Horror news for VALS.
You don’t have to dive too deep into the morass of surf cliches to bump into the hoary ol “the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun” line.
Attributed to Phil Edwards, although he said nothing of the sort, which ain’t surprising, because a surfer like Philly-boy would’ve been deeply aware of the sport’s relentless mind-fucking; a sport that only reveals its secrets to the very young, rendering anyone joining the game after age twelve a life-long kook.
(There is, of course, nothing in this world that is sadder, or more hopelessly encouraged, than the late-in-the-game surfer.)
Now, an Australian academic, Robert Holt, has smashed the long-held, and deeply cherished, cliche in his PHD paper, Cape crusaders: an ethnography investigating the surfing subculture of Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia.
If you’re into the history of surfing in Western Australia, there isn’t a more comprehensive treatment, but it’s this excerpt that shines.
“The twin values my father imparted to me as a young footballer developing a feel for the game are correspondingly appropriate to surfing. ‘As long as you’re doing your best and having fun,’ he’d say. ‘That’s all that really matters.’ As a veteran surfer and as a cultural researcher I have observed many surfers in practice. The best surfers in the lineup are those who are having the most fun. These wave riders experience high doses of stoke. The most stoked surfers are those who catch waves and ride those waves to the best of their ability. These surfers experience hyper-fun. These surfers enjoy the surfing game, and surely, that is what really matters. This situation can be represented by the following simple equation.
Catching Waves + Wave Riding Performance = Surfing Fun.
Occam’s swishing blade in action, yes?