Why surf, because...?

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

I'm not sure of the actual year, but it was during the first phase of social media, when people innocently conversed on Facebook without the threat of angry nutters taking poshots. A well-known shaper typed a three word statement followed by an ellipsis.

"I surf because..."

Within hours the post had hundreds of comments. There was the odd smart-arse response, but the majority were long and considered as people drilled down into their psyche and tried to explain their behaviours. It was fascinating stuff to read.

It may have been a coincidence that shortly afterwards Billabong used the same line in a marketing campaign, though I'd err the other way. And why wouldn't they poach it? The response to that original three word post, which ultimately clocked in at thousands of comments, was proof enough of its popularity. Even if you couldn't answer the question, I'll vouch that every single surfer who read it pondered why they stand on a board.

No-one can sheet surfing away as instinct, of which humans have just one: survival. But surfing isn't survival. Surfing is frivolous. It means nothing. Some people surf, many don't. I do, in fact I surf quite a lot, and for the life of me I can't explain why beyond the fact that it's fun. I couldn't explain it when the original Facebook post went up, nor when Rasta and Taj and Andy were telling us why they surfed. I couldn't give a satisfactory reason. More recently, a thread went up on the Swellnet forums asking the same question. Still no answer.

I do, however, have some clues. Analysing them requires a bit of time travel so bear with me as the clock winds backwards.

On the night of the '86 Beaurepaires at Cronulla I had an epileptic fit. I was 14-years old and I'd been drinking goon in the afternoon, yet the doctors didn't think it was the result of a reckless pubescent binge. Apparently it was more serious than that. Next week I had another fit. Then another one. I was quickly shifted up the medical chain from GP to neurosurgeon, undergoing all manner of brain scans. Things were happening around me that I didn't understand. Until one afternoon, while sitting in a doctors practice at Miranda I was hit with a bombshell: I couldn't surf anymore. Not at all. Because if I had a fit in the water I'd drown.

I'm not sure what age you started surfing, but at 14-years old I was at my most possessed. My bedroom looked like a surfshop with posters on every wall, I bought every issue of every mag, and there was no conversation that I couldn't somehow weave surfing into. And to take that away was devastating. I turned more mournful than Morrissey, and not helping matters was the drugs I was prescribed - and still take to this day - that made me drowsy and morose.

I recall forcing my Dad to watch me surf. He'd vigilantly pace the shoreline, ready to strip to his smugglers if his only son were to keel over and not come up. He did that whenever he could, but it wasn't often enough and it caused strain in the family. My parents tried to persuade me to take up other sports, ones that wouldn't kill me. Dear old Mum even cut out a story from The Sun about Tony Greig and how he was an epileptic but that didn't stop him being a champion cricketer and spruiker of breakfast cereals.

Tough work selling that to a surf mad kid.

"It's just like a cricket bat with holes"

As the months passed I began to develop a weird relationship with surfing. One that was more notional than physical. Like the wheelchair-bound kid at the footy who wears the club colours even though he'll never run onto the park. I couldn't surf, but I couldn't let go of it either.

About five months later, after another round of scans, the doctors found a glitch in my diagnosis. At the time epilepsy was a mystery, they were discovering more all the time, and the latest tests revealed I could only have fits while I was asleep. This was significant news to my doctor as it meant I could lead a normal life and, for instance, drive a car when I reached the legal age. But it only meant one thing to me: I could surf again.

This was years ago, obviously, but I sometimes wonder what sort of effect that event had on me. At the time, everyone I knew could weave surfing into a conversation, not just me, yet few of them surf anymore. So did losing surfing mean I valued it more when it was returned? Who knows..? Like epilepsy itself it's another top floor mystery and it'd take some time on a leather couch to get to the bottom of it.

The corollary:

In 1999 I was in Hawaii and met a guy named Matt. He was fearless and fit, always ready to physically test himself, which made him a great surf partner. Matt was also an epileptic, except his was fully blown, it could happen anytime and not just while asleep like myself. "If I go, I go," was his fatalistic reasoning and you might call it flippant but I understood entirely.

In 2000 I returned to the North Shore where I saw Matt at Sunset carpark and went up to reacquaint myself, see where he was staying, how long he was there for. Except it wasn't Matt but his brother, who told me Matt had died during the year. He'd had an epileptic fit in the surf and drowned. When I think of him I think I'm the luckiest fucker in the world.

But I still can't tell you why I surf.

Comments

wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 3:52pm

Good story.
Who was the shaper??

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:19pm

Banksy.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 3:54pm

We lived inland and I skated heaps, at 12 or 13 we moved to the coast wasn't much concrete anywhere in those days, dad hung with surfers and bought me a board and took me surfing everyday after school, so i can thank my dad.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:23pm

I can also only give a matter of fact reply to the question. I surf because I was introduced to it at a young age, thought it was fun, then it became a habit. 

All very trite compared to the soul-searching answers others have given.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:31pm

A habit?

Thats all you've got Stu?

I think you are being a bit disengenous there (not intentionally).

I could hear Tony Greig's accent when I saw that photo.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:38pm

It's not meditation for me, as I sometimes get brooding, territorial, or intense in the surf.

It's not self-improvement, as I'm no pro and don't go in for that anyway.

It's not my church, it just ain't.

Fitness? Maybe, but all I'm doing is keeping fit to surf more so that answer is self-defeating.

I've looked into it from all manner of angles, fuck knows I've got a lot of time to do so, but everything else sounded disenguous to me. Or incomplete, or something, they didn't explain why.

I get up before sunrise every single day and surf. It's a habit. A potent one I grant you, but I just do it 'cos I do it, and that sounds habitual to me.

Maybe I'm just past searching for reasons?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:41pm

I think you need to open up a bit more to your feminine side Stu.

You sound a bit repressed.

Can I recommend a workshop in Byron Bay?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:45pm

Yes I wonder what Stuette would say?

I went looking back over those Bong 'I surf because...' ads and the only one that rung true for me was Justine Dupont: "I surf because from the first wave I just couldn't stop."

Ritual de lo habitual.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:02pm

I just paddled out in grey water chop suey with waves going every direction but all of them shutting down on a shin-deep sandbank. I've no idea why I went out, there was no meditation, no higher plane, not even much fitness. I just did.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:05pm

yeah, I did that all summer....now I've stopped.

I'm miserable but not frustrated.

But Stu, re: this habit thing.
You stopped for a while didn't you? Went to the city and broke the habit.

So, why come back to it?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:16pm

Nah, never stopped. At various times I moved away from surfers, as I felt I had to do during those stages in life. Lived at Newtown, Erskineville, Glebe, but I still surfed a lot and was first off the rocks during any decent swell. The habit endured.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:45pm

I reckon for a lot of us it's a habit in the same sense the smoking is for some. Anything that gives you those little hits of dopamine, seratonin, adrenaline, etc can become an addiction.

I can think of plenty worse things to be addicted to!

