his Is What Victory Looks Like. December 2018. he North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: WSL
he (Crowd) Suring Of 2018 World Champion Gabriel Medina. Photo: WSL
Will Skudin: "I hank God Every Day hat I Am Still Here." Photo: Hurley
Want To Hear About he Time I Almost Died? By DAN FITZPATRICK
series of irst-time Mavericks rides.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Will Skudin still remembers the exact date he encountered the prospect of his own demise.
He eventually chose pro suring over college, but his early days in that world were not easy. Even though an apparel maker called Zoo York paid him $500 per month plus travel expenses to surf around the world, his rides never made the magazines during promotional trips with other top athletes. Being from New York, a big city with few big waves, was actually a liability.
It was January 25, 2007. he Long Island, N.Y. surfer was thousands of miles from home and searching for challenging waves along Mexico's Baja California Peninsula when a clean-up set near the town of Todos Santos drove him deep underwater. Skudin had been in this situation many times before. He knew what to do. Hold your breath. Don't panic. Let the wave do its thing. his time, however, it all went terribly wrong. he force of the wave ripped Skudin's wetsuit over his head, mak‐ ing it impossible to see his way to safety. He wasted valuable energy pulling the hood back into place and soon lost all movement in his arms and legs. His oxygen was nearly gone. It wouldn't be long until he blacked out.
"here were some people who didn't want me around," he said. "I knew my path was going to be a little harder." He won people over with persistence and enthusiasm, talking himself onto boats destined for the most chal‐ lenging suring realms. here was one memorable en‐ counter at age 17 with big-wave pioneer Garrett McNa‐ mara as McNamara prepared to make a trip to Cortes Bank, a barely submerged island set far from the Cali‐
"Right then, I knew it. 'Uh oh.'" Skudin is one of the world's best big-wave surfers. Each year he peers down 20-foot, 30-foot, 40-foot or 50-foot mountains of water in Portugal or Hawaii or California and commits to an experience most of us would rather avoid. But what should encourage even the newest be‐ ginner is that Skudin struggled with the same vulnera‐ bilities that are part of the suring experience at any lev‐ el: fear, anxiety and doubt. hat he is willing to bare these feelings publicly is exceedingly rare among those of his kind. Skudin's story, aired in front of a Brooklyn, N.Y. audi‐ ence convened by the Hurley Surf Club, begins as it should: in the water. He is from a family of Long Island swimmers and ocean dwellers, and his mother ittingly placed him in the Paciic months ater he was born. His irst memory of wanting to ride big waves was at age 7, rendering surfers as stick igures on childhood draw‐ ings. A chance meeting with big-wave pioneer Laird Hamilton on Long Island's Lido Beach at age 12 con‐ vinced him that it was possible for a real person to do this. His knew the white horse he wanted to ride irst: Mave‐ ricks, a giant, vicious slab looming inside a bay south of San Francisco that had already taken the life of surfer Mark Foo in 1994. His parents were worried enough about this prospect to send Skudin to a therapist, and Skudin set himself a goal of assuring the therapist that all would be ok. If the therapist was convinced of his se‐ riousness, he igured, his parents would be as well. He was 16 when he arrived at Mavericks for the irst time, accompanied by his father. On day one, a nasty encounter with the wave destroyed his board. Skudin said he wanted to try again. His dad purchased a new board, and on day two the teenage Skudin completed a
his way into more istights. A low point, he said, came one morning when his father woke him at 6 a.m. He was on his dad's couch, nursing a black eye from a scrap the night before. He was 25. "He says: 'Look at you; you are a washed-up big wave surfer at 25 years old living oﬀ the same photos for 2 years." Skudin had no new big-wave experiences to use in promotional materials for the Skudins' Long Beach camp. "It is engraved in the back of my head. He is totally right; I ran same session photos for the camp 2 years in a row. He noticed it. I remember being like, what am I doing? I was either I was going down a really dark route or I was going to have to turn the page." His conidence took its most wounding blow in the af‐ termath of that nasty 2007 wipeout in Todos Santos, Mexico. Skudin recounts what happened ater turning to the audience gathered here in Brooklyn -- "Oh man I'm going to cry now" -- and posing a question of his own: "You guys want to hear about the time I almost died?" What's important to know is that Skudin trains for these deep hold downs so he can survive them. He practices holding his breath and sharpening his mental state. He studies what happens to the human body when oxygen levels plummet so he can identify the signs of danger.
Will Skudin. Photo: Chris Hamlet fornia coast. Skudin wrangled an invite because he knew a surfer from Virginia Beach who knew Garrett. Garrett's one condition: $500 in cash. Here is how Skudin remembers what happened next:
"You ever wake up in the morning and feel your arms tingling?" he says. "hat's from cutting oﬀ circulation, which is a lack of oxygen." he body, he explains, begin to shut down underwater if oxygen levels drop, begin‐ ning with the limbs and moving quickly to the heart. "hat's when it blocks oﬀ your brain and you black out." His mantra: "You just can't, ever panic. Try to ind a happy place and let the wave do its thing."
Will: "So I walk up to him with 500 cash." Garrett: "'You are the Jersey guy?'" Will: "I was so scared to say, 'no, I'm from New York.'"
Yet his preparation was not enough to anticipate the un‐ expected. At Todos Santos, Skudin was 10 to 15 seconds away from death once the wave choked him with his own wet suit. he giveaway: his legs and arms no longer worked. His heart and brain were next.
Garrett: "'Grab those gas cans and get them on the boat.'" (Skudin does what Garrett asks and then says he needs to fetch his own boards out of the car)
How he escaped is still a mystery. "God lited me to the top of the whitewater," he says, and a friend was waiting to pull an inert Skudin onto a jet ski sled. He cried that day and vowed never to ride big waves again.
Garrett: "'Oh, you plan on suring, huh?'" Pluck did not always protect Skudin from disappoint‐ ments. His role as manager of Zoo York's surfers disap‐ peared ater the team was disbanded in 2009. He and his brother Cliﬀ had a surf camp in Long Beach, but the Zoo York displacement let him in a funk that coursed through many parts of his life. He lost his enthusiasm for set waves at places like Mavericks; at home he found
Skudin pauses as he recounts this near-death experi‐ ence, perhaps so he can gain more control over what he would like to say. It's clear more than a decade later that the event is as meaningful as any in his life. he audi‐ ence stays silent, allowing him to ind the words. "hat's the closest I've ever come, and I thank God every day that I am still here."
