Friday April 18, 2014
As we leave winter in the dust, we need to get serious about surfing. It's time to re-group, dig out from the snow, return that wetsuit to the garage, and get connected with the essence of freedom and fun. Winter is great to test your endurance and commitment to the sport, but you've answered the questions as to how far you will go to get a few waves. Are you a lifer? Are you willing to hurt and suffer for the possibility of some good waves? Heck yeah! And now we can relax and get into a groove and slide into a pair of baggies and enjoy the ride. So let's figure some things out and get some things straight as spring progresses into summer and we reassert surfing as Priority Number 1. Here are some ideas to make you're upcoming season the ultimate surf-centered marathon:
#1. Get a surf-friendly job
#2. Apply new tricks to your repertoire
#3. Be ready for the critters, rashes and stings, and pains.
#4. Get in shape
$5. Freshen up your surfboard
Friday April 18, 2014
The world of surfing is one based on taking. We take a ride to the beach where we greedily take as many waves as we can. Sometimes we take a flight on which we take our boards and ipods and computers to another country and take waves from the locals and take pictures and videos of each other so we can take them back home and brag about how we "owned it."
This flies in the face of the image we have painted of ourselves as mellow sea monkeys who spend our days as the sun rises and the mushrooms grow...long haired flower children who sacrifice material excess in exchange for a life in the ocean. It's all a façade. A fallacy.
But there are entities that have taken action to show that surfers don't just take, and they don't just sit and watch the mushrooms grow. They act, and they help and are building a better place to surf. The Save the Waves Coalition has been aggressively battling corporate and government encroachment on hallowed surfing areas since 2001. Save the Waves has preserved surf spots in Peru, Costa Rica, Australia and Ireland among many other countries. If your curious, some spots include Pavones and Stradbroke Island. And while you and I are saying "Yeah, now we can go take some more waves!" They instead have quantified the value of waves beyond what we can take from them but rather what they give back to the community in terms of economics and cultural significance over the long term rather short minded profit margins of large developers.
Sunday April 6, 2014
Western Australia is delivering. The swell has been meaty and challenging and offering high performance opportunities for both powerful carving and aerial wizardry. For a wave that traditionally favors the no nonsense rail carving of guys like Tom Carroll, Margaret River has morphed under shifting swell and migrating wind directions, but has also played both the spoiler and supporter of incredible performances from the likes of John Florence, Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina, C.J. Hobgood, and (Holy Moly!) Yadin Nicol. Nicol's 10 foot high full rotation aerial was what we all imagined surfing could be while Hobgood's speed lines in the pocket kept it all a classic affair.
While we wait for the next call, it's impossible to overlook the slick new persona of the ASP. New logo, new catch phrase, new highly professional commentators and futuristic tech-sploitation make for a pretty cool visual experience akin to mainstream pro sports. But as much as this new look and feel is all about getting as many unblinking eyes locked on to flickering computer screens, it looks like the powers-that-be have put real surfing on center stage. The judging criteria has been revised somewhat to reflect the many faces of modern surfing, especially by raising the bar for 10 point rides. While competitive rules will always put the art of surfing in a tight box, the ASP has made the best changes since Rabbit helped usher in the Dream Tour. On a strange note, I have a premonition that Medina will win his second event in a row and eventually take the world title this year. But overall, there's a real push from powerful rail surfers like Florence, Young, and Zietz who are making a case for some fresh faces in the top 5.
Saturday March 22, 2014
The surf world forever marvels at the future of our sport. Board materials and fin configurations are quickly cataloged as "old" the minute something new is unveiled. Surfers who inhabited the excitement of eminent greatness are shuffled back to haunt their home breaks as soon as the media decides they aren't worth the video time, soundtrack, or magazine space. Sure, all sports have this problem, but surfing does very little to honor its forefathers (and mothers) save for precious few memorial contests here and there while small contingents of youngsters jump around in beaver tails (see Beck's "Loser")waving their single fins like a 70's cover band plays "Stairway to Heaven" almost as a joke.
Nothing has really changed. Martin Potter was John Florence before John was, and it's great to see Pottz commentating at the Quiksilver Pro, but entire generations of athletes, craftsmen, and innovators have come and gone with barely a blip on the historical radar screen. Heck, Gerry Lopez was Martin Potter before Potter was. And nobody will ever know if they don't look. But sometimes, something comes along that reminds us of the days when surfing wasn't just older, but more special. It was a time that Fred Hemmings calls the "Golden Age" of surfing. It was a time when surfing had yet to permeate the culture or even leave the few miles of Waikiki Beach that created it in the first place (although Tahitians and Peruvians say otherwise). The lineup was empty and the surfers rode boards crafted straight from local trees. It almost seems like fiction.
A.R. Gurrey was lucky enough to be a surfer and photographer in Waikiki during that time and documented it in an interesting way through a hand-crafted photo book called the Surf Riders of Hawaii. It's considered the first book dedicated to surfing, making Gurrey the little known "father of surf photography." Check out the video discussing the Surf Riders of Hawaii. You can see the insane images that were pasted right into the pages. For me, it's the photos that mean the most. They capture Hawaiians (namely Duke Kahanomoku) riding these virgin waves under the shadow of Diamond Head before the sport was a sport. I wonder if those guys realized how lucky they were to have this experience. It will never happen again, and this book dating back to 1911 captures a moment that has been long buried under epoxy and air reverses. Long live surfing!