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:20pm

Interesting Stu, I rescued a kid having a fit once. Fortunately it was just one of those glassy eyed minor ones so it really wasn't a drama to get him to the beach. I took him home and spoke to his parents. They knew he had fits but he hadn't had one for a couple of years so they thought it was all good.

Laurie McGinness

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:17pm

Thanks for sharing Stu.

Perhaps I surf because, I can.

I moved away from the waves for years at a time but the call of the ocean would always draw me back into its magical world.

Some would say Only a surfer knows the feeling, and it's true.

That first wave, the first cutback, reo or tube ride meld into a blended memory but particular moments (waves) can be recalled with clarity liked they happened only yesterday.

Nothing beats being in the ocean on a clean offshore day with just a few other surfers.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:22pm

I’ve been wanting to start this topic for a while. I love the heterogeneous community that is on these forums. Many of my mates don’t surf so it’s a great place to chat shop about the thing we love. Lately with all the chatter about PWC’s, crowds, insta, surf spot exposure it’s pretty clear to me many of us surf for different reasons. Maybe our reasons have changed over the years, maybe we don’t even know?

.....mine....

It’s so multi faceted. On the surface it’s fun, challenging, fitness.
But it runs so much deeper. I used to be a sports nut, loved the competition. Now I couldn’t really give a stuff, surfing took over.
I think it’s the connection with nature and the variety and change that comes with surfing. No day, no session, no wave is ever the same. It does get spiritual. How good are those days you pick off a few before work, before the sun is up even. It’s like you’ve got a little secret that can’t be understood by others through the day.
For me those perfect 6 foot days are epic but as I get older, my responsibilities grow, a quiet little clean 2 foot session out front keeps me buzzing all day.

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:23pm

You’ve nailed it Solitude. I’m city based, so mainly a weekend warrio, but those pre-work surfs are hard to top. It’s like you’re cheating the system. Which is why I’ve just got two boards ready for the 2.5 hr return trip to the coast before work tomorrow morning. Get a couple of good ones and I float through the day.

Webbo's picture
Webbo's picture
Webbo commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:23pm

I have been reading this forum for a long time and decided its time to join,love everyone's input.
There is a saying 'If you haven't surfed you haven't lived'
Oh so true once it's in your blood it consumes you.
You just want to travel and surf those places you see photo's of even if you can't afford it,credit card go now pay later.
Yeeeooow

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:24pm

I love the emotions a good line up shot can evoke. Much prefer those shots to water shots of barrels / airs etc. and short video clips.
I notice constant clips on other sites of pros surfing some beachie or wherever and I find the constant bombardment of 3 min edit extremely ho-hum and quite uninspiring.
I'm glad there as many thought provoking articles on this site.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:24pm

For me, it's meditation, release and escape. The way time seems to stop, the past and future and conscious thought melt away, leaving just the ocean and your reaction to it. The way a solid carve seems to release so much pent up tension you didn't realise you have.

It's a social thing too - though most of my old surfing buddies have drifted away, I still get the odd solo session with my old man (who's in his 60s and still one of the best watermen & surfers (once the waves get big enough) I know), and that's a wonderful thing.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:24pm

to get out of the house.

and it feels good too.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:25pm

Its funny how you can be having fairly shit or average surf and just one turn, drop, etc can give you that 'feeling' and make the session well worthwhile.
I like how you never perfect it. Probably why people like golf too.

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:25pm

I've definitely been questioning why I surf this summer/autumn.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:25pm

In the last four months I've had 3 treatments for a persistent spot on my forehead that have kept me out of the water for at least 2 of the 4 months, last week I had the right ear operated on for surfer's ear and will be out , at least, for another month. All related to surfing, so why do I surf, is a pertinent question to me at the moment, all I will say is an abstinence makes the desire to get back in the water far stronger than if all was cruising along normally. You only ever really miss it until you've been forced to stop for a length of time.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:26pm

Surfing helps stop grumpy old man syndrome puts a smile on the dial plus my local is very social, making a few on a solid day is manna for the soul.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:27pm

(note.. I've transferred the comments over from the original forum thread to this article, as it fits in a little better - nice to have the convo in one spot too.. hope that's OK with y'all!).

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:34pm

It's a good question.

Never been a big fan of team sports, so I always liked the fact that I can surf without having to rely on anyone (though, as a grommet, my heavy reliance on Mum and Dad - and then mates with cars - to get down the coast didn't dampen things).

I suppose I surf because I can. I've learnt pretty quickly that if I'm totally shithouse at something, I don't persist with it for very long. Surfing allows me to recalibrate expectations depending on a variety of factors, so I'm almost always stoked.

I suppose at my age, the question is - what would I have done with my life if I didn't surf?

Now there's a scary thought.

helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:57pm

"life is a waste of time and surfing is as good away as any to waste it."

Kc's picture
Kc's picture
Kc commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:01pm

Read somewhere that the brain is puzzle solver and releases feel good endorphins when something is solved /completed.
Every wave is a new puzzle, and it feels great when you get it right.

Kc

jezza64's picture
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jezza64 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:06pm

One of my favourite pieces of graffiti on the 'Bong poster in Torquay.... scratched into the billboard- "I surf because...FOOTY SUX"

chook's picture
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chook commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:07pm

i've always admired herman melville's story "bartelby the scrivener". when bartelby is asked why (i won't spoil the plot and reveal what he did) he replies "because i choose to".

belly's picture
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belly commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:49pm

I grew up on the coast but have lived inland since I was 12 due to boarding school and work. Done the team sport thing but I reckon surfing is either in your blood or it isn't. My brother still lives in my home town, he has messed with surfing on/off over the years but he's not a surfer if you know what I mean.

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:54pm

It's the $64,000 question isn't it? Given the amount of time and energy it has absorbed and the way it has shut down other options along the way it would be nice to have an answer. Opportunity was a key, we lived pretty close to the beach. Maybe some genetics too, since both my parents came from sea faring families. My father was a ship's engineer and my mother's family worked (some still do, I think) for Cunard. Beyond that I suppose it was a way to achieve adolescent acceptability. It was cool to surf and if you have a few chops at 14 it's a waste not to take advantage. Another huge factor for me, which no longer applies, was that we kids absolutely owned it. Yeh there were a few twenty year olds but 90% of the "crowd" was local kids. It jelled with the times too, that sixties and seventies youth quake or whatever you want to call it. And before long it wasn't just about riding waves, people were building boards, taking photos, making housings, writing about it. It just opened up to this exciting culture brimming with opportunity for those willing to go light on security and long on fun. So that was like the bridge between adolescence and some, very limited, maturity. By that time it had become part of my identity. I was a surfer, just about every male I knew surfed. I mean what else was there? Well drugs, of course, but I wasn't really interested beyond a bit, well OK, quite a bit, of experimentation. Music? I was a late starter on that longest of all apprenticeships so loved to listen but needed a lot of years to get to the stage where I could play even the simplest shit. Over the years the culture grew less important to me. I had other interests and other friends but there was still the reality that it was something that made me feel good. By that time it was also pretty obvious that regular surfing was a huge factor in staying physically and mentally healthy. Soalthough I was less embedded in that culture, Surfing was still really important in my life. Add in that I still knew a shitload of people who surfed and the social contact aspect was also important. So 55 or so years later, here I am, still at it 4 or 5 times a week, still watching the weather, still whenever possible, planning my day around the surf session. And yeh, I reckon I've got another decade or so left in me.