Mike Andrada, A Local Farmer, Lives Across he Street From he Surf Ranch. Photo: Alex Roth
Welcome To he Wave Pool Capital Of he World By ALEX ROTH LEMOORE, Calif. -- More than 100 miles from the ocean, and down the street from a yard sign advertising the local rodeo, sits the location of a suring wave so en‐ ticing - so perfect -- that even the world's best pros are eager to ride it. he setting is unusual if not ironic. California's Central Valley is a place famous not for suring but for its sprawling farmland, a place of almond and walnut groves, cow pastures and perennial water shortages.
Most people here assume the Surf Ranch will be good for Lemoore, bringing the area publicity, business and even the occasional celebrity sighting, as happened in 2016 when Slater walked into a local Mexican restau‐ rant with the pop singer Jack Johnson. he pair chatted with diners and staﬀ and posed for photos.
"We love that it's here but we don't really hear much about it," says Jenny MacMurdo, chief executive of the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce. "Interesting place to have it - the middle of the Central Valley. Bizarre."
Watching Slater's wave-pool video, he says, "makes my head go numb." In a way, the proximity is a bit agoniz‐ ing, given that he can't surf there.
She added, "Bizarre but good." he wave sits out of sight, hidden by a brown fence and towering cottonwood trees that line the perimeter of a complex called the Surf Ranch. Tommy Rhoads, among the smattering of surfers who live in this dust-blown part of the state 200 miles north of Los Angeles, would love to get a peek behind the fence.
California's Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Farmers in this sec‐ tion of the Valley grow a wide variety of products - cot‐ ton, corn, tomatoes, alfalfa, walnuts, almonds, pista‐ chios.
"Everybody says they want to ride it, but honestly, I just want to see it," says Rhoads, who restores classic cars for a living. "I want to see that thing barrel."
"It's ive or seven miles down the road but it might as well be on the other side of the world," he said. "It's un‐ attainable." here has always been an air of mystery about the project. Until the video dropped, no one in town had a clue what was happening behind the fence, or even that Slater had purchased the land. People working on the project would oten eat at Reyna's, a popular Mexican restaurant and nightspot in the middle of town, but wouldn't say much about what they were doing. "hey told us they were working on a ish pond," said Vero Zambrano, one of the bar managers.
It's been three years since the public got its irst glimpse of the wave, courtesy of a video that immediately went viral among surfers around the globe. Released by 11time world champion Kelly Slater, the video revealed that he and a team of experts had built a wave pool at a secret location eventually identiied in media reports as Lemoore, on a 20-acre plot of land that used to be the site of a man-made water-skiing pond. And not just any wave pool. By suring standards, the wave is lawless - a peeling, head-high funnel that can keep a surfer upright for 45 seconds. he technology developed at the site, if expanded to other areas, has the potential to revolutionize suring, exposing the sport to people who don't live near the ocean.
Rhoads, the owner of the hot-rod shop, learned to surf decades ago while living in San Luis Obispo. He eventu‐ ally moved back to his hometown of Lemoore to be closer to family and for the lower cost of living.
It was at Reyna's where Slater and Jack Johnson came in one night for dinner. By then, the wave-pool video had gone viral. Paul Contreras, a coﬀee barista, said both men couldn't have been more gracious when he asked them to pose with him for photos. He'd been stunned when he irst heard that his hometown was suddenly the epicenter of a potential suring revolution. Photo: Alex Roth
"I thought, wait, why Lemoore?"
Water - where to get it and how to make the most of it is always the most pressing topic in a region that, de‐ spite a very wet winter, is still coping with the impacts of one of the worst droughts in its history.
Mike Andrada, a local farmer and handyman, wonders the same thing.
Meanwhile, the 25,000 residents of Lemoore - where, in addition to farming, the largest employers are two near‐ by state prisons and a naval air station -- have greeted the project with a mixture of excitement, curiosity and befuddlement.
his being California, there are surfers even here. But you'd better be very committed. One of the better spots is Pismo Beach, some 120 miles southwest along a se‐ ries of two-lane highways.
"We have as many cows as we have people," said Joe Neves, a retired farmer who serves on the Kings County Boards of Supervisors. "We do not have a lot of aquatic opportunities. So this is somewhat unique."
Eddie "Munster" Maciel, who works in the tattoo busi‐ ness, used to live and surf in Pismo. From his spot in the lineup, he'd look with contempt at the Central Val‐ ley surfers invading his space.
For the people who live here, the precise scope and pur‐ pose of the wave project is anyone's guess. All they know is a lot of stuﬀ seems to be happening behind the fence. he sound of construction is a constant. Heli‐ copters occasionally ly people in and out. Slater is per‐ mitted to conduct research and development on the site and continues to tinker with the wave. hose with enough money can reserve private sessions for large sums. Whether the larger public will ever be allowed to surf there is unclear.
Now he's one of those Valley surfers himself, having moved to the Lemoore area 10 years ago - "Met a girl, had a kid, one of those things." Twice a month he'll make the trip to Pismo and paddle out. For Maciel, the idea of being able to surf at Slater's wave pool is nothing short of a fantasy. "It takes me an hour and 45 minutes to drive to Pismo," he says. "Kelly Slater's wave is only 15 minutes from my
He lives directly across the street from Slater's lot. His clothing of choice is not board shorts but overalls; if the sport isn't pro wrestling, he's not particularly interested. Andrada told me he'd never heard of Kelly Slater and didn't have the foggiest idea what was happening across the street, other than that whoever owned the place clearly had money to spend. "hey got those little - what do you call 'em - jet-ski things. hat's all I know," he said. "hey're putting mon‐ ey into the thing." When I told him that Slater had created a man-made suring wave on the property, Andrada seemed incredu‐ lous until I pulled out a phone and showed him Slater's video. "Well I'll be darned," he replied.
he Rancher: Kelly Slater. Photo: WSL
Life On he Ranch. Photo: WSL
Rodeo Flip. Photo: WSL
Grabbing he Horse By he Rails. Photo: WSL
Local Scenery. Photo: Dan Fitzpatrick
All In A Day's Work. Photo: WSL
Photo: Dan Fitzpatrick
"I Want To See hat hing Barrel." Photo: Alex Roth
Population: 25,000. Photo: Dan Fitzpatrick
Photo: Dan Fitzpatrick
he Audacity Of Allentown By DAN FITZPATRICK ALLENTOWN, PA - One of the most audacious public‐ ity stunts in the history of sport took place in an amuse‐ ment park just beyond the outskirts of this quiet Penn‐ sylvania town. Was it a failure? Or a triumph? It's still not clear, 34 years later. And that's what makes it important. Promoters called it the World Inland Professional Surf‐ ing Championship. he concept was this: 70 of the world's best surfers would leave their traditional ocean surroundings in Hawaii or Australia or Japan for a rural section of Pennsylvania best known as a refuge for men and women who dress modestly, favor simple living and like to bake sweet pies illed with molasses and brown sugar.
