Today’s International Surfing Day, an international holiday that was started 10 years ago by the Surfrider Foundation. International Surfing Day is a special day in the surfing community where hundreds of surfing communities get together for a beach cleanup or a similar environmental project that’s usually followed by a group paddle out, yoga session, surf film, or some other organized event to bring the local surf community together. All this on one day of the year to strengthen surf communities and help keep our beloved beaches clean and open for years to come.
It’s easy to see that surfing’s not what it used to be. What used to be a form of travel and exploration across the vast and beautiful ocean has turned into a sport. Surfing used to be a lifestyle to the watermen of the South Pacific. It was a way for them to explore, until their adventurous kids turned these giant logs into shred sleds and started having–fun—whether they chose to stand or bellyboard their way down the wave.
What I would give to go back in time to see all of that happen
Fast forward thousands of years to little groms only looking to do airs off waves and win contests from an early age, like six years old. The true lifestyle and passion that surfing once was has slipped away. Everyone’s concerned about being the next Kelly Slater, landing a big sponsor that’ll fund all their surf trips and pay them six figures. Even parents are pushing their kids into competition, turning little surf buds into bitter rivals.
Gone are the days when buds would wake up early to check the surf and catch a couple waves with each other. Now we have weather charts and the ability to track waves, so we only go out when the waves are pristine and never take the time to surf what we’re given. We research places with great waves and never take the time to go out in search of new, unsurfed waves.
As beaches become more crowded, more and more fights break out over territory. Hardly anyone’s sharing the stoke with each other, we’ve become so selfish and want to keep our surf spots to ourselves. Instead of encouraging people to surf and take up the surfing lifestyle we know and live every day, we want to stop people from learning to surf. We print–Don’t Surf? Don’t Start–on t-shirts, in hopes of discouraging people to start surfing.
Who the hell gave me or any surfer the right to tell someone not surf and never get the chance to experience the love and stoke of surfing I’ve been fortunate enough to feel?
Let’s bring back those beautiful days of when we first learned to surf. Getting that feeling of being one with the wave and loving the moment of gliding down the line on our first wave. I’m talking about those days when riding white water was cool and getting slammed after taking off on a closeout was something to laugh about.
It’d be a thing of beauty to go back to the days when the best surfer out in the water was the one having the most fun. Who needs a group of guys sitting in a stand telling us how great that wave was or a video to prove it? All we need is to experience that feeling of taking off and riding on that perfect wave and feeling humbled by the experience the ocean just gave us, without feeling the need to gloat about it.
I fell in love with surfing 14 years ago as my dad pushed me into my first wave and I cruised down the line on my uncle’s beat up Alekai Surfboard that was designed by Steve Forstall. He bought that thing from a pawn shop in the 70’s when he was in his teens and I would’ve ridden my dad’s old school board, but he sold it back in the day, probably to pay rent or something “important” like that. Every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up I thank God for giving me my parents that instilled the love of the ocean and the surfing lifestyle in me from a young age.
Surfing is one of the few constants that have stayed in my life. Without surfing, I don’t want know where I’d be today. If you ever get the chance, learn to surf, it may change your life forever.