Laurie McGinness

peterb's picture
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peterb commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:55pm

... because I had only myself to blame if I couldn't do it.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:58pm

Footy, soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, cricket ( anything is better than cricket ) badminton, running, cycling, the gym, monopoly all suck compared to getting a wave. I haven't tried lawn bowls and beers after dark yet.

maddogmorley's picture
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maddogmorley commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 6:09pm

Because it takes me places and keeps me close with my mates....the 1hr each way mini-road trip every weekend with the boys is gold - doesn't really matter what the surfs like.

Timmy 56's picture
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Timmy 56 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:10pm

I to wonder why , i surfed a bit when I was a kid mainly at the breaks around cott , seconds, Vera view and cott main then life got in the way, the grog other sports ,some work and a couldnt give a fuck attitude,but now am 54 and have been surfing again for about seven years, and can still recall my best surfs on three fingers , but it is the feeling you get just before you snap to your feet and your looking down the wave face and thinking wow this is gonna be good that I love, conversely when you kook it , it is the worst , needless to say I have plenty of the bad feelings and the thought of the good ones keeps me coming back.

simba's picture
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simba commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:13pm

I was alot like Stu above ,always up for the early, paddling out in the dark was normal a lot of the time with work resticting times in winter,couldnt get enough of it ,20 minutes at lunch time if i was in eye shot of the waves.But have slowed down a lot the last 5 years with a lot of wear and tear from so much paddling,twisting etc that i really dont call myself a surfer anymore compared to 20 years ago. I get out there when i can but dont rush like i used to but still enjoy just being there in the ocean,catch a wave and it makes you feel a part of something a lot bigger,make a barrel and for a moment your part of the cosmos but that feeling dosent go away for me...wouldn't change it for the world.

simba

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:44pm

When I first started at around 14 it was just because it looked like such a fun fucken thing to do, most of my mates did it, chicks loved surfy boys, you didn’t have a coach or rules or start times or “practice”...
Now my reasons have changed.
Only a couple of close mates surf, and when I’m out there these days it’s a way to escape work, stress, car loans, mortgage, clients, phone calls, emails.. mundane life in general I guess.
Plus I find it’s a good way to scare yourself every now and then, when it’s bigger and your adrenaline is pumping and you really fucken know your alive.

But one thing that hasn’t changed since I was a little 14 year old pin dick riding a 6’10 trigger brothers heapa, is that even if it’s the smallest, quickest, head dippiest tube ever, I only need a one second glimpse out of that little happy place and my day is instantly made.
I still go to bed thinking of different tubes I’ve had over the years from different parts of the world and I reckon I almost fall asleep with a smile on my face

greyhound's picture
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greyhound commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:54pm

Among other reasons, of which there are many,I love going fast and the G forces in a good cutty. I’ve also been told by the wife, I’m an introvert. just me and the wave.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:55pm

An intense conversation I have with a life long surfing mate is what do we do if and when we can no longer surf neither of us have an answer.

Toppa's picture
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Toppa commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:28pm

Like many in the community I have had a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. When I am on a wave nothing else exists. Whilst riding a wave only lasts a matter of seconds, for that short time I am perfectly focussed and free from anxiety. That is why I surf. Having been fighting cancer for twelve months and fortunately winning the fight I haven’t been able to get out very much. Hoping to do so a lot more during this coming Vic autumn and winter.

Toppa

brainiac's picture
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brainiac commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:01pm

Go Toppa. I hope you get many solid sessions and good waves this winter. Beat that motherfucker jack dancer.

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 10:45am

Good on you Toppa for being open and I hope the waves continue to help. BTW, Craig's latest forecast notes are pointing to an excellent run on the Surf Coast. Hope you get out there.

mattlock's picture
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mattlock commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:46pm

Because Surfing is Good.

Mitchellbuild's picture
Mitchellbuild's picture
Mitchellbuild commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:53pm

I surf because??
For The same reason I pull myself to the point of orgasmic pleasure,
Because it feels good.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 11:17pm

Reasons
- the hunt
- the score
- exploring
- the trophy (wave)
- scarcity
- risk and adrenaline with a soft landing
- anticipation
- the unknown
- beauty
- showing off skill to mates and girls
- achievement - pulling off a good move
- creative expression carving novel lines on a temporary canvas
- flow
- the sensation of carving water
- acceleration
- weightless moments close to flight
- tactile senses of water, wave texture and wipeouts
- escape from the day to day
- the pleasure of wasting time rather than being productive
- fun
- occasionally, best of all, in perfect conditions, with long peeling glassy waves, with, no one much around to distract the mood, it gets a bit mystical and other worldly as you speed along weightless and free encased in a bubble of speed and flow.......

So many nuances compared to most other things we do in life.

These days few friends surf much (but we still talk about it), I am a bit more fussy and avoid crowds and low probability hunts. Binge when I go.

The most exciting times were the first few years but many years later it remains something precious in my life.

Frogg

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 9:55am

Jeez Frog, you've got it sorted.

eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 10:46pm

I surf because waves are beautiful women

And I love riding beautiful women

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 10:32am

Haha, reminds of a saying I once heard "I'm a mountain man and I love mountain women"

brainiac's picture
brainiac's picture
brainiac commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:13pm

I surf for many reasons the fun, the clarity of thought i get in the water, the natural beauty of the ocean. I love the Flow and glide of whizzing down the line. Most of all i appreciate the beauty of waves. I love watching a beautiful set wave that somehow goes unridden when your paddling back up the line up.To watch it break and just appreciate the form of the wave. The glassiness, the curves, the pitching lip, the bowl, the wall and in a flash its behind you. I also love getting a flogging!! I will take off on a wave that i know i wont make just to feel the power of the ocean, to let it tumble me, rag doll , hold me down, beat me up and come up cursing the mother fucker with a big grin. Beatings release the stress and angst of normality!

big wave dave's picture
big wave dave's picture
big wave dave commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 3:07am

all of the above, PLUS, it's the best way to forget life's little speed-humps. Getting caught inside on a solid day is the most "living in the moment" thing I know

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 5:01am

Well said, frog. That's a good list.

It keeps me stoked and starry eyed. Keeps me walking that extra mile around the corner. Teaches humility. Brings joy and terror and exultation. Keeps you connected to the universe.

Here's a quote from Italian climbing great Walter Bonatti. He never surfed, but sounds like he would have enjoyed it.

"Adventure cannot survive if we alter or destroy uncertainty, risk, courage, exaltation, solitude, and isolation. We must preserve the sense of exploration and discovery of the impossible, of improvisation, of putting ourselves to the test using only our own resources. Nowadays, all these are either repressed or abolished from our day-to-day lives. Adventure involves our whole being: it draws out all that is best and most human in us."