But the surfers and journalists that followed the sport closely had a more skeptical view of the proceedings. "hese waves could have only been described as pitiful," said Matt George, a journalist who covered the 1985 event and now is the editor of Surtime magazine in Bali. "It was like if you wanted to have a [Formula 1] race and it was for children's bicycles. It was doomed from the beginning." As one South African surfer who participated, Shaun Tomson, put it: "he wave was crap." For a certain segment of surfers Allentown in the inter‐ vening decades evolved into a parable that represented either a comic low point -- (Stab magazine in 2015: he event "brought suring to its knees" . . "all in front of a crowd of next to no one" . . .as competitors "were forced to grovel across 2.5-second-period chlorinated slop for
cal roadways. Even a brief turn in the popular culture - Billy Joel's 1982 song "Allentown" - was a source of unwanted at‐ tention. Residents say the paean to blue-collar decline was actually about Bethlehem, the next town over. "he world had the wrong impression of Allentown be‐ cause of Billy Joel's inaccurate song," said Ricki Stein, who covered the 1985 event for the Allentown Morning Call. Today Dorney Park still stands just over the Allentown border, in South Whitehall Township. he same wave pool used in 1985 is still there, as part of the Wildwater Kingdom, but no suring is allowed. here are no visible signs that the event took place, nor is there any record of it at the local historical society. No one seems to care. On a hot day last summer scores of kids and adults bobbed in the pool and shouted with delight once the machine cranked up the waves. A new consideration of what happened here in 1985 is critical if you want to understand the hype surrounding the recent public debut of a wave pool on the other side of the country, in Lemoore, Calif. It was built by Kelly Slater, an 11-time pro suring champion. Slater, who was 13 when Allentown happened, inadvertently devel‐ oped the Surf Ranch as Allentown's antithesis. Where Allentown was unable to provide pro surfers with crumbly waves higher than 3 feet the Surf Ranch is a high-performance canvas designed to mimic the pow‐ er and speed of the ocean. Where Allentown was open to the public from the very beginning, Lemoore has been a tightly-held secret, cordoned oﬀ behind a brown fence. Until last year it was mystery even to those who lived across the street.
Whitewater Kingdom, 1985. Photo: Robert Beck It was the irst-ever professional suring contest held in a chlorine-illed pool. he nearest beach was 90 miles away. To those involved the stakes were incredibly high. he hope for tour organizers was to broaden the appeal of the sport and set up a chain of wave pool contests throughout middle America. he hope for Lehigh Val‐ ley oﬃcials was that the event would put it on the map at a time when jobs in the region were beginning to dry up. he hope for the host venue Dorney Park and its it‐ ness fanatic owner Robert Plarr was that it would justify an outlay of $7-10 million. he gambit worked in the short term. he novelty of the event did in fact place suring on the U.S. landscape for a season, a feat in a country that largely ignores the sport. Allentown got its publicity, even if some of it was inaccurate. People magazine mistook Allentown for Bethlehem (home to Bethlehem Steel) with its headline: Cowabunga! Surf 's Up In A Pennsylvania Steel Town.
points") -- or the reckless pursuit of artiiciality, con‐ sumerism and middle American squares. For others it became something else: a lost opportunity. It was clear pro suring would not become as big in America as baseball or football or basketball. "hat was always the dream," said Tomson, a former world cham‐ pion. "All we need to do is to show mainstream Ameri‐ ca what an amazing sport lifestyle we have. But Dorney Park wasn't really part of the plan. he dream of man made waves burst at Dorney Park." Allentown, which sits roughly 90 miles west of New York City, was never used to this much scrutiny from the outside world. It's far enough from major U.S. cities that the irst American army chose to hide the Liberty Bell here from the British during the American Revolu‐ tion. It later became a refuge for German-speaking im‐ migrants who were attracted by the state's reputation for religious tolerance. Horses, carriages and buggies belonging to the Amish are still a common sight on lo‐
Much is once again at stake, just as it was in 1985. he World Surf League, which owns the Surf Ranch, views its pool and its technology as ways to control the va‐ garies of the ocean and design a viewing experience pleasing to a broader audience (the hazards of this ap‐ proach became clear during a 2018 competition when the wave machine shut down for 56 minutes due to "maintenance" and "technical issues.") he league wants to build these pools across the U.S. (one is already ap‐ proved in West Palm Beach, Fla) and around the world (the WSL's hope is to integrate a pool into the 2020 summer Olympics in Japan). "Stadium suring," said WSL Chief Executive Sophie Goldschmidt at a Surf Ranch press conference in 2018. "Who would have thought?" For a more complete understanding of how 1985 led to 2018 it helps to know the motivations of three people who were largely responsible for bringing the World In‐ land Professional Suring Championship to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. hey were united by a mix of chance, hope and cunning. Robert Plarr, a former Marine and reconnaissance diver, was looking for a way to replicate ocean training inside his family's sprawling Dorney Park amusement
Surfer Tom Carroll In Allentown, Pa., 1985. Photo: Robert Beck
Pool Party, 1985. Photo: Robert Beck
complex. Ian Cairns, a former suring champion who was in charge of the world suring tour, was looking to improve his contests by eliminating the unpredictable elements oﬀered up by the ocean. he Allentown, Pa. native who brought Plarr and Cairns together, Jim Karabasz, was a recreational surfer who believed a se‐ ries of wave pools would eventually proliferate across middle America. Robert Plarr: I was a loose cannon. When I got out of the Marines I said I want to build a wave pool. Every‐ body was against it. Jim Karabasz: One day I saw an advertisement for Dor‐ ney Park. hey were going to build a wave pool and they wanted to go suring. I was like 'wow that's a cool idea.' So I met with Bobby Plarr, and we sat down. He had a vi‐ sion but had no idea how to implement it.
