Phil Edwards on "Style"

"Style, really, is the whole point of surfing."
Phil Edwards
Is this statement still true today?
Have modern better shaped boards changed this?
What say you?


Style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In ALL my years of surfing I got out of the water only ONCE to watch another surfer perform. That was Phil Edwards at Windansea on a 5’ to 6’ day. He made the difficult look effortless. The modern “style” seems to try to make the effortless look difficult. I’ll take Phil’s approach any day.

“The modern “style” seems to try to make the effortless look difficult. I’ll take Phil’s approach any day.”

I don’t necessarily agree with some of Bill’s posts, but I really love this statement.

As far as RichardMc’s question: I believe it is for me personally, but I certainly surf with some guys who are more concerned with things like wave count, large maneuvers, speed, just plain fun, etc. Regardless of equipment development, my position follows that the purpose of surfing is the same as it ever was–and I have no idea what that purpose is.


An interesting quote from Hynson I read re: style, equipment, etc…

“Phil Edwards was a profound influence on both myself and Skip. He was into heavier boards that would smooth his style and flow, and we were inspired by this.”


I started surfing in the 70’s and I remember every surfer had a very identifiable style. Mark Richards had that knock kneed stance, Lopez had the slouch and the limp hand, Rabbit had the front arm down, It just seemed easy to recognize individual surfers.

Nowadays, the pro surfers rip. No doubt about it. The level of performance is unbelievable. I love watching, but I find it hard differentiate them all. For me the one exception is Rob Machado. Maybe it’s the 'fro but I can usually spot him and I like his style alot. Donavon does the soul arch bottom turn, but ask me the difference between Benji Weatherly, Mick Fanning, Ross Williams, Joel Parkinson, Saxon Boucher or whoever else and I have absolutely no idea who is whom. They all do airs, right?

Style is everything. All those guys got style. They just all have the same style.

The guys who do, or aspire to, surf at todays contemporary high-performance levels are very astute to subtleties between and among surfers. If you blacked out the faces and whited-out the logos on pros boards (and high-level local pros and ams) I would probably be able to identify most, if not all, of those surfers according to their techniques and styles. The styles of those indifferentiable pros mentioned above are all absolutely dissimiliar in my eyes; I could easily ID each of them at a glance.



Style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In ALL my years of surfing I got out of the water only ONCE to watch another surfer perform. That was Phil Edwards at Windansea on a 5’ to 6’ day. He made the difficult look effortless. The modern “style” seems to try to make the effortless look difficult. I’ll take Phil’s approach any day.

100% truth IMO

been around almost as long…

and I can watch Curren with no problem… I think he’s unique

I also can sit and watch RussK play in the makaha backwash all day long as well and play he does…

But there’s one new talent that hands down defines smooth in this age of the thruster hippy hippy shake and skateboard moves. And that’s a significant accomplishment in the age of pump pump fly and fall off show offs.

That guy is Joel Parkinson.

If you watch the lines the guy draws and his upper body position as he does it, you’ll see he’s doing something alot different than any one else. . Almost as fast as Fanning but less frenetic than all the rest. 3-4 years ago at the triple crown he tore apart good size sunset like it was nothing and it never looked like he’s trying hard as he did it. All the turns were connected perfectly into one single move… that’s the sign of smooth… every move fits togethor just perfectly which is close to impossible to do normally… Maybe no one will understand it… But that’s what I see…

JIMHO though that’s all

I’m not bagging on the pros. Like I said they rip. Maybe I just don’t watch enough surf videos! I have a few- I love the Moonshine Conspiracy ones. Then I have a few that someone once defined as surf porn. Those are the ones wherein this 40 something has to mute the sound track, put it in slow mo and put on some slack key guitar in order to watch. Wave after wave, tube after outrageous tube, sick airs, but sorry, I can’t tell who most of them are.

Onuela, I’ll have to track down a video with Joel Parkinson. From how you describe it his style much be a pleasure to watch. I would same the same thing about CJ Hobgood. It took me a long time to figure out who he was in “Brokedown Melody.” I think he’s the one. Doing some pure turns. Or maybe it was Damien.

Lopez bottom turn at pipe

Curren Probably the most influetial surfer ever and defined modern performance surfing. In his prime the most exciting surfer to watch flawless style and balance

Dane Kealoha at backdoor on a twin fin

Occy at J bay or Bells


This ties in with something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, after watching a few free surf DVDs that came with magazines I’ve bought lately. Many of the modern pros have a style that is built, I think, around the “business” mentality of surfing, which equals-drop in, big move, build up speed, big move, build up speed, big move, and on until infinity or a section comes down, which means it’s time to do an air. This style of surfing comes, I think, from getting the shot for the photo piece or scoring the points for winning the heat. The big moves are incredible, but they tend to remove the element of flow from many surfer’s styles. Curren has an amazing flow while pulling off huge moves, as does Derek Hynd. Most of the new generation pros only seem to really flow while they’re in the barrel, when the wave is dictating what they have to do to make the section.

