A heavy smack from the Big Kahuna.
Any time Sam George puts fingers to keys you can count me salivating, half-crazed, lapping up each word like a child and his Tootsie Roll Pop. The surf guru, resplendent at 65-years-young with silver fox hair and one lone earring, is a treasure, an absolute cache of all that glitters what with his time spent on his surfboard out at sea, a wizened perspective, Nia Peeples somewhere in the rearview, heartbroken, recounting her mistakes that led her to file for divorce one by one.
Sam George is… everything and you can imagine my thrill when stumbling upon his latest work entitled WE vs VALS: The Paradox of Making Surfing 1975 Again on safe space The Inertia.
The tale begins in conversation with an Australian surfer who magically appears drunk after finishing one and three-quarters bottles of Bintang (4.7% alcohol by volume).
He, the aforementioned Australian, is, of course, furious about the amount of surfers in the water calling it “facked.”
George proceeded to reminisce about his own Mentawi boat trip, days earlier, that happened to feature a plethora of unskilled participants.
“In the moderate-yet-still-challenging Indonesian waves,” he tapped, “it quickly became obvious that many of these men and women hadn’t been surfing long, which placed them firmly in that newly adopted category of VAL: Vulnerable Adult Learner. Coined by a longtime Australian surf journalist no doubt thrilled by its growing usage, this snobbishly derisive term harkens back to the slur used by early 1960s Malibu surfers to describe those who lived in the San Fernando Valley, some 10 miles inland.”
That “Australian surf journalist,” mercifully unnamed, is the one and only Derek Rielly but VAL snobbishly derisive?
Not the half of it.
George goes on to describe that those who use the term VAL are 1920s-style nativists, not far off from Nazis. Furthermore, he rejects the notion that the adult learner surf participation boom was caused by the COVID pandemic but rather women who took up the sport of queens in greater number just prior to.
VAL, then, a racist, sexist bit of ugliness on top of snobbish and derisive.
George ends on a high note, though, telling his beer-boozed Australian pal that he, himself, took up surfing at 11-years-old after wanting to be a “high Sierra hunting guide” or cowboy then being met with a “your-the-best-of-us” wink.
He, or whichever pronouns they prefer, certainly is.