I have a really hard time with people who talk shit about longboarding.“Fucking kooks,” they whine through their angry, puckered butthole faces. “Get a real surfboard.” Of course, there are exceptions. Sure, some of the people riding longboards are, in fact, fucking kooks. It’s the ones who sit out the back, taking every set wave with that same shitty mentality as the guys on shortboards who talk shit about longboarders. Kooks aren’t defined by their vessel, they’re defined by their actions. Here’s a story that illustrates that mentality pretty well, I think. It’s a story about a total kook who totally rips.
A few months ago, I happened to be on a 9’6 that I ride when the waves are small (and sometimes when they’re not). I have a rack full of surfboards, ranging from a 5’5 quad, a 6’6 single fin, a variety of shortboards, etc, and I try and ride them all, because waves change and you wouldn’t take racing slicks on a dirt track, right?
It was maybe 2-3 feet, not a breath of wind. The sky had those high, thin, gray clouds that blend in perfectly with the horizon, making it seem as though the ocean was both above and beneath. There was that beautiful oil-glass texture on the water, the waves were fun, small, and steady. Maybe six people out, all happily trading fun little waves–except one. He was a big guy, with neck and knuckle tattoos. Technically, Neck Tattoo was a good surfer. Big, powerful turns, especially considering the waves that were on offer. Quick little lip-hits, lots of spray, even the occasional little air. While the rest of us chatted amiably with each other, he remained absolutely silent. No smiles, no nods, just this weird, seething competitiveness that dripped off his angry, puckered butthole face. Now, I’m all for silence in surfing. Most of the time, I’d rather surf by myself. Drawn out conversations in the water suck. But this guy took it to a whole different level. After I watched him back-paddle an older guy on a mid-7 foot funboard on three waves in a row, I said fuck it and dropped in on him, because fuck that. As one might imagine, and as I expected, he lost his mind.
“WHAT THE FUCK!” he screamed in the quiet, friendly lineup, frantically pumping to catch up to me. I could see the veins in his neck throbbing through his tattoos. It was a bit of a closeout, so we both kicked out and started the awkward paddle back to the point. After staring me down pretty good, he muttered something along the lines of, “fucking longboarders, taking off on every wave.” I was blown away. Did Neck Tattoo–who had burned an old guy three times on three set waves–actually think that I was the one taking off on every wave, or was he just pissed that he got called out for doing it? In the end, I think, he had less fun than everyone else. As much as I hate that saying “the best surfer is the one having the most fun,” it is kind of true–it just depends on what you want out of surfing. To me, the best surfer is the one who surfs really well on all sorts of surfboards: longboards, shortboards, single fins, and everything in between and on either side, because that generally means that fun is the purpose of their session. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and unless you’re getting paid to surf, there’s no other reason to do it. The biggest kooks in the lineup are the ones that think they own it.