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It Skipped more than a generation: stoke

May 2, 2014

I had just gotten out of the water at my surf spot. I see a guy in a $400 wetsuit, putting his new surfboard atop his new SUV. His board was a 9’6″ modern longboard, a lot of rocker, thin, and a tri-fin. He was in the water floundering, struggling to paddle and didn’t catch a single wave. I’d say he was in his mid-to-late thirties, about 215 pounds.

“So what kind of board is yours,” he asks.

WHen a guy asks about your board it means he’s not happy with his, like if a guy asks about your girlfriend or wife, right?

“It’s a thick longboard, lots of length, and it has thickness and width.”

He looks puzzled.

“If a board is thick it gives you float and if it’s wide it catches more waves.”


“Well, if a board is wider in the tail there’s more area for the wave to make contact with the board, so you can catch the wave easier. The board you have is pulled in on the tail, with hard rails and v so…”

He looks confused and says, “IU’m just learning and the guy at the shop who owned the shop said this would be a good beginner board. I’m learning to surf, I used to snowboard.”

“Then you know there are beginner skis and advanced skis. What he sold you was an advanced ski. Your board is narrow so when you try to paddle it it wobbles and it’s not stable, and because it’s thin, it sinks and when you try to paddle you’re just pushing water. It’s a beginner board if no one else is in the watrer, but if a 15-year old kid is on that board too, who do you think is going to get the wave, and the wave that board is designed for is a quickly breaking, pitching wave with steep takeoffs. That’s not a good beginner wave to learn on because you don;t have the skills yet to handle it.”

“Yeah, I was having a tough time out there.”

“Well, if you want to longboard, look at the film ‘Endless Summer’ where those guys are paddling out and see how the tail and the nose of their boards float them.”

“What’s Endless Summer?”

So, it not only skipped one generation, it has skipped two generations. There are people who have never had to cultivate a relationship with a surf shop and locals to find out if there’s swell, or to learn about the type of board that would work for them by knowing a shaper. They merely looked online, checked out the camera opn the surf break, and purchased any kind of board, because the industry is now pricing boards at 1.500! (A side, a guy I know who works at a surf shop defends these ridiculous prices by saying, “Shapers work hard. They deserve the money>” Then I said, You work at a surf shop, have you ever paid that much money for a board.” “No,” he said. “But I would, I have the money.” I’m thinking yeah right, doubtful–especially since there was nothing to hold you back from paying the extra money if you wanted to show your financial appreciation, right. But it’s always the people unaffected =by the market who believe in the market.) Hey, if someone pays that much for a board and they’re happy, fine. It’s like if someone wants to pay $750 for a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet in a Carmel restaurant. WHat can I say?

WHat does this reveal that there’s no connection to the soul. Surfing is simply recreational like tennis or golf to them. The ocean ia a park. This is an activity they want to do, have a picture taken of them, then when their company takes them somewhere else, they’ll move on to the next activity.

It’s just something to do. But there’s a stoke missing in it–and they won’t find it out there, all they will have is thrills.

But they’re missing it all. All they are is in the way.


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