Senior Editor
Do I need to wear trunks made of compressed lint and ride a surfboard that I shaped from a tree in my backyard to be core? Do I need to be able to pummel everyone who drops in on me?

Do I need to wear trunks made of compressed lint and ride a surfboard that I shaped from a tree in my backyard to be core? Do I need to be able to pummel everyone who drops in on me?


The Inertia

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “core” as: a central and foundational part, often distinct from the enveloping part by a difference in nature.

But what does “core” mean in relation to surfing? The word is hurled recklessly around on Internet comment boards, usually with accusatory overtones, and I recently realized that I have only the vaguest idea of what “core” actually means.  I think I knew what it meant until I thought about it.  Then it ran away from me, turning corners just far enough ahead of me so that I could see the trailing end of one foot before it vanished.  It may have been wearing Nikes, but I can’t be sure. Whatever the brand, it had shoes on, and I feel like real core would have been barefoot.

Maybe the ancient Hawaiians are core. They fit the bill, and it’s easier on my conscience to say they’re more core than Billabong or Rip Curl. No one’s going to argue against the fact that the ancient Hawaiians were a central and foundational part of surfing.  But are they different from the enveloping part (that’s us, by the way) by a difference in nature? If the Duke were offered the moon in exchange for that coveted space on the nose of his papa he‘e nalu, would he have taken it?

If I’m going strictly by the definition, I guess Billabong, Rip Curl, and their ilk also fit the bill. Aren’t they becoming a central and foundational part of surfing? They’re definitely distinct from the enveloping part by a difference in nature. They don’t even surf, for one. But I can understand that, because their lack of a physical body makes it difficult. But they make it easier for us to surf, so that’s nice of them. If I need a wetsuit or a pair of trunks (which are both necessities, unless you own an island and can surf like it’s your birthday year round), they’re likely going to come from a major manufacturer that the “core” concept in my mind would flip the bird to.

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So, what is it? Do I need to wear trunks made of compressed lint and ride a surfboard that I shaped from a tree in my backyard? Maybe Rasta is core. Do I need to be able to pummel everyone who drops in on me? Maybe Kaiborg is core. (No offense intended, Mr. Borg. If I ever accidentally drop in on you, I will shit in my shorts, and shit is hard to get out of compressed lint). Am I allowed to wear a wetsuit that’s manufactured overseas, or trunks that were made in a sweatshop?

Does not caring about being core make me core? I have a pair of trunks that are made by Billabong. I’m not a Hawaiian. I don’t work for a major company. But since I like to surf, I feel I should acquaint myself with a more concise idea of what is “a central and foundational part” of surfing. So please, if anyone has an exact definition – let’s say fifteen words or less, please, do tell.

But hey, maybe I already am core, and just don’t know it. If I find out that I am, does that make me not core anymore? Or what if I decide that core doesn’t even exist, and that it’s just a creation of the self-doubting segment of the surf community?

On second thought….nah, I’m definitely core.



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