Snapt4: Clay Marzo’s Surfing is on a Different Level
Table of Contents
Logan Dulien’s New Release, Snapt4
I have to say, the new surf film Snapt4 impressed me in many ways. Watching it feels like a throwback to the Momentum generation of surf films, with a bit of …Lost thrown in the mix for good measure. Clay Marzo’s section in particular had me pressing rewind over and over again.
The number of online surf edits that drop on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Pro surfing is at a stage where content is key. Surfers must maintain a consistent roll of footage to remain relevant in these cut-throat times where attention spans seem to be around 30 seconds.
Logan Dulien has released his latest offering Snapt4 and appears to have crossed significant boundaries. Not only does the hour long film appeal to the generation of surfers who are used to seeing multiple clips of their favourite surfers on a daily basis, it also placates the grumblings of those who spent their youth waiting patiently for the next DVD release.
Despite following a tried and tested formula for this project, Dulien has seemingly blown away virtually every non-documentary surf film of the past decade.
It’s been a while since we heard Rage Against The Machine on a surf soundtrack (I’m going out on a limb here and saying Hawaii-93, feel free to correct me in the comments). I don’t know if I can recall another surf film featuring ACDC, Metallica, Guns n Roses, and Jimi Hendrix…
Logan Dulien has cleverly paid homage to the old school VHS/DVD days of performance surfing. He’s applied a modern take to the well-established section-based format. The surfers rip the waves to pieces for 2-3 minutes, with each performance set to a unique music track.
However, Snapt4 is not just a surfing film; it’s a surfing contest of sorts.
A Surf Film and a Surf Contest?
Snapt4 stars Mason Ho, Jack Robinson, Clay Marzo, Seth, and Josh Moniz, Zeke Lau, Barron Mamiya, Parker Coffin, Benji Brand, Ian Crane, Eithan Osborne, Carlos Muñoz, Sheldon Paishon, and several others. As with surf movies of old, serious bragging rights are at stake for the most impressive segment. However, Dulien has taken that one step further by offering significant prize money for the best performance by a surfer.
Judged by a Panel of Legends
Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, and Bobby Martinez have all starred in previous Snapt films since their inception in the early 2000s. These legends of the sport make up the panel of judges tasked with awarding the prizes. First place will take home a staggering $50,000, while Fourth place is rewarded with $10,000. There’s $10k on offer for the best barrel, as well as prize money for the “monster maneuver.”
The results will be announced during the Haleiwa WSL contest period (November 26th-December 7th). The one-month viewing period enables the judges to truly break down each surfer’s submission and judge their performances accordingly. It will be fascinating to see how they award the prizes.
Clay Marzo has been one of the best surfers in the world for the past decade and a half. Clays surfing burst onto the scene because he was featured in the groundbreaking surf film Young Guns 2 in 2005. His performance prompted trip leader and mentor Kelly Slater to say:
He knows things I don’t know about surfing.
A couple of years later, Andy Iron’s called Marzo:
The best 18-year-old surfer in the world.
Along with the admiration of both his peers and surf fans worldwide came a darker undertone. Clay had appeared incredibly shy since entering the public eye. He was considered socially awkward during occasions involving groups of people. Contest performances were stunted, with the Maui surfer posting mind-blowing scores, only to appear uninterested and underwhelmed in the very next heat.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome
Clay Marzo is one of around 37 million people who live with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. Clays condition makes it virtually impossible for him to read facial expressions or social cues, rendering many requirements of a professional surfer far out of his comfort zone. Interviews, guest appearances, autograph signings, parties, group dinners, and even prize-giving ceremonies can be accompanied by emotional and physical symptoms of distress.
As a result, certain sponsors neglected to renew Clay’s contracts following his extremely bold statement regarding his situation. He was shunned by a portion of the surf industry as too strange to support. It is a brutal reminder that surfing is also big business despite its easygoing exterior.
Clay Marzo could have been a bright but short-burning flame, extinguished by his neurodevelopmental condition and the demands of the business side of the sport he loved. His pure love for, and dedication to surfing ensured that Clay defied the odds.
The Definition of Phenomenon
Clay Marzo is a true phenomenon. As much as he feels disjointed and awkward on land, Clay experiences a unique sense of freedom and connection in the ocean. He can “feel” surfing like few surfers throughout history. His approach is fluid and smooth but redefines radical.
The role of a free surfer was made for him. The artist that is Clay Marzo paints his unique, freeform, expressionist pictures all over the canvas that Maui provides.
At the age of 32, Clay Marzo’s surfing, in my opinion, is on a different level from everyone else.
There is no better example than his section in Snapt4.
I remember seeing Kelly Slater surfing at Snapper a decade or so ago. His turns were so critical and positioned in such steep parts of the wave that he was beyond vertical, almost upside down at times. Nobody else was turning like that. Kelly, for me, redefined surfing with his innovation and dedication.
I have fleetingly experienced a similar sensation watching John-John, Medina, and Italo. But it was only watching Snapt4 that I felt that I had witnessed something truly groundbreaking.
Following probably my tenth viewing of Marzo’s section, I asked a pro surfer friend to watch it with me. I was fascinated to hear an athlete’s opinion who dedicates his life to training for QS surfing contests. Someone who receives surf coaching every week in the pursuit of technical excellence.
After the second time around, following numerous exclamations of “WHAT” and “WHOA,” we had a chat about it.
He quite openly said that he wasn’t sure if he loved it or hated it, but it had blown his mind. It was confusing for him because a lot of what Clay does and how he does it is diametrically opposed to his understanding of surfing techniques. He couldn’t comprehend how Marzo uses his surfboard differently, adjusts his stance, and attacks unique parts of the wave. There are turns where he rides out in almost a parallel stance, in the middle of his board, and flawlessly readjusts to set up the next explosion of power and style.
My friend summed it up beautifully with the statement.
“He’s doing things on the wave that we used to only see when surfers pushed too hard, made a mistake, and regathered themselves. But he’s doing it as part of his repertoire. It’s ridiculous!”
We came to an agreement that the apparent truth is that Clay Marzo owns his surfing! It’s like he has taken traditional surfing, given it an honourable nod of respect, then added a whole new element.
There have been few athletes in history who have genuinely owned their technique. Dick Fosbury in high jumping, Moe Norman in Golf, and, in my humble opinion, Clay Marzo in surfing.
Just Add Water
You can find a copy of the incredibly insightful book featuring Clay Marzo “Just Add Water, A Surfing Savants Journey with Aspergers” here.
Raising Awareness of Aspergers
The Autism Society provide a wealth of resources regarding characteristics, diagnoses, and living with Aspergers.
The AANE are a fantastic charity who provide individuals, families, and professionals with information, education, community, support, and advocacy. These guys work tirelessly to ensure that those who experience, or are suspected of experiencing Aspergers are provided with a support platform that can change their lives for the better.