Five Guys To Watch In 2019
How do you measure the worth of a surfer? Is it a factor of the product that their image helps sell? Or do you go by the shapes that they test pilot, QS ranking, or Instagram count? Could it be something else?
If you’re here reading this it’s because you hate to be on the bandwagon and don’t believe the hype until you’ve seen it for yourself. The very idea of this list rings as media bias in your heart and we agree. These are the people we want you to pay attention to. No, not in the spirit of favoritism or who we think is a safe bet to qualify in Hawaii this winter, these are the youth whose surfing we think is genius. A dance that you’ll find to be a muse.
Nobody wants to be part of the generation that misses out on brilliance. That leaves its brightest talents to toil away with the wolves at professions lacking self expression. That reality is what determines the worth of a surfer. We give them contracts to justify how badly we would feel if they were stuck punching the clock like the rest of us sad souls.
May these young men never know a “real” job in their life.
5) Oscar Langburne
Oscar Langburne is the only adolescent on Dane Reynold’s and Craig Anderson’s baby, Former. Kid’s got major fucking street cred with that sticker and the sleds he slaps them on would make anyone with a surfboard addiction drool.
His ‘gram is a glorious feed of singles, twins, and thrusters shaped by Hayden. His pint-sized pocket-rockets are then adorned with celebrities’ faces blown-up on the bottom and covered in a war paint spray in his own hand. From the lines he draws to his weapons of choice it seems that Oscar’s going in the same direction as fellow Oscar in Ozzie Wright. More punk rock than contest pundit.
We’re genuinely worried about a world without free surfers. We fear a day that the soul of surfing hangs from a noose made of contest jerseys. But as long as we have youth on our side and rippers like Oscar Langburne to appeal to the heart of what makes surfing so romantic and cool, we’ll be fine.
Photo: John Respondek
4) Finn McGill
We’re partial here at What Youth to anyone that can fly on both fiberglass and maple. Which is why we took Finn McGill to Waco, Texas to prove what he’s capable of above the lip. What Youth Content Director, Tom Carey, has been singing Finn’s praises for years – that he can stand out in any lineup or skatepark.
Finn’s wildcard entry into the Pipe Masters gained him a following but we think his exploits in WY issue 21 will make him your new favorite freak.
Photo: Tom Carey
3) Simon Hetrick
We talk to a lot of people here at What Youth. Most interviews blur together in a collective theme of stoke and gratefulness for the life we’re all living. Sometimes it’s almost tiresome or cliche in a subculture of passionate people to exude passion. Simon Hetrick is a bright light on a sunny day.
Simon came with us to mainland Mexico this year in what was his first-ever trip for a surf mag. “He was so green,” said Tom Carey, “ after years of traveling with the same guys all the time it was honestly so refreshing.” So were the lines that Simon drew on the playful points we came across. He always had a smile on his face and something nice to say. A colorful observation that always seemed to be on the bright side of things. He’s a kid living his dream and doesn’t take it for granted.
Photo: Tom Carey
2) Jack Robinson
A household name by his early teens, Jack Robinson seems like old news to the most of you. A phenom seen coming from a long ways off. He’s more mature now and has a gorgeous gal by his side by the name of Julia Muniz, but he’s still the same Jack. He’s not sporting the bowl cut of his wonder-boy years, but he’s still the tube hound and air-wind devil that you wish you could surf like.
His victory at the 2018 Rip Curl Cup on the electric-blue racetracks of Padang Padang was a thing of beauty as today’s competition often seems to castrate creative mastery in the name of well-roundedness. We hope that Jack doesn’t burden his surfing with the weight of world championships, but remains a tube specialist that chases the slabs and freight trains that only he can make look easy.
Photo: John Respondek
1) Eli Hanneman
Surf mags don’t like to pay homage to one another but it’s hard not to talk about Eli Hanneman and mention what he did at Stab High. In the chlorinated canvas that is the Barefoot Ski Resort, the kid did corked-out backflips and backside full rotations like they were cutbacks. The commentators were quick to point out that his size gave him an advantage in wave pools with their tight transitions. By the end of the comp, the judges had to give Noa Deane the $20,000 just for being bigger.
Eli proved when it comes to consistency in surfing above the lip, he’s in the same conversation with Kolohe, Griffin and Felipe. The only thing keeping Eli away from a world title at 15 is his stature. He’s going to get his growth-spurt in 2019 and we’re forecasting that boost in height and strength will be just what Eli needs to prove he’s going to be the challenger to John Florence’s dynasty.
Photo: Pete Frieden