But who could have ever guessed, who could have ever possibly imagined, what toll the Covid-19 pandemic would have upon our little ol’ surfing? Less than a year ago we were happily plying a trade that had been forgotten, more or less, by the mainstream. One-time World Surf League CEO Paul Speaker’s pronouncement that The Sport of Kings would soon eclipse the National Football League as laughable as any Louis C.K. comedy sketch.
The surf industry apocalypse stretched far into the past and farther into the future.
Then came the lockdown orders, the quarantining, the social distancing, the no traveling, working or leaving and those who lived near a coast decided to paddle.
Soon, surf shops couldn’t keep wetsuits in stock, Costco couldn’t keep Wavestorms, and lineups swelled with new faces.
On the east coast, where freezing cold winter waters long kept vulnerable adult learners out, they now looked at better waves peeling, bought thicker wetsuits and kept paddling.
In a just-published The Philadelphia Inquirer piece titled “More brave souls try winter surfing during the pandemic, with sales and traffic going up,” the real troubles are exposed.
After 35 years of surfing, Chris Konicki particularly loves winter surfing — for the intense waves, often bigger than at other times of the year, and the solitude. Yet this season, he’s not quite alone.
“I was out in early December …,” said Konicki, a Strathmere, N.J., resident. “There were maybe 25 people out. Last year or the year before, you’d maybe see one or two.”
He’s not thrilled about that, preferring the tranquility of solo surfing or with just a buddy when, in the winter, he hits the waves about once a week, the water temperatures as low as the 30s and the air as cold as 20 degrees.
On it goes, detailing horror story after horror story. VALs wonderfully impressed by the bracing chill, the feeling of aliveness, the wonders of modern wetsuit technology. How surfing is naturally socially distanced and close, or close enough, to millions upon millions of Jersey-ites, New Yorkers, Philadelphians etc.
And who could have predicted that a general surf apocalypse would follow the surf industry apocalypse?
Not in one-million years.