28 January, 2015 28 January, 2015

Lost In Translation – by Friedrich Schobert

Living 1500km away from the nearest ocean isn’t an ideal scenario for a frothing surfer. ‘Lost In Translation’ is Friedrich Schobert’s entry into ‘Write to Surf‘ – our surf journo competition with some epic prizes up for grabs (see below for details).


LOST IN TRANSLATION – by: Friedrich Schobert


Imagine living 1500 kilometres away from the closest surfable ocean. Imagine the feeling that your life is running by. Imagine that surfing means everything to you. All of this is my daily grind. I am lost.

It was a streak of fate for a German to get into surfing anyway. When I was 21, a mate and I went on a motorbike trip through Europe. At the furthest point of our tour in Lagos, Portugal, we saw a surf school and after an almost sober night out, we made it just in time for the surf lesson at noon. We surfed the whitewash for the rest of the day and I was hooked.


Once back in Germany, I immediately planned my first surf trip and decided to go to South Africa just a month later. It is funny looking back. I was a super kook and had no idea about surfing, nonetheless I made my way. By coincidence, I got to know some Saffa surfers and they taught me the basics. I ended up being friends with them; a top national surfer among them.

During the past 18 years I have been to Indonesia fourteen times, six times to France, four times each to Portugal and South Africa, as well as to Morocco, Spain, the Canary Islands, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Barbados, Florida, California, Hawaii and Australia. Surfing has put an imperishable stamp on my life. I damaged my soul container and bank account badly on various occasions. I also nearly killed myself, twice. However, there were countless occasions of eternal moments. It is not only the epic sessions such as surfing monsters in the Mentawais, but also just sharing uncrowded surf with friends. When I am at the ocean everything feels natural and my mind calms down.


Not exactly like anywhere else in the world, most German surfers are university students. The reason is that university is free and provides heaps of ‘studying’ time for your discretion. My old man was reluctant to support surfing in any way, but fine with supporting studying. So I went down that path and only had to earn enough cash to go travelling. This is easy in Germany. To cut a long story short, studying gave me six happy years (I was not in a rush) and included a semester abroad in Bali. It was the time of my life and living at the ocean gave my surfing abilities an incredible leap forward.

Ever since studying my surfing life went in a downward spiral, and bit by bit my life has become more serious. It started slowly by having a regular job and moving together with the missus. Then my dad had a tragic, fatal accident and my mom needed support. I married and had a kid. However, I still take every chance to go surfing, at least twice a year. But how far do you come with that?

In many ways, life is good to me. I’ve got a respectable job earning decent money and am able to travel anywhere and surf. Moreover, I like living in Munich aside from the wave situation. Having travelled that much, I must say that there are three surfable places on earth where I could imagine to live. At none of these places I could take my background along, so I would have to start dishwashing. And at none of these places my family would want to come along.

And here I am turning 40 this year. I dearly miss my time at and in the ocean. Also, my surfing abilities are stuck in eternal mediocrity. All of this physically hurts. There is not a happy end to this story. However, hope persists that the grand man will pull some kind of a surfing wonder out of the hat for me.

Click here to check out all the entries so far >>


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.


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