Twin Fins take over the WSL
As the day draws to its end we are anchored off a populated island where the water is an alluring jade green. On the palm-fringed shore kids toss a ball in the shallows while another rides a bike adjacent to a long, mauve coloured wall. Many of the Maldivian dwellings feature simple aesthetic designs and bold, pastel colourings that are pleasing to the eye. As I try to imagine what life might be like on the equatorial island, the evening Muslim prayer punctures the softly lit dusk air. Truth be told there is something soothing in the melancholy warblings after a day of high volume Spotify, but the speaker-sounded prayer serves as an immediate pointer to an existence that is far removed from the one we know.
Inside the crew is under the spell of a different kind of hooter system – J-Bay is on. We’ve managed to secure a reliable connection and unlike the strict Muslims who occupy the nearby island, we’re relishing the rum and beer with the webcast. It’s been on all afternoon, live in the Maldives thanks to a rapidly depleting local sim card, an iPhone hotspot and a USB cable. At one moment earlier in the day I’d looked out of the boat window and spied Matt Meola and Chippa Wilson hucking turns on a crumbling, onshore left. Then I’d looked up at the screen and seen Ethan Ewing nailing a nine-plus ride on an offshore-brushed J-Bay grinder. It was as if surfing’s two universes were simultaneously pulling at me – twin fin dabbling, aerial focused free surfers on one side, jersey clad contest heroes on the other. Bamboozled about which action to watch, I’d done the sensible thing and gone surfing.
Back in the cabin, the crew are critiquing everything from the surfing action to the commentary. Medina scores a good wave but then loses major points from our peanut
gallery for an outlandish claim. In fact anyone who claims is treated with vocal derision by this band of freesurfers. “Should only ever claim when it’s an uncontrollable response,” suggests Matt Meola sagely. It’s interesting how engaged the crew is by the contest action, however as we watch flawless lines and down the drinks there is general consensus that we’d all love to see Asher Pacey taking on the CT in pumping J-Bay, whilst riding one of his twins.
As if the WCT has scripted the entertainment to perfectly complement our trip, they’ve scheduled a twin fin heat to be held at the end of round one. Tyler is more excited than anybody else about the concept heat and starts ringing the ship’s dinner bell to let everyone know it’s about to start. When the WSL’s Facebook feed of the heat initially malfunctions he’s livid; like a kid who’s been waiting to watch their favourite TV show only to have the aerial go out right at the start.
Eventually the feed kicks in, by which time Tyler is several beers deep and determined to absorb every minute of the action. They’re showcasing a style of surfing he’s dedicated his life to, both in the water and the shaping bay, and be dammed if he’s not going to enjoy this episode of WSL . As it transpires Tyler’s at his comedic best. When Seabass links a series of flowing turns and ducks into a barrel, Tyler screams, “Why don’t you ride it in your regular heat, you surf way better,” and then chuckles at his own twin
fin fascism. When Joe Turpel calls it ‘retro’ equipment Tyler erupts, “What do you mean retro? It was made last week Joe!” Tyler boos Jordy for his faux, ill-timed soul arches while Californian, Connor Coffin is wildly celebrated for an approach that combines traditional lines with contemporary flair. When Connor lays down a fully committed grab rail carve, Tyler can’t stop talking about it.
Tyler’s slightly self-mocking, twin fin rants have everyone cracking up, but beneath the comedy show, his passion for seeing waves ridden with a smoother, less broken approach is apparent. “Look, there’s no bumps or hops in between,” he bellows as a WCT surfer glides down the line at J-Bay.
The next day Tyler tells us he was still bubbling over when the rest of us went to bed so he messaged Connor Coffin to tell him he was stoked with how he surfed in the twin fin heat. For Tyler Warren, twin fins are serious fun.
Wouldn’t you love to see Asher Pacey, on his twinny, in a WCT at Snapper or J-Bay? Bring on the wildcard.