Sometimes it's hard to be a surfer when all they want to do is put you in a group of similarly flavoured goons. Well, we are they, and today's monotypes are...
The surfing population as a whole might be regarded by the legions of the unsalted as a uniform herd of work-shy, shoe-phobic, over-sexed, ganja-tooting ne’er-do-wells. But! Within our own ranks, we can be further classified by our adhesion to our own codes of (mal) practice. SE.com, ever fond of lazy journalism and cliché, thus indulgeth…
Photo: Ricardo Bravo. Words by Ben Mondy.
THE DAWN PATROLLER
For the up early surfer, there is nothing sweeter than the sound of the alarm going off in the pitch blue-black of a pre-dawn morning. The up early surfer actually sets the alarm for an hour before they go to bed, just to make sure they will be the first one on it. The well practised pre light early surf rituals of coffee and cereal tend to be almost zen like. They will cite the early morning offshores, the lack of crowds and the spectre of the rising of the sun as the orgasmal joys of the early surf, usually while they are smugly drying off, just as you are slowly getting your shit together for the first surf of the day.
However, unsurprisingly, they tend to not to mention a few of the hardships that are associated with such a devotion to the dawn. The strapping on of freezing cold wet wetsuits in the sun’s early putrid rays is not talked about. They also tend to be single, as no right respecting partner will tolerate a migraine inducing alarm at 6am five days a week, nor a spouse who has to go to bed about the same time as your average 7-year-old.
Funnily enough the early bird surfer doesn’t get along with the morning sickness surfer. For this breed (the French and Spanish the most obvious example) the sound of the alarm going off is akin to having their eyeballs dipped in sulfuric acid, then squeezed through a cheese grater. They tend to have a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship with their bed and their capacity to lie to themselves is legendary.
After hearing their alarm (and yes for some reason they still actually set their alarms) and despite the forecast of a new swell and offshore winds, they can convince themselves in a heartbeat that a whisper of wind is in fact a new onshore, and then relieved, drift back to sleep. Morning sickness for them is one of surfing’s greatest inventions, rather than frustrations. For this guy the just before lunch surf is the early, and G-land is some type of nirvana, where the morning sickness ends and offshores kick in at 10.00 am, providing the sole example of what should be the true natural order of things.
8 fin stubfish squash hacked squaretail, with own texta design? Check. Finless Alaia, hand reared by artisan in Molokai and bought on ebay for only €3000? Check. 1960s reclaimed log with three foot skeg? Check. Suspect mustache, worn ironically, maybe? Check. Own fashion label startup, ideally, or at least signature series in the pipeline with sponsor? Check. A louche air of general dissatisfaction with the surfing and wider world in general, matched with a barely-controlled arrogance that his anti-consumer consumerist approach will pave the way for a new world order? Check. 1950s Leica M3 and Super 8 camera? Check. Blog? Check. Arty, skinny small breasted muse girlfriend that is kinda hot in unwashed unorthodox brunette way? Check. Fixed wheeled bike? Check. Multiple tattoos, sprouting irreverent diatribes, Japanese katakana or self-aware dross? Check? Chinos and boat shoes? Check. Guess what? You’re surf hipster.
Now of course the surf hipster is nothing new. Hipsters have been rallying for authenticity and against the mainstream since Mikey Dora mooned the judges in the semi-final of the Malibu Classic in 1958. And as surfing has become more and more mainstream ever since, a select branch of anti-fashion fashionistas have always been on hand, articulately mumbling a contrary viewpoint and type of facial hair.
They always seem to be on the search for authenticity, and yet can’t seen to grasp the point that often their whole way of living seems to be a total fabrication, a well planned pastiche of every anti-trend trend there has ever been, or ever will be.
The modern hipster has a few heroes. Dane Reynolds with his doe-eyed modest mumblings, his DIY blog, his future retro quiver and his failed desire to be anything but the world’s most talented and highest paid surfer has fallen into the hipster hole, even if he didn’t mean to.
Alex Knost is another hipster that has been equally pilloried and championed, his mixed media messaging agreeing to a whole wave of skinny jean wearing groovers, and inflaming those who think hair and boards should be short and that skinny latte mochachinos are for pooftas.
In any case the hipster is alive and well and trimming and moustaching in a coffee house near you. And there’s no need to fret about ‘em, or even try to stop them. They do a pretty good job of that themselves, self-realisation kicking in the late 20s. As of now no hipster has been found alive over the age of 30.
Al rips though. We tried to catch him for an interview a couple of years back, but kooked it in the email foreplay by calling him fruity. That was the end of that...
Subject: Interview Surf Europe
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2010 22:04:07 +0000
Hey Alex Knost!
Paul from Surf Europe mag in France here. Im gonna be in Orange County from next weekend and was wondering if you were there and if you would be keen to do an interview with us for the website?
Just lemme know if you are keen
ummm - im pretty timid to do interviews right now...what is it about
no worries Alex
I would hate to twist your arm...
arms are free, just wanted to know what it was about-
shredding good waves and weather right now..
it looks like youll score all next week
The interview is just about you mainly, your shred style and your fruity persona. If you are keen just gimme a shout I will be gentle with you I promise!
The Forehand Surfer
It’s not so much that the forehand surfer loves surfing on his forehand, more that he becomes physically sick at the thought of surfing on their backhand. This anti ambidextrous predisposition is usually a result of environment rather than genetics. It is often the case that these surfers started to surf on a stretch of coast where the best and most consistent local breaks all went the one way. If that happened to match their forehand, surfing waves with their backs to the wall just wasn’t on their radar. For example Australia’s Gold Coast is a breeding ground for naturalfooters whose forehand features a quicksilver groomed style and backhand that looks like two donkeys having unprotected sex with an athritic badger. If we can put it another way, have you ever seen Parko or Fanning go left? Other pockets of one-wayitis include Australia’s north-west desert coast (I present Exhibit A, Ryan Craike), the endless lefts of Chile and the righthand points of Baja, Mexico.
Ever seen Parko, Fanning or Curren go left? OK, yes, but can you remember it? TC, Indo. Photo: Nate Lawrence
Thus having grown up with waves favouring the traditionally easier forehand, these surfers tend to find themselves hardwired on to their one directional path and unable to go back(side). This favouritism becomes so entrenched that these surfers will often choose a fat, crowded forehand waves over double the size, double the quality backhand waves. They will also carefully select their holiday destinations based on the waves forehand ratio. European forehanders tend head to Morocco and it’s series of rightpoints and settle in for a couple of pigdog free months. In fact these dudes would prefer their chances at ordering a round of mojitos at the local mosque than successfully tracking down some of the slabby lefts that the country offers.
Of course this turning a blind eye to half the waves on offer can’t be considered a positive. To these surfers shifting beachbreaks is a living nightmare, while in the odd occasion when they are forced backside (say when the alternative is a 10 wave set on the head) they know deep down what they have, or more correctly haven’t, turned their back on. Eventually, after so many years of disuse the backhand, like a gangrenous arm, will eventually drop off. No longer part of their surfing armory, they will go to their salty graves, their backhand like a drooping cock of no use, to nobody. Still that doesn’t seem to worry them.