15, he said, when his father died in his arms. he unex‐ pected death also thrust him into a leadership position earlier than expected. he park had been in his family since the time of his grandfather, a one time Phil‐ adelphia butcher. While Plarr tried to drum up publicity for the 1985 contest with TV ads and "Surf Pennsylvania" billboards, the country's top suring journalists decided they would cover the event partly because top surfers had agreed to show up. hey approached the subject with a consider‐ able dose of skepticism. Surfer magazine sent writer Matt Warshaw, writer/photographer Matt George and photographer Robert Beck. Matt Warshaw: I was 25, and associate editor. I'd been on the job just six months when the Allentown gig came up. What I do recall is that Matt George and I, at that point in years to come - all the way till today, for that
feet at its deepest. here was some discussion in the newspapers at the time about how the system would vary wave heights from two feet - "more it for a beginner" - to seven feet, "which is what an expert needs for high performance suring." here is still some confusion and debate about this. No one I talked to acknowledged that seven feet was a real possibility so it's hard to know if that was talk was hype or if the technology failed to produce what it promised. Jim Karabasz: I don't know who was hoping for sevenfoot waves but somebody had better drugs than I had. You couldn't produce a seven-foot wave. he pool would have had to be deeper and longer. It was designed to cre‐ ate a three-foot wave every three and a half seconds. I was in every meeting and nobody discussed seven-foot waves.
Robert Plarr: I said, 'Find the guy to do it.' Jim Karabasz: I got in touch with Ian Cairns who was the head of the ASP, which is the predecessor of the cur‐ rent pro suring group. Lucky for me Ian was a very open minded guy and saw what new possibility there was to move suring away from the coasts and move it to where the populations were. Ian Cairns: I have always been intrigued with the idea of making waves. Jim Karabasz: here was a lot of discussion of what could and couldn't be done. Bobby's commitment to hav‐ ing a surf-able wave was the driving force. He wasn't tak‐ ing no for an answer; he wasn't backing down. Ian Cairns: I lew out there to Pennsylvania, met with the owner, looked at the wave and I thought it was worth a shot. Why not let's have a go? Let's see what we can make work. Jim Karabasz: Back then I believed that every park would put one in and in 5 years there would be an inland pro tour. here would be more money in it because you could go to a TV production company and say it is going to happen at this time and will end at this time. Matt George and Matt Warshaw, 1985, Allentown, Pa. Photo Provided By Matt Warshaw he scale and novelty of the project immediately divid‐ ed the family that owned Dorney Park. Plarr - who started working at the park at age 7 and did everything from sell popcorn to clean toliets - borrowed the money needed to build the new water park by using some of the Dorney Park land as collateral. One of his family members was so against it that he sold his interest in the park weeks before the pool opened. Robert Plarr: hey said it's going to bankrupt the park. I said we are going to sell this place for about $50 million in ive years. hey laughed and walked out. For Plarr it was the latest in a long line of experiments that puzzled those around him. Before the pool he built an underground home and windmills for creating elec‐ tricity. He created a health restaurant (Eat To Win) that served people with diabetes or heart trouble; it listed calories and sugar content years before that was a thing. To keep it he he taught aerobics classes that reportedly attracted 1,000 women a night and climbed coasters so he could do pull-ups 100 feet in the air. His nickname: "Rambo." Plarr's extreme interest in itness, he said, can be traced back to a tragedy that he did not wish to repeat. He was
matter - were pretty dissatisied with a lot of the events, and how pro suring was being handled in general. We were both huge fans, understand. We both loved competi‐ tion, there was none of that "suring is art, not sport" bullshit. We just wanted the contests to be better. We hat‐ ed the Op Pro, and really hated the idea of having an event in a wave pool.
he event attracted many of the top surfers in the world, from Australia's Tom Carroll to Tomson to Santa Barbara's Tom Curren. Many did not know what to make of the wave, the park or the town. Some didn't know their surboards would have a harder time loat‐ ing in pool water, which lacked the buoyancy that salt provides in the ocean.
Matt George: he conversations went like this: 'What a load of bullshit this is going to be.' he basic feeling surfers had up until Kelly's extraordinary achievement in Lemoore was yeah we will ride one of these corny wave pool things but it felt like letting your dog drag you by the skateboard down the board walk of the beach. hese wave pools at the time were just goofy as hell and they were right next to Captain Blackbeard's soapy sudsy bubble ride. hey were ridiculous to us.
Matt George: We were all standing around that pool in Allentown, the elite of the suring sport, and they turned on that machine and those irst waves rolled down to‐ ward the shallow end, toward us. he collective howl that went into the air, from the elite, probably could have been heard in New York. No it was not a howl of stoke. It was a howl of laughter. hese waves could have only been de‐ scribed as pitiful.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang he pool itself was heart shaped, with waves breaking to the let and right. he machine was powered by four large steel laps that pushed more than 100 tons of water across an expanse of 50 meters. he water was 12 to 15
Shaun Tomson: It was a case of reality not really meet‐ ing our expectations. Jim Karabasz: A third of them came to do business. hey had the proper equipment, the proper mindset. hey were like 'ok this is like a really bad day at my local break.' A lot of them told me that. hen there were a lot of them that showed up and were completely unprepared. hey
Photo: Robert Beck
were quickly eliminated from the contest and they hung around for days basically bad mouthing the whole wave pool to anybody who would listen.
Matt George: he Hot Buns contest was not a political statement; it was a drunken one. Look man I can dance, and there was an opportunity in an extraordinary setting.
Matt George: I remember when we had our irst meeting about the rules. he bewildered look of these surfers who didn't know what to ask. Cheyne (Horan) raised his hand. 'Ian, should we discuss that this might unravel the universe as we know it?' here was dead silence for about seven seconds.
Ian Cairns: I have never ever looked at Matt George's hot buns so I don't think I would have attended.
Robert Beck: I remember irst walking out on the deck and thinking that it was pretty small. Not only was the wave very machine like and kind of mundane but the suring was as well just because of the size of the wave and the shape of the wave. Everybody basically did the same maneuver in the same place.
