I've now been surfing for around 15 years and I'm still a kook. Why? I put it down to two things, the first genetics. I'm too tall, inflexible and have disproportionate limb sizes. The second, learning in my mid 20s. Like anything, for the best chance of meeting your potential, learn it before you hit your teens.
This is not to say that I'm not athletic. Those sports I learnt as a kid I did well in. I even went back to play a few years ago after 10 years off and picked it up again relatively quickly. However, if I have a few months off surfing due to injury, its a different story. The pathways to the brain are so much stronger and last so much longer when you learn as a kid.
I find surfing extremely enjoyable but also very difficult and I always think that I am on the verge of becoming a true intermediate. I've been thinking like this for most of my 15 years surfing.
I think I love surfing so much because I'm no good at it, because I keep trying to get better, I keep thinking that one day I will have a quicker take off and my surfing will leap forward like I've been hoping. But it never does and I'm almost 40.
What if I did learn as a kid and I was a good surfer? Would I still be surfing today? Maybe, maybe not. The sports that I played in my childhood, teens and early 20s, I don't play anymore. I got sick of them, met my potential, stopped progressing and then lost interest. Surfing may have gone the same way. Or maybe not.
It doesnt worry me anymore, being a kook. I know where to sit in a line up, usually somewhere way down the line, I learn a lot as I watch the good people take off and surf how I want to. I know I'll kook it every now and then and look like an idiot in front of the "true locals", but I don't care. I've never intentionally dropped in on anyone which some of those people can't say.
What I hate about surfing is the way Kooks are looked down on. It's like people that don't have the skill level of the majority don't belong out in the line up. It's utter rubbish and comes across as behavior you would see in a primary school. Some surfers think that just because they had the opportunity to learn young or were born with good genetics, it's their right to treat people less fortunate or less gifted like lower class citizens. They think it's ok to drop in, to snake and then to not make eye contact when they paddle back past you. They think it's ok to be cowardly.
If kooks are out there abiding by all the rules and are surfing within their limits, shouldn't they be treated as equals?
Of course not everyone looks down on the kook, infact where I surf most couldn't give a shit how well you surf.
But there's always one or two that do.
I've never progressed past intermediate-ness, but I still enjoy myself. I do avoid conditions that are beyond my fitness and abilities and also avoid big crowds, which is good for everyone.
Newsflash: surfers are fucked. Maybe even more fucked than other citizens. Especially the good but not great ones. And even some of those are fuckheads.
Note: locale plays a big part. Yeah, I'm looking at you Queensland and (most parts of) NSW.
You sound like a budding racist Facto.
It was so refreshing to hear Maurice Cole talk fondly about his fellow surf brethren and sistren instead of this relentless calvacade of negativity.
Newsflash: hierarchies exist in every single nook and cranny of nature. Every ecosystem that has ever existed, including every single human society through history.
Hunter gatherers were about the most equal but the best hunter still got the choice of wives.
Just deal with it and shut your fucking whinging trap about it.
Question - has anyone that learnt to surf prior to say 14 ended up a kook? I wouldn't have thought there'd be many examples.
I rip, but I still don't look down on kooks.
Kinda feel sorry for you instead.
FR - quite harsh mate.
kbomb - well written. Lots of food for thought there.
The desire to show all those kooks on the shoulder who's really ripping has motivated many a surfer to greatness.
Could probably find comparisons across every sport and pasttime.
Drive that bus to glory, or at least some semblance of competence
IMO I think there are 3 main groups in terms of ability:
1. Naturally gifted and can excel with relative ease.
2. Naturally gifted but takes considerable effort to reach a high competence.
3. Naturally un-gifted and should consider e-sports instead.
FWIW in my surfing circle each person is equal and we share the stoke equally. There is nothing better than seeing old mate on a cracker giving it their best.
I was only mucking around, but I reckon I've peaked- I was doing my best surfing around my mid-thirties. I have my moments but pretty much cruise now. And I'm way beyond caring what other people think of my surfing.
