Australian Surfing Awards | Surf Photo of the Year | Top 20 Finalist
Photo // Mark Onorati
“I’ve been surfing single-fins exclusively for years now. Five, six, seven years maybe? It started with me surfing a couple of my old man’s boards out of curiosity. I was really enjoying the mental battle with the technique required to ride them, a greater focus on functional style rather than full performance. I got TF back into the shaping bay and the first couple of single-fins he shaped me were unbelievable. And once I got onto Terry’s boards all these people started crossing my path, guys who were surfing these TF originals. People were coming out of the woodwork with boards they’d found under houses or at the back of surf shops; winged pins and Drifters and Slingshots. All these people and boards were coming into my life, and we’d surf together and swap boards, and it became like this little fringe cult. I was so into it, that by the time I realised what was going on a couple of years had gone past without me surfing a thruster. I was just surfing my way through all these different boards, and by that stage I was too far gone. I was done with thrusters, done and dusted. I haven’t ridden one since and I don’t miss them. Nah, not at all.
“By this stage my style had completely adjusted to fuller rails and flatter rockers and single-fin drive, rather than the squirtier performance you get from a thruster. The soul arch? Yes, granted, the soul arch has been a part of the Kye Fitzgerald repertoire long before I gave up thrusters, but on this wave it came naturally. It’s pure function here, not for show. I swung into that wave late and had a lot of speed at the bottom of the wave, and I used the soul arch to really project myself down the line into the barrel. The soul arch is a functional part of single-fin surfing; projecting yourself forward to generate speed. I just didn’t know at the time that the soul arch here was so exaggerated, the form through my body. When I saw the photo I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m really laying that soul arch out.’ I was just utilising a bit of body torque which I inherited from Big T. I’ve got a very similar body shape to TF when he was at his fighting weight, and ever since I was young he was always teaching me about using your hips and your body weight to generate momentum.
“It’s funny; it’s not the difference single-fins have made to my surfing so much, it’s the difference they’ve made to my perspective of surfing. It’s become a lot more esoteric than what it used to be, it’s become so much more about getting out there and not ripping the shit out of a wave. It’s now more about tapping into the energy of the wave and of the ocean. The simplicity of these boards allows that to happen. I’ve embraced a single fin culture and I’m beginning to understand a little bit more about what guys got out of surfing these boards in the seventies. They’ve changed why I surf as much as how I surf.
“But everyone goes through changes in their surfing careers, don’t you reckon? Just like you go through changes in your life. Sometimes they happen together. You surf thrusters as a kid, and you see Kelly and Occy and you want to be those guys, push your performance surfing. But then you come out the other end and you mature and you have different perspectives on life, and it just so happened that my single-fin surfing came along at a time when I was making that transition and it was perfect for me. When you think about the history with my old man, it’s an obvious natural path for me to take, and that’s why it’s happened very organically.”
– Kye Fitzgerald