A few years ago I stayed with my friend Derek Hynd at his home near Byron Bay. A former top 10-ranked pro, Derek was several years into his FFFFing (aka Far Field Free Friction), which is the term he’s coined for finless surfing. In YouTube clips that were making the rounds at that time, Derek slip-slides all over the place, sometimes riding backwards for a spell, often twirling 360s. On one hand it was completely childlike, an eight-year-old sliding down a sand hill on an inner tube. On the other it was laden with big metaphor: life is out of control; want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. That stuff seemed to have permeated his terrestrial life as well. He oozed levity. There was a certain glint in his eye. Derek was in his late 50s, but the style of surfing he was doing seemed to be de-aging him.
I wanted in. Derek hooked me up with a board that he’d shaped, an eleven-six FFFF with grooves and channels in the tail to give just a tiny bit of grab. In rolling, Wakiki-like right combers at The Pass, I sideslipped, rode backwards, managed a couple 360s, and traveled at speeds that were incommensurate with the small waves. It was ridiculously fun. And the feeling stayed with me. Weeks later, I’d be rounding a curve in my car and suddenly my stomach would go into an FFFF drift, a kind of phantom sideslip syndrome.
Since then I’ve followed Derek closely. And it was through his Instagram feed, @farfieldfreefriction, that I discovered @jordanrodin.
25 years old, hailing from Yanchep, Western Australia, Jordan found his way to FFFFery by chance.
“A couple of years ago I did my knee in doing an air reverse, so I was kind of out of it, I rode a single fin to rehab on,” he told me via phone. “And so I forgot the fin one day, and the waves were really good, and I’d drove so far to get there, so I thought, ‘I’m just going to go out anyway.’ And every wave I pretty much ate shit, but on the last wave I kind of got edge, and rode the wave for about 20 meters, and I was like, ‘Whoa, that was pretty sweet.’ And so the next surf I tried to go like 50 meters. And by the end of the week I was riding all the way to the beach. So that planted the seed.”
Yanchep is a long way from Australia’s surfing epicenters, and Jordan had no idea that finless surfing was a thing. He googled “finless surfing” and found, as he put it, “this guy called Derek.”
I asked Jordan what he likes most about riding finless.
“The speed and unpredictability of what’s going to happen,” he told me. “Around Perth the waves aren’t very good so it makes a real bad surf into a real fun surf.”
We talked about what finless converts know: that three seconds of FFFF joy is equivalent to, maybe even better than, 30 seconds of fin-ful riding.
“There’s a lot of thinking time on the wave, even though you’re going so fast and it’s real sporadic,” said Jordan. “But you find yourself thinking a lot more.”
I told him about my phantom FFFF slide experience. He laughed.
“That’s how Derek explained it to me. Watching Formula One racing, and how he saw the car slide and drift and actually pick up speed and then re-control it.”
Jordan told me that he wants to go to J-Bay. He’d recently spent a couple of weeks there, and he loved the wave, the long rides, the way you can really deep dive into that slip-sliding groove.
“I’ve been completely finless for two years,” he said. “But I’ve been riding finless for three years. The first year I was kind of, ‘Is this for me or not?’ So that first year was half and half. I was never really a thruster dude; I was always like single fin or twin fin. But once I got to the second year I was like, ‘Yeah, this is for me. Just purely free-friction.’ And I haven’t really looked back since.”
See more of Jordan HERE.