My question is, how do you know you're a kook? What defines a kook? If you can take off, generate a bit of speed, get down the line, bang a turn or two, do a cuttie, get tubed every now and then I reckon that puts you squarely in the average to above average slot. If you can do none of the above, you're definitely a gumby but if you can string the above together consistently, then I wouldn't say you're a kook. Are you focusing on style? Do you feel you look ungainly or awkward? Is it a lack of aggression? Nobody is gonna give you those waves so you've got to take them. If you're in position- go, if you pull back or fall off, back of the line and reset.
Kookiness is subjective imo. People benchmark themselves against rippers but on any given day (with the exception of some of the big name breaks) the majority of surfers are average.
I think you might need a little more confidence and just enjoy the feeling of riding waves. Who gives a toss on how you look.
Edit: PS Westy, good post above, especially the last line. That's what it's all about.
kbomb, you're looking at this the wrong way -- if someone drops in on you, that's a good thing. you can now drop in on them all you like.
kbomb, you've got one thing up on all those who started surfing as kids, nearing 40 you are still improving. They've well and truly peaked by then and are on the downhill slide. So when you're thinking "wow I've never been able to do that before", they are thinking "shit, I used to do that better...". You can also happily maintain an "if only..." fantasy!
What I'm about to say may or may not have relevance, however it gives me a chance to talk about myself and that's an opportunity that shouldn't be missed.
I recently returned to mountain biking after a 20+ year break and, shockingly, I find myself walking in the shoes of a kook. The sport has changed so much as to be almost unrecognisable, the things I used to know are redundant, while the things I don't know are sprung on me daily. What's a dropper post? How does enduro work? Why's that bike only got one front cog? etc etc etc.
In a group I'm the silent one sitting just outside the circle but just within earshot wondering what the fuck they're talking about, while on the trails I watch guys my age - not gonna compare myself to kids - ride really well. It's hard not to be impressed, but I also get frustrated at my lack of skill.
In short, I'm a kook.
But I've found that being a trail kook has its good qualities too. For one, it's lit a fire up my arse to get good, and quick. I don't know if my situation compares to yours - i.e coming to the sport late - but I'm working on goals every single ride - jumps to hit, bigger drops (still small), or faster descents. On the flip side, I can't even recall the last time I set a goal in surfing; I just surf because it's what I do - it's a habit, a lifelong one. But setting goals and reaching them is fucken unreal. Best feeling.
The other thing about being a middle age mountain kook is that it's softened my view on real kooks. I'm not giving waves away, fuckers have gotta earn 'em, but I am looking at the surf through their eyes: entering foreign cliques, not fully understanding the language, getting lost in the lineup. Stuff that I took for granted I now spot in other people. So I'll give 'em a nod and a greeting - "Howyagoin?". Make the place a fraction less threatening.
I reckon it'd be foolish to draw too many parallels between MTB and surfing. It's very easy to share a trail and everyone gets a run, while surfing is limited by the ratio of waves vs surfers. More surfers means less waves for everyone, and that reality will never change.
What kooks have to realise is that it's not personal. Like you, Mr Angry just wants his waves, so ignore him and get on with it.
"If kooks are out there abiding by all the rules and are surfing within their limits, shouldn't they be treated as equals?"
Yes but no.
If a kook abides by the rules, understands the local nuances and norms, can make it down the face and do a bottom turn and keep up with the wave, then they should get respect.
When a kook keeps blowing takeoffs, bogging rails and can't get around sections, they are going to get dropped in on. That's why kooks shouldn't be out at breaks beyond their abilities.
I abide by this principle. Cold water brings out the kook in everyone. After a few hours in 12 degree water, tiredness and the cold kicks in, and my surfing standard starts to drop. If I start falling and making mistakes, I'm basically taking waves off others in the lineup for no good reason, and it's time to go in.
Stu, I don't want to put the 'kiss of death' on you, but...I will.
Plenty of characters round here got into the MTB world of recent times. Mostly trails and what-not. Plenty of 'em got fucked up too. Lots of bikes for sale.
