Editor, Surf Park Central
Skating in the 70s       Photo: Judi Oyama

Skating contests in the ’70s. Photo: Judi Oyama

The Inertia

This idea was further propagated in the Summit’s opening remarks from Surfrider Foundation co-founder Glenn Henning when he said:

Today is a milestone in the history of surfing. Today is the birth of the surf industry. Today, indeed, the surf industry gets going. And that is in a way to say that what we’ve seen as the surf industry up to now, really hasn’t been the surf industry… it’s a clothing business with a really good hook.”

Henning would go on to stress the importance of keeping Olympic surfing and the purity of the sport at the forefront of our minds during the conference, rather than focusing on commercial, money-grubbing aspects, which we’ll look more into later.

But SJ rationalizes his point further by saying, “There is just no way a kid from Kansas is going to be able to fully appreciate the pure joy of riding natural waves unless, maybe, he has also had an extended experience on the coast.”


No disagreement there – the experience of surfing in an actual ocean can never and should never be replaced by a man-made wave. There is too much to be said for the poetic “search” for the perfect wave, the search for solitude and the general sense of calm and humility that the ocean lends every surfer that knows it well. We never want to argue against that and ultimately, no, a kid from Kansas who grows up surfing a man-made wave will not be experiencing surfing as us ocean-going purists know it, unless he gets to the ocean frequently enough.

But does that mean that the surfing he experiences at a park isn’t fun? That it can’t potentially improve his life in some small or large measure? The fact is that the two types of surfing can be both mutually exclusive and complimentary at the same time.

The glaring difference between surfing and skating is obviously accessibility – skaters can skate almost anywhere as long as they have a board. But many skaters will also tell you that they prefer one or the other–that riding street in cities or places outside of skate parks lends an air of freedom and purity that riding in parks may not. So why can’t there be different types of surfing too? That’s life–variation and differences in everything.

I recently flew home to visit family. The ocean had kept me too long from my parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews and nieces. I began telling them about Surf Park Central and Surf Park Summit. One of my older sisters, who’s spent some quality time in the ocean and understands the essence of surf culture, and is more than willing to admit that she’s been repeatedly humbled by ocean and board, interrupted with a great question:

“But aren’t you worried that a bunch of yahoos will start surfing in parks and then think they can surf in the ocean? And then they go out there, worsen the crowd, and possibly get killed? Or worse, get someone else killed?”

My response: “yes.”

I am worried about that. “But,” I said, “I’m more worried about a bunch of yahoos building surf parks and creating some manufactured culture around them that’ll lead to more of that sort of thing.” Again, I can’t help but think of skateparks and their history. If Tony Hawk and other professional skaters didn’t have a huge hand in building skateparks around this country and others, they wouldn’t be nearly as good as they are today. At the Summit, Doug Palladini, VP/GM of Americas for Vans, spoke to this point. He said:

“In our experience building skateparks around the country for kids to skate, we’ve learned that just building parks isn’t enough… they have to be good parks.”

Drew Brophy with his vision of a surf park... count me in

Prolific surf artist Drew Brophy with his vision of a surf park… Eddie would go. Photo: Ofier Zigner

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