He races below the lip, gathering speed. A quick backside turn. A vertical ascent. Jordy Smith goes airborne. He crouches and grabs both rails, fins to the sky. A complete rotation finds him back on the lip, right at home, though facing the wrong direction. An easy 180-degree spin and he’s back in. Smith’s rodeo flip, the rodeo flip, caused quite a ruckus. Befuddled surfers the world-over watched that clip, and thought, I want what he’s having. In terms of wax, of course. Didn’t they? Well, they should have, because the maneuver wouldn’t have been possible without wax.
At 10 million bars a year, surfboard wax may be the sport’s most underappreciated essential. Though often lauded for its olfactory magnificence, wax is rarely the topic of enlivened conversation — or any conversation at all, for that matter.