Similar to when we redesigned the skatepark. Nek minnit...PAIN.
Anyway, carry on.
ps Is Queenslander a race? Asking for a fiend...
If you're not competent by the time you leave school you will only make up the ground if you are naturally athletic and do the hard yards. And they are harder still at that stage of life. Everyone's a surfer these days unfortunately but few who don't pick it up early can actually surf properly. No matter what is done to make it easier these days any surfer knows a kook instantly.
I get asked for tips by other middle aged people who are trying their best and I cant really help them: a few obvious things here or there (like can you swim) but I try and discourage them as they're never going to accumulate the huge amount of intellectual property (yes, intellectual) as well as muscle memory that has me back on board (pun not really intended) after a month out of the water. In one way it's no different from other pursuits, the minimum level of fitness and flexibility required, the timing, the reading of conditions etc but surfing properly is a hard earn and if you haven't got there by mid-teens you are a rare human that makes it.
I've already come to terms with it, Facto.
It'll happen. Just hope it's not too bad.
Two weekends ago a bloke that surfs the point took me and my eldest to a MTB park down the coast. Beautiful country, insane tracks, a wonderland really. My mate started riding two years ago, but really, I only know him as a surfer - he loved the big stuff, bit of a traffic controller out the point, president of the boardriders for ten years - yet first trail I watched him send it over the first big gap and it blew me away.
There was another guy riding it with us and when I said how impressed I was he replied, "Yeah last year I tried that and broke my leg and three ribs."
Interesting post K-Bomb. I can fully relate to the frustration you're feeling except instead of surfing it's golf for me. After hardly ever bothering to swing a club throughout my life (except when a few beers were involved) all of a sudden in my mid to late 40's I got the urge to get into it more seriously. Got fitted out with proper gear, had a few lessons and finally joined the local golf club & got a handicap just over 3 years ago.
My starting handicap was 20 and I thought....yeah...I'll be down to single figures in a year or so no worries. How fucken wrong could I be! I'm sitting on 19 now after briefly reaching 14 a while ago and I now know that I am a fucking 'golf kook'. I've realised I started too late in life to get real good at it but I keep going back I spose cause I still enjoy it.
I reckon the difference between my experience and yours is that the crew who are really good don't give a shit about my lack of skill because it doesn't impact on them. All they care about is their own game and if you're good company they are happy to play with you as long as you observe the rules/etiquette (just like surfing!) Even happy to try and help you out if you ask!
I reckon most surfers classify a kook as someone who's behaviour in the water impacts negatively on more skilled people out there. Things like ditching boards in small or non threatening surf cause they can't duck dive properly, getting in the way due to lack of awareness or hassling/competing for waves that they are not even going to make are things that come to mind. Consistently blowing waves where they've been given the benefit of doubt and paddling out into an already busy line up despite the fact that the waves are beyond them are also pet hates.
If people that aren't very skilled for whatever reason are staying out of situations where the above is likely to happen, they aren't really kooks but merely less skilled surfers far as I'm concerned. If you know your limitations and go surfing accordingly well goodonya and I hope you continue to enjoy it and get better.
(Just don't encourage any of your non surfing mates to take it up......we're pretty full already!!!)
I got to thinking other day why do we try to surf the way we surf?
You know, learnt to get up, bottom turn and then nearly everyone who began surfing decided to emulate anyone better than them. Cutbacks, reo's, barrels, carves, airs, whatever...…….Even the best guy at your local is trying to surf like the world tour surfers (and by proxy so are most).
….but why? …………..why was it never: lets see how fast we can get to the end of the wave in a straight line? Lets see how perfectly we can trim? Lets just take the drop and go straight?
Don't get me wrong. I try surf like most others I guess but it leaves me think why? I guess a lot can be explained by board design and the old - 'because we can'. Some manoeuvres are just plain functional (cutbacks, barrels).
Have a think about it next time you force a random top turn for the sake of it or try to fit in that cutback-to-bogged rail fall at the end of a fat beachie peak.
