Why do you surf? Because it’s fun? For the adrenaline rush it gives you that’s like no other? For the escape? The mental headspace where you can get away from all the stresses in your life?
I’d put money on it that you surf for at least one of these reasons, if not a combination of them.
And yet time and time again I go out to surf and see people who don’t look like they’re doing any of these things.
Instead they look (and sound) angry and stressed. So much so that at times you can almost feel the rage pulsating off them.
No doubt they’ve probably been dropped in on, snaked or similar and it’s more than understandable to be annoyed when that happens. I would never in any way condone that behavior. But it is a reality of surfing that unfortunately things like this happen.
Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but they happen. And short of banning anyone from the water who misbehaves, we can’t change that. But we can choose how we react to it when it does happen. Whether we decide to let it go and carry on focusing on our surf or if we let anger consume us and the surf rage take hold.
If we choose the latter option, however, we’re the ones who suffer the most, not the surfer who wronged us.
A huge part of surfing is about the feeling you get when you do it. Not just when you ride a wave, but also in the line up. How enjoyable the overall experience is when you go out to surf, that relaxation of being out in the water.
And you’re really doing yourself a great disservice if you let anger be one of the emotions your sessions make you feel.
Yes, it’s really annoying when someone drops in on you, but you know what’s worse? Spending the rest of your surf session, and in some cases even, the rest of your day, angry because of the actions of one person.
Especially when the whole point in the activity in the first place was to have fun and get away from the stress and strain of daily life.
The person you actually harm by succumbing to surf rage is yourself.
And as spots get more and more crowded, this anger, the complete antithesis of what surfing should be about, is getting all the more prevalent.
I’ve seen people yelling out to their friends across surf breaks about what a [insert list of expletives] they think a person who just dropped in on them is, gearing up for fights and generally letting the actions of once person ruin the entire rest of their day.
And I’ve even seen this in cases where the person in the wrong has apologized, which I generally take to be a sign that they didn’t mean to do it, yet still you see surfers paddling away with a look of fury that you’d expect to be reserved for if someone had just slapped their mum.
If someone accidentally barged into you in the street and apologized you wouldn’t glare at them stony faced or worse yell at them, you would accept the apology, like a reasonable adult.
So why not do the same when surfing? The activity that’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable. You can even throw in a little “No worries, just means the next one’s mine” for good measure if you want so you all know where you stand, but at least accept the apology.
And if they don’t apologize? Just let it go.
Even if they clearly knew what they were doing and gloated while going about it (I’ve had this happen on a number of occasions), it’s not worth it. All you will achieve by getting angry is ruining your own surf session. It’s not going to bring the wave back. Maybe if you threaten physical violence it might stop the person in question doing it again but it might also result in you spending the rest of the time you could be surfing having a punch up on the beach. I know which one I’d rather be doing.
Surfing should be fun. Unless you’re a pro surfer (and maybe even still if you are) surfing is a hobby. A really all-consuming one but still a hobby, which by definition means it’s something that’s done for pleasure. So focus on going and getting the next wave that’s going to allow you to have that fun rather than the actions of some other idiot in the water.
As the well-used saying goes:
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” – Phil Edwards