WHAT IS SURFING
I was sitting at a fairly well known break recently and as each person pulled up and pulled out their craft, there were comments, critic and conjecture being cast their way by the resident onlookers.
Once those paddling out were in the water, the speculative comments continued and came to a negative crescendo as they caught waves. But casting my eye around the boards scattered at the feet of those casting stones of critic, the quote – ‘Cast ye the first stone he who is without sin’ came to mind. Critic is nothing but perception. How is it we become so narrow in our acceptance and approval that the art of surfing (if only to a narrow few) has been squeezed down into a small bracket of approval? Are you only a surfer if you ride a three or perhaps four fin board between the sizes of 5’8” and 7’10” anything under, or over you are immediately branded a hippy, gut slider, cripple, goat-boater, or a wank on plank. Anything and everything other than a ‘Surfer’. To borrow the definition of surfing from Wikipedia - “Surfing is a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a “surfer,” rides on the forward face of a wave which is most often carrying the surfer towards shore. There are many variations of surfing, and the definition for what constitutes a suitable wave and craft are purely subjective. In other words, the term “surfing” refers to the act of riding a wave and not the form (with or without a board) in which the wave is ridden.” Take the ancient Polynesians, the innovators of our sport as example, they gave birth to surfing, riding on wooden planks and weaved flax mats. Just because we have refined the activity to the high performance level that we are at today, does that mean that, whatever stages the sport went through to get to this point isn’t surfing? Ask yourself, if a body surfer obeying all the unwritten laws of surfing was swimming for a wave on your inside, would you pull back? Or if someone more than competent paddled out on a SUP and sat in line, or shall I say stood in line, waited their turn then took off, would you give them right of way and a fair go? We live in a world of perception and perhaps the participants of these other less accepted forms of surfing, have managed to piss so many people off with their lack of respect towards a lineup, that from then on we brand everyone that rides a similar craft, as someone who will behave the same way. It is up to each individual to maintain the harmony of a lineup, to each
do their own part. If an individual’s behaviour is out of line, then rightly so they should be reminded of those unwritten rules, which if you wanna get really deep on the subject, should in fact be written down. You crash into a car on a road and you pay for the damage. You run over someone in the lineup, damage their board and worse injure them, and think a simple sorry is ok! See, there are problems with unwritten rules and the interpretation that goes with them. On a recent trip to Tavarua Island - featured on pg 54 - we found ourselves caught up in the mind debate of who is a surfer, when this old school hippy dude wearing the most ridiculous helmet you had ever seen, resembling a circumcision gone wrong, paddled out. Immediately he caught our attention, with that flashy dome it was hard not to, then after a few waves where he freefell, airborne and was then sucked over the falls, we noticed he was on an old tear drop shaped single fin. No wonder he couldn’t get down the face. Now we weren’t saying it, but we were thinking it! Come on dude get a proper board and be a surfer. Then on his fourth attempt he dropped in late, slid sideways a little before setting his line, and driving through one of the barrels of the week, he received a standing ovation from the boats and all our snarky thoughts were shown the bird, by his skill to not only ride a wave like that, on a craft like that, but to also ride what he wanted to ride. He didn’t need to conform to what has become marketed as surfing, he was ‘surfing’ and sure as hell doing it better than anyone else in that lineup.
So whatever you feel surfing is to you, go do it. Yoursinsurfing CoryScottandtheTeam atNewZealandSurfingMagazine.
At this break, longboards, shortboards, SUPs, Bodyboards and even the odd Goat boat (wave ski) have been known to share the lineup in harmony, as long as you are smiling and not destroying another’s pleasure, why should it matter to them what you are...