This is why I liked short films like that recent ? 'Needs essentials' one of those two girls in Iceland. They were both just surfing what felt good to them. Super refreshing and relaxing to watch for me.
Well for me I surf for what feels best. Going straight and seeing the rest of the wave run away ain't giving me no joy ;p
I live flying down the line and then when the section slows down, drawing out the bottom turn and depending on the section going for a big rail carve or off the top. Can't do airs but love hitting the end section coming back at me and trying to lay it all out Clay Marzo style (in my head) but with no hope of recovery. It feels good. Guess that's it.
Yeah as good as reason as any - it feels good. I quite like surfing big wally waves, I like that carve / cutty style surfing because of the way it feels.
With the availability of surf schools and individual coaches it has never been easier to learn to surf. If you haven't worked closely with a coach, well it's never too late. There is also more tolerance in the line up now than ever before (with some exceptions). I can't remember the last time I saw anyone get hassled. A couple of decades ago it was a pretty constant occurrence. Add to that the availability of well designed boards to suit all levels and styles of surfing and you should be able to get to an intermediate standard. I have known people who, over long periods, never got beyond a straight line poo stance. In all cases the main technical problem was that they didn't use their ankles. They moved from the knees up, and as Midget himself stated "It's all about the ankles."
Sums it up really...
Prompted by the recent article about Derek Hynd's "best froth " comp" was going to start a thread called (with permission now) "Rules for shit surfers", but seems we are up and running.
I am a shit surfer and have been since I started at the tender age of 18. In order to survive without getting a complex and still loving every time you paddle out consider the following rules.
1) Become ocean water competent and self reliant. Know how to read inshore currents and how to rock off. Have good / suitable gear and check it regularly.
2) Know your place in the lineup or better still which lineup to sit in - goes to FR's point about hierarchy. You earn your spot by ability, putting in time and paying your dues . Cant avoid that one .
3) Stay fit.
You'll have more fun, catch more waves and progress over at the back beach more than you will at the point with a bunch of locals who are good surfers.
Is it just me or is Miki channelling his inner Donald in that clip? Something about the way he speaks, the lip curl and the gestures..... Apart from that some wise, if slightly stoned words.
I never get the hate for kooks, id rather surf with guys taking off on the shoulder and letting the good ones go and be one of the better surfers in the water waiting my turn sitting deep etc than surf with rippers that get all the good waves and are hassling and super competitive and make all the sections or never fall.
Both still drop in or snake, some of the worst surfers for dropping in are rippers that think they deserve every good wave even if others are on them..
I started surfing at about 13 but never became a ripper but was often one of the better surfers in the water when younger, but then as you get older every generation overtakes you and then unless you were a true ripper or charger you start becoming a kook, i feel that now my best surfing is past me, it's so depressing.
Met a guy recently turning 40 and only started surfing a few years ago, and he is frothing, i wish i could be like that again, some of my best surfing moments and stoke was in the first few years, even average waves seemed so good.
Great topic kbomb
But rest assured...as with life itself...we come into this world as kooks and as sure as shit stinks...we will exit this world as kooks.
Time is the great leveller!
As such spare a thought for the ageing kooks and indulge my tale of woe
Started surfing on coolites at the age of six or seven, remember them, the ones you had to get your mum to sew a cover for so you didnt end up with excruciating chest and nipple rash?
Graduated to my first fibreglass board in the early seventies...pink and yellow Klemm Bell pintail...God I wish I still had that board...that and the seven foot RipCurl Lynchy round pin from a few years later.
Anyway, I did the single fin thing and graduated to twins in my late teens and then thrusters in my early twenties...and I got good...not world class shredding good...but local good...took out the juniors and the seniors in the local board club on multiple occasions...travelled the country from end to end and managed to work my way into most line ups without making an arsehole of myself and generally had a ball.
