The rented mule. The redheaded stepchild. The weeping bridesmaid. When you win the ASP World Longboard Championship, you get to pick one of those nicknames from a hat when you grab your trophy and check.
With less media coverage and subsequent name recognition than even the perpetually short-sheeted females, the longboard crew is used to wallowing in anonymity. Here's a quick list of past champs. If you can tell us anything about them, we'll cop to the above thesis being a keg of crap: Stuart Entwistle. Josh Constable. Dino Miranda. Skilled surfers all, and all capable of flashes of straight-up brilliance. And to a man, virtually unrecognized outside their respective neighborhood corner shops.
By 2002, professional longboard surfing had become a closed system, with most competitive longboarders held in thinly cloaked derision by the Cool School: surfers like Alex Knost, Robin Kegel, and the Marshall Brothers. Noseriding patriarch Joel Tudor, in particular, was a vocal proponent of a style of surfing he despised, yet was, he feels, pushed as the preferred mode by ASP judges. "Knee leashes, multi-fins, flicky surfing ... just the worst," he said at the time. Since then, longboarding has retreated to where it's most comfortable -- off the radar, quietly styling.
Which brings us to 2010 world champ Harley Ingleby, who finds himself a world-beater in a vacuum jar. A shame, according to Tudor.
"Of all of the past world champs -- me, Bonga Perkins, Beau Young -- Harley is a fine longboarder, and far and away the best straight-up shortboarder of our group. The rest of us are versatile, sure, but Harley is on another level. He does airs, surfs super fast, and looks good doing it."
Fair praise from the man considered the best longboard surfer of all time. Spare a few minutes for this.