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."
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!"