At home I was fortunate enough to have a left hand slab that I got to know intimately...faark I was on a first name basis with the local abalone and I got pitted out there so many times my favourite party trick was to ride waves facing backwards and enjoy the barrell from a whole different perspective...in short I was no kook
About fifteen years ago things started to go South...repetitive cartilage damage from having my knee compressed laterally too many times from copping heavy lips to the head (teach me for being a smart ass and facing backwards in the bazz) lead to arthritis in the left knee shortly followed by the right...the toes...the shoulders and now the hands.
For a while I delayed the inevitable...I turned to the dark side...took up SUP...got good for a kook on a SUP...represented the State on numerous occasions but at heart I just wanted to surf.
About this time last year I ordered a new surfboard...five ten twin keel fish...just like the one I got off Paddy Morgan in 75...plenty of beef...a flat rocker rocket...and OH MY GOD!!
Through a combination of exercise and Bikram Yoga I had got myself to a position where things were functioning pretty well and this board was a revelation...easy entry...fast as fuck and carried so much speed through turns...totally hooked again
I discovered a whole heap of B waves in my back yard which are pretty much hidden in plain sight and spent about eight months re living my youth...but the karma stick is always waiting to fall on the cocky.
No yoga for most of this year cos of Covid...no pool...no weights...sixty in December and once again surfing like an old kook...remember back to what it was like when you were a young kook...that painfully slow crawl to the feet which makes even the most mellow of drops turn into a two feet on the tail freefall... or that Quasimodo style hunch back bottom turn... that grown man cry out loud frustration...thats me.
But fear not...like all kooks I blame my equipment...five tens just too short...so tomorrow I pick up its big brother...six four custom twin keel fish and you know what...Im freaken amped...Im gonna mask up, put that thing under my arm and do circuits of the Front Beach telling all and sundry how this is the answer and how seriously Im gonna shred on this thing...pretty much the same as I did with my seven ten yellow and pink Klemmy single fin pin in 1974
Like I said...we come into the world as kooks and thats precisely the way we leave it
Cool post Spark you old ripper.
In regards to what Indo wrote, not so much these days but when I was younger I used to love surfing with really good surfers. Sometimes in the water when you get a bit of a rotation happening and everyone is just pushing and pushing, you end up doing shit that just blows you away. Stuff that you never thought you were capable of. I used to love that.
These days I'm pretty content if I jag a good one and get a decent ride, but sometimes I still manage to surprise myself and I come away happy.
Anyway, I aint getting any better but how good is it just to be out there. Makes you feel alive.
"What kooks have to realise is that it's not personal. Like you, Mr Angry just wants his waves, so ignore him and get on with it."
Salient point Stu, and does well to calm the nerves in an intimidating line-up.
I learnt to surf at 23 years old and had similar experiences to others on this thread. Patience and keeping your expectations in check definitely helped me in sticking with it - when starting out me and my mate called ourselves the bottomfeeder crew - regardless of the conditions we'd tell ourselves to be grateful for any onshore secondary reform we could get ourselves on.
4 years on now, and the struggle is still there, despite moving to the beach and trying to get in the water several times a week there are still elements of my surfing that make me feel like a complete kook and bad habits I just can't seem to shake. I've also hit a size threshold that I just can't seem to get beyond without exposing my inexperience.
Coming to Swellnet doesn't help either, as much as I enjoy reading the posts. SN members speaking on their experience on camping out at remote desert waves for months at a time, or getting amongst the recent 10ft swells pounding the east coast recently, highlights just how far ordinary punters can take the sport (and where I stand compared to those lifelong surfers). Unless I give up the people in my life (who came before surfing and have to now endure my self indulgent habit), quit my current line of work, and park myself up in indo for months at a time each year, I dont think I can even contemplate ever being prepared for a trip to, say for example, the Northwest.
Having said that, having recently spent time with another mate who's been learning the past year or so and I can see just how far I've come. I'm also at the stage where I can hold my own in some higher quality waves, in fact there have been a couple of occasions recently where surprisingly I've found myself a decent way up the hierarchy, with obliging locals allowing me to take my fair share because they recognise I can commit and take the wave with confidence. My playing field seems to get wider, the waves get better and what I can do on those waves has undoubtedly grown (particularly in the great run of surf we've had this year). Not to mention the considerable knowledge on surf spots, conditions, and reading waves that one accrues over the years.
