This year's Olivia Newton-John is Owen Wright.
So far in 2009, Wright has won nearly every Pro Junior he's entered, beat Dane and Kelly at Bells, and now Simple Owen leads the WQS ratings after winning the Maldives event.
According to the
Event sponsors have already shortened that mouthful to "best final in ASP history." PostSurf officials are simply stating "That Hansel is SO hot right now."
Wright won the event by performing albatross reverses and giraffe-like section-clearing airs. The kid was hopping around like an albino kangaroo with an eating disorder.
Like Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds, Owen Wright is an imposing vertical presence. Perhaps the "Ewoks on Endor" era of 80s surfing is truly over - just don't tell that to Jeremy Flores and Adriano de Souza.
Does this new brand of Post-Momentum aerial surfing demand a new physique? Are taller surfers uniquely able to coil and unwind, creating spring and leverage in a manner necessary for certain newest-school moves?
Predictably, I asked Kelly Slater about this awhile back, and Kelly was fairly diplomatic in his response, perhaps because he's an average-sized man compared to the new breed.
"Well, yeah, if you look at it, Jeremy for instance, he doesn’t have the same amount of strength that Dane has. He’s much smaller and lighter," Kelly told me.
"Dane seems to… sometimes he can look like his stance is a little bit too wide, but part of the function of what he does, on the same size wave he just looks so much more powerful than the next guy cause he puts all that weight in…. that wide stance lowers his center of gravity, he can be low, and then when he stretches out he can project that. He’s like a slinky or something. He can get down real small, load his board with that stance, and he can extend himself. That’s why he can get so much air. Jordy too. He does huge airs. But it’s not just that, though. Theoretically a lighter guy could get more air, but it’s about how you use all the different parts, everyone has to use what they have, your height, your weight. All those different things go into a maneuver."
Debate aside, Owen Wright will almost certainly be on the World Tour next year. He can punt, pull-in, and plow tail with the best of them. But his power surfing is not yet on par with Jordy or Dane.
And that, my friends, is a whole different issue.