Everything I know about surfing I learned from the 1991 movie Point Break*, which isn’t saying a lot. I live in one of the world’s most popular surf spots and I know nothing about it. I have never been on a board myself but I have always found surfing an intriguing sport, so I wasn’t surprised recently when I spent nearly an hour completely mesmerized by 55 surfers.I watched the tide go in and out dozens of times and I felt like somewhat of a voyeur.
My first observation was that surfers contort their bodies in the most peculiar ways getting in and out of their wet suits, carrying massive and very awkward shaped boards that they then attach to one of their feet. Bizarre. I sat at the water’s edge and thought, how can the ocean be so loud and rough, yet so calming and peaceful at the same time? I frequently walk on the beach and love to take in the sights and smells it offers, but my breath slowed and my body relaxed like it hadn’t in a long time as I positioned myself high on a rock with the beautiful view laid before me.
As the sun glistened on the water, anxious surfers paddled out to sea and there they waited.
It was as if they were willing the perfect wave to propel them to shore. Not every wave has a crest capable of such a trip. Surfing is a lesson in patience. It’s a solitary sport.
Just you and the water.
So many factors play a role in providing the perfect wave; the wind, the swell direction and intensity, the time of the year, high or low tide, what’s underneath the water, etc.
Once the right wave appears, the ride and the movements the surfers made looked elegant and effortless from where I sat. Their bodies possessing a balance and ease that I found fascinating. Lyrical.
I didn’t need to question anyone as to why they do it. It’s obvious.
It’s the rush, being one with the water, escaping land and the pursuit of the perfect wave.
Maybe I’ll feel it for myself someday.
*A point break refers to the place where waves hit a point of land or rocks jutting out from the coastline.