Birdwell Blog

The Cheater Five by Paul Strauch
Dazzling Blue #64

There’s the man behind the move, and then there’s the move itself. Paul Strauch learned to surf at Waikiki Beach in the late ‘40s. His grace, flow, and epic style translated beautifully to the big waves of the North Shore. He liked to hook hard off the bottom. He liked to go fast. He found himself tucking low, reaching forward. Unwittingly, Strauch developed what would become known as the Cheater Five—a low crouch in the trim line, a front foot on the nose.

     Curious about the genesis of the move—it’s not quite a “maneuver,” and I resist calling it a “trick”—I asked Strauch how it came about.

     “It all started at Haleiwa around ’59, ’60, ‘61,” he told me. “When the waves got bigger you could takeoff and let the line build up in front of you. You’d go down, make a bottom turn, and travel about three-quarters of the way up the wave and as you’d redirect down the wave and down the line you could move up and it would increase your speed. So it was really designed to increase trim speed, and it worked well for that purpose.”

     Was there a particular session—or better yet, particular wave—when the Cheater Five all came together?

     “There was a day at Haleiwa when it was about 10-12 feet with a perfect swell direction,” said Strauch. “It was just a perfect line, like a really giant Malibu wave. I’d actually caught three waves that day, all in the 10-12 foot range. Coming over from the center of the bay, taking off, going straight down, making a bottom turn, and then trying to come off the bottom really hard, because the bottom turn was also a stalling maneuver. You could let the wave build up in front of you, get all of your momentum and speed going straight down, and then shove the board on, get on the inside rail on the tail, and just put all your weight on that inside edge as you’d come around, and then move up real quickly, so you’d actually gain speed and create a trim line and use all that momentum to increase your drive across the wave. So that’s where it came from—surfing in a little bigger waves, trying to employ more of a small wave maneuver that was all for trimming purposes.” 

     In the early 20th century the writer Jack London called surfing “a royal sport for the natural kings of earth.” The Cheater Five is a beautiful embodiment of this. It’s stately and stylish, but not too show-offy. When I asked Strauch how it feels to see the move he pioneered over fifty years ago still in full force today he responded humbly. “It’s really cool. I don’t take any personal credit for it, but it’s cool to see their faces light up. They get up there and they’re low to the ground and they’ve got one foot up on the tip of the nose and that’s what it’s all about—maximizing your excitement in surfing.”

 

We’re excited to provide a sneak peek to our collaboration with Paul. Click here to learn more.

← Older Post Newer Post →