Monday, May 18, 2009

THE CLAIM GAME

After several glasses of wine at the end of a day without surf, we sat around a rented beach house and talked about pro surfing contests. I said I wasn't really into pro surfing because I couldn't really relate. There's so much other shit going on besides surfing that I get a little agitated by the whole thing. There's priority rules and sitting on other guys who need a wave, there's all the dumb sponsors and bro-brahness. There's those times when the waves at contests suck and they surf them anyway. There's the subjectivity of judges... But the worst part, in my opinion, is the obsession with claiming that's been going on lately.

Last year I was watching the Teahupoo contest and after this Brazilian got an amazing tube, he threw his hands up in the air. The two nasally announcers jumped all over him: "Oh no, he just came out of that barrel and did a 3-second claim."

"Yeah. Gosh that might have even been a 4-second claim there, Jeff."

"Wow. I don't know. Like, it totally was a decent wave, but that claim was waaaay too long. I think a tube like that may have warranted a 2-second claim, maybe with one fist-pump, but the whole 4-second, double-fisted claim was just excessive."

"I wonder if the judges will give him a deduction for that. Good wave — I'll give him that — but the claim was just a bit over the top."

"Let's watch it again in slow-motion."

Etcetera.

Then, OS, who has been watching the contest this year, said the announcers were making the same stink over surfers claiming waves. Apparently there was one wave where a competitor got spit out of a shack and put one hand near his head. The announcers spent about 15 minutes debating whether the guy had actually just claimed the wave with one hand or if he was simply brushing his hair out of his eyes.

I can understand the whole idea that claiming (celebrating a wave) exessively can be lame if it's done to influence judges, but is there any possibility that some of these guys are just doing it because they're stoked? I did a Google search with the keywords "claim" and "surf" and found an article in Surfer by a writer who was also sick of claimers. It shed some light on why claiming is getting out of hand in pro surfing. Apparently, there's a new trend among pros where they party like it's 1999 after the smallest maneuver. I guess this is done in attempt to influence judges. Frankly, I'm surprised that any judge who has spent any time around surfing would add points to a guy's score becuase he grabs his nuts and throws a few shakkas after a foam climb.

"The idea is that these guys should act like they've been there before," said one of my friends, splayed out on the couch.

Knowing that both guys play soccer, I said, "What about footballers then? How long do they claim a goal after scoring? How long do they get to run around with their jerseys off and flop all over the field?"

"But part of good surfing style is making incredibly difficult tricks look easy, and claiming just defeats the whole purpose," he replied.

Good point. But I knew that if I ever got shacked on a wave like the ones at Chopes, I'd not only throw both hands in the air, but probably drop trou as I popped over the shoulder and rub one out — a gift of my seed to the Tiki gods. But I truly have never been there before (and most likely will never be).

The next morning, we looked around for surf despite the buoys reading 2 ft. We finally settled on a remote spot where a wave was reforming against a sloping beach, creating little 1-2 ft a-frames. Knowing that it might be a week before we could surf again, we grabbed our thickest boards and paddled out. As the first wave approached, standing up feebly against the sandbar and looking like it was going to close out, someone in our trio yelled, "Claim it!" Somebody paddled in and somebody sped down the line for a few seconds before it shut down. Somebody milked a little whitewater before throwing both fists in the air and howling toward the empty beach, "Woooooooooooooooo!"

17 comments:

Totor said...

Thanks for the article.
Very true, and very funny. ;)

tres_arboles said...

Good post. The claim can be inspirational after a truly unreal ride. Something like a drive through a large but fast-closing barrel at Pipe, like I just recently saw Sean Briley do on youtube or somewhere. HE shouldn't, by all rights, have come close to making the wave which started breaking waaaaay outside. But as it started to jack on the inner reef, he angled and pumped like a madman, tucked, drove and came out, even kicked over the end closeout with a short "look at me" claim to the beach.

But even when it's deserved, in the end, it's all about attention-whoring. Thus for the men, it's really unseemly, like it is for any sport. But what really bugs me about the big claim though is a tangent to something else you mention above. The whole bro-brahness of the pro end of the sport. All the dudes onshore yelling, raising arms, "yeah baaaaby!" Like somehow THEY deserve credit for the thing claimed. You see it in the vids now too. I remember the first time I noticed it: Munga Barry sitting on the boat in some channel somewhere, I think Cloudbreak, raising his arms in a victory salute as his BRO, not him, gathered a typical Cloudbreak tube.

