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Surfing and Beach Lifestyle

Ensuring Comfort on Your Surfing Travels

If you were in a sleep lab, they would measure your REM, your breathing, any physical changes, and the quality of rest you get in terms of hours. They would also immediately notice your category: a back, stomach, or side sleeper. Apparently people are consistent as to which mode they prefer, and which brings the deepest sleep. It is likely in most cases that people do not readily change positions or else it takes a long time to adjust. I would definitely throw in the nature of the mattress, because that can be a deterrent to good sleep.

I often travel for surf competitions and stay in budget hotels. The bedding is not always the best. If I were in the sleep lab, I would have low-rated sleep. I have experienced anything from a nice, firm, new mattress to an inflatable one that sags in the middle. I have felt the springs inching gradually into my flesh and the ridges created gouge my hide. As for pillows away from home, they can be the worst! They are either old indented foam (no memory stuff here), or flat-as-a-pancake down that has seen better days.

What is a guy to do? You take your own pillow from town to town to avoid succumbing to the inevitable. You can’t perform well on the waves if you are exhausted after a sleepless night. You toss and turn on a hard mattress while attempting to fluff up a dead cushion. If these hotels buy pillows more than once every ten years, I would be surprised.

My own pillow is made for stomach sleepers. By that I mean that it is at the right height for people who sleep on their stomachs, so that you don’t wake up with a headache. Because it’s small, you can then toss it into a backpack or any size luggage. It is a great idea for anyone who can’t adapt. You get the familiarity of your own pillow with a choice of down or memory foam.

These pillows are a godsend. You can take them in a car, on a train, a bus, or a plane. They aren’t that expensive so you may want more than one. I like sleeping with a dual set. I get better head elevation to avoid congestion. If breathing at night is any kind of issue, finding the right pillow for your sleeping style is a must.

The materials in these babies is hypoallergenic and machine washable. The outer fabric is soft enough to sleep on but sturdy enough to last for quite a long time. I find they make a great gift for family and friends, and those assorted people who have everything. I bet you don’t have one!

Getting good rest depends therefore on bedding to a great extent. You can’t do much about the quality of the mattress, but you can cradle your head in softness every night. No matter if you sleep on your stomach, back, or sides, you can use the same one. There is a bit of an odd one you can buy, however, that is a kind of donut shape with an indention in the middle. This is not my first choice and seems very specialized. I go with the typical model which serves me quite well.

Custom Boards

One thing about surfers is that we like to be part of a tribe yet be uniquely ourselves. Something that we really get to express ourselves with is our boards. My board is my baby, so I’m always going to treat her right. I got the opportunity the other day to get some custom paint work done on my board, and it came out super awesome so I had to share the story.

I went to try out a new beach a couple weeks ago just to shake things up a bit. I met some new people there and we got to talking. One of the guys is a graphic artist, and he calls himself “The Board Artist.” He told me that he tattoos boards like others tattoo people. He’s got a little shop down on the boardwalk and everything. He told me that he’d do a small custom design on my board if I take it back to my ‘home beach’ and tell everybody about him.

Heck Yeah!

I went up there a couple days later and we got to talking about this one day when I was on vacation and out in the water. A dolphin swam right by me and tried to entice me to play. It was hands-down one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Just writing that gave me the chills. So, naturally, I’m telling The Board Artist this story and he gets this “Eureka!” look on his face. He mocks up a stencil on a tablet he’s got with him. It’s this super great looking dolphin in these amazingly bright colors.

I signed off on the design and was crazy stoked about it. He started talking me through how he does it. He prints out a stencil and then pulls all the paint colors he wants to use. Then he loads the paint in what he called a high volume low-pressure paint spray gun. I don’t know what that means but apparently it’s better for the environment and wastes way less paint. He said that because he’s got the best HVLP paint sprayer on the market, he can do designs quickly and neatly and not lose all his profits to paint overspray. I just smiled and nodded because not only did I not know what he was talking about, I didn’t think I’d get it even if he explained it to me. I dunno, it sounded good.

So I hung around for awhile as he did the painting and then once it was dry I headed home. Yesterday I tested it out for the first time and it felt like the same ol’ board, which was fantastic, but paddling out there among the waves, I certainly felt like my long-ago dolphin friend was right there with me, ready to have another adventure. I gotta say, it was pretty cool. Got some compliments, too, so I guess The Board Artist’s plan worked and is going to get some more customers from my end of the beach.

