What Makes a Surfer?

Do you remember how many members in the House of Representatives there are? How many voting districs does your state or county have? Who is your local representative in Congress? What is the age minimum to be a U.S. Senator? How many amendments to the constitution are there? What are the first 10 amendments called?

If you don’t know the answers, you’re in the majority. Maybe somebody would consider you un-American for not knowing. Does it really matter if someone living in the U.S. knows who the main authors of the Constitution were?

If you don’t know, are you a real American?

If you’re a surfer but don’t know your surfing history, does that make you, really, not a true surfer?

There’s probably several surfers who don’t know that polyurethane foam, fiberglass and resin are the three main components in a modern surf board.

Should every wave rider be forced to learn who the Duke was just as every high school graduate, at least where I came from, had to pass a Citizenship class in high school as a requisite? Should everyone who calls themselves a true surfer be forced to take a surf history and surfboard shaping theory aptitude test and present it to their local lifeguard to be admitted in the water?

Are you a true surfer if you don’t know that the surfboard revolution has evolved from redwood to balsa to foam; are you a true surfer if you don’t know who Bob Simmons, Mickey Dora, Buzzy Trent, Mike Hynson, Simon Anderson, et al. were?

Well, I’m not entirely sure what makes a true surfer. I suppose practicing proper surf etiquette, being stoked, having fun and surfing on a regular basis constitutes a true surfer. But I think everyone who really thinks of themselves as a true surfer should have down basic surf history, surfboard material knowledge.

But after 10 years of surfing, I realize I can be more of a complete surfer. I really would like to be more knowledgeable in shaping theory, let alone the art of shaping itself.

Am I a true surfer if I’ve never shaped my own board? I bet some surfers wouldn’t think I’m a true surfer because I have yet to shape my own, and probably never will, as I can barely replace a lightbulb.

Downrail, bevelled edges, concave, rocker, water displacement theory, twin fin, twinzer, quad fin, five fin, bonzer, fish, thruster … will I ever be dialed in to notice the subtleties in different board designs, not to mention fins? I hope to be more so, so that I may be more of a true surfer.

I feel like I need more that a “Dummies” series book on board design theory. I need a Dummies for Dummies book on the subject to understand things better left studied by MIT students.

I realize that just because I have read numerous surf publications, watched DVDs, and most importantly, have surfed almost every day for the last 10 years, I have yet to become the complete true surfer I want to be.

Off to the book store I go to try and find one of those Dummies books….


One Response to “What Makes a Surfer?”

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