The Surf Rat

There are all kinds of representations of surfers in different parts of the world, but the most common is the surfer who has long hair, dresses in shorts, sandals, and talks like he’s high.  While growing up in Orange County, which is the one of the biggest surf empires in the U.S, and being on the high school surf team for four years I’ve seen a lot. I’ve recognized the ways my fellow surfer friends grew up throughout college.  I’ve been immersed by surf culture ever since I caught my first wave when I was age 10.  I’ve become friends with pro surfers from my town, and experienced everything from the shocks of Clark Foam (Surfboard material company) going out of business to becoming friends with famous local pro surfers from town.

Surfers have always gotten a bad rep for their sport.  The greater society has always viewed them as the ones who are unmotivated, potheads, and selfish in the water.  One of the biggest questions to ask is why are surfers unmotivated? The biggest reason is because the sport lacks the team aspect, and being in the sun and salt water tends to drain you.  After all, it’s an individual sport.  Although, surfers are known to have one discipline. That’s waking up early to check the surf.  I’ll never forget a moment I had with my doctor; We went to re-schedule an appointment, and he automatically put me in the earliest time slot available:”Oh, you’re surfer. You wake up early, right? I laughed.

Surfers are known to do drugs. The most common assumption by everyone is that they smoke a lot of weed.  I know plenty of surfers that are like this.  For whatever reason, they enjoy it because it puts them in a “certain” mood. It might have something to do with the fact that they are already in the ocean, and want to enhance their experience while there.  Not all surfers are like this though. There are plenty of surfers that go against this norm because they are above the influence, which is a good thing.

As we mentioned earlier, surfing is an individual sport.  It doesn’t require the team effort of anyone from the moment of waking up, checking Surfline (online surf report website), getting in the water, and catching waves. Surfers aren’t necessarily selfish out of the water, but they are when they are in the water.  Surfers tend to get very territorial with surf spots: This is usually the case when they live near that wave.  This is what we call “localism”.  Surfers will make claims about who’s allowed to paddle-out and surf in certain areas based off of who they are, and how good they are.  The most common example of this would be “The Local” Hawaiian crew claiming their territory on the North shore of Oahu.  Tourists and beginner surfers will say that they are being selfish for not sharing their waves.  Not only will you find this in Hawaii, but also at micro levels all over California’s excluded surf spots. Surprisingly, you could find this down the street at “Wind and Sea” in La Jolla.

These norms are pretty common for surfers, but not necessarily everything is true.  These days you will find many things in the progression of surfing.  Competitive surfers are serious about their sport, and most of them aren’t lazy at all. Surfers may be selfish in the water when it comes to catching waves but that is simply the nature of the sport. As far as competitive surfing; being in the right spot, at the right time, is what it takes to win the highest scoring wave for a contest.   There are plenty of professional and big-wave surfers, such as Laird Hamilton that do other forms of training out of the water to keep them in shape for the season.  You can find these standard norms all over the board for surfers but not all of them stand true.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Surf Rat

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    You do a nice job pointing out dominant stereotypes of surfers and their traits/behaviors. How would you translate this to an analysis of the various subject positions we discussed? What sort of assumptions underlie both the stereotypes and behaviors of surfers? For example, what sort of life and privilege must you have to maintain the ability to surf (or not)? And how do you see all these stereotypes propagating in culture? Do you have any examples?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s