What is Zeaching and why should you care??
ZEACH (ZEECH). The act of sliding a rail or box in without committing to an actual trick. “I think I Zeached that Frontboard, I’m hitting it again until i get it right.”
Even if you don’t know what Zeaching is, anyone whether they wakeboard or not has an innate sense of good style. Watching good stylish riders like Graeme Burress or Daniel Grant you can instantly tell that every trick they pull is exactly the way they want it to look. There is no hope that if he had tried that trick one more time he might have made it look just a bit better. And that is my major problem with Zeaching, because when someone Zeaches I always think, if they were committed they would keep trying that trick until it looked perfect, not just landed.
Zeaching is a term invented by snowboarders to deter anyone from riding a rail at any angle other than parallel or perpendicular. This may seem a little strict but it has good reasoning. The term comes from a pro snowboarder in the early 2000s by the name of Zach Leach who performed Zeaches on the majority of the rails he hit (he even performed the epic front Zeach to back Zeach on a double kink… I know, right!). Zeaching has a long history that begins when skateboarders first started hitting rails. They experimented with every combination possible, riding on their trucks, riding upside down, walking next to the board, flipping on and off until they had gone through the list and figured out what both looked and felt the best. Style was always the most important thing and riders without style were heckled and referred to as ‘stinkbugs.’
Smith and Feeble grinds are skateboard tricks that require sliding one of your trucks on the rail while the other truck sits at a 45 degree angle leaving the edge of your board to slide the rail. In the last 20 years wakeboarders and snowboarders have been emulating this trick without the use of trucks, which has raised a few philosophical questions on style.
If a wakeboarder hits a rail or box at a 45 degree angle are they actually performing a “smith” grind or are they just failing at an attempted boardslide? Can a board without trucks honestly pull off a “smith” or a “feeble” grind? The answer is no, of course not, that’s just stupid. Without trucks it’s a completely different trick, a much easier trick and a much lazier trick and they should never be compared.
Let’s consider the pictures above…
One of these is not like the other; one of these makes you want to go wakeboarding way more than the other. And that is what it all comes down to. If you have put yourself in a position to have your wakeboarding influence anyone you better hope that whatever image you are promoting is sending the right message. If you want to promote having fun and not worrying about haters, critics and style, that’s great, go have fun, that’s what this sport is all about. But you have to realise that the public nature of our social society dictates as soon as you put up an edit of your friends riding, whether you are trying or not, it automatically becomes a power of influence. And with great power comes great responsibility… lame I know but Ben Parker was right. It doesn’t matter if its your first time riding or a professional production company if you are taking the time, money and effort to go out and film you have to accept that your riding and filming will be judged.
Union recently printed an article titled ‘Haters or Realists’ and people were outraged that wakeboarders were taking themselves too seriously. I would argue that maybe we aren’t taking ourselves seriously enough. Look at any other industry that revolves around style: high fashion clothing, underground music and even art school all require judgement as a healthy and necessary evil that keeps their art form growing and expanding in new and creative ways. Your art teacher wasn’t a ‘hater’ (even if he did give you a bad grade on your ashtray [any token Australian art project]) he just wanted to push you and see you succeed. Zeaches are an important style marker much like pre-spins, and they have been labelled as negative to help riders understand what bad style traps to avoid.
Wakeboarding is a small knit community and we all have to work together to promote wakeboarding and push the philosophy of style while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of ability. Just remember that just because a trick is landed doesn’t mean it’s accomplished.
If you’re curious in hearing other opinionated pieces that involve snowboarding check out our good friend over at thetobloggan.com
The Post Script.
Zeaching is a fully heated topic. So here’s a disclaimer paragraph that makes sure you know we are all in this together. Firstly, congrats on making it all the way down here! Second, everybody has zeached – you have to learn somehow and the road from beginner to style master is a long one – everybody from Bob & Danny to Randall took it. So don’t stress if you Zeach, just think about trying not to. And remember to love what you’re doing most of all!
BY ALEX KRUSE