We’ve all been there. Arrived at the beach got the gear on, waxed the board etc. Headed out into the waves and have either been met with hostility or been hostile ourselves.
I’m guilty of it.
I’m sure most people are guilty of being hostile to their fellow surfers at one time or another, but why?
Surfing from the outside looks like the most relaxed, easy-going, laid-back shit all plastered on the media. In reality, surfers are fucking territorial and fucking hostile to one another. ‘All for one and one for all’ should be the tagline for surfing.
There are of course days where everyone's on the same page, with friendly smiles, being courteous, and surfing to have fun. Then there are other days where all faces are sour, the mood thickens the water you paddle through, surfers charging towards you not giving a fuck if they genuinely hit you or not. Then, of course, there will always be localism.
So what makes surfing such a hostile sport? What is it about surfing that turns people feral, treating waves as if they were some sort of prey, fighting and fucking just to get that little taste of deteriorating flesh?
As I’m growing older, I certainly see a dramatic shift in surfing. To go back 10 years ago surfing the dreamy waves of Cornwall, I certainly remember feeling like a part of the surfing community. People were welcoming, talkative, fuck, I even made friends with people through surfing.
These days, in just 10 years I personally have never felt so separated from a community. There's almost a level of expected anxiety these days when I go surfing. Anxious I am going to accidentally snake someone. Anxious I’m going to get in someone's way while paddling out. Anxious that I am being judged on performance rather than having fun.
I could be over exaggerating but then again surely, I can't be the only one that feels this way? I feel more than ever so disconnected from one of my main passions in life. I miss the true sense of surfing, the community that thrived with it and the respectfulness of just enjoying a passion together.
So why the gradual shift? I genuinely believe that social media and precious time has a huge part to play. More and more we are being encouraged to be anti-social. Keeping all our thoughts and interactions online. Sticking to our social circles/tribes and not allowing any others to even consider entering.
We are being told more and more to value our time so surfing is now more of a scheduled activity rather than an all-day occurrence. Schedule the hour window for surfing and surfing only and there's no room for interaction, the main goal is to get as many waves as possible. Already there is a shift in attitude and purpose with no flexibility allowed.
I'm just saying wouldn’t it be nice if surfing was slightly more welcoming at times? It genuinely baffles me that a whole bunch of people who share the same interest are so far away from each other. For some parting words I'll say this, next time to paddle out say hi to everyone around, it will genuinely freak them out!