Magazine for future engineers and serial killers breaks down the Sport of Kings!
It is summer in North America and time for the annual roll out of surf-related stories and articles in non-surf magazines. I generally like to peruse and giggle, rudely, about a misused term or misapplied lesson but enjoy the different perspective from, say, the Seventeen gal or Esquire guy. It’s like reading The Inertia except good and this morning I stumbled upon a gem Popular Mechanics’ How to Start Surfing.
When I was in high school, it was the future engineers and serial killers who loved their Popular Mechanics and so I wondered what sort of tips these sorts are being given today. The first few paragraphs not only didn’t disappoint, they mesmerized!
For all the great mystique surrounding surfing, it’s actually not that hard to ride a wave. On a huge board, in the right conditions, with a decent instructor, most people will get to their feet the first day. And it feels amazing—like sliding across the kitchen floor in your socks, only the floor is the ocean, and you’re walking on water.
The hard part comes when you love that feeling. When you decide you want to surf for real, and on your own. There’s equipment to master. Rules. Lingo. Tides. Swells. The sea is always changing, and you have to learn how and when it’s willing to play. You’ll go out in slop. You’ll get turned back by waves that are too big. You’ll get tossed around underwater and cut your feet on rocks and get smacked with your board. It’s humbling.
But it’s also worth it. One day, maybe in a year, or two years, or even three, you’ll paddle like mad into a glassy, green, unbroken wave, slide down its slope and dig your board’s edge (the rail) into its face, sailing right across its heft in a low crouch. When the wave breaks around you, you’ll skid out in front of the foam, letting it carry you farther in toward the beach, until you finally sink into the sea, face to the sky in exaltation, while your board pops out from under you like a champagne cork.
“Look!” a mom will say, towing her small child toward the beach, plastic bucket in hand. “A surfer!”
Bravo and well done, but it is the rest of the piece that truly amazed. Popular Mechanics broke down exactly what ocean temperatures require what wetsuit, questions from a non-surfer which includes, “How do I take off a wetsuit?”
A visual guide.
And the most simple/helpful lineup etiquette guide ever.
The rider has the right of way.
Don’t ditch your board.
Don’t drop in.
Face the horizon.
Again, bravo. The Inertia… are you taking notes?