Sometimes I sit in the quiet, almost bitter lineups and think to myself what is surfing and why do we all love it so bad. I always think, if I ask anyone of these hundred odd surfers out here what makes them smile, I can almost guarantee all of them will say surfing, yet no one is smiling.
Day in day out, the line up will be packed, yet only minimal noise. All I can hear are the waves, people calling into waves and nothing else. I mean there is the odd happy bloke out there that is always up for chatting to anyone, but besides that, nothing.
Surfers have this understanding, or as I like to call it, a somewhat ‘unspoken language’. I’m not sure if it is shear competitiveness, shyness or arrogance, but it is evident almost every time I paddle out. Of course you get the typical ‘hey, how ya going’, but after that it’s just looks from one another across the entire line up.
Surfers understand though. It’s kind of like it’s expected to be straight faced and eyeing each other off for the next set. Oh and then there’s literally sitting one foot close to another surfer, not talking, taking the wave and only to do it over and over again. As the saying goes ‘sharing is caring’ and it’s the same in the surf. A lot of surfers paddle out, catch every wave possible and leave nothing for anyone else to catch. What about the fifty others sitting patiently for just one wave on the inside. Maybe this is where we can all aim to let at least one wave go, for the love of surfing and sharing our passions.
A strong, fierce paddle into the lineup or even paddling hard for a wave can be the difference of having a good surf or not getting any waves. It’s like an initial intimidation of ‘yeh, I can surf’, or the attitude as others look on of ‘oh! look at this complete kook, don’t have to worry about him!’. It’s saddens me to see because almost everyone is out there for a good time, to enjoy the waves and ultimately improve their surfing, I guess surfing really is an individual sport.
Social surfing is a big part of my life. I try to surf with friends, girlfriends and of course my partner. It makes it fun. Laughing with each other, cheering one another into waves and at the end of the session, smiling. Yes, there are days where all you want to do is surf your best with a competitive edge, trying to impress on lookers and fellow surfers, but why do it with an unapproachable manner.
Surfing is said to be a sport that millions use as an meditative outlet or in someways, a religion. I guess it is different surfing at your local beach where you know absolutely everyone in the water and all you want to do is sit and chat about life, but paddling out at new spots can be all the more intimidating, and that’s not just coming from a girl. It’s obvious from face to face as I sit out there and observe that most people are having ‘fun’ and catching waves, yet nobody will give off any emotion, gestures or facial expressions to prove this. Blank faces, straight eyed and impatiently waiting for the next set is the general vibe across many surf breaks throughout the oceans.
Social media is huge these days. People may know who is who, have an understanding of who they are surfing with and the type of crowd to expect before they even hit the water. It is just an every day occurrence now to ‘add a friend’, ‘follow’ or ‘like’ someone’s social media links. You may know so much about a person, yet never actually met them in ‘real life’. This is where I believe an atmosphere within the water should be friendly, approachable and a place where you feel encouraged to meet and greet fellow surfers, even if it is only for a small one off chit-chat.
Tourists surfing with other tourists should be a way of meeting people with similar interests, not trying to rip their heads off for paddling one meter next to you and hassling in a paddle battle. What happen to the good fun party waves or at least sharing a smile or hoot when someone’s going for a wave. Who cares if you surf ten times better than them, don’t forget that one day you too were a beginner.