As a subculture, we surfers spend so much time three knuckles deep in each others’ asses it’s ridiculous. Smug and self-satisfied, always looking for one more reason to delude ourselves into thinking we’re somehow special and unique. Any reason to avoid introspection is a good one. We just close our eyes and chase the next fleeting adrenaline rush. I’m tired of it. Tired of the lies, the myths, the misconceptions. So here’s a little truth.
1. The best surfer isn’t the one having the most fun
What a great marketing slogan. It’s right up there with, “Only a surfer knows the feeling,” and “Life’s better in boardshorts.” But don’t try and tell me that the kid stink bugging out on the shoulder is the best surfer in the water. He isn’t. The guy sitting deep, driving hard off the bottom before murdering the lip is better. He rips. Pretending surfing is all about fun is just a beautiful lie you tell yourself so you don’t feel bad every time someone paddles deeper than you and then rips the best wave of a set all the way to the beach.
Surfing is hard, and becoming proficient is a difficult and bloody slog that can take decades. People who are content to take it easy, cruise, and never really try are just kooks. They’re condemned to a life of sitting on the shoulder, struggling for scraps, and I think that’s great. I think that’s great because the best surfer isn’t the one having the most fun, he’s the one surfing the best.
2. You’re getting ripped off when you buy surfboards retail
Long ago, in the murky depths of the pre-internet dark ages, shapers were held hostage by the distribution networks owned by surf shops. Lacking any other affordable means to market their product to consumers, shapers had little choice but to forego profit in order to satisfy the rapacious greed of the merchant class, in the hopes that they could get their wares displayed, and possibly eke out a pittance of a living.
Over the last decade, while wholesale prices have remained relatively stable, retail prices have crept ever higher. The modern “surf shop” dedicates an ever decreasing amount of retail space to boards, choosing instead to pack their floor full of whatever high-profit accessories they can jam between their walls. Your typical shop provides no real service when it comes to buying a board, they merely tack a few hundred dollars onto the cost and laugh (all the way to the bank) at any poor sucker dumb enough to spend $700 on whatever flavor-of-the-month-shape their uninformed teenaged wage slaves can talk you into buying.
It’s time we all faced a happy fact: surf shops are obsolete. Buy your clothes online and get your boards directly from the factory. Never trust a stoned 16-year-old to guide you in the purchase of a big ticket item. Find the nearest shit hole shaper’s alley and knock on some doors. Build a relationship with the man making your stick. In the long term, everyone wins. You get better boards, they make more money, and the soulless anarcho-capitalist pigs wringing every red cent they can from your bank account will dwindle into a well-forgotten history.
3. Our heroes are often assholes
Surfing does an amazing job of deifying shit heels. Drug addicts, thieves and thugs; you can be an utterly deplorable piece of human garbage, but if you’ve got a killer cutback, no one really cares.
Of course, the kind of single-minded dedication necessary to develop elite level skills seems to often create a shallow, self-centered creature, no matter what the sport. But only surfing strives so hard to remain willfully ignorant of our role models’ failings. Dora was a thief and con man, Andy Irons was a completely flawed human, Johnny Boy Gomes is one of the biggest pricks I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting.
It all stems from a poorly conceived notion that being a driving force behind the progression of the sport absolves one of any pain they inflict on the poor saps around them. But it doesn’t. Surfing just isn’t that important. In the end, it’s little more than a well-marketed hobby.
4. Longboarding is what we do when we don’t feel like trying very hard
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: noseriding is easy. Sure, it makes for a good photo. It’s obviously easy to market. But anyone who claims standing on the tip of a 9’6 single fin, trashcan lid, 50/50 rail, plank on a crumbly wave at Cardiff-by-the-Sea is difficult is a dirty liar.
We tend to forget, but back when those boards were the norm, the guys riding them couldn’t wait to stop. Once someone discovered you could ride a board one-quarter of the size and go faster, turn better, and get barreled deeper, they were left by the wayside. For decades.
It’s time all the throwback babies admitted a simple fact: you ride a longboard because it’s the path of least resistance. And that’s understandable. But, dude, in no way, shape, or form, is it admirable.
5. Surfing won’t save your soul
Surfing is a communion with nature. Surfing helps tap into a cosmic dharma flow, enriching your soul. It brings you closer to god, harnessing his energy in a flight towards enlightenment.
Except it doesn’t. That shit’s just empty mumbo jumbo. There’s nothing magic about surfing, it’s just really fun. Don’t kid yourself. Surfing is a totally selfish, self-centered pursuit. It creates nothing, improves only your life, and is actually somewhat damaging to others. Your board is made of petrochemical poison, your accessories and clothing are made in third world sweat shops. Surfing brings out the worst in us. It makes us greedy, competitive, and mean.
When you’re waxed up and stroking into the lineup on a beautiful, offshore day there’s only one higher being involved: your own over-inflated ego.