GLOBAL – There were three things I quickly learned about surfing. The first was – it’s exhilarating. The second was – it’s really quite tiring (pulling on the wetsuit was so exhausting I hardly made it to the beach, never mind the effort of riding a couple of waves). The third thing I learned, bitterly, was – you don’t want to get hit in the head by your board. But would I do it again? Just for those two seconds of crouching upright on the tiniest wave with a mouthful of salty water – oh, yes.
Surfing was a 60s California phenomenon, but the days when you skipped high school, bought a burger, and drove to the beach in your convertible are long gone. Now you can use your Nokia Lumia to check out surfcams from everywhere in the world on Surfline, as well as the weather for your favourite beach, top videos and news, and a guide to how to perform all those tricky maneuvers.
It used to be that you just dropped out, laid back, and went for a paddle – but now you’re as likely to find the beach full of corporate lawyers and hedge fund analysts, instead of hippies. Of course, surfing was originally the Hawaiian ‘Sport of Kings’, and this ancient Polynesian tradition enthralled even Captain Cook when he arrived in the islands in 1778. Surfingforlife gives a fascinating account of how surfing evolved from an ancient mystical tradition to something immortalized by the Beach Boys, and movies like Gidget (she was a little surfer girl with BIG ideas).
What transformed surfing from a small time sport, practiced by a few die-hards, into a 1960s California phenomenon was ‘board technology’. The handcraft hardwood boards of Hawaii were replaced by balsa wood long boards – and then by the foam and fiberglass shortboards that made surfing something almost anyone could take-up – and allowed better surfers to carve radical turns in the water and ride the inside of the pipe. If you’re really into your fins, or you want to make sure you’ve got the right length, width and wax check-out allaboutsurfboards.
It’s true that no matter how good you get, most of us will never be in the same league as these guys but while you’re dreaming of turning pro, have a look at some of the best surfing photos.