There’s a Gawd-Awful Goofy Dilemma in HawaiiNov 22, 2016
It's an alarming statistic for those who surf with their right foot forward; Since 2000 there has only been one goofyfooter who has won a Triple Crown event in Hawaii. That is a return of just one win in 48 events since the turn of the millennium; it came in 2008, when CJ Hobgood clinched the World Cup at perfect Sunset.
CJ Hobgood was the last goofyfooter to win in Hawaii. Photo: WSL / Masurel
It begs the question whether Hawaii is a particularly difficult place to surf as a goofyfooter. If we start at Haleiwa, the evidence suggests it is. While the wave does offer tube sections, most of the big points are generated on the huge open face walls. This, in theory, should provide a fairly even playground for goofy and naturalfooters. Yet since 1985, only two backsiders, Conan Hayes in 1999, and Barton Lynch in 1985, have won there.
While it is generally thought that goofyfooters represent a minority in the wider surfing population, it's a fair bet to say that two wins out of 30 means that they have been woefully underrepresented at Haleiwa. John John Florence continued that trend this year, although Marc Lacomare's third place was the closest a goofy has come to victory in a while.
The story at Sunset is similar, but somewhat expected. Sunset is universally known as very difficult backside wave. The Inside Bowl, the tubing section of the wave that often generates the big points, often has a series of steps that make navigating the tube on your backhand very difficult. In the 40-year history of the Vans World Cup of Surfing, there have only been three goofy winners. Apart from CJ's win, Michael Rommelse won there in 1997 on the way to a Triple Crown victory, while Tom Carroll, considered the best goofy ever at Sunset, won it twice in 1988 and 1982.
Local Koa Smith negotiates the tricky lineup at Sunset. Photo: WSL / Heff
That just leaves the Pipeline Masters, the one venue where you'd think being on your forehand would be a distinct advantage. And in the early days it was. Throughout the 1970s Gerry Lopez, Rory Russell and Larry Blair claimed six titles among them. In the 1980s Tom Carroll, Occy, Derek Ho and Rob Page continued the trend. However after Derek Ho posted his second win in 1993, only one goofy, Rob Machado in 2000, has worn the illustrious Pipe Masters trophy on his head. We can look to the growing role of Backdoor and the domination of the event by Kelly Slater and Andy Irons as reasons for that but still, one victory in 23 years is a dismal return for what is considered the world's best left tube.
Will the goofyfooters ever fight back? Or will Hawaii continue to be a burial ground for the hopes and dreams of those that surf with their right foot forward?