There are many forms of surfers, we come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and speak different languages and believe in different religions, eat different foods, listen to different music, surf different boards and so on and so on.
I can’t stand when I’m traveling outside my native California and I meet people for the first time and tell them I am from California they immediately say something in reference to surfing as if we all talk like were from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I guess they assume everyone in California surf. Nowadays the average kid could go to his local department store and have tons of brands throwing themselves at you with huge point of sale signs of pro surfers and girls half naked luring you in to buy their brand. In the line-up surfers can usually smell a fruit loop or a surfer in costume as I like to say.
It seems as if you can now come from Anyplace, USA not knowing anything about surfing and leave the store looking like you’re the next Mick Fanning. On the other side of the spectrum I meet people in California and when they find out I surf they say, “You Surf…”? I reply “what do you mean”? They tell me, ” Ahh nothing, you do not strike me as a surfer” I say, “Why, because I don’t have blond hair, blue eyes, a brand name quiver, with brand name board shorts, or that I don’t walk around in flip flops everyday”? I think the surf video “Blue Horizon” demonstrates two examples of very different surfers in the late Andy Irons and Dave Rastovich. In one hand we have Dave a free surfer and on the other we have a ASP competitor. Just as non-surfing people have their stereotypes of surfers, surfers have stereotypes against other surfers too.
Nothing wrong with flip flops all day, brand name boards and board shorts, hats and tees, and the whole gig. The goal for a pro surfer is to be sponsored by the biggest surf companies that shape our surfing industry. I myself like to support smaller local surf companies rather than your common “big brands” you see in every store. I myself do, as you can’t help it sometimes.
Occassionally you meet that one guy who has like 3 new boards, new board shorts, new wetsuit, new everything, as you wax up the old dinged up board you can to appreciate the value of things more. And while you put your life into perspective as you glance out to the horizon and ponder how to save some dough and get a new board before your quiver gets to water logged and sinks.
Why do we support our local surf shop, is it the killer prices, great customer service? Would I still be a fan of my local surf shop if they sold out and became rich? I mean I would be stoked for them, and as long as they kept to their roots that made them successful in the first place and either give back to surfing or the environment. But just because someone looks the part does not make them a surfer. Many people that look like they surf can’t, and many people who surf have no heart.
Back in the day you had to earn respect on the beach and in the line-up. If you didn’t have any true waterman surfing skills you are going to get your waves snaked very quickly and be dubbed a poser, barney, and a kook. It’s not like every southern California surfer smokes weed, and lives in a VW bus scouring the coast for the perfect uncrowded break to post up at. It’s not like every east coast surfer wears pooka shells, and is a “Pook-A-Kook” and it’s not like every surfer from the jersey shore came out of a tanning bed and every Hawaiian says eh, brah, or that being a surfer gets you the ladies. These are the stereotypes we put up with. One thing is for sure, where ever you go in life and whatever you do…There will be critics so you might as well get used to it. Being stereotyped is not fun and while we all get it we all do it too.
Bill and Ted were “Excellent” no doubt, and Spicoli had his day too! But I never once came across a surfer who had so much salt water in there head that spoke like “No Way , Dude”. Surfers sometimes clown and poke fun of people who don’t surf, they also poke fun at those not so good at surfing and if you have a funny style while surfing, well you can count on your friends to comment on that as well. I am glad for places like “The Inertia” the largest network of thinking surfers! It breaks many stereotypes of surfers with creative interesting articles, photos, environment awareness and more! A collaboration of the best minds in the surfing industry all in one place! I hope that people can start seeing surfers in a new light, a smart one. Keep surfing, stay stoked!