Walter Bonatti

science's picture
science's picture
science commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 5:58am

I almost never surf, but check forecasts every day (for about 15 years). I don't surf because... ?
If I had the motivation to surf every day I'd probably be a much healthier and happier person. But I guess some of us are just dreamers and develop all the wrong habits

groovie's picture
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groovie commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 6:33am

Introduced to surfing by my uncles when I was six Or maybe eight yrs old! Guess it's ingrained in me, I still enjoy the solitude & excitement of the ocean environment. After a 3 month holiday from surfing due to injury, my wife is telling me to get back out there as I'm a different person when not getting my fix. Surfing is my release from life's various stresses, I've been doing it for 40 yrs or more & although my surfing isn't as dynamic as days gone by the enjoyment of catching a good wave & ripping into a few moves never ceases to lose its magic.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 8:59am

Many under 30's on this site? Doesn't seem to be many comments from the millenials. Would be interesting.

Pops's picture
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Pops commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 9:35am

I'm an under-30 second-generation surfer (been surfing about as long as I've been walking, apparently starting with tandem surfs with my old man long before I can remember). I've commented above.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 12:04pm

Yeah cool. I'm a bit over 30. Reading your post, I think we surf for very similar reasons.

scroty's picture
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scroty commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 9:05am

A Tim Winton quote stood out for me:
"How strange it was to see men do something beautiful. Something pointless and elegant, as though nobody saw or cared."
When you ride a good wave well, it feels like you are part of hundreds of events aligning against all probability.
I sometimes get a similar feeling when playing soccer and in the middle of all the fumbling and crowding the team suddenly performs a series of linked passes and the field is all space.
I put myself through all the ugly, clumsy moments for those instants of alignment.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Sunday, 25 Aug 2019 at 8:10am

.

atticus's picture
atticus's picture
atticus commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 10:21am

It doesn't explain why I surf, but your last line is exactly how I feel.

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 3:27pm

i came of age in the 1970s and was attracted to the drug-taking, not working lifestyle of australian surfing championed at the time. to this day, i'm a mushroom-munching, weed-smoking, work-shy surfer and i love it!

there is also another reason...the Walter Bonatti quote from Island Bay captures it. I love rock climbing and bushwalking. but getting the sense of adventure and wilderness in the bush takes a bit of planning and a couple of days of walking. whereas surfing gives me that with a ten-minute walk to the beach and a three-minute paddle out.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 3:04pm

I initially read that as "I came in at the age of 70 and was attracted to the drug-taking, not working lifestyle".

Better late than never I suppose!

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Sunday, 10 Mar 2019 at 12:17pm

ben, good to see you're not age-ist!

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 10:47am

I could potentially examine why I started and why I kept at it over the years. But now it's because I have to. I can't explain it any other way.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 11:26am

Great read. I've wondered for a long time why surfers collectively are compelled to go surfing and I think it has a lot to do with one's state of mind during the wave riding process. When a surfer rides a wave they are in a state of being, rather than doing, what most of us do most of the time in waking life. During those precious seconds on a wave, the world around ceases to exist and it is simply the individual completely present in the moment. I think that this state of being is highly addictive, which could also help explain aggression and localism in the water, as waves are a finite resource and there are a lot of surfers all wanting to maximise the number of times they achieve this state of being per surf (and even protect it). I'm also a skateboarder, and have noticed this state of being is also achieved mid-trick (e.g., while performing an ollie), the feeling is far more acute than surfing but less sustained compared to riding a wave. This might also explain why skaters are so compelled to skate, but unlike surfing, skateboarding terrain is far more abundant and there is inherently less aggression and localism present.

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 5:26pm

I believe the state of mind you (and many) refer to while on a wave is a common condition to all sport-men and to many artists too.
And driver, climber, footy player and whatever will tell you that in that moment they forget about all the rest. Same for a painter or writer or whatever.
Surfing gives you less of that, so you may be more attracted to it, or feel it as more special, but I don't think it's the "secret factor".

312T4

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 12:11pm

That's the thing isn't it. Think of what has to come together to get those special moments (of course depends on you perspective and definition of special).
There has to be strong enough wind over sufficient fetch in the right direction, with the right period, the right tide, right local wind, right bathymetry.
On top of all that you've got to be at the right spot and have the appropriate skills to be able to take advantage of those few seconds of magic that has been offered up.
No wonder its so special.

Smitdoggie's picture
Smitdoggie's picture
Smitdoggie commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 12:25pm

I'm heading towards my 50th year and surf as much as I ever have and on short boards. Tough question to answer. Even tougher is trying to understand why the majority of my friends actually stopped surfing - for good. That baffles me to no end! Kind of up there with choosing to stop breathing...

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 2:19pm

The excitement in Lieutenant Colonel William Kilgore’s face when he heard that Gunner's Mate Lance B. Johnson was in town and their subsequent conversation says it all.
No matter who we are or what we do in life, when it comes to ANYTHING surfing, were all just the same surf addicted Bill Kilgore’s and will do anything to get our next fix!!!

le-renard's picture
le-renard's picture
le-renard commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 2:40pm

It's all about the slide for me, effortless motion.
It's about as close to flying, freely, as you can get maybe?

It's dynamic, reactive.

Being immersed in the ocean itself is special just on it's own.

But it is just fun, it doesn't have to be any more than that, does it?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 3:06pm

"Even tougher is trying to understand why the majority of my friends actually stopped surfing - for good."

To me, that's the far more interesting question.
People who stick at it are the exception, not the rule.

Most people quit.

ljkarma's picture
ljkarma's picture
ljkarma commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 5:17pm

freeride, maybe some clues to be found here...
https://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/dlr/article/viewFile/259/264

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 5:13pm

Most people quit?
Is this accurate?

312T4

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 3:24pm

i know why mates have quit surfing -- full time work and kids leave very little time for surfing. they also don't have a lot of time for exercise and so aren't fit. and it's a death spiral from there, as surfing ability drops so does desire to surf.
a few have dropped out after injuries/illness that kept them out of the water for a while.
the ones that have stuck with it are lazy layabouts without kids or have flexible work hours.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 4:07pm

Hey chook. I'm a slack bastard with no kids AND I have flexible (and minimal) work hours.

You nailed it!

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 5:10pm

What age range are we talking about here?
Consider that surfing was not part of my universe until 32 and I live in Brisbane.
I learned while traveling on weekends and still do after 7 years and a surgery that kept me away from 6 months.
I suspect that surfing at early age makes people satisfied and less keen to commitment??
The day I won't have strength to paddle I'll buy an electric board and will keep going.

