Surfers-Do You Ever Get Tired of It?

I must confess my env-I have never been able to get up on a surfboard.But I have noticed, surfing is a sport the its devotees are fanatic about. It seems a dedicated surfer never get tired of it. What is it about the sport that keeps people hooked? I was watching some guys last weekend (Nantasket Beach , in MA)-in the 38 F water-that is ome devotion!:confused:

You make it sound like surfing is unusual. But from my perspective, there are plenty of people hooked on tennis, golf, poker, whatever. I don’t see much difference.

Moving this one to IMHO.

samclem Moderator, General Questions

Ah - I disagree. You see, I have a theory - call it WordMan’s Shlep/Toy Pursuit Matrix:

  • Draw a 2x2 grid
  • label one axis - along the bottom - “Toy” with “low” on the left side and “high” on the right. If your pursuit is Low Toy, then you don’t need a lot of toys to pursue it. For instance if you love reading and frequent a library, you have a Low Toy pursuit. If you buy a ton of ski equipment or stereo gear, you are High Toy.
  • label vertical axis “Shlep” - if you can pursue your interest without a lot of hassle, it is Low Shlep - e.g., reading at home. If you have to go somewhere or tolerate tough conditions, it is High Shlep (I am looking at you, driving 8 hours to go skiing in sub-zero weather)

So - poker is Low Toy (unless you geek out about special chips or something) and Low Shlep.

Surfing can be Low or High Toy depending on how many or expensive boards you have, and certainly High Shlep.

I think **ralph’s **question is more like - “hey you High Toy, High Shlep folks, regardless of your passion, what makes you stick with it?” Is that okay, ralph?

As someone who is decidedly Low Shlep in my pursuits, I would be curious to hear the answer, too…

I have never surfed but I think I can understand based upon my own devotion/addiction/attachment to snowboarding.

I’ve been snowboarding since 1988(ish). In the middle of summer, when the sun is shining and people are thinking of beaches and picnics - I’m dying for winter to get to go riding again. When the first snow flake falls, I’m almost giddy with excitement that I’ll be back out on my board again. When, as happened last weekend, I take my last run of the year down a slope I’m filled with happiness over the snowboarding season in total but a bit sad and meloncholy that it’ll be another 8 months before I can take another run.

Why? I don’t know if I can explain it exactly. I love it. I am free when snowboarding. I am connected and dialed in to the snow, the mountain, the cold air, and my board. I am having pure fun, nothing intrudes on that fun - not problems at work, not relationship issues, not financial concerns - there is simply no room for those concerns at that moment. They do not exist. I am good at it and I know I’m making my body and board work with the terrain.

Gah, it is just about impossible to describe. It is exhilirating, terrifying, challenging, liberating, fulfilling, bonding and lots of other -ings all rolled into one activity. Nothing else I’ve done delivers that total experience. I imagine many surfers feel much the same way about catching that next wave.


I’m a skier who gets up at 5 am on Saturday to drive 3.5 hours to a ski hill.

It’s the connection to nature, the thrill, the adrenaline, the good feeling of tired while sitting in a hot tub after a long day of skiing. It’s hard to describe I guess. When you have a good day - lots of powder, blue sky, perfect weather - you just can’t wait to experience the next good day.

But don’t the surfers spend the majority of their time just sitting there waiting for a wave? I mean, I play golf in a relatively Low Toy Low Schlep manner (as much as possible for golf) but I’m playing all that time, or waiting on one or two partners to play. It’s not like I sit there at the tee for a few hours waiting for a breeze to come along.

I’m a whitewater kayaker that lives in the flatlands, 10 hour drive minimum from the nearest natural whitewater that’s decent (medium toy, heavy schlep?). I drive 2 hours one way almost every weekend (May-Oct.) to practice on a manmade WW course that lets you build skills but is low on thrills. At times I’ve been nearly fanatical but there are times when I think there’s gotta be an easier hobby to pursue. I’ve not found one I enjoy as much. The time on the water is fantastic mostly but the older I get the more intimidating the logistics.

I backcountry ski. That means climbing ridges for a few hours for possibly 15 minutes of skiing.

It’s worth it.

All I’ve ever been able to do is boogieboard (never had money or ability to learn to surf, though I sure wanted to), but I can totally understand why a surfer would never get tired of it. Really, what’s better than surfing?

I grew up surfing a couple of times a month when I could catch a ride. Ended up going to graduate school in Santa Cruz, CA and probably surfed five times a week. I haven’t lived within three hours of the ocean in nine years but still get out at least once every couple of months.

Anyways, Telemark nailed it. There is a lot of paddling and waiting in the line-up just to finally catch some mushy blown-out slug of a wave. But think about it, if you pulled into a perfect barrel every time would it be as much fun? I think a lot of the fun is the anticipation that this next wave might be perfect. Every break is unique, every set is unique, and every wave has its own characteristics. And every once in awhile, it all comes together and as you slide down the face and and raise up you just know how perfect it can be.

As far as what keeps people hooked…Jack O’Neill once said that it was like trying “to explain sex to a virgin.” I guess you’ll just have to get out there and see what the fuss is all about!

Been surfing for about 30 years now; started when I was 10. I don’t know where I fall on WordMan’s shlep matrix, but I have multiple boards for multiple conditions, and have different suits for different water temps. I live about 20 minutes from the east coast of Florida.

I don’t go out as much as I used to, but if I check the surfcams and see some fun waves, I’ll head over to check it out. Sometimes I’ll show up, and never even get my board unstrapped. I’ll just stand around with the other surfers and we’ll check out the water. It’s the community and people that I met/meet that I like. There are some guys I surf with regularly that I’ve never run into off the beach. And the mix of people is pretty diverse. We’ve got 13 year-olds who ride potato chips, and 80 year-olds who’re riding long boards. But Telemark and Ol’Gaffer said it better than I did; it’s just hard to explain.

Ask any surfer (or skier, or snowboarder, etc.), and they’ll probably be able to remember dozens of truly awesome rides they’ve had. But they’re always trying to find a better one.

Absolutely. Get a group of surfers together and this is exactly the talk…for hours.

If I may hijack this thread slightly: what’s the surfing like in San Juan and St. Thomas? I’ve never been a surfer (and probably never will be), but I do enjoy watching big waves. Are these two spots good for big waves?

I surfed as a teen, but gave it up when I moved away from the beach when I went to college. There was also a couple of experiences that led me to conclude that it is more of a young man’s sport, at least where I lived. The thing about surfing is that there are few parts of the beach that make good waves. Of those few parts, the waves are good only on certain days. On those good days they are good only at a certain time of the day (usually morning). On those good mornings, at that certain time, at that certain place, only one out of five waves is really good. So there I was a no longer “local” with 4 to 6 very aggressive teens on each side of me with no fear of pain or sense of fairness. I just didn’t have it in me anymore to fight for waves (nor did I have the skill to keep up with those lil’ grommets).