Truth be told, it never really went anywhere.
Beginning with one of Hawaii’s most progressive surfers ever, the late Buttons Kaluhiokalani, pulling them at will, the “Three” has long been seen as something of a “throw-away” move.
Uncle Buttons had it on lock beginning way back in the late ’70s – albeit the slip-slide version on occasion – and in doing so inspired a generation of young surfers to follow suit. The Aipa Sting, and then the modern Twin shortly thereafter, were perfectly suited for taking a surfboard to new places, and nobody did that better than Buttons.
Fast forward a few years and the Thruster all but killed the Three with the back foot, power heavy approach those boards tended to encourage. But it was always still there as an end of wave flourish, an exclamation point to a great ride, even an exultation of sorts, etc., but not a lot of makes in those early days.
Jump ahead again to today’s above the lip surfing and its front foot weighting and the 360 has once again become a legit move, with the boys actually pulling them off with flow. Kelly really got it started but soon Dane and others were throwing them around on a pretty regular basis.
And making them.
Kerzy, Mason, and a few others are also now throwing different variations almost at will but with a functionality and creativity Buttons would be proud of.
Interestingly, the move doesn’t get much credit in the eyes of most competitive judging formats these days. As if a bunch of middle-aged guys with clipboards have any clue as to what should be scored and what shouldn’t be based on difficulty. To that point, Kelly has been notoriously underscored on even some of the full carve versions he’s pulled in WSL events over the years.
Like some weak ass air-rev is somehow harder to perform.
A couple of weeks ago Kelly and Torrey Meister shared wave a Lowers where both pulled legit Threes on the same wave and consequently set the Internet on fire. Both were functional and fully committed and highlighted just how dynamic a well placed a carving 360 can be.
But again, how do you judge things you’ve never done yourself?
So let’s recap. The world’s best surfers dig um, us fans dig um, but because a tiny group of surfers of average surf ability say they don’t like um, a legit 360 will simply not be scored.
We say fuck that. Bring back the Three!