Robert Beck: he judging was based on how loud the crowd cheered for you. Matt is a good looking guy and has a good physique but there were 90% more women than there were guys so he was going to get the most ap‐ plause. Matt stripped down to his underwear. He ended up just wadding up double the size of a sotball and stuﬀ‐ ing it in his pants. And when he walks out the place just went bananas. He does a big swan dive into the crowd and he breaks his ankle. Matt George: My ankle still hurts today. But well worth it. It was such a metaphor for how goofy this thing was. Ian Cairns: Back in those days you were allowed to be a character. Wild crazy shit; it's part of the whole spirit. Jim Karabasz: I don't remember every detail of that and even if I did I really don't want to get pulled in that con‐ versation about what Matt George did or didn't do. He did as much as he could to pull the event down as any‐ thing else.
he Matt George Photo As It Appeared In Surfer Magazine. he Original Was Lost. Jim Karabasz: Even though I talked to a whole bunch of them long before they came and tried to explain that fresh water is a lot less buoyant than salt water, they all showed up with what they thought were their small wave boards for the ocean and a lot of them were just lounder‐ ing. A lot of them bitched and moaned about it but it wasn't for lack of knowledge. Matt George: he machine had problems and it broke down a few times. It would overheat because we had to run it at super max just to try to catch a wave. It remind‐ ed me of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. hat's what we called the wave machine because it would go cha-chunk chachunk cha-chunk cha-chunk cha-chunk. And then we could hear the alarm go oﬀ when it overheated every half hour because it was operating at super max. It was just chaos. Carroll won the contest, although few remember how or why. He defeated Derek Ho, a Hawaiian, in the inal. More memorable to many were the series of culture clashes, pranks and escapades that occurred over the course of ive days. hey reinforced the distance be‐ tween locals and surfers - starting with George's perfor‐ mance at the "Hot Buns" contest.
Matt George Wins A Hot Buns Contest Robert Beck:his might have been either a Friday or Saturday night. It was some big kind of a shindig they were putting on for the surf contest. I believe it was in an old roller rink.he ratio of females to males was about 10 to 1. he few guys who were there looked like they just got oﬀ a job from a gas station and couldn't care less. It was just so weird.
Matt Warshaw: Matt George was the only person who could have pulled it oﬀ with that much style. He stopped, put himself in proile to the front of the stage, placed his hands on hips, jutted his pelvis an inch or two, and gave a smoldering look at the audience over his shoulder. It was as ine a piece of spontaneous comedy as I've ever seen. What he did was a 10 times, 100 times, more entertain‐ ing than the any of the wave-riding that weekend.
he Photo Matt George Took In His Underwear
lowing the 1985 event for prospective sponsors - specif‐ ically, Anheuser Busch. he proposed price to help pay for a repeat event was $100,000. he pitch: "We foresee an even greater media response." But it never happened. Why was there not another pro event at Allentown or anywhere else until 2018? Why did dreams of an inland tour die? he explanations vary according to the person speaking. In 1986 Cairns told the Allentown Morning Call that he and Plarr wanted to run the event again but needed to make some modi‐ ications to the pool to improve the power of the waves. Karabasz said there was a speciic reason that didn't oc‐ cur: Plarrr was upset at how the event was portrayed in the suring press. Jim Karabasz: 'Why am I going to have these assholes back when they treated me like I was some sort of carni‐ val side show.' hat is the gospel truth. It wasn't logistics. It wasn't for lack of interest. It was the fact that Bobby was like 'I'm not putting my money up. Look at this child‐ ish press that I got when I'm trying to do something good for a sport.'Had people like Mr. George been a little more open minded and a little less arrogant there probably would have been a second Inland Pro Suring Champi‐ onship. Matt George: I was brutal. hat was my take. I was bru‐ tal. And I am happy with that. I was interested in artii‐ cial waves since I irst started suring at eight years old. I had built wave pool models myself made out of coke cans illed with sand. I was a believer, man, which is why the disappointment was so powerful.
Plarr has a more mundane explanation for why the event never repeated: proits. He said he had to elimi‐ nate suring from the pool because it did not make sense to close it down for a small group of surfers when
he deining photo of the event was taken by George for Surfer magazine. It ran as a double page spread. A bul‐ bous blue water tower rises in the background, oversee‐ ing the proceedings. White and green striped umbrellas encircle the pool, oﬀering shade to some, while some onlookers are perched at the top of a nearby water slide. A pair of lifeguards watch from the shallow end as Car‐ roll is up and riding. A few puﬀs are in the sky and the grass is a verdant green. Matt Warshaw: It summed up the whole surreal, ridicu‐ lous thing in a single frame. I still love Matt for how he took that event on. He destroyed it by laughing at it, but not in a mean way. Matt George: I was on the judging tower at the time. I stepped out and took that shot. I shot one frame because I was in my underwear and of course everyone was looking at me. I captured the photo of my career. I have lost it. Back when you had to send slides to magazines it got lost in the mail. It captured a utterly unique moment in surf‐ ing that will never happen again.
So Why Didn't It Happen Again? here is a document still on ile with the current owners of Dorney Park. It's a proposal that was drawn up fol‐
he Plarr Family (Robert Is Front Let). Photo Provided By Robert Plarr thousands of people a day wanted access to it. Robert Plarr: I wasn't upset.I was the guinea pig and it worked out. Nobody else believed it. Only my own insani‐ ty did it. Ian Cairns: It never happened again because the waves were just not up the standard. It's 30 years later and the waves are up to the standard. Matt George: I think every surfer on earth should send a thank you note to Ian Cairns with a check for ive bucks in it. His original vision has inally happened in his life‐ time.