Good thread . . . currently I’m seeking . . .

style once determined from f-stop light bites

in early publications were misleading.

a generation of participants

spoon fed on how good he was

and who was he

the great P.E.

the movies scrutinized

by the acidicly critical eye

expecting perfection

came up with performance by mere mortal

on great waves.

the occasional jerky head bob

twitchy hand stuff …

drove the unsung young heros to higher

polishing of the craft.

the days of wine passed on to the days of LSD 25

and who was smoother?

the days of methadrine

the days of cocaine

the days of coffee

the days of ephedra

the days of jolt kola

the days of bud sponsored

in exactatude

the days of hang overs

the substance of choice

clouding the style

crowding the style

the eye of the beholder is not

beyond reproach.

the home town boy

his stylistic evolutions

watched by the appreciative eye of the collective parent

culture from poce to kirra

from carp to sharks

from gremmie to natzi

from grommet to oscar nominee

did you see that air?

waves that last

1-10 seconds long

scrutiny at 1/4 speed

makes the smoothe smoother

nuance in real time speed

unseen,is now open to doctoral disertation.

style a jaunty tilt of a sinatra hat,

a page in a Vogue magazine

a price tag on a

pitch to sell a , line of stuff

… ambrose…

I bought the book from Tro Harpers bookstore

I bought the best surfer in the world

I didn’t buy the model

I didn’t buy the boat

I didnt buy the skiff

I never surfed with the guy

I never saw him surf

funny how he influenced my surfing and life - outlook

hear say and inuendo not admissable in court but

a building block of my style

I wanted to be smoothe

till I wanted to be radical

then I wanted to be fast

the now is a want to be there

how close do you have to look to see mat style?

i’m looking closer every day

bless the fool

that dont think

my shantung

pork pie hat

…aint kool…

aint he never heard of …lester young?

I just googled lester young

It took me twenty pages before i could verify my

connection of Mr. Young and

my facination for the porkpie hat.

damn an I thought he played the trumpet

am I ever a kuk.

but I got the pictures of

Phil Edwards

right here by my side

at he computer.

surfer magazine is at the bottom right

in tiny print.

I dont read surfer anymore

maybe I’d like,like be bustin aires

or sqwatin turns an trims

maybe I need to study more

Lester Young

he may have a distinct influence on my mat style

he died in 1959


typing to the beat

and nothing playing

but the wind

To the media and to the crowd, yes, it’s propably correct. Modern style vs. old style, style will still be the point.

To me it’s all about fun. If it’s not fun anymore, I’ll quit.



Style, really, is the whole point of surfing

TOTALLY DISAGREE!!! Sounds like mag rag chatter. Gotta print something.

If there are no people or cameras around to watch my surfing I’d still get the same feeling…

Style matters b/c of the judgement of others…I guess that’s part of life…

But, the whole point of surfing is the FEELING you get while riding a wave…

if my surfing style is kooky, but Im getting that feeling, then I’ve been successfull…so while I may get the feeling, others are thinking “what a kook”…who’s being negative?

I am a firm believer of style…my style is not kooky…I think.

Curren…still the modern master.

I’m with Meecrafty. “Style” means there’s an audience. I just want to feel good.


I was enjoying your style,yesterday. You have the same size and build of a friend of mine. We learned to surf together and you both have the same “body language.” It was pretty cool. You reminded me of Danny. Big smile and stoked to be surfin. Great getting in a surf with you. There is always an audience. Sometimes it’s just the gulls, otters, or… Mike

Style (stil)


  1. The way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed: a style of speech and writing.

  2. The combination of distinctive features of literary or artistic expression, execution, or performance characterizing a particular person, group, school, or era.

  3. Sort; type: a style of furniture.

  4. A quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one’s actions and tastes: does things with style.

I kinda figure that style just IS, that everyone just has their own, something personal.

But, then again, as most people here are using the word like definition # 4. You could say that some have more ‘style’ than others and that maybe it is based on an audience, or perhaps it is as with most things in the world; especially artistic ones; that it is the impression that each of us gets out of/from something that we then form our opinions of it’s style from.

And basically yeah, it is about the fun for me too.


Style will always be around but the number of people with a beautiful flowing graceful style will probably shrink. Stiffness and doing moves that don’t flow with the wave but rather against it I feel is less appealing to the eye.

Modern boards have made the pose less important and the move more important.