the low blows? Can you find