312T4

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 4:04pm

I used to surf sth straddie a lot when I was younger and lived in Brissy. I was out with a random older guy at the time and got chatting and he said, 'mate if you don't get yourself to the coast at some point soon then life WILL take over. Once you've got mortgages, kids, etc you won't be a surfer any longer'.
I reckon he was probably right. Not long after that, I got a job near a beach and never looked back. I'm lucky enough now to be able to walk to the beach and even though those responsibilities are higher, surf time a little shorter, I'm still down there most days and all the better for it.

Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 5:30pm

I saw this elderly couple watching a few surfers pulling into some sizeable sets at my local a couple of days ago. They were clearly mesmerised and entertained watching blokes pull into some solid bombs gasping when they didn't make the section. I doubt they had ever surfed and it made me appreciate that I get to experience that.
Anyway..

I surf because I love the ocean and I love the ocean because I surf and so it continues

spencie's picture
spencie's picture
spencie commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 5:45pm

Great story. Some entertaining comments too.

easterly

Max Wax's picture
Max Wax's picture
Max Wax commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 6:29pm

21 yr old: I know the ocean will always clear my head whether life is up or down, and riding the waves provide the fix that i've become dependent on for life.
Soul fulfilling or Void-filling? Bit of both i think

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 7:42pm

My endorphins never tire of getting tubed like my arms do. It is never boring when there are waves and her moods offer real challenge, frightening humbling uncompromising. The ideal place to meditate and learn. Is there a more joyous thing?

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 8:02pm

.......because, i can get away from the missus.... no phone; pretend i'm looking the other way: no glasses on so can't see her; hearing aid out so can't hear her; waves too noisy; etc, etc, etc

Mr mick

Optimist's picture
Optimist's picture
Optimist commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 5:30am

I surf because I can't not.
Around 50 years ago my cousins sawed 3 feet off a mal and bogged it up. It was 6 foot long, it was purple and it was mine. I remember my first surf clearly. The central coast, 5 foot barrels and pure glass all day. I got flogged for hours before getting a rail in and trimming for about 5 metres. Never looked back...good thing or bad I was addicted for life.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 8:05am

Sounds familiar. Dec 21st 1987, first surf. I was hooked after about five minutes. Probably the most significant event of my life, in terms of how much it shaped the future for me. It's strange how some people just get hooked immediately and others surf for a short while and then just give up.

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 4:59pm

True.

312T4

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 10:15am

I still enjoy surfing 40th year now for me, i can most mornings as i work for myself.
But it's not like it used to be surf quality wise, (Mid Nth coast) early there is the before workers then if you go later you get the non workers and retired guys.
A crowd around here is 20-30 but when you have 2 good waves in a set everyone else are scrambling for the rest.
I usually give winter a miss unless its pumping, hate steamers.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 1:09pm

In my 60th year (started around 7 years old with a couple of breaks) and need to work hard on fitness to keep up with my son and his mates (mid 20's) who are always dragging me out. I just love the being in the water and getting flushed out after a hard week. Weekend warrior with the odd mid week jaunt. It is just a great break from my day job which I love as well. Not sure I could surf and do nothing else as I need the cranium challenge as well. Still surf through winter and make an indo trip (just Bali mainly with the trouble and strife which crowd wise was off the charts with euros last year). My wife has always said she is competing with surfing for my attention and I still don't understand the drive which becomes an obsession once I get a few quality waves. The rest of the world stands still and it is just surf, surf, surf until the spell is broken.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 2:24pm

ah, the old death spiral.

seen that a few times. A variant, common on kids who grow up surfing good waves, is they move to the city and stop. Sometimes permanently.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 2:38pm

Can be hard work getting back on board the surfing train after you’ve chosen to disembark for a while. It certainly moves a lot faster than you realised when your regular surfing self first sprung so lightly from the carriage.

A stint working in the desert and knocking over a few tins each night puts you far below base camp when you’re paddling towards the Everest of a thundering reefbreak , the first waves you’ve seen in months.

Mixed metaphors acceptable on Saturday arvos.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 2:45pm

Tony Grieg looks like he’s picked up a solid whiff of shit emanating from his Nutri grain.

Still smiling in a fashion. The man knows who butters his bread. Work it for the camera , Tony.

MidWestMonger's picture
MidWestMonger's picture
MidWestMonger commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 3:40pm

Could of given up when younger, getting flogged, thought i was gonna drown, rode the bus on the shoulder desperate to get to dry land looked right at the last minute, someones on the wave locked in and im gonna [email protected] it for him. came up and got punched in the face, told to [email protected] off kook.
Stayed with it just avoided people, moved to Margaret River. Early one morning at empty redgate was in the middle of the beach for some reason paddled late for a left.
Expected to get smashed at the bottom, had my eyes closed, i think the sound is what i remember first. Totally alien gurgling sound. Open my eyes, its dark. i look up towards the light coming from an odd upsidedown lasso shape made by water. Its mesmerising, maintaining its shape but flowing , i dont breathe or move a muscle, just keep staring. the lasso suddenly closes and the wipeout i expected happens. my brain is still trying to process the strange happening between take off and the wipeout. Adrenalin flowing i woop loudly but the long beach is empty not a soul witnessed a thing, except maybe a gull on the rocks.
Hopelessly addicted from then on

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 7:43pm

Great story man.

MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin commented Sunday, 10 Mar 2019 at 11:45am

I still surf at 64 because I grew up 5 blocks from the beach, saved my paper run money to buy my first board and it started a series of lifestyle choices including lifelong mates, travel, career choice (teacher / school Principal - you can surf before & after work and holidays)
Now its more about fitness, health and surfing the gentleman's hour on a shortboard

kooklife's picture
kooklife's picture
kooklife commented Sunday, 10 Mar 2019 at 7:23pm

My old man used to push us into little white washes when I was a little and it made me smile....I got given an old beater by one of his mates and it made me smile.....i caught and stood up on my first wave and it made me smile....first turn and I smiled, first wipeout made me smile......and so it went on and 30 years later a good drop, turn barrel and/or wipeout will all still make me smile......I guess I might stop if doesn't but for now I'll continue to froth like a grom and keep smiling.....

JosephStalin's picture
JosephStalin's picture
JosephStalin commented Sunday, 10 Mar 2019 at 11:07pm

Forget who said it, maybe Shaun briley some mad dog anyway "it's a good way to waste time" good enough for me

spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack commented Sunday, 10 Mar 2019 at 11:47pm

An inexplicable, alluring addiction. Better than the finest ganja and arguably the most fun you can have with boardies on. Mixture of fear, joy, endorphin rich intoxication and moments of elation and frustration.

Into the mystic . . . the art of surfing. Thanks McTavish, Lynch, Anderson, Cairns, Horan, Greenough, Drouyn et al for the inspiration.

Stay salty

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 4:54pm

I like your comment.

312T4

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 11 Mar 2019 at 9:29am

"I wasted most of my life, the rest I went surfing". Not sure who said that, but, it resonates with me.

I'll also add, and disagree with Stu, that surfing for me is about survival. I have found numerous times that without surfing my overall health (physical and mental) deteriorated, so now ensure a regular dose of the Ocean to cleanse from the frazzle of life.

