27 Before 27

The Canary Isle of Lanzarote. Some love it, some think it’s a c**t of a joint. Julien Cuello would be of the former. El Quemao. Photo: Laurel

Magic 27, the golden pinnacle of youth. An arbitrary age essentially, but a damn good one. On average you’ll have had a near decade of having your own driving licence by 27, thus being master of your own physical destiny via highways, petrol and western society’s emphasis on freedom of movement as a basic human right. 27 is also just a very, very good year. Magic. Great things occur to 27 year olds. By age 27 you should have recovered from acne. Yet you’re still horny enough to stay up late enough to allow a 3-some to transpire, but sage enough to know how to pretend you’re not that bothered either way, in order to help it happen. You know what times of the day you usually poo and shouldn’t get caught out often. You’ve figured out your best haircut and shortboard configuration by 27, have developed some kind of appreciation for wine and cheese. You should also know how to scramble eggs.

1. North Shore. Stop crying and go to Hawaii. Just do it and shut up. We’re not going to say something ultra-wanky and predictable here like ‘pintails are good for your surfing’ or ‘ridding bigger boards irons out funk from your style’. It’s just good arrows, that’s all. After that first North Shore pilgrimage you’ll have ascended to the next canopy of branches on the stoke tree. You’ll ride and see waves tall enough to make your bum squeak, you’ll flirt with your heroes and watch their golden womenfolk on the bike path in silent awe. You’ll surf with turtles, not Turtle. You might see the Pipemasters, even the Eddie. If you like surf, you like go.

2. Indo. Everybody needs Indo. Indo needs everybody. Indo, and everybody, what a match! Indo, rather than just some chain of many many islands in the tropics where ruler-edged swells, Divine Creator-designed coral reef breaks and offshore winds live, is also a place deep in your inner psyche. It’s that place your mind retreats to in times of grey, stoke-less trauma. It’s that idealistic headspace where beauty, warmth, pleasure and spices combine in some kind of delicious mind surf curry. Indo is affordable, sexy, steamy, and it’s pumping. Go to Indo, young friend. Go soon.

3. Go Solo. A wise person once said “Surfers aren’t kooks, people are. And because surfers are people, they suck too…” this person was sage beyond their years, and favoured by the gods. A wise MC once said, “I ain’t a sucker so I don’t need a bodyguard…” and he won many MC battles. Go away on a surf trip on your own. It will probably be the best surf trip you ever went on. Or the worst. You don’t need your best bro, your boy/girl friend to back you up, laugh at your jokes, wipe your bum, all you need is you. It’s not just because you can ‘get into the culture’ more or ‘meet people’, but you will. It’s just… good. You’ll get more lineup cred, more time to read Céline, more time to look silently out over the great ocean at the green flash considering your soul’s earthly destiny and that of your brother man. Alas, it will cost more than a trip with your wack crew, so make it count.

4. First in dawnie/last out evening sesh. Salute the sun at both ends from a watery vantage. Salut means hello and goodbye, as does ciao, as does aloha. Say it.

5. Chase a swell to somewhere they speak a different lingo. Greet it like an old friend and touch it with the length of your body. Look at a local in the lineup, witness his leathered, different face and marvel at how he or she says ‘tuberide’ with different yet equally good syllables. Ride this swell until it has gone forever. Return home a better surfer and a more generous lover.
6. Boat trip. Boat trip is better than not boat trip. Boats make people happy, boats float on the sea usually in tropical places where sand is some kind of vague bad memory like the ugly ginger girl with the hairy face from school. Boats are noble, proud, they protect. If not for boats, mankind would live in dry caves like Star Wars where there were no boats, only robots, where the wind is always dry and dusty and evil is always on the front foot.

7. Shape a board and shred it. OK this one is a bit trendy, but look, seriously, Dane did it (didn’t you see the clip?!? Where you been?!?) so, you should probably copy him. Even if it’s only to gloriously waste a blank and some electricity and emerge with a greater appreciation of your shaper, it’s worth it.

8. Surf naked. But don’t just do it coz your mates are, and you guys have (gasp) drunk 3 beers at lunch and are feelin’ wild. This isn’t rugby. You don’t need back up. Just go surf naked on your own coz it’s your wiener, your ass, and you don’t have to cover up for no one, except possibly Babylon.

9. Have a 3-some. Oops! How did this get in here?


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