A Surfer’s Best Friend

Do you want to know what is a surfer’s best friend? It is not the board or your favourite beach towel. From my point of view, it is a g shock watch that keeps track of the tides, making it easier to know when to head out to ride the waves. I have a great one by Casio so I know. I had never had a shock-resistant watch before, nor a timepiece this expensive. Not only does it track the tides, but it checks temperature and direction, especially useful under tough, abnormal conditions.

The functionality of the watch comes from twin sensors. The watch also features a high-luminosity LED backlight and multiple gaskets. I love the way it fits securely and comfortably by means of a thin strap. It is known for its digital compass that uses a hand indication of North and gives sixty seconds of continuous measurement. Not to bore you with too much technical stuff, the watch also uses bidirectional calibration, has magnetic declination correction (don’t ask me to explain), and keeps everything in memory.

Wait! There’s more. The Casio has a thermometer and display unit, it has an auto light switch, selectable duration, and afterglow. It can even be used as a snooze alarm or stop watch. Now we are getting super practical. Who doesn’t want a countdown timer? This one goes from sixty minutes, then measuring in one second and one minute increments. It features both 12-hour and 24-hour formats and has a low battery indicator so you are never caught by surprise.

I like so much about this watch. It is accurate to approximately fifteen seconds each month, it has analog and digital configurations, and a pre-programmed auto calendar to 2099. What more could you ask for. I take it almost everywhere and of course it is waterproof. One time at the beach I took it off for a moment and placed it on my towel. I forgot about it and went for a dip. When I returned, I couldn’t find it. I was hysterical at the loss. I dug about in the surrounding sand and after much effort, I found it. I was so relieved!

You can find the best g shock watches at varying prices and they make a great gift for the man who has everything. I have a few surfer buddies and now I know what will commemorate a special birthday. You can find many fine models on line and they all have a unique appearance. A lot of good design has gone into this type of watch. Looks are as important as functionality. You have to imagine the recipient’s reaction when giving such a watch. You want to be sure to get one that suits their taste and lifestyle. Read all the descriptions, compare prices, and glance at the reviews to be sure the item you select is reliable, durable, and long-lasting. If you get a well-known brand, you can never go wrong.

The Culture of Surfing

Getting involved in surfing does not just entail getting on a board and learning how to surf. It is a process of immersing oneself in a different culture, much like traveling to or living in a foreign country.

Surf culture is an interesting and slightly complicated concept that is often misrepresented unfairly in mainstream culture and through commercialization of the sport.

Rooted deeply in its Polynesian beginnings, surfing embodies the ideals of cooperation, peaceful existence, kindness and environmentalism. It seems from this perspective more than just a sport, but a way of life.

Indeed to some surfers there is a spiritual aspect to it. Many centre their spiritual lives around the water and the surfboard and typically these are the surfers who truly transcend any stereotype or criticism of the surfing subculture.

They are the ones who seem to just take life as it comes, like the ebb and flow of the tide. They are very easy going and willing to share their knowledge and time.

Music and movies brought surfing to the mainstream in the 1950’s -1960’s and perhaps are reason for the erroneous ideas that surfers are beach bums, rarely holding down jobs and sometimes depicted as less than intelligent.

As with any subculture there is a lingo that surfers understand and if you don’t know it, listening to a conversation may be like hearing a foreign language. If you are just getting into the sport and have never been around the surf scene, it can be downright confusing. Most of their slang has to do with talking about the waves and the way of life and many surfers are highly irritated at the misrepresentation of their lingo in the mainstream.

As with any culture there is a certain wariness of newbies – or kooks as they are so called, but overall surfers are happy to share their love of the water and waves and see someone trying to learn and to help out with that. As the sport grows more popular and competitive however, these ideals are not always present and kooks can find themselves being ridiculed and singled out for criticism without really understanding why.

Getting involved in a sport with such a strong and slightly mysterious subculture can make it harder than just learning how to do the sport. Surf culture is complex because of the misrepresentations and commercialisations but once beyond that it is actually simple.

And Fun!

Surfing History 101

Surfing has a bit of a mystical pull and obsessive attraction on the regular wave riders, and maybe it’s just like a calling to them, but did you ever wonder who came up with the bright idea of putting a body on a board and crashing through the waves?