And, yes, how true those early before work sessions and feeling so much better throughout the day. Just last week I had to attend a meeting in the city, and having had a quick surf, revelled in the fact I had enjoyed the ocean unlike 99% of those around me stuck in traffic and hassling through the city streets.

A Few Fun Waves ... That's what it's all about for me!

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Monday, 11 Mar 2019 at 11:02am

I've had extended periods of not surfing much. There is one good thing about that. It is quite liberating not having your happiness tied to local wind, wave and sand conditions.

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 4:48pm

What a great discussion.
I agree and disagree with most!
Take my example: life in a office. Almost no sport at all for many reasons (even if I love sport). Moved to Australia (Brisbane) at 32yo. Didn't know a thing about surfing. Took a lesson at 35 almost like a joke. Got the bug. Then I fund myself driving to the coast every single weekend for 7 years.
It's not because my dad taught me it. It's not because it's a habit. It's not because I miss it if I don't go (I always miss it). It's not because I enjoy the trip with friends (I don't mind going alone).
And it's not because I love the green room (never ever came close to that).
Not because I unplug my mind. Not for meditation. Not for getting closer to mother nature. Not for 'being in the moment'.
I think, for me, it's because it's fun. And because the reward is never enough to completely satisfy your hunger.
I think it's because it's never enough and you never get to where you'd like to be. There's always more to learn. And always a day with better conditions to look forward too.
It's a loop. A trick. A spell.
You need a wizard to explain it.

312T4

P'tai's picture
P'tai's picture
P'tai commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 5:08pm

Got my first foamy when I was five. Rode that thing for three years, till I could show that i could surf! then at 8 got my first fibreglass board, it was actually a G & S knee board from Caringbah. (Thats how much my dad knew) but he bought it cause he thought it was about the right length for a 8 y old. Love it ha ha ha. Now I'm 58 Still riding shortboards, most of which I shape my self. But its about getting out there, even when it doesn't look that good, as said above one take off or one cutty, or just a flow nails it. then you just keep smiling for the rest of the day. I love it and the community i have met through surfing. You are part of it too.

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 7:41pm

I surf coz its fun. I started surfing late in life and it literally changed my life and direction. I became a surfer. I quit my job sold my house in the city and moved closer to the beach. Now I surf almost everyday, and not everyday is fun but as has been said before you only need one good one to turn it around. I guess having been a weekend warrior for a while made me appreciate surfing more.
If its not fun I go out there in case I do have fun. There's nothing like being out there surrounded by mother earth, watching the sun come up, communing with the dolphins, on a beautiful clear glassy day and feeling "How good is this?" Then a fun one comes thru and day made..........Thats why I surf

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Tuesday, 12 Mar 2019 at 10:57pm

Here's a Poem

Why Surf, because

Because it is like the Earth moving beneath you

Like above, it is like the Earth moving beneath you,

Fed's picture
Fed's picture
Fed commented Wednesday, 13 Mar 2019 at 1:33pm

I'm sorry but flatearthers would disagree.. :)

312T4

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Wednesday, 13 Mar 2019 at 11:32am

The question is, why surf at all?
* Least time effective pastime. Pretty much like playing tennis, except you have a rally for 3 to 30 seconds then walk around the court for a while then sit on your backside for a longer while.
* Posturing, pretentious, self important sub culture.
* Ridiculous surf industry. Model for global imperialism.
* Hugely crowded.
* Tribe mentality.
* Contributes nothing to the greater good.
* Negative enviromental impact (blanks/resin/neoprene/surfware/planes/surf camps/cars.)

onetimeonly

dastasha's picture
dastasha's picture
dastasha commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 8:13am

I've asked myself this exactly, plenty of times.
In saying that its about the escape from reality for me

Jonoboy's picture
Jonoboy's picture
Jonoboy commented Wednesday, 13 Mar 2019 at 12:31pm

Its simple
It makes me happy !!

Ken Oath's picture
Ken Oath's picture
Ken Oath commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 9:11am

Great article, Stu, and comments by all. It's a topic that I have pondered over the years as well. I've more recently discovered that there's a lot of evidence that backs up the benefits we obtain from surfing, and therefore may help explain why we get hooked on it. For example, according to the Self Determination Theory, we all have three basic psychological needs - competence (being effective in what we do) , autonomy (being in control of what we are doing) and relatedness (having relationships with others). I think surfing ticks all three boxes pretty well! It is also a great way of achieving 'flow' - becoming so engaged in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, and gaining so much enjoyment from it that you do it even at great cost (sounds familiar, right?!?!). This all supports what surfers already know intuitively - surfing has many benefits to our health and wellbeing - physical, mental, emotional, etc

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 9:55am

'Ken oath, Ken Oath....
... the psychology makes sense. I'd say the brain could explain a few things too.
As humans we are constantly seeking to activate the reward centre of the brain to receive that all important 'dopamine' hit.
That's why we are driven to drink, eat, have sex, succeed, the list goes on.
With all the various explanations in the many posts above, no wonder we keep coming back to the ocean for the next 'fix' when you think of it from a neurophysiological framework.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 10:14am

that doesn't explain why most people try it and quit.

You are, most surfers do; make the continual mistake of confusing the exception with the rule.

Most people dabble and quit. Thats the rule. It's not some amazing, addictive activity for most people who try it.

Some, very few, make it a lifetime pursuit. The exceptions.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 10:39am

I think you're over complicating it F.R. People throughout their lives will try a massive amount of activities/pursuits/whatever.....once or twice. Think tennis, football, golf, climbing, lawn bowls, knitting, cooking, guitar playing the list is infinite.

Eventually we all find something or a few things that resonate with us for a variety of reasons and we stick with that activity at the expense of the others to become more proficient.

It just so happens that many on this forum have chosen surfing because it ticks OUR boxes.

Believe it or not the majority of people couldn't give a fuck about getting spat out of a good tube on a picture perfect coral reef.......even if they 'dabbled' in surfing at some stage in their life.

Just like I couldn't give a rats about trying to get a decent sound out of a guitar myself even though I like the sound of one well played.

I hope that helps!

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 11:08am

FR:
you make a good point but I'm not suggesting this as an explanation of why people try and quit. Simply to state this idea may be a small part of our love, addiction and commitment to aspects of surfing. Just as it is very multifactorial why people quit. I guess the reward doesn't outweigh the negatives / challenges in people who stop doing it. There are other pursuits that are a stronger or simpler pull for them.
Its undeniable that in those of us who are 'surfers' get a positive neurochemical influence when we surf. As with anything, that is why we feel good.
This is not to be confused with the infinite other reasons both organic or extrinsic that drive some of us to surf.

Basil's picture
Basil's picture
Basil commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 11:22am

There's something strangely alluring about "boards" for me and I can't put my finger on it. I skied casually in my early years but it was just a bit of fun. First time I jumped on a snowboard, I fell in love. Rode a boogie board every family holiday, it was a bit of fun, but once it was done, I didn't think about it. Then I jumped on a surfboard and developed a life-long obsession (like everyone here). A couple of years ago, after having to move temporarily further away from the coast, I jumped on a skateboard for the first time. Now I skate as much as I surf.