Therefore if you want to surf at an older age, aside from keeping supremely fit, you need to have patience, keep your expectations in check and just enjoy the journey. This applies to any new hobby, but it is a must for surfing, which is undoubtedly the most frustrating and beautiful activity you can do!
For me it's all about the memories old ones and those yet to be formed I can say no regrets we lived a charmed existence even locally there seemed to be plenty of waves for all levels of skill our times on the edge of the world miles from anywhere were the best.
I'm still in the water when I do get to the beach some old friends who were good surfers now just belly board the stoke is still there that's the main thing.
I really believe we had the best of it in terms of crowds don't overthink it just enjoy
My old surf buddy who lives near broken gave up surfing about ten years ago because he said I feel like a kook
I told him buy a booger and get back out there the stoke is being in the waves. We use to ride an offshore coal reef out of kieta take his dingy through the harbour early morning anchor in the channel and ride the filth a place where I saw plenty pull back they would just let us have the waves and we would say it's yours if you want it there was no hassling on big days out there such was island life.
I hope he took heed.
KBomb if it isn't a late start to surfing, lack of practice or injuries then age will level you eventually. Don't sweat it, surfing isn't just being a hot surfer, it's a lifestyle and a carrot that dangles in front of you to keep you motivated and ironically frustrated at the same time, and it's not an easy art to master either.
The last 5 winters I've found the transition from a 3/2 to a 4/3 wettie and boots is almost a deal breaker, add to that long time outs due to ears and skin stuff, renovations and it got much harder, take offs being the issue. Any rate I don't care, it's better to be in the water than not plus a new Bong 4/3 that's light and really flexible and some 2mm Rippy Rubber Sole booties have made a difference. Technology does help as you age, I cringe at the thought of being an older surfer in the southern states in the early '60's,
One thing to remember is if you're of average ability or less find a spot away from the hungry pack and enjoy yourself rather than frustrate yourself.
There is a bloke at my local who is the true stereotypical definition of a classic kook, he manically paddles around frothing and snaking as if the world title is at stake, his trendy twinny barely turns as he wrenches his body into all sorts of contorted bum squats and hunched back crouches with an angry snarl on his ugly bearded dial all the while thinking he is ripping the waves to shreds and impressing the chicks. These are the kooks that give kooks a bad name. Kooks who are laid back and know they are kooks are a pleasure to surf with. IMHO being a kook is more to do with attitude than actual surfing ability. It takes many years of learning to surf to become a true kook. BTW I had a good run but age has turned me into a semi kook.
Old - dog , you must be from Seaford ?! Everybody knows THAT kook hahaha
What turns most good surfers great? Equipment!
What turns a kook into a competent surfer? Equipment!
Thanks for all the advice and comments. It's good to hear from other kooks and non kooks about how they see others in the line up. I definitely agree with the idea that everybody belongs out there if they know their place and respect the rules. I've been surfing a lesser quality break a bit of late and the crew there aren't shit hot surfers and are kookish. It's so much more relaxed, people are chatting, and there's no attitude. Really enjoying it.
I think the best thing you can do for your surfing is going to aa place like g-land for 4-6 months a year, somewhere that's offshore almost every day and has swell consistently.
Thats a big ask unless your couch surfing or still living with your parents.
Storage for all your home contents can be pricey.
There are still a few places in indo that are not crowded, offshore in the tradewinds you can camp next to for free im just not saying where.
Getting your wave count up in hollow waves like indo will greatly improve your abilities
My definition of a kook is an older or more able surfer trying to put it over youngsters on sub par days.
Witnessed this last weekend. Bluebird , offshore 2 foot day. Ready made for the kiddies. There were a couple of old fellas frothing around, paddling hard and really putting off the kids who would've otherwise glided into some nice waves for themselves. I've no tolerance for it.
Same could probably be said of any competent surfer trying to run laps around lesser water goers in less than optimal conditions.