The first known written history of surfing comes from the journal of Captain King, from Cook’s Voyages, in 1779, three months after Captain Cook died. Captain King wrote his observations of the natives as they surfed the waves after storms. While this is the first written language documentation, surfing is known to go back as far as 1500AD and widely accepted to predate any historical reference in the Polynesian Islands.

An integral part of the culture and class system of Hawaii, Kapu, the size and material of a surfboard could easily distinguish one class from another. The royalty, believed to be above all others in the Kapu system, had the longest heaviest boards and private beaches to practice surfing while the commoners has lighter, shorter boards and public beaches. The amount of work and time put into making a surfboard and taking care of it made it very valuable and revered in Hawaiian culture.

Surfing continued until the 1820’s, when missionaries from New England arrived and thought it to be ridiculous and hedonistic. Preaching adamantly against a sport they observed was also a precursor to couples getting busy – by 1890, it was nearly non-existent kept alive only by the dedication of a few, and curiosity of some like Mark Twain, who wrote about it in 1872

As the influence of the missionaries began to wane, and in 1905, a young Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku and his friends took to the waves once again, igniting a resurgence in interest in surfing. In 1907 Hawaiian George Freeth, one of Duke’s group, demonstrated the sport at Venice Beach, California at the request of a wealthy land developer and from the there the crowd went wild.

California became the starting point for the culture and innovations of the surfing world, cutting board size, experimenting with fins and materials, the beaches became packed with those wanting to enjoy the sport.

Still though it remained a rebellious past time with an underground sub-culture and besides in Hawaii or California, it was not commonly known. In 1957, the world became aware of the sport of surfing with the release of the Gidget series, and popular beach music, surfer bands propagated the growth of the culture into the mainstream.

Competitive surfing has always been around but until 1976 was not well organized. In the 80’s and 90’s surfing competitions became wildly popular viewing and people continued to be fascinated with the surfing subculture. Easier travel, media coverage and better information sharing than ever in current times has led to the growth of surfing, both competitively and for novice thrill seekers.

So get on out there in those waves. They are calling you I know, the pull is almost mystical, and people have been doing it for a very long time.

Getting Your Feet Wet – What You Need Before You Go Surfing

So you want to ride the waves and don’t know where to start. It would be great if you could just grab and catch the first good wave; after all, the surfers out there make it look so easy. If you set your mind to it you will be one of those surfers one day, jumping right in and riding the barrel, but there are a few things you need to do to prepare, before you even get your feet wet.

Surfing is a skilled sport that requires a lot of physical strength and stamina. Successful surfers are in great shape with a strong sense of balance and strong core muscles. Arm strength is needed as well in order to paddle out to the wave. It takes some effort to get out there.

A great way to strengthen your core and get a good sense of balance, as well as increase your arm strength is to take a yoga class or Pilates. Both are excellent for exactly these reasons. Yoga also fits into the flow of surfing. If you don’t want to do either of these, just make sure you are in good shape, do other exercises, which increase your strength and stamina.

Be able to swim. You don’t have to be an Olympic-level swimmer but you need strong swimming skills. You will fall off your board; there is no doubt about that, so make sure you can swim.

Learn about the ocean and the waves. Riptides are especially dangerous if you don’t know what to do. A little research into the ins and outs of riding the waves and what goes on under them can go a long way in making sure you don’t get in a situation you don’t know how to get out of.

Understand the different boards used and pick the best one for you. Learn how to take care of it too. As a beginner, you need to understand that even though you want to be out there zipping in and out of the waves like the pros do, you have to work up to it. The bigger the board the better. It will give you more stability to get your sea legs. Ideally the board should be about three feet longer than you are tall. As you get better you can move on to shorter boards in order to make the turns and runs of the seasoned surfers.

What you wear is important as what you ride on. Make sure your shorts or suit are snug and won’t and get a decent rash guard that fits well. Also, have a leash for your board to ensure you don’t lose it when you fall off.

Become familiar with the area you want to surf. Spend some time watching the other surfers, checking out the local area and beach and understanding the flow of things. There is a particular etiquette to surfing that you need to be aware of.

Take lessons. The absolute best way to get into the surf is to learn from someone who knows what to do.

Surfing is a great sport and good for your body and mind. If you want to take it up, make sure you are prepared before you even get in the water. Most of all don’t take yourself too seriously and just have fun. Before you know it you will be out there surfing in the tube.

Being a Pro Surfer – Do YOU Have What it Takes?

