Surfing and Beach Lifestyle
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first written language documentation, surfing is known to go back as far as 1500AD and widely accepted to predate any historical reference in the Polynesian Islands.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.