So whilst I love the environments, the meditative properties, the rush etc., etc., you get all that on ski's or on a boogie board. I didn't get obsessed until I stood on a single plank with my feet parallel......

Basil

turner's picture
turner's picture
turner commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 12:55pm

I don´t surf very much these days.

Why?

I sold my car six years ago, and didn't buy another one. At the time I was only using my car to get to surfable coastlines (the Adelaide effect), which started to irritate me in terms of my environmental impact. I began to see the many hours that I spent burning fuel in order to indulge my surfing habit as a gross indulgence, given that I didn´t really NEED to do it.

I felt that the best way for me to personally protest against environmental vandalism such as offshore drilling/petroleum extraction was to limit my dependence on the products of these activities. If that meant limiting my surfing time, then so be it.

I´m by no means presenting myself as completely removed from dependence on the products of environmental extraction. As a human being I´ll always be compromised in terms of my environmental footprint. I still drive for work. However, limiting my time as the single occupant of a vehicle is one small thing that I could do, and I don´t regret it one bit.

I do the vast majority of my travelling by bike these days. I´m one of those freaks that you might see (or throw a can at) on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, labouring up a hill on a bike laden with water/tent/bags. Perversely it´s what I do for kicks. There´s a slow-burn satisfaction to this act, as opposed to the immediate seratonin hit of a 10 second wave. Nothing wrong with either, just different.

I still surf occasionally though. I´ll car pool to get down the coast. I´ll ride for half an hour to surf 2 foot slop at Glenelg. Unless I move to a regularly surfable coastline, which is unlikely in the near future given my work and family commitments, my engagement with surfing will probably remain as it is. Occasional, and of low quality.

Somehow, I´m ok with this.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 1:36pm

that was interesting Turner.

what's surfing like for you now when you do do it?

turner's picture
turner's picture
turner commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 2:31pm

Given the car pooling situation, I now tend only to surf when a couple of my oldest mates are also heading to the coast. Life is busy for all of us, so a surf is a rare opportunity to hang out. So surfing is a social event now, whereas before I´d often surf solo. We all hate crowds though, so we´ll be the three guys down the beach on the imperfect bank.

When I´m in the water these days, I´m actually more appreciative of simply being in the water. The sights, sounds and smells. I´m less focused on accumulating as many waves as possible, and when I´m on a wave I´m less concerned by performance. That being said, I´m often surprised by how the physical capacity to surf remains with me despite long breaks between sessions. Muscle memory I guess, coupled with remaining fairly fit due to all the riding. Paddle fitness has suffered though, so session length is compromised.

Ultimately the role that surfing plays in my life has shifted somewhat, but I can see it ever being completely jettisoned.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 1:07pm

Surfing is a proxy for the hunting instinct we’ve been encouraged to suppress in the modern era. For this reason it attracts people who would’ve been highly regarded in previous times for the recklessness - calculated or otherwise - which is needed to pursue animals which are very capable of ending your life.

Surfing provides a socially acceptable outlet for these people , but life consists of more than surfing. Their lives outside of the water can be very colourful indeed.

I’m grateful to surfing for giving me an opportunity to meet and associate with some of the wilder characters that I might not have crossed paths with otherwise.

Surfing is the flavour of life.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 1:38pm

Blowin, you reckon that is still true today?

20 years ago maybe, now it seems it's so completely mainstream that any and all are out there giving it a go.

I think the hard core hunter-gatherer surfer is well and truly critically endangered.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 1:49pm

Why people quit is interesting.

But, we forget the effort, driving, dud trips, crowd hassles, fear and fitness issues that people face that the stayers have overcome or learned to live with.

One dump in a powerful 3 ft shorebreak was enough to put my daughter off surfing.

I have watched competent older surfers watch videos on a boat charter rather than surf some only moderately challenging waves over coral reefs - all the more waves for me! Don't under estimate the unstated role of fear in new and older surfers.

It took me weeks to feel comfortable as 13 years old grom dangling my legs into cold deep water wondering about sharks and getting smashed around funky beach break. Most people my age back then would not have stuck it out.

I have left super crowded 4-5ft Snapper/Greenmount in disgust after two waves where I barely surfed the waves I caught in between dodging the endless litter of surfers paddling to get out of my way thinking to myself "what a ridiculous sport".

I have gone for months without surfing when conditions and banks have been poor and in the depths of winter to avoid the frustration of the hunt.

I can only take a few dud long drive surf hunts in a row before i vow "no more" and become selective or stay dry for a while. Fortunately when I find it I can make the most of it (catch a lot of waves) - many struggle even then.

There are many more reasons to quit surfing than to stay for most people - thankfully for us.

Those who stick at it stay somewhat fit and either live where the conditions make it so inviting that it is hard not to surf or have learned how to somewhat efficiently extract golden nuggets of fun from the gravel of the day to day surf sluice bucket.

Or sometimes we got nothin better to do....

Frogg

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 2:12pm

I like to think that crew are as loose as ever . You just don’t hear about them cause the surfing industry has no use for them whilst they’re sanitising it for the WSL. The industry ‘s idea of Wild is Mikey Wright sticking his finger up at the camera. Add a durry hanging from someone’s lips and they’re marked as radical.

The single best wave I saw ridden last year was by a 25 year old who’d been drinking since breakfast and trading fish he’d caught with tourists for pot and beers till he lit up the arvo session.

There’s probably just as many wild bastards but they’re smaller as a percentage of the growing vanilla surfworld . Maybe they’re being pushed to the margins a bit more ? The urban surf experience has just become so much of a slog that I think the individuals tend to walk away from it and disappear in the cracks even more than they used to.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 2:20pm

true

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Thursday, 14 Mar 2019 at 11:35pm

Talking to some younger active guys who used to surf a bit and they said that their mates are into the gym and martial arts or are gamers and rarely surf anymore. They see surfing for city dwellers as a high effort low reward activity.

Always been the case, but crowds have tipped the scales to where the good days are harder to find. Whereas I had some magic uncrowded surfs in my teens which were truly peak life experiences i still treasure today.

Me? I have had to adapt by targeting spots and times that are off peak and having a range of boards so some really suit less popular spots and smaller days. And, i binge on my surf trips away. Also i have had enough good to perfect surf that if i miss a swell i don't care like i used to. It is nice to not be so addicted.

Frogg

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 15 Mar 2019 at 4:24am

"Also i have had enough good to perfect surf that if i miss a swell i don't care like i used to. It is nice to not be so addicted."

I'm hearing ya there mate. You do something for long enough, the rush diminishes a little at some stage. 40 odd years for me.

