The Tube is Dead. Long Live The Tube.
The bodyboarders: Thirty years ago, the tuberide was the preserve of expert surfers on leashless single-finned surfboards. In Hawaii, at Kirra, along the reefs of Indonesia, these men would disappear for one, two, even three seconds at a time and emerge to rapturous applause from their filmers. Then along came Tom Morey’s boogieboard and its patron saint Mike Stewart who began riding deeper and longer inside tubes than anyone before him. For the first time in history, a surfer began talking intimately and prosaically about the innermost workings of the tube – what he could see, what he felt, about the shock wave, and all in a calm manner alien to the hipped-out, acid-dropping surfer. Goodbye to the tube as the key to the gates of enlightenment.
Butch and the Gay Caballeros aka tow teams: Any fool alive can ride a 10-foot tube, whether Teahupoo or Ours, if dragged over the ledge by a Yamaha or SeaDoo. Even I’ve ridden a death ledge tube at Ours – but only because I’d avoided the difficult part of the transaction, the takeoff. What once cost a lifetime of skill and bravado can now be had as easily as a grande soy latte from Starbucks. Goodbye scarcity of experience.
Lochtefeld’s Standing Wave: Seventeen years ago, American Tom Lochtefeld made a prototype standing wave. Submerged propeller pumps juiced water over a foam bank creating a permanent tube that allowed a man to experience tubular bliss for however long he desired. A couple of hour’s practice and any clown could ride the endless tube, the surfing equivalent of affixing suction cups to the pubis mons and experiencing a never-ending orgasm. Why on earth would you travel to the world’s biggest Muslim nation (Indonesia) in troubled times when you can have a numerically superior experience at a wave park?
Well, why would you? The answer, goodness help me, requires the abuse of surf cliché and a descent into platitudes that’d normally only fill the pages of The Surfers Path. The tube still matters, y’see, because nothing beats a clean run into a good tube. When the wall curves over your head, when the world turns into a Dave Troyer photo, when there’s a friend screaming from the channel with his arms raised in the air (oh, joyous cliché!), when out of the corner of your eye you see water draining off a rock shelf, when, for a second, maybe two or three, you’re at the top of the food chain. Cue raised heart beat, cue internal screaming. The tube is dead; long live the tube.