Who's worse? The older local or the teen wizard?
In between multiple sharks sightings, a potentially fatal attack and murder allegations, a much bigger story has rocked California’s surf community: Overzealous pre-teen dunked (or maybe stabbed) at Salt Creek by local.
While initial reactions take one side or the other or highlight the obviously ridiculous police response, each side represents the demographics of surfers that have been ruining lineups across California for years.
On one side, we have the middle-aged, failed-pro who sits way on the outside, reminisces about surf trips and has gained so much weight he rides a shortboard with more volume than a Laird paddleboard. He’s now a forklift-certified warehouse manager at one of his old sponsors, still takes surfing too competitively and hoots you off every set wave he catches.
Then, you have the grom. He has unusually blond hair, rides a brand new custom board and when you see him paddle out with two other friends, all smiles and hope, you curse under your breath again. The kids paddle back-and-forth, back-and-forth, across the peak you had all to yourself about 30 minutes ago. They catch an unreasonable amount of waves and are constantly yapping about how sick their last air was. All on a wave you didn’t even look at for a second. Thankfully, mom or dad appear on the beach with video cameras, tell them how spectacular they are, and reinforce ignorance to the fact they’re chasing a pipe dream.
And then there’s us (or just me), who enjoy surfing, but don’t do it as much as they’d like.
We surf sporadically, sometimes waiting a month for a good swell.
We remember how fun it is, and proceed to binge on surfing in the next week.
The cycle repeats.
We aren’t all that good, but we do it because of what surfing is, an inexplicably peaceful and unmatchable connection to nature’s energy. Just really damn cool. And fun.
When one or both of the parties described above are present, howevs, it kind of ruins it. It turns a relaxing time into a competition of who can be a bigger dick and backpaddle the furthest. Trading waves isn’t an option for them. They’re programmed to be competitive no matter the environment.
I wish I could offer some solution, but it’s just the result of living in a surf-industry populated area, a place where surfing was turned from a passion into a business.
But there’s still those days.
When Surfline messed up the forecast for a mid-sized swell met with unexpected offshores. And the assholes are one-upping each other elsewhere, still searching for that validation from their parents.