Surfing, an undeniable contradiction. If there’s a sport that can say one thing and then hop on the back foot and do another – it’s surfing. A glaring truth that has become more and more evident revolves around surfing’s Achilles’ heel, the environment. This rings especially true when companies, event organisers and even surfing’s top athletes seemingly advocate their commitment to sustainability and the planet’s conservation, yet adopt questionable practices. But hey, point one finger and there’s three pointing right back at you.
Over the last 100 odd years, humankind has changed the world in almost every facet, while the world in its perpetual motion has changed its inhabitants. In this time surfing broke free of its shackles and rolled the bones evolving over the years into something that has become unrecognisable to some. Long gone are the days of heavy wooden longboards and neverending trimming. New materials, designs, styles, and manufacturing practices have emerged with huge strides being taken from a performance point of view.
Now more than ever, surfers have a responsibility rested upon their shoulders. If social media is anything to go by, being a surfer today is in stark contrast to what it was like back in the early to mid-1900s when Duke Kahanamoku first got the log rolling or when lumo mid thigh baggies and fluffed mullets were all the rage. At the heart of it all, a surfer is still someone who practices their trade surrounded by the elements. A place where equanimity is key. So what direction has this laid out for the “contemporary wave rider’?
Surfers now strive to view the ocean in a more holistic fashion, understanding its behaviour by studying its attributes in order to get a better grasp on what happens above and below their feet. Along with this, a boom in surf tech and apparel. Advancements have been made to existing products with new ones being introduced to the surfing equation. Progression has brought a lot to the table, some of it, however, proving hard to swallow.
I revert you to the opening line – surfing, an undeniable contradiction. Eco-friendly and surfing exhibit a Romeo and Juliet type relationship. Fated for condemnation. So how does one attempt to bridge the divide in efforts to keep up with a mutable modern day?
It’s All About Mind, Body, and Soul
Live fast, die young use to be the surfer’s creed due to the culture it shaped in the 2nd half of the 20th century. Sex drugs and surfing, f**k rock’n roll. It was all about beers, barrels and beatings. The cliche of the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun was far more relevant. Although surfers now days are still depicted as they were 30 years ago by a large portion of society, the truth is, it’s more about superfood laden smoothies, stretches and parallel fitness programs today. Just jump on to Instagram and you’ll see exactly what we’re talking about, from the QS to the CT.
Surfing is a powerful combination of aerobic and anaerobic athleticism, it doesn’t take a human kinetics and ergonomics doctorate holder to explain that one. Today, alternative training methods are explored and adopted frequently by anyone with the aim of taking their surfing to the next level or more ‘seriously’. Surfing has progressed past a solely recreational, leisure activity/sport and morphed into a regime that someone looking to get in shape can adopt. It seems adaptability is key. In essence, you are to avoid being sedentary at all costs. Surfing, a hybrid of meditative and athletic experience.
Then there’s exercising your mind, probably something many people wouldn’t view as synonymous with surfing. However, surfing boasts a rich heritage of mindfulness , full of interconnections with music, movies, literature, and various visual arts. Now more than ever it is important to learn more about ones local and foreign surfing culture. But that’s more part and parcel.
Embrace a Green Conscience
Surfers love the ocean. It’s our playground and our respite. When we’re surfing, we are immersed in nature and feel connected to the sea, the wind and the tides that influence the waves we ride, keenly attuned to the coastal environment. But hells bells it’s difficult to let go of that hellishly toxic hand leading us down a dingey rabbit role. So efforts need to be made in other areas of a surfers animation.
Participate in beach cleanups, reduce your plastic footprint, collect a few pieces of garbage every time you surf, engage in non-governmental surf organizations, walk more and drive less, and include further bioproducts in your daily consuming habits. Look for greener alternatives where ever they present themselves. If you can’t find them odds are you not looking hard enough. It’s all about respecting the environment. After all, it’s nature that provides the materia prima that makes surfing possible.
Endorse an Altruistic Vision
Escalating house prices, fokal job security, the threat of nuclear war! A world decomposing all around us. It’s no wonder most millennials are more depressed and anxiety-ridden than any generation before. Then there are surfers, the perennially chill subculture of shaka and stoke. When you really look into it, there’s more than a vague aura of surfer chill to indicate surfing helps your mental health. Free your mind and your ass will follow.
Yes, we do surf in crowded lineups where waves are scarce resources. Yes, we do have little time in our lives to do what we love most. Yet here we are condemned to living with everybody else. And it’s only gonna get more choaked. So we might as well get comfortable being uncomfortable. The days of beating redheaded kids in the lineup and throwing shit fits when someone kooks out on the wave are becoming not so kiff. Odds are, you just being alive and authentically you is offending someone somewhere, so you best say 20 namaste’s before bed or a keyboard warrior near you might lash out. How are you gonna get Facebook likes if everyone thinks you’re not PC.
Pro surfers have become more than athletes with the best jobs in the world. They’ve become brands. And brands have to reach their fans and supporters, do you even surf if you don’t have twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, youtube blah blah blah. So lend a hand where you can, keep your sponsors happy and make sure your online game is lit!
Today one needs to promote the selfless concern for the well-being of others. This is much harder to practice than preach, as even the most irie of cats can do their nut in trying to keep calm & … what was it again?
One thing still remains true, and will always be part of the end game, surfing is an avenue for us all to remove oneself from certain situations and spend quality time with quality people in our life, even if that person is you.