There are few surfers in the world who look cool just going down the line, but Michael February is one of them. You can study the placement of his knees or hands or every limb in between, but it probably won’t get you anywhere—according to February, these things happen on accident. “I used to try to surf way more conventionally,” he says. “But no matter what I tried, my hands went here, knees went there. It was all just stuck. I couldn’t change it, so I just had to embrace it.”

But while February’s surfing embodies the timeless qualities of good surf style, he’s a distinctly modern entity. Born in South Africa at the end of apartheid, February understands the history and the gravity of racial tension and segregation along his home coast in Cape Town, but he feels unburdened by the past. For February, it’s all about the future, whether that means bettering his position on the World Tour (he is the first black African to qualify), volunteering with organizations to teach the next generation of South African children to surf, or drawing new and dynamic lines on wave faces around the world. Either way, February is determined to make

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