A common question I get, as a surfer, is why surf? What is the enticement? You get on the board, you ride to shore, you go back and do it again. What’s the big deal?
Surfing, if you strip it to its essence, is harmonious dancing with the movement of the waves. If I stand on the shore and copy the movements I would make riding on the board, to make the board go faster, and slow down and turn with the flow and speed of the breaking wave, it would look a lot like someone practicing Tai Chi. Weighting and unweighting in back and forth, side to side motions. It is literally, a dance upon the waters.
Surfing can be compared to yoga. You can spend your life getting better at it but never reaching perfection, never becoming an absolute master. The movements you’ll make surfing will be very similar to the body movements in Tai Chi or yoga, except that it’s much more fun. You’re moving fast while standing up on a water craft and you’re guiding that craft with the torque and twists of your own body dynamics, your own body English.
You’re on top of the wave, paddling, paddling, paddling, and then you’re moving. The wave has you. The board is moving on its own. And then you’re up, dropping into the wave in freefall, and then you hit bottom, standing and leaning forward into a deep carving turn sideways with the breaking wave. As you come out of the turn, you lean back so that your board planes on the side of the wave, the fin or fins underneath your board holding, clinging you to the side of the wave as you fly parallel with the beach. Then you pump your legs and the board torques up and down and gains speed as the top of the wave heaves a thick wall of water over your head, and then, in an instant, you’re inside the shadows of the curl, looking out of a rotating kaleidoscope of sparkling diamond blue colors, out into the world outside. And you stay in there for a little while, twisting and turning inside the tube, steering for the opening, until you come flying out onto the open face, flying alongside a wave that is still chasing after you. Then you look at the wall lined up in front of you and you see the wave scoop out as you’re about to enter into another tunnel to ride through.
There’s an elation to getting a ride like that, a wonderful trip to joy-land that will have you jazzed up for days remembering that one particular wave.
But even if you’re not riding inside the tubes, even if you’re just learning, catching a wave and flying on it towards the beach, standing up and turning the board as you ride toward shore, it’s just as fun.
Why surf? Because it’s wet and beautiful. It’s healthy and good exercise, but most of all, it will be the greatest fun you will have in your life. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has surfed and ridden one good wave. One wave where they went flying and made the board make one good turn. See what they say about it. Every surfer has a wave they’ll remember all their lives. Perhaps every person who plays softball will have one play in a game that they’ll always remember, but surfers have those moments almost every time they put their surfboard in the water and ride waves.
Why surf? Because if you catch one good wave, you’ll be hooked and you won’t ever ask that question again.
Guest post by Roger Raffee - author of How To Surf - From Beginner To Great Surfer in Just Three Weeks!