Also the crowds..... I find I just can't be bothered chasing waves up and down my neck of the woods like I used to if it isn't quite right here. You just know that the places you have in mind will be busy so may as well duke it out in the backyard without burning up time in the car. Crowds are such a negative for me that I sometimes wonder if my 14 year old self would have started surfing if I fast forwarded to 2019. Surfing around Vicco years ago used to be a great adventure most of the time whether you went East or West.

martywill's picture
martywill's picture
martywill commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 3:11pm

Im with you....the passion is still there when I hit the water but the obsession is gone. Mainly due to crowds and the testosterone fueled agro that has crept (slammed) into what I still like to think of as a 'connection with nature'.

And sadly most of the agro is from older surfers who seem too desperate to fill their last days with as many waves as possible at to hell with the impact on others in the water.

Ah for the good old crowdless days on the cold and lonely Vic coast!

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 4:36pm

Not sure about 'had enough good surfs' still hunting and its been 50 years for me :) although its mainly hunting for a wave to myself. This weekend for instance, nice little waves and just me out - and thats with an easterly !
I do agree with the agro being mainly from the older crew (is that us?) - they seem to be stuck in the seventies - time to move on fella's.

Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 4:50pm

Blowin, I'd have to agree. There's nothing like eyeing off a monster, feeling the fear, grit your teeth and paddle for it. grrrrr

Beats's picture
Beats's picture
Beats commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 6:17pm

I've clocked up 45 years and would answer simple enjoyment. Cold, big, small, shallow, onshore, sharky, crowds, travel and other factors that may appear to be negative about a surf sort of become insignificant most of the time - making the most of what you got always gives self satisfaction so its worth getting wet (most of the time)

Apart from the buzz of riding a wave, most surfers have put themselves in situations where they have been way out of there comfort zone and to make a wave or simply make landfall is a huge thrill / relief - it takes a certain type of person to do this and only a small minority of the population knows the feeling.

For me, the post surf brain is so different to the pre surf brain - the state of excitement and anticipation compared to the stoke and fulfillment, either reflecting on the day with mates or silently being amongst non surfers who have no idea what you did that day.

Good luck trying to explain that to a non surfer

hillsintas's picture
hillsintas's picture
hillsintas commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 2:13pm

The sun rises the waves break the seagulls cry a morning call the sweet smell of the ocean as the sun rises. These words are qwritten.

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 5:06pm

Blowin I really think you have nailed an aspect of why some people surf (or began to surf) on the head. When I was a grommet it was the animal vibe that was being promoted in vids at the time (ie Mick Campbell, Hoy etc in ETR) that struck a chord with me. I didn't recognise my propensity for recklessness back then for what it was, but I'm forever grateful I got into surfing and not street cars or graffiti gangs which seemed to be the usual alternative for reckless kids in my community at the time.

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 10:38pm

To quote BB King when asked what drew him to the blues he answered “if you have to ask , you’ll never understand “
Sounds about right to me.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 10:47pm

As my moniker suggests I don’t enjoy crowds.
As of a couple of days ago I reckon I quit popular pointbreak surf, or any wave with over 10 people on it.

I know this is many people’s everyday but I don’t know how they do it?

If I’m not catching waves I’d rather at least be relaxing and enjoying where I’m at. For me that is impossible in crowds these days.

Reduce the ‘quality’, up the stoke.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 24 Aug 2019 at 9:04am

Interesting Solitude, but I'm the exact opposite.

I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week.

Must have paddled 10k's yesterday with a wave count I could mark on one hand, but one of those was a double overhead 800-1000m ride , full speed the whole way.

Just half of that wave was worth more to me as far as satisfaction and stoke goes than every one of the pump, pump close-out beach break waves I rode over summer combined.

I tried surfing out of habit this summer ; waves were mostly 2-3ft semi-closeouts, frequently onshore. But I went out anyway. My satisfaction declined preciptously.
One sick one at the local point gets me stoked off my head.
One semi close-out did not move the needle.
So I needed more, many more.

I can surf good waves maybe better than I ever have, with the best boards I've ever ridden and experience and patience.
My beachbreak surfing in average/poor waves is clearly worse.
Thats a hard river to swim against.
Frequently I was coming in from another very mediocre session thinking "why did I waste my time doing that?".

When I go fishing, I don't go to lollygag around . I go to catch fish. I know when to go, where to go and how to do it.
Doing it out of habit ; standing around on some open beach soaking a bait in the middle of the day because it's a nice way to pass the time does not appeal to me.
I'd rather be out on the rocks in the dark on the right tide knowing I'm at the right place, right time.

Same thing with surfing. I like plugging the matrix and picking the eyes out of a swell peak on the right tide. Because I have this accumulated knowledge I can apply.

Surfing shit waves out of habit to get away from a crowd just doesn't light my fire. Maybe it will later on.

I also found as I get older, I need very fewer waves to get a buzz.Especially if they are good ones.
And that is cumulative.
If I've had a good week or a good month, the stoke account is high. Don't need to make much of a deposit to top it up.

Makes me more patient, especially in a crowd. I'm happy to wait for a set.
I've gone in on one wave surfs. Pick a bomb set out a crowd, feel like I've surfed it well and straight in. Pumped.

There's also a local aspect which seems to matter more. The closest wave to my house is one of the best waves in the world on it's day. So I surf it.

I know people who stopped surfing it in 1980 because it was getting too crowded. Highly skilled surfers who would still be nailing set waves out there.

Not having a go at you, just giving you an alternative perspective. Everyone is different.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 24 Aug 2019 at 11:27am

Mate your difference of opinion is much welcomed.
I can understand where you’re coming from, I know the dribble you guys put up with down there over summer (as you know was much better a little way north) and have had many a session like that here of late. 3 wave closeout sessions can get a wearing after a few weeks.
I guess I’ve been fairly jaded by a few swells the last couple of years and feel despite the conditions, everything around me is exactly the antithesis of why I surf. For me that set wave is often not worth all the hassling, snaking, jetsking, dropping in and utterly idiocy often going on around myself.
I had a work commitment down your way thurs and went for a cruisey paddle at the point and it was ridiculous. All manner of floatsem and abilities reminding me of a busy day at Cabarita. To combat this I paddled about 400m to the south and surfed a peak-come-wall all to myself to salvage something out of my poor decision to head out in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong I also love those classic days but for me waiting around for them and pinning hopes on them can be a bit like chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
My region consists mainly of beach breaks and fickle points and the good thing is despite the often lack of quality, when it does come together there is generally no one around but myself (maybe a mate or two) and the dolphins.
Of course my reasoning is multifactorial, time and family commitments being part of the equation. I’m trying more and more to zig whilst others zag when considering my surfing options these days.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 24 Aug 2019 at 9:07pm

PS - did you say 800-1000m wave at your spot? Wouldn’t have thought that was possible. Longest wave ever out there? Good on you

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 25 Aug 2019 at 3:57am

maybe an exaggeration.

back button to the bream hole.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Sunday, 25 Aug 2019 at 6:57am

yep long way well done....longest i ever achieved was to brockies....leg burner

simba

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Sunday, 25 Aug 2019 at 11:47am

I like how some things in life don't or can't be explained, just like a very small child that dances to music for the first time