The difference between hanging ten on a beautiful Saturday at the beach and shredding the waves in a pro surfer competition is more than just night and day. Ever wonder what it takes to go from one to the other?

Pro surfing is amazingly hard to make a living in. Like any professional sport, it isn’t all that easy to get into either. If you love the waves and can do it though, I can’t imagine any better way to live.

You have to start competing as soon as you can on the amateur circuit, even if you don’t always, or often, win; it’s where you start up the ladder to the pros. It takes a lot to get singled out from the bunch as a surfer but if you keep at it and you make a name for yourself starting locally then traveling to other amateur competitions, you may have what it takes.

Beyond just competing in amateur competitions to make a name, all successful pro surfers share qualities vital to their survival in the sport.

Work Ethic

Sure surfing is a laid back chill sort of sport, or at least it looks that way. To be a professional though you have to work hard not only physically in the waves but at being seen and getting sponsors, self-promoting and staying in shape. You have to commit and work hard every day.

Physical Fitness

Surfing is physically taxing and requires strength and endurance. To be a pro you have to be, and stay in superior physical shape. Working out and eating healthy keeps you in the game and for longer.

Talent

Well, yeah. Some people have it, and it makes it seem second nature for them to ride amazingly difficult waves. You can practice all day long but if you aren’t inherently talented then you probably can’t make it to the pros. All pros have insane talent.

Fearlessness

Perhaps this goes under talent for it seems the most fearless are the ones who have the talent to do it. Maybe that’s why they are fearless or maybe they are fearless because they are just that good. Whichever, you can’t be a chicken and be a pro.

Competitive Aggression

Be laid back on the beach but when you get in those waves you better want to win. It gives an edge all pros have over amateurs.

Being a pro looks like an exciting life and I am sure it is. Not everybody can do it though, but if you have the talent and drive maybe you can.

5 Great Surfing Spots in the World and Then Some

All over there the world there are certainly primo spots to go surfing. Places all great surfers dream of going that are the best places to catch the best waves. Places like Hawaii and Australia, kind of no brainers really, but how about in Morocco or Ireland? Really who would have thought? Ireland?

Truth is there are so many great places to surf it is hard to whittle them down to 5. But I will, and on top of that, there is a bonus 3 spots just for beginners.

Let’s face it if you are a beginner or shaky on the board, I don’t care how big the waves are or how long the barrel is, if you aren’t at a level to surf those waves, if you can’t hang with the big dogs, you aren’t going to think it’s a great place to surf are you?

So now, not for the faint of heart, or the novice surfer to do more than watch the pros, here are five places that the surfing is the best of the best.

Pipeline – Oahu, Hawaii

Most surfers will never be good enough to surf this one, but they can dream. Twenty-foot waves and a flawless water tube make it a surfer’s paradise.

Supertubes – Jeff’s Bay, South Africa

Off of an intense point break Jeff’s bay offers fast, long barrels and lots of choice waves in it’s four different quadrants. Experts can look forward to rides of up to 1000 feet.

Aileen’s, Ireland

Located at the base of the Ireland Cliffs of Moor, it seems like an odd surfer destination but the waves are big and intense. Ireland is becoming the surfers go to for European surfing.

Maverick’s, California USA

Waves of legend, this once little-known spot was just a local gem until Mark Foo, one of surfing’s legends went to check it out and never came back up. Not many surfers dare to face the waves when they are at their peak after being juiced by a storm.

Superbanks, Gold Coast Australia

Producing tubes and solid walls, which may result in one of the best rides of your life. Probably one of the world’s finest breaks. If you are just starting out, of course you aren’t looking for the spots with huge waves and long rolling tubes. Gentle swells and breaks are more suited for beginners and here are 3 spots great for getting your feet wet.

Linda Mar Beach, California

Located south of San Francisco, a one-mile stretch of beach offering a variety of swells and waves. Popular spot for beginning and intermediate surfers alike and less than an hour away from Mavericks.

Galveston Beach, Texas

With miles of uncrowded beach breaks, rolling swells and gentle waves, this beach located 45 minutes from Houston is primo for beginners. Access to the surf spots is easy and with a jetty protecting the piers on either side the surf is not choppy and easier to paddle out in.

Kuta, Bali

While this may also be one of the best spots for surfing all around with its fast left breaks, beginners do well here when the swell is low. Plus you can’t beat the scenery. Surfboards are plentiful for rent however; the waves do tend to get crowded.