Saturday, June 29, 2013

I'll Take Mine Salted, Please

Last week I picked up the second issue of Salted, a surfing magazine for women, brought to you by the fine folks at Surfer Magazine. The inaugural issue quietly debuted a year ago and I suspect no one was sure when or if there'd be a second issue. Needless to say, I was pleased when i learned Surfer was going to give it another go.

You may be asking why I'd care about a surfing magazine catering to women. I have a handful of reasons, actually:

1. I love surfing regardless of who's doing it. Hell, I'd buy a surfing magazine if it catered to cats as long as the writing and photography were good.

2. I don't need to see only male surfers rip to be entertained or inspired. I'm pretty sure every single girl featured in Salted surfs better than I do. They hit the lip harder, they bet barreled more, and they surf with more style. And it's not just me. They surf better than most guys. For sure. By far. These girls are pure athletes.

3. And, yes of course, most of them are absolutely beautiful. I'm not a doctor but I've been surfing long enough to know that in dedicating one's life to surfing, typically there are acute side effects like toned bodies, tan skin and beach blonde hair. 

4. These women make great role models to young girls all over the world, including my two young daughters. They are (or at least are presented as) happy, bright, culturally and environmentally conscientious and all around good, thoughtful people. Male surfers are seldom, if ever, portrayed this way. Pop Quiz: Which of the following images better conveys surfing?

Personally, I'm more proud to be associated with the first photo than the second. 

Also, Salted does a great job celebrating them as real people; no anorexic, vapid swimsuit models who've been more airbrushed than a Chip Foose muscle car.

This edition of Salted features exotic travel pieces to places as diverse as Iceland, a secret spot in Mexico, and an island off the coast of China. In addition, there's an introduction to a group of female big wave surfers that all big wave surfing fans should take note of. Until this article, I thought the list of hell women who charged monster surf started and stopped at Keala Kennelly, Maya Gabeira and Sarah Gerhardt. The feature piece in this issue is an interview with Lisa Anderson, a radical, pioneering surfer who I followed as a kid as much as I did Martin Potter and Tom Curren. It was great learning about her struggles and triumphs and that she's still as stoked and waterlogged as she's ever been.

In all, if you love surfing you'll love Salted. Hopefully we won't have to wait a whole 'nother year for issue #3.

Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy and with lots of surfer girls in the line up.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strength, Love and 50 Yards of Duct Tape

All right people, let's talk about love and strength. Don't worry -- it's in the context of surfing. I saw on Yahoo! yesterday a Good Morning America clip of a young Australian man who takes his friend's mom surfing. Here's the catch: she's a paraplegic and she's duct taped to his back. WTF? That's right, tandem surfing, paraplegic, duct tape. The jackasses on GMA didn't do it justice so I went looking for the clip on YouTube (God, how I love YouTube). I found an extended clip without the stupid commentary that really does the event justice. Take a look:

My first reaction was, "wow, that's crazy" and then I moved on. But I woke up this morning and, for whatever reason, started thinking about it again. The more I thought about it the more the significance of what I saw started to sink in. I didn't just see some dude doing something crazy. I saw the personification of  strength and love. 

Strength in the bond between this man and woman. She wants to experience surfing and trusts her life with this man. He wants to share the joy of surfing with this woman and goes to the extent of strapping her to his back, risking both their lives, to share this joy. 

Strength in the physical (and no doubt extremely challenging act) of surfing with someone strapped to your back. Surfing is a marriage of timing and balance that varies in difficulty given the size and speed of the wave your surfing. In other words, surfing can be challenging enough on its own. Surfers rely on muscle memory and quick reflexes to paddle, duck dive, pop up, bottom turn, carve and even glide. We've done all of these motions so many times that they're automatic. Now imagine just for a moment surfing with someone strapped to your back. All those mechanical motions you've mastered and taken for granted over the years go straight out the window. This surfer has to completely re-calibrate to find his timing and balance and adjust them to a moving wave. And the wave in the video isn't a knee high peeler either. It's got some size and chop with a stiff wind thrown in for good measure. The fact that the man and woman are towed into the wave on a SUP is of little consolation. This guy is deceptively strong.

Lastly, strength in duct tape, the physical bond that binds them together. I hope their local hardware store sees this video and provides them with a lifetime supply so that they can keep the stoke alive.

Now let's talk about love. If you're reading this it's probably because you love surfing. Hell, that's why I have this blog. We surf because we love to do it; it makes us happy. Well, it's safe to say this guy in the video loves surfing too however he's doing something so few of us do -- he's sharing this love. Surfing is truly special and to be able to share it with someone -- especially someone who can't enjoy it by themselves -- is truly magical. The world would be a better place if we surfers shared our love of surfing with others. 

Love of ingenuity. It's been said necessity is the mother of invention. After watching this clip I think it could be said that love is the mother of invention. What else would provoke two people to risk their lives by binding themselves together with duct tape? There is no rip chord or velcro or snaps or ties binding them together. They are literally stuck to one another. They clearly love surfing (and clearly trust one another).

Love for one another. Given their love of surfing, I have no doubt that by sharing this special experience together they certainly love each other. If they didn't beforehand, they must certainly love one another now. I don't mean sexual love but rather a deep understanding, concern and appreciation for one another. It's a shame they can't see the joy in each others' faces while surfing together but I have no doubt they are bound by the thrill, the laughter and the exhilaration that this shared act provides. Like a first love, I imagine their perceptions of surfing are changed forever because of what they have shared together. Surfing will never be the same ever again for either of them.

If you think about it, in this sense love and strength are intertwined and symbiotic. Love makes us strong and having that strength allows us to love. Surfing has that power and we have witnessed it in this video. 

Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy but also shared with a loved one.