I'll provide a counter-example where First-Up definitely owns the wave. I was surfing 3-4 ft Bells (8 ft faces) in a small crowd of about 20. Bells is a right that breaks waaaay out and rolls in very soft at the peak before it really gets going. I was sitting furthest outside with 3 other dudes, about 10-15 yards past the next group. I picked off one of the bigger ones and rolled in, popped up to my feet and was just passing the inside group when a dude, to the left of me, turns and strokes in on the edge of the whitewater. I was already past my bottom turn and coming back up when he had the nerve to try to call me off. Being the "guest" on the wave, I treated him as respectfully as possible by ignoring him and continuing to surf the wave while he bumped along in my trail.
Moral of the story: Sometimes "closest to the curl" is nonsense. Cheers, mate!