Love old men. Fall off waves. Worship at Andy Irons' throne.
A couple of years back I threw a ten-pack of advice on what to teach your kids about surf. The usual stuff, why the death penalty shouldn’t be applied to longboarders no matter how sensible it would be, and so on.
You got kids? Here’s another ten things to tell ‘em.
1. Lay off the fish: You’ll get lazy at some point, kiddo, or there’ll be a run of bad waves for a month and you’ll want a surfboard that picks up a ripple and eats sections. Something wider. Flatter. Thicker. Don’t. You might never come back. Oh, you’ll feel… fabulous… surfing has never been this easy. But when has anything good come without the blood, sweat and pus of trying until you want to puke?
2. Download that GoPro footage: There’s gotta be a thousand years of unclaimed footage sitting around on kids’ GoPros. Get into the habit of downloading it, cutting the clips and sending ’em off somewhere like the Hurley Surf Club. In an act of benevolence from an industry owned, mostly, by French luxury brands and investment bankers, Hurley’ll get your clips, rate ‘em, offer suggestions on how to get better and do it all for free. (And no, that wasn’t native advertising.)
3. You’ll never a man like Kelly Slater in your lifetime: Oh, I know… I know… to you he seems like a silly old man, the way he bites back to nobodies on his Instagram. Throw a line out there, say his clothing isn’t organic or suggest that the earth is a pancake and you’ll haul him in. But, listen: that same screen jockey…made… pro surfing. And for twenty years there wasn’t a man who could touch him.
Oh, wait, there was. Andy Irons.
4. There’ll never be another Andy Irons either. In the great Andy v Kelly rivalry at the turn of the century picking who the good and bad guys were was impossible. Superficially, Kelly was the modest hero. Statues were build of him in his hometown. Magazines competed to see how often they could use the word modest in their profiles. Andy was the trainwreck who’d celebrate a contest win, and a loss if you want to know, by throwing his beak onto the grindstone. A closer examination of their motivations, however, would reveal Kelly as Machiavellian, Andy as terrifyingly honest. The performance level of both surfers, in the sort of waves that matter, is only now, almost twenty years on, being scratched by John John.
5. Learn to skate. Nail ollies, grinds, shuv-its and spins and apply to your surf. And then quit before you break and distort your limbs. Forty-year-old skaters are scarecrow horror shows.
6. Join a club. Local competition sharpens your game and it does it in a way where you don’t feel like you’re going to faint from the pressure. Maybe you’ll like being told to perform in fifteen-minute bursts, maybe it’ll repel you. Whatever happens, you’ll surf better.
7. It’s cool to try: I love watching a kid try the same move over and over for weeks. Blows wave after wave. The frustration kills him. And then one day he lands a monster air-rev or whatever. And suddenly he’s better than most of the guys in the lineup.
8. You can’t fight a SUP: You’re not going to out-paddle one and you’re not going to win a collision with a clown erect on his boat. So move down the beach if you think you’ll lose your mind watching him catch and blow every set.
9. Respect the better older surfers: Hoot ‘em. Tell ‘em if you enjoyed the line they took into a roundhouse. It never happens so you’ll be repaid in waves, in advice, protection, whatever you want.
10. Be kind to kooks: Nothing is more repellant than a pampered jock surf kid railing at beginners as if he was born with a frontside wrap and backside reverse.