Great thread. As others have mentioned, having the right perspective is important. Getting in your own head too much means you're probably getting in your own way with regard to surfing, as it can be as much a mental game, as it is physical/skill wise.
It can help to keep in mind, that in reality, other people don't think about you, anywhere near as much as you think they do.
Calling yourself a kook is possibly already doing yourself a disservice. Just see yourself as someone who likes to get out for a paddle and have fun, and don't take yourself too seriously.
I started surfing in my mid-teens. I never reached any dizzying heights, but I take solace in the fact that I'm the only one still surfing regularly out of all the guys I surfed with in the early years.
One thing that helped me get my joy back in surfing was equipment. I had always been on the standard thruster type style that everyone else was in the 90s and 00s. I hit 40 and was getting 'thicker', and the memorable waves were getting further and further apart.
I started working from home more often and ended up moving closer to the beach. I decided to try to take advantage of the flexibility and proximity to (questionable) surf (the much derided SA mid coast) by taking the plunge on a board more suited to the more likely conditions. I went with an el cheepo internet purchase back in the early days of online shopping (I think it was some groupon buy) of a 7ft fun board. It was a revelation! Just being able to get on more waves again sparked the stoke I was missing.
As I was getting more waves, I was starting to throw the board around a bit more, not being so worried it was the only wave I was going to get for the session. As it was a cheep'n'nasty board I soon managed to get a crack in the fin box, so I shelled out for a similar board with better quality a couple of years later.
I have since got a fish for bigger days and the occasional trip down south. Cracked the big 50 last year, and enjoying my surfing more than in my younger times.
Enjoy the precious time you get to spend in the waves as it can change very quickly, as I found out 2.5 years ago. I had come back from a family holiday in Qld for a few days. I woke up on a Saturday morning and felt kind of weird. Was sitting having my breakfast and suddenly started sweating and shaking. My heart started racing. Went to bed for a bit and then tried to get up and walk to the kitchen. I was stumbling all over the place, I had to run my arm along the wall as my head was spinning.
Several sessions with my head in the toilet bowl later we decided to call a locum as I had never had anything like this. He gave me a quick neuro check and determined I wasn't having a stroke - cool! With some anti-nausea meds the worst of the sickness gradually went away after a couple of days of bed rest, but the spinning head remained.
Then began what ended up being a 6 month run around to GPs, chiros, physios, ENT professor, MRI and CAT scans trying to figure out what was wrong with my head. Just trying to communicate what my head was feeling like was a big challenge. It was more a matter of elimination, with BPPV (a type of vertigo) the last to be eliminated. The ENT was suggesting a choice between an ablation of my vestibular system (essentially disconnecting my primary balance mechanism) or seeing a neuro-physiotherapist who works with stroke and car accident victims - I took option number B.
In the meantime, with all the various unsuccessful treatments, and the passing of time, my balance had recovered a little - I wasn't walking around like I was half-cut all the time. I decided to try and get out on the board. The first session was a nightmare. Just paddling out the back, with the small motions of the board moving on the water, was causing sparks to fly in my brain. Then, trying to take off was a whole other sensation. The rapid acceleration just made my motion sensing fritz out. The first 3 take offs I completely burgered. I finally managed to get my feet under me, and actually standing up was not as bad as paddling or the take off, but by then the wave had already run away from me.
While I took some solace in the fact that I could still stand up, the overwhelming feeling was a sense of grieving the stoke I may never get back. I kept pushing myself to get in the water and gradually started making a few more waves, even though my motion sensing was still going bananas.
The neuro-physio said that the brain had great plasticity, and could adapt. He said that my pushing myself to go surfing helped my brain adapt. He also gave me some exercises to train my brain to use my eyes and neck muscles to make up for my compromised vestibular system. His best guess as to cause was that it was probably a virus that activated in my brain, and attacked my inner ear. He estimated that the signal strength from my vestibular to brain was about 40% of normal and unusually, both sides were compromised, with different signal strengths from each side.