Maybe after all is said and done, tubes are like heroin. That first little bit that made you feel SOOOOO great isn't enough. You need more and more to the point where you have to claim it to prove to everybody else how damn good it felt to get barrelled. But I wouldn't know.

Blown Off Shore said...

Surfing the remote breaks in the middle of winter when it is pouring and howling off shore. The only CLAIMING we get to do is when one of our friends gets caught inside. Most big moves and deep pits never go seen till summer.

Foulweather... said...

There is a certain break we all know and love that I had (and continue to have) such a mental block over. Anyway, after a particularly bad run of surf, I finally braved up and caught a legit wave out there. To be sure, as I kicked out at the end of the wave, I pulled a double fist pump, and let out a big" F-You." Immediately, I realized this was a lame macho expression and soon after I was pretty much told to leave the water. Claiming is not OK. Cheering oneself is not only terrible etiquette, it is ugly, immodest and ruins what could otherwise have been a decent expression of wave-riding. Never acceptable.

Whiffleboy said...

Perhaps "claiming" should be defined a little better.

If a "claim" is an honest expression that represents stoke manifested in a physical form, what's wrong with that? Same as a laugh, a hoot or however else you find yourself reacting after a great ride. Besides, don't we do that all the time at sporting events that we're not even physically participating in?

On the other hand, if by "claiming" we're meaning a forced reaction whose sole purpose is to evoke attention to the claimer, well then, yeah...perhaps that has no place in the lineup.

I vehemently disagree with "Cheering oneself is not only terrible etiquette, it is ugly, immodest and ruins what could otherwise have been a decent expression of wave-riding.""Cheering oneself", IMO, falls under the former, is relative, and is a form of stoke in my book.

Foulweather... said...

Well to each his own but there is enough self-congratulating in this world- I personally admire somone a tad more when their grace is accompanied by modesty.

Wanking is best done alone, in private.

Chum said...

So I guess this is the question:

If a guy wanks in the woods and there's nobody around to see it, did he actually wank?

OS said...

I say claim away. Tiger pumps a fist when he drains a put. Lebron pounds his fist when he throws one down. If you're stoked and you know it raise your hand.

Nash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nash said...

Give a hoot don't pollute. A small "yeah" with a smile after is legit, fist pumping is best left to private time in the bathroom...in the water it's trash.

Jamie Watson said...

My claim style is that if I rode a wave well and had a ton of fun, naturally I'm gonna be smiling - so if I'm with my husband, I always turn around and wave to make sure Jay saw me do it.

This stuff is pretty funny.

Chum said...

Jaimie, that's my favorite comment on this blog in a long time.

You should double-pump your fists, throw a two goats followed by three mini toe-shakas, twirl your keyboard over your head, do a scissor-kick and howl at the moon.

You claimer. :)

Gaz said...

So about a year ago I woke up and it was already 75 degrees(tmook hit 105 that day). I think the swell was 8 or 9 at 15secs. Solid. Headed down to see the cove reeling off as a set detonated the bar.

Way stoked, the paddle out was a relentless backward rock scrape, if you screwed the pooch your day was done. I saw someone I respect a great deal get pummeled and his session was a shadow of what it should have been that morning. The ocean had it's cudgels out.

Had a great couple of hours with a few people, had a Supmaster drop in relentlessly on all and sundry, he added to his legend status tho' given the conditions...

At the end of my last wave I looked at the parking lot, didn't see anyone's rig that I knew and gave a fist pump with my hand at waist high. Not really a big claim, subtle and probably unnoticed I thought. And it was more about a great session than that wave anyway....

Uuuuuh not so fast. By the time I got back to my truck I already had one message on my phone that the claim was a kook move and I should probably not repeat it anytime soon and then I got heaps of shit from another person for months about the "pump".

Careful out there, eyes are often on you when you think they're not.

ras said...

yawn

Chum said...

turn that yawn upside down.

Chum said...

Gaz and Foul's stories are pretty damn entertaining if you ask me!

Lee said...

like my old man said i hope everyone gets as much fun outta me as i do outta them