The best of The Momentum Files so far.
Just under a month ago Tracks reported that Taylor Steele was releasing much of his back catalogue for free on YouTube. Since then 90s surf’s most influential auteur has been uploading clips daily, and for many, the walk down memory lane has been blissful. Personally, I’ve been spending more time reacquainting myself with some of yesteryear’s most iconic sections than I have been keeping up with who’s dropping what right now. Something about the styles, the boards, the editing and of course the blueprint it left on my once sponge-like brain, makes me keen to surf in a way little else does these days. And even if you’re not a nostalgia fiend like myself and seemingly everyone else who’s left comments below the clips, they’re interesting from an evolutionary standpoint in performance surfing. To see what we’ve gained and what we’ve left behind.
Below are five of the best of what Taylor’s dropped so far, and with the man only halfway through Good Times, there’s plenty more to come.
Rob Machado in Focus
Long before the flowing locks and signature twin-fins, Machado was arguably the fastest, most stylish surfer of his generation and the only member of the Momentum crew capable of challenging Kelly for a world title. This clip, perhaps more than any other in the catalogue (so far), shows just how smooth and skilled an operator he was on a paper-thin 6’1. Check the spray off each of his turns to see how precise and deceptively powerful the afro-headed featherweight was. Also, the guy was a bit of a weapon on the basketball court.
Taylor Knox in Momentum II
To the generation of surfers growing up underneath the Momentum crew, Taylor Knox was the epitome of good surfing. He was namechecked as an influence by everyone from Phil Macca to Mick Fanning, and it’s easy to see why here. Speed, power, flow—before they were overused terms used by Martin Potter on the WSL broadcast, they were meaningful words that perfectly described the way Taylor surfed a wave. How’s the signature carve at 1:45? And those beautiful backhand combos that make floaters look like the most functional finishing move ever. Add in the epic sound of early Offspring and it’s got to be one of the best pre-surf psych-up sections of all time.
Shane Dorian in Good Times
I’d forgotten how much I liked Dorian’s surfing until I watched this clip. As crazy as all that charging he does these days is, it fails to showcase the nuances of his style that made him such a favourite through the 90s and early 00s. Among a group of surfers that were all so smooth and clean, there’s something raw and radical about his approach that instantly stands out. No wonder Taj was such a fan. Maybe we also get a glimpse into his future as a hunter and woodsman here with the cow stand-off and goat wrangling? Maybe…
Tim Curran in Good Times
How good was Tim Curran? His time in surfing’s limelight was way too short but what he was doing in the 90s was seminal for the surfing we see today. Alley-oops, air-reverses and big lofted straight punts at a time when getting a foot above the lip was considered progressive. Unlike many exponents of aerials in that era, he was the complete package, too. Fast, stylish and ultra-competitive, he pushed Occy to his world title in ’99. Some highlights here: the backhand cutty into 360 and the bomb he packs at Pipe at the end.
Kelly Slater in Momentum
Kelly Slater with hair—has anyone ever looked better on a surfboard? The guy couldn’t box for shit, as bodyboarder Jeff Booth proved at the beginning of the section, but man could he surf. Released the same year he won his first world title, it’s clear from these three minutes of footage he was already a cut above the rest. How’s his ease at Pipe and Backdoor? A twenty-year-old from Florida? Mind-boggling. And the Bad Religion tune. And the full-blooded rail-turn at 1:06. And the backhand floater straight after it. And the pin-striped Merrick/Quikky sticker combo.