Charlotte Slivka In Long Beach, N.Y. Photo: Chris Hamlet
he 52-Year-Old Beginner By CHARLOTTE SLIVKA LONG BEACH, N.Y. - Suring? I would never admit to this secret passion, not even to myself. Buried down so deep I even have to question is this a passion at all or am I just making it all up? But every time I look at a big swell my blood surges and my heart races. I'm fascinat‐ ed by the roll; in wonder and awe of the structure, the miracle and beauty of curve and I want to be in it. Of course I'm terriied. No I have never surfed. Just in my mind, surfed my fantasies about suring. hat's me shooting across a wave as it's cresting, yes that's me be‐ ing spit out of the tube. hat's me rolling in again and again and again, falling backwards, diving, cartwheeling oﬀ my board and being absorbed into a wall of water 15 feet high. hat's me just hanging out on my board legs dangled on either side not worried about sharks at all. I grew up urban in New York City, but my artist parents had strong connections to the East End of Long Island so we were there every summer. It's through my father I learned to love the sea. As young man during the early 1930's in San Francisco he was a nature loving beach bum and would hike by himself through the Redwoods to those stretches of beach only accessible by trail. In those days, the way he told it, so many immigrants lived on the beach. It was not at all unusual to build a shack and hang out for a few weeks, and being an aspiring sculptor and carpenter he made his own surboard. Eventually he joined the Merchant Marines during World War II and sailed as the ship's carpenter. his would land him in Greenwich Village to begin his artists' life with my mother. When my brother and I were very small we were in the ocean with our father and as soon as we were able, he taught us to body surf. I say we, but really it was my older brother getting the surf lessons with me the nag‐ ging, annoying, copying and competitive younger sister tagging along. It was so I could stay in the water and not be ordered back to shore that I learned body suring pretty quick. I caught waves that scrambled me like eggs, threw me down and scraped me along the bottom until eventually I learned how to relax and low with the curve and shape my body to loat on top of the crashed and churning water and not get hurt. I spent hours out there watching for waves, getting my body ready for just the right moment to launch myself forward and swim like hell; my goal, to be washed up as far as the last lip of foam on the sand. How was it that we never took the suring thing to the next level? As a little girl in the 1970's, I never even thought that suring was an option for me. What I knew of suring was that was something he Beach Boys did in Califor‐ nia. I knew of no suring girls in New York. My artist parents knew people who surfed ideas and words; surfed with brushes on paint and canvas; carved waves of wood, stone, clay and glass; but we didn't know any‐ one who actually surfed surf. Ater they split up my brother took his love of the sea to the deep and became a scuba diver. I added holding my breath under water for as long as I could to my repertoire.
I think what inally ended any possibility of me suring was the summer when I turned 12 and read the book Jaws. he book, with its ictional monster (ictional monsters being my number one criteria for any book I read) never kept me away from the ocean. he movie another thing entirely - brought the book to life. In our small summer beach town there was only one movietheater that played only one movie and when a new one came it was a pretty big deal. I had to go see it partly be‐ cause I had just read the book and partly because all my friends were going (mostly because all my friends were going). I ignored my mother. She - who knew a thing or two about me - begged me not to go. What was she so afraid of, the poster with the big teeth? Did she read the book? It's just a movie mom get over it! Parents are never right so I went.
Lords of Dogtown and the accompanying documentary by Stacy Peralta, Dogtown and Z Boys, and maybe I took advantage of her momentary curiosity. I harbored a huge crush on my favorite Zephyr boy Jay Adams and pretended not to notice when she was bored. I was daz‐ zled by the magical shot of Stacy Peralta's head from above the lip of a drained swimming pool spinning at the bottom on his skateboard, the top of his head so much like the eye of a hurricane surrounded by the whirling cosmos of his hair. his image of Peralta's head as a hurricane became symbolic to my perception of skateboarding and suring. Inside is the calm and quiet center of the boarder, while on the outside is the whirling chaos of the elements in which the navigation and union of inner with outer is what the art of the ride is all about.
he very next day in the water, shadows became sharks. he sharks knew I was afraid so naturally I would be the one they would go for. It took me years to get into the ocean further than my middle. If I needed a wave I shrank to my knees in water no deeper than my upper thigh. I thought about the Lilliputians of Gulliver's Trav‐ els and how to them, the baby waves would seem gigan‐ tic. I would take my love of the sea to science and be‐ come a marine biologist. I studied seaweed and hermit crabs and anything a lot smaller than me.
I followed with Riding Giants, a surf movie for surfers. I was all in. I wanted the history; I wanted to know who was irst and what compelled them to do it. What kind of person was driven to wait in the freezing rocky wa‐ ters of Mavericks all by themselves, to ride the giants there that can not only crush you, but throw you down on sharp rocks and shred you to pieces? Who are these crazy people?
But then I grew up into a city teenager, became a punk rocker and joined a band. I surfed the urban decay that was the downtown art and music scene, subways and clubs. Unwilling to budge from what I believed was my calling, I put all my marine dreams away and iled them under: he Other Me - someday.
Anyway, it was a little boring for my six year-old; so much talking and all they do is surf. he 1987 cult classic North Shore triggered other ques‐ tions altogether. It is set in Hawaii, the cradle of suring, and the footage is true to the sport. But here are three things the 2019 viewer has to forgive North Shore for: 1. Hot pink surf boards and shorts
And they would have stayed like half sunken treasure in the bottom of my consciousness, covered by the car‐ casses and exoskeletons of other old dreams had it not been for the movies resurrecting those lost and forgot‐ ten parts; nudged from sleep into the imagination as if from a one hundred year dream.
A Room In A Dream I Never Knew Was here As the mother of a young child, I watched a lot of movies with my little one. hese were the days before streaming on our laptops so we would go to the library and the video store to get the best animation in the kid's section we could ind. Sometimes it was rough. he kid's section could oten be a wasteland of pink ponies and talking dump trucks. I tried to avoid the princesses as much as possible and tended toward ilms with odd‐ ball characters like he Addams Family or anything by the great Japanese animation genius Hayo Miyazaki and if it had to be Disney then the single parent and orphan ilms like Finding Nemo and Lilo & Stitch. It was proba‐ bly Lilo & Stitch that got us - me - started with the surf movies. I saw them on the library shelf one day next to the kid's section, Action and Adventure. It was like inding a secret jeweled cavern, or a room in a dream I never knew was there. At irst my little one didn't object to my obsession with
2. he sweep of the hand over the top of the head as a meaningful gesture and a show of profound inner thoughts and relection. 3. No female surfers. None. How could North Shore ignore the existence of any fe‐ males in the line up? Even in my total ignorance of who's who, I know there are some very accomplished women moving plenty of water in the sport but it seems the women in this ilm are only there to move the plot (a young, male U.S. surfer from mainland tests his skills in Hawaii). If I were from another planet come down to earth to learn about suring and I chose North Shore as my resource, I would learn that women typically wear bikinis and although sometimes they get wet for fashion shoots they don't go in the water. I needed to know: where are they? Online research was turning up ladies from the 1960's and the 70's but when it came to the 1980s I really had to dig. his would have been my decade and alternate surfer me would clearly have had a very hard time. Freida Zamba (four-time world champion from 1984 - 1988), Mary Lou Drummy, Lynn Boyer, Brenda Scott, Debbie Beacham, Simone Reddingius, Dina De Meo, Cher Pendarvis, Jericho Poppler, Terry Eselun, Pam Burridge, Kim Mearig and Rell Sunn would be like mythological crea‐ tures; constellations in the night sky that loat with a form that can only be guessed at, and alien me would
"As A Little Girl In he 1970s, I Never Even hought hat Suring Was An Option For Me." Photo Provided By he Author.
never know that suring females ever existed. Where North Shore succeeded was the way it portrayed opposites and contrasts. Greed vs. gratitude; inner strength vs. outer brutality; connection vs. disconnec‐ tion; showmanship vs. higher calling; surface glamour vs. real art. Nothing is how it seems: what looks bad turns out to be good; what seems good could be your downfall. And my takeaway: Be your own hero.