Sorry for the long rant. My learnings would be summed up with -
- appropriate equipment
- do what you need to to find the joy
- just get out there!
Good on you Soz.
It's funny Solitude, we seem to have almost diametrically opposed experiences.
I usually find the more experienced, competent surfers far more courteous and aware of etiquette than the less able and experienced.
Just last week I was surfing delightful little peelers down the end section, by myself.
Few guys up the top.
One shredder, flew past me and on the way back said "not paddling up the inside of you mate, next ones yours"
Then some euro backpacker came out and tried to paddle up my inside every wave.
I see that a lot.
And then said backpackers or kooks wonder why they get dropped in on the next wave they catch.
Also, the b grade spots tend to have worse behaviour, despite the chatty participants.
Thats just my experience.
I'll never forget the words of one of the more gnarly and infamous locals around here , he said "mate, I'm a fucking mirror, if people bring good vibes and manners that's what they get back, if they act like fuckwits they get a nightmare".
Got to say, based on my observations, that holds true over 90% of the time for travelling surfers visiting a break with a localised crew.
Freeride - certainly not a regular occurrence. These guys aren't locals, they are the equivalent of the backpacker scenario. Its just we don't get that many backpackers around here.
For the most part the vibes around these parts are very mellow and super supportive.
Soz, thanks for sharing. Good to hear you're getting the stoke back.
My experience is pretty similar to Free's- I find generally the most competent surfers are usually alright.
I'm afraid a kook is a kook no matter what equipment he (or she)choses to defile.
A guy I know was out at triggs a while back and there was a young self entitled chick on a mal paddling around with the compulsory G string up her crack showing her total learner boyfriend the ropes, she could get up and bum squat for a few meters before falling off and thought she ripping. My mate a competent well known surfer was getting all the waves due his superior talent as you do when princess had a major dummy spit accusing him of being a rude hog etc. etc. even though she was desperately trying to drop in on him way out on the shoulder on every wave.
He replied " What's up darling." I still laugh when I recall her comeback. " Don't call me darling, old man, don't you know I'm a surf instructor." Enough said. Cheers.
Very funny old-dog.
I think I ran over that chick.
It's all about perspective.
Sometimes I'm the best surfer in the water, other times the worst.
At some point everyone will be the worst (or nearly worst) surfer in the water.
Only thing I don't like is dangerous behaviour.
Unlike snow skiing, the "uphill" surfer has less time and opportunity to avoid contact, the drop-inner causes the problem. Beyond the danger who cares?
"I find generally the most competent surfers are usually alright." That'd be excluding certain pros on the Goldy though wouldn't it, Zen?
Yeah Term, shoulda precluded that post with the exception of certain Goldy pro's.
What I meant to say in my experience most really competent surfers are generally alright, they for the most part know the drill and they're gonna get their waves anyway.
Yeah agreed by and large Zen. Couldn't resist the opportunity to call out certain pros' behavior in the water though, they forget that they get paid to do something we all work to do...
You can see very experienced longboarders decide not to wear leashes and they instantly become dangerous kooks
As with everything in surfing, relatively empty good waves solve every grumble.
So many young and old kooks don't improve much, not just due to talent differences or what age they started but because they don't use their brain to think things through and so keep repeating simple mistakes.
Example: One guy I know took up surfing late but is pretty keen and rides a long board that should catch waves easily. But he never catches waves easily and or even paddles with anywhere near the speed he should. Some work on arm fitness would help, but more importantly he lies about 2 to 4 inches too far back on his board which lifts the nose just enough to push water. The paddling sweet spot even on a big board is really narrow. I have passed on the advice to shift forward but sure enough he slips back into his slightly too far back position. Why? Habit partly, but also I think he has some deep fear of nose diving and of really launching into a wave with speed. I also think fast takeoffs scare him when they are actually easier. In reality, being cautious results in many over the falls take offs because he is too slow.
We all have these quirks that could be fixed with a little thought.
for most people, if you give them 5 thousand waves they'll surf the 5 thousandth wave exactly the same as the first wave, ie with whatever good and bad habits they have.