Shoot longboarders. Don’t ride a fish.
Sooner or later, you’ll breed. Throw a gallon of sperm into someone and it’ll stick eventually, often sooner.
And along will come a kid. And because you surf, he, she, will surf.
And they’ll be so into it you’ll watch hours of heats (answering every question about boards, waves, sponsors), every web clip, and they’ll ask you to read every vaguely surf-related story to ’em.
Before you realise it you’ll be the daddy sitting on the beach pointing his phone camera at the surf, hearing… Dad!… before the kid paddles into a wave.
You can’t miss a thing! Oh, and if you do, the tears, the gloom!
And this kid will progress, maybe he’ll do contests, get sponsors, maybe he’ll tap out and keep it in his pocket as an occasional recreation. But, you will be required, as his icon, as surf god to this kid, to create the foundation upon which is surfing experience will grow.
I’m laying the bricks with a kid, eight, and a kid, eleven. The more I tell ‘em the more I realise what a lying, hypocritical son-of-a-bitch I am…but I never did suggest perfection.
Gives the kid another lesson in a dozen years. (Daddy ain’t perfect.)
1. Longboarders should not be shot, despite all evidence to the contrary: A little two-foot swell, a peak, and it gets owned by a longboard enthusiast. Kid can’t buy a wave. Longboarder swings on the peak, fades right, kid pulls off, goes left. Fades left, goes right. Takes off on every set, goodish enough to get enough speed to render a drop-in a collision.
In the real world, you’d push it. Confront the guy. Make it uncomfortable. Paddle under him. Deliberately collide. Grab his leash. With a kid? Who’s never seen a fight? You cut the session short. Those are the breaks etc.
2. No wave is worth fighting for: Multiple drop-ins, collisions, everything that gets you and me fantasising about smearing a nose with one beautiful head-butt or forcing another man’s head underwater until the struggle stops, don’t mean a thing, kid. Laugh about it. There’s plenty of waves etc.
3. Don’t get caught riding fishes every day: Fun? Of course. But you really want to grow into a surfer whose back foot never touches the tail-pad? Who finds quads…stiff? Whose whole game is race to the shoulder, nurse cutback to the pocket, race, nurse, repeat? Give yourself a little rocker, always.
4. Anyone can be a pro surfer, but do you really want to? Become a good surfer, sure. Nothing, at least so I’m told, comes close to the feeling of owning a wave, of being so in control of your board and the moment, you’re able to do precisely what you want.
But who wants to turn their fun into a job? Who wants to travel the world, sitting in hotel rooms looking at Facebook or stabbing your phone with your finger all day building your “social” following, in between frantic, ultra-high pressure heats in front of judges who still have a crush on floaters and “full-rail wraps”?
5. Old boards go just as good as new boards: Kid, you don’t need a new CI. You don’t need a damn thing except a board that floats you. Ride it. Master it. Move on.
6. There’s only three things you need: A board, a leash and a wetsuit/trunks. All those accessories? Wax, yeah. The rest? Forget about ‘em. You don’t need to look or act like a “surfer”. You ride, you are. Don’t make “surfer” your identity.
7. Y’ain’t curing cancer. Surfing is as pointless as football, as basketball as everything. So don’t think of yourself as some kind of elevated species because you like catching waves. As surfing’s only Pulitzer winner, Bill Finnegan, put it: “You could argue that it teaches its devotees a few things about self-reliance and the grandeur of Nature – maybe even a little humility – and I guess I wouldn’t argue with that. But in the end surfing, in my opinion, does little or nothing to build or improve character. As we all know, a lot of assholes surf, and some of them surf well.”
8. There’s a lineage. Know Kelly. Appreciate his overwhelming influence on modern surfing. But also know Simon Anderson, Tom Curren, Tom Carroll, Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Michael Peterson, Steve Lis, Miki Dora and everyone else all the way back to damn Rabbit Kekai, may god rest his beautiful soul.
9. Wear zinc on your face and a tee or wetsuit on your back. I ain’t real sure about rubbing chemicals into the skin of your body but who wants a piebald face when you’re forty? Who wants to look like your daddy?
10. Just…surf. Don’t say it’s shit and you want to wait for the tide, or you want to check somewhere else, or whatever. It is what it is, son. Ride it.