Why he F Not I think most people carry collections of secrets. Secrets they don't even know they have. Secrets like favorite trinkets in a box from childhood, or secrets like an old shame woven into the fabric of the personality. Some things should be secret. But some secrets are just wait‐ ing below the surface of consciousness to emerge, wait‐ ing for environmental conditions to be just right. It was a bar conversation one night in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn that got me to admit that I even thought about suring. Before this, I had never even formed words that had me and suring in the same sentence. "Oh you're a writer? Do you surf?" It didn't seem like the thing I should say no to, so I ad‐ mitted to being a surfer in dreams only. hen an inspired suggestion: "You can take surf lessons in the summer!" "I would totally do that!" the Guinness replied. Sometimes I talk to myself in my head, have whole con‐ versations with groups that consist of me, myself and I. During these conversations, I refer to myself as she or even we (since we are a group) and everybody had a lot to say. You idiot! What are you f 'ing kidding me? She's going to ind the only riptide. She's going to ind the only shark. OMG, can you see her in a in a wetsuit? OMG don't look! Excuse me lady have you checked your drivers license, the time, the mirror, the AARP junk mail that's been showing up recently? Why not? Why the F not! I tell my selves. So what if the 2 and the 5 in my age are in the wrong or‐ der and I've never been on anything bigger than a boo‐ gie board. So what if I had shoulder surgery last sum‐ mer. So what if my right knee seems to be painfully clicking these days. So what if I'm 25 pounds' over‐ weight. So what if I'm a lunatic.
here is so much to laugh about as I face the prospect of trying to surf I don't even know where to start. I'm thinking I have to lose weight; I need to be it to take this on. Isn't there some swimming involved? What the hell do I expect when I get out there? I return to the movies for some guidance. In Helen Hunt's surf movie Ride, she is a successful but arrogant and stressed out New York editor who is challenged to change through the rejection of her values by her col‐ lege-bound, surf-riding son. She secretly follows him to California when she inds out he has declined his presti‐ gious oﬀer to NYU and discovers he is a surfer. She de‐ cides to try it so she can understand what she is missing as their connection begins to fray. he irst thing she learns is she knows nothing; scenes of her being dumped oﬀ her board roll in one ater the other and she is a ictional wreck ater her irst day. his movie is strangely reminiscent of what I'm about to do and the proximity of this scenario is very close to home minus the great legs, career and buckets of money. But still I'm relating and there is a happy ending with a clever little twist and that's all I'll say about the plot but (spoiler alert) she did get something like a ic‐ tional week to learn. In reality I get one lesson one day; what the hell do I expect is going to happen out there? Without a doubt I'm going to be a mess. No miracle of balance, no innate latent talent will emerge and shine through at a critical moment. I'm facing it. his may be my fantasy plunge but the fantasy will shed the moment I try to shred and what will replace this immortal surf goddess (suddenly 30 pounds lighter, all limbs miracu‐ lously tighter) will be an average middle-aged woman who is not very lexible. I will morph from the skin of my size 6 wetsuit to emerge into a men's size L, the loose lesh of my upper arm waddle lapping in the breeze. It's going to be amazing. What the hell do I ex‐ pect is going to happen out there? I told myself when I began to hatch this plan: Train. Go swimming at the Y, go the gym, you can do this! You can be in shape by game time! What my days actually look like: I live in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and I work at my boyfriend's music store, Rock and Roll Supplies. I sit at a counter and make sales. Sometimes I rearrange the amps on the loor or the guitars on the hooks. My com‐ mute from home is two blocks. Sometimes I go out on my bike to see bands play in our neighborhood. hat's as physical as I get. Ten days before my irst surf lesson, I sign up at the Metropolitan Pool to start swimming. I hear there's a lot of paddling in suring? I'm heavier than I've ever been in my life, my right shoulder is at 85% mobility af‐ ter surgery and I don't exactly feel ready. In fact, I feel anti ready. Like if I were training to be in the worst pos‐ sible shape for this day, I'm totally ready! But putting my fears aside, I'm going to do it anyway. Why? Because I have no doubt in my mind something good is going to happen and that the good will be a sur‐ prise. I love surprises.
It's just bar talk right?
What he Hell Is Going To Happen Out here?
I decide to do more research. his time some reading from Matt Warshaw's he History of Suring. I start in the part about Hawaii at the turn of the century and I'm reading about Jack London. Wait what? I thought Jack London wrote books about adventures in
the woods: White Fang, he Call of the Wild. Apparently Jack was also a surfer. In his essay, Suring: A Royal Sport, he recalls his own irst encounter with suring in Hawaii ater arriving in 1907. He is watching the waves from the shore when he sees the miracle of a "stand up surfer": "Where but the moment before was only the wide deso‐ lation and invincible roar, is now a man, erect, fullstatured, not struggling frantically in that wild move‐ ment, not buried and crushed and buﬀeted by those mighty monsters, but standing above them all, calm and superb, poised on the giddy summit, his feet buried in the churning foam, the salt smoke rising to his knees, and all the rest of him in the free air and lashing sun‐ light, and he is lying through the air, lying forward, lying fast as the surge on which he stands. He is a Mer‐ cury -- a brown Mercury. His heels are winged, and in them is the switness of the sea." Now I face my own call to the wild.
