Transport yourself back to 1960. Surfers in the UK are taking to the water on ‘Malibu’ surfboards, inspired by the sounds of Dick Dale and The Beach Boys. Surf obsessed hep cats are being fuelled by the advertising men on both sides of the pond, as they started their slow and insidious global commercialisation of surf culture.
Before all that happened UK surfers were lying down on thin flat wooden surf boards – a design based on the ancient Hawaiin Paipo boards. Paipo meaning short or small board. Originally these boards were called surf boards or surf rider boards.
Plenty of our brethren turn their nose up at any other surf riding craft that isn’t in their quiver. Personally I don’t care what or how many boards you’ve got, how many times you get in the water, or how ‘accomplished’ you might be. I just want to see you smile.
An interview with Dr Timothy Leary originally appeared in SURFER magazine in January 1978: “Surfing is like a merging of your own body neuromuscular, or brain body, with the power/energy/rhythm of nature. That’s what’s so jewel-like precise about mind/body/sea energy interfacing together. One thing I like about surfing is that it is all out. You can’t be half-hearted, or you can’t be thinking about something else. You’ve got to give up all the land, social, cultural, moral, political whatevers … you’ve got to be totally there”
And so it was at the recent finless surf riding competition ‘The Slyder Cup’ where the 6 of us in the first Paipo heat got back to the true spirit of surfing, hooting and hollering as each of us caught our waves. This didn’t feel like a competition at all. Maybe if I’d taken it a bit more seriously I wouldn’t have come 5th, but hey this was a competition in name only. This was a friendly bunch of surfers having fun on paipos, bellyboards, hand planes, surf mats and tea trays.
Whether we’re a bunch of hipsters converging on the outer edges of surf culture, or a not-so-sophisticated crowd with a blind worship of vogue, is frankly irrelevant. We surfers are a socially and culturally fragmented and diverse bunch. Celebrate that, be totally there, with a smile on your face.