Ed­i­tor’s Note

Surfer - - Editor’s Note - TODD PRODANOVICH, Ed­i­tor

A lot of peo­ple re­fer to surf­ing as an escapist pur­suit. “You get to leave your wor­ries at the wa­ter’s edge,” is a com­mon re­frain in our cul­ture. To me, how­ever, this never re­ally rang true. If any­thing, I feel like surf­ing is the time I’m best able to con­front my wor­ries, to think things through, to take a hard look at my­self, my life and the world around me. When I’m stressed out about work, con­cerned about a re­la­tion­ship or rat­tled by some­thing in the news, the lineup is my ther­a­pist’s couch, the place to be­come aware of and work through my shit. I’m not “es­cap­ing” any­thing.

I re­mem­ber pad­dling out at a San Diego beach break last sum­mer af­ter read­ing a news story about es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions be­tween the United States and North Ko­rea. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had just is­sued his now in­fa­mous threat of “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” and the grav­ity of that re­mark only re­ally started sink­ing in as I waited out the back for a set wave. I pon­dered San Diego’s mil­i­tary bases and my prox­im­ity to them in that mo­ment, won­dered about their vi­a­bil­ity as tar­gets for a North Korean mis­sile strike and tried to pic­ture what a nu­clear blast would look like if I hap­pened to be in the lineup at the time. Would all the wa­ter around me va­por­ize in the mo­ments fol­low­ing the blast? What would that look like? Would it at least be a beau­ti­ful part­ing vi­sion, or would I be too busy be­ing va­por­ized my­self to even no­tice?

Per­haps surf­ing should be thought­less fun and I’ve just been do­ing it wrong this whole time, but I think the more likely pos­si­bil­ity is that whether we re­al­ize it or not, we all uti­lize surf­ing in this way: to serve as a time and place for us to pick our world apart, ex­am­ine its pieces and stitch it back to­gether in a slightly dif­fer­ent way when it’s time to set foot back on land. This is­sue is about that di­a­logue we have with our­selves, and how surf­ing can serve as the cat­a­lyst for con­tem­pla­tion.

In the fol­low­ing pages, con­tribut­ing writer Kyle Denuc­cio paints a nu­anced por­trait of South­ern Baja, where a surge in drug vi­o­lence is forc­ing surfers to ac­knowl­edge cracks in the façade of a once idyl­lic surf des­ti­na­tion (“A Storm of Vi­o­lence,” pg. 24). I in­ter­view Maui-based charger Kai Lenny about his me­te­oric rise in big-wave surf­ing, and the men­tal gym­nas­tics re­quired to lead the pack in an era of quan­tum leaps in death-de­fy­ing surf (“The In­fi­nite Line,” pg. 28). And se­nior writer Kim­ball Tay­lor vis­its a stretch of Cal­i­for­nia coast rav­aged by wild­fires and mud­slides to dis­sect the in­ner con­flict that surfers ex­pe­ri­ence when tragedy and stel­lar surf ar­rive hand in hand (“The Flames and the Flood,” pg. 46).

If you’re able to pad­dle out and truly tune the world out for the length of a given ses­sion, that’s very for­tu­nate for you, and a tes­ta­ment to the power that surf­ing has over our lives. But if you don’t ex­pe­ri­ence that feel­ing of es­cape, that might not be a bad thing, ei­ther. Surf­ing can be an op­por­tu­nity to lean in and fig­ure out the chaotic el­e­ments of life, or at least come to grips with how you feel about them.

Our world can of­ten feel up­side down, and much of what gives us un­ease is com­pletely beyond our con­trol. Rid­ing waves can’t stop car­tel vi­o­lence in Mex­ico, it can’t re­build a home lost to wild­fires or mud­slides in Cal­i­for­nia and it cer­tainly can’t stop a nu­clear bomb from va­por­iz­ing all sorts of things. But, you know what, it sure as hell can’t hurt ei­ther.

Photo by NICK LIOTTA

Room to think at Rin­con.

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