he Lesson On the morning of my lesson I see a young man walk‐ ing barefoot as I drive up East Broadway toward Long Beach Boulevard past blocks of suburban houses on my let and a chain link fence on my right. It's early June and he's tan already. Long blonde hair that is ropey and textured and in lively conversation with itself, he looks how I imagine a surfer would look and feel reassured I'm in the right place. he day is a little cloudy and a lit‐ tle chilly but I felt energized by the ten-song rock block on the classic rock radio station built for commuters and I too felt like I was going to work. I made Lily come with me. I felt it was important that my daughter witness this madness. As a two year old she screamed when I took her to the beach; as an eigh‐ teen year old she explained it simply as she doesn't like sand. I also know that once in the surf she transforms into a ish, so I thought the ish part of her would ap‐ preciate this day. We followed balloons and Skudin signs to the board‐ walk in Long Beach, N.Y. and admired the clear calm morning. I promised myself in another life, in an alter‐ nate reality, I would be a morning person. he Skudin shack at the Hurley Surf Club has a wide-open entrance that faces the beach. No doors just smiles greet me on my way in. I am nervous but am immediately put at ease by the three young guys inside. Even before I speak they know who I am. I meet Chris Hamlet, my photographer for the day and unoﬃcial ambassador to Skudin Surf school. Chris is sot spoken and conident; he radiates calm good will. It's then, as part of my nerves dissolve, I realize I am ex‐ pecting to be judged. I'm doing my best to act naturally and behave conidently but I feel way out on a limb here. In a parade of insecurities all my selves shout in a chorus: you look homeless and they think you're nuts! But Chris is magical. Pure professional with a job to do and he knows putting me at ease and into a frame of mind that will help me perform my best is going to get him the best pictures. It works. By the time I have suited up into my vintage men's zip front wetsuit, I start to feel a little more like I too have a job to do. I then meet my instructor Eric and I shake hands with the young man from the road.
"It Was Not Just Letting Go Of Fear, But Fear Of Failure." Photos: Chris Hamlet
"Niiiice vintage! Looks like a ski jacket," says O.C., the third of my welcoming committee. I was thinking Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage and I do have a thing for vintage ski jackets. "Yeah that's why I bought it," I mumble. When I look back on the pictures of myself (Chris took 48) I look like I'm in pain. I recall the frustration of try‐
work through before I could connect me to my board and the constantly changing sea.
Palms To he Sky
We had reached the end of our hour-long lesson. I tried, I really did. If the goal was to do everything wrong in popping up, I succeeded in spades. But even so, I felt good. here was something redeeming and cleansing about putting my best eﬀort into a losing battle and Eric had a smile for me every time. As we started to exit the water, me dragging my board, ready to fall over and re‐ ally tired, he looked back at the surf.
On Independence Day I woke up and wanted to do it again. What would a second lesson be like? Would I be able to stand up? I couldn't believe it but Skudin was open for business on the 4th of July.
"Want to try one more time?" I didn't even have to think about it. "Yeah." Why not? I asked my selves. he chorus was silent.
ing to get up and falling over every single wave. I see Eric's blonde head peeking out of the waves behind me; what the camera has not captured is the push he had just given my board to get me going. his is not at all how I thought it would be but I should have known it would be. Even ater reading about the great Jack London trying to learn with kindergarteners in the baby waves of Hawaii and about him not even able to catch a single one while the ive and six year olds shot on ahead of him every single time. I should have known. It was the pop up that was the learning curve for me. You're supposed to do just that: pop up. But instead I slid my knees forward and then worked on getting my feet into position. A lot of thought was going into the process and by the time I was ready, the ride was over. I tried a little faster and fell forwards mostly; then I fell backwards and then when I started getting tired and felt all I learned unravel I switched my feet without even re‐ alizing. Apparently this is going goofy (I'll say!). Eric, through all this, pushed me again and again. I began to feel sorry for this sweet, patient and supportive guy un‐ failing in his goal to get me up. I think I need to mention at this point, the surf was probably .5 - 1 foot. Yeah this is not sounding like a great heroic day I know; such an anti climax to all my dreams and wishes. I guess
underneath it all I did have a lot of expectation and there seemed to be a lot of unconscious mind clutter to
he surf had really lattened out. Poor Eric out here with me out of the goodness of his heart and now he has to wait for it. No good deed ever goes unpunished. We made small talk. hat's when I found out Eric is 21 and has been teaching for seven years. He had done a winter season teaching at the Skudin Surf Shack in Rin‐ con, Puerto Rico. Occasionally I'd peer over my shoul‐ der to watch for potential riders. We discussed why ones that look ok turn out to be no good: they lose mo‐ mentum, one is right on top of the other, a bigger one is coming. Eric has grown up in the water and has learned to read the sea like a language. hen a wave comes. If I did learn something from this lesson, it was how to paddle and go. I learned to listen for Eric's voice: "stand up!" It all happens very fast and like all the last times I'm scrambling to get my feet in the right place and stand.
Why the hell not? he chorus inside my head was silent. I booked my lesson and jumped in the car. On the beach at the Skudin tent I met up with my teacher who happened to be Eric again and we picked up where I let oﬀ. Well not exactly, because where I let oﬀ was stand‐ ing up on my last wave and it seems the pick up point for this lesson was more falling oﬀ my board. I remind‐ ed myself not to overthink and that a big part of my learning curve was going over the basics of falling and an important part of learning to stand up. And I fell a lot; learned that part really well. Amid sets of unspec‐ tacular wipeouts I had the occasional stand and would immediately lose it to one side or the other. By this time Eric had no more tips, he had told me everything he could -- "straighten your back, look at the beach, get you feet sideways, lean on your front foot" -- so many times all that was let to say was "Hey you're doing good!" "Really?" I said. here was nothing let to do but to keep going. I listened for "Paddle!" and paddled like hell, conscious of the fact I still needed that big push and wondered what it would be like when Eric was not there to send me forward. At least the order to stand up was gone.
And I do. I'm standing on the water and I'm moving and I'm thinking: I'm not falling! And for a moment more I don't. I'm up long enough for Chris to get the shot and I don't know how I did it. Somehow my body knew what to do. When looking back to the decisive moment, I'm not sure if there was one. Maybe it was the moment I let go, so tired I just didn't care anymore. It was not just letting go of fear, but fear of failure and then the magic can begin. I guess it's a process because how can you let go and discover the magic without holding onto some‐ thing you shouldn't in the irst place? It's as if coming face to face with whatever holds you back is a necessary part of the connection that is made. here is a greater intelligence going on and to be at one with it is to be connected to a faith not practiced in everyday life. Maybe this is the freedom that is known in suring, a murky knowing that is submerged in the body as the water is under the surface; resistant to ordinary deini‐ tion because we can't know in ordinary terms. Good stuﬀ for a Monday morning. But for sure I was worn out. I let it all in the ocean. here was a spongy mass inside my brain that felt a lit‐ tle rubbery and a little ache in my neck and my shoul‐ ders where they meet. he backs of my arms (site of the infamous waddle) ached. Yes a lot of paddling was in‐ volved, also a willingness to GO! I can understand how people can spend years doing this. Even Eric and Chris say they are always learning. he sea is always changing, you will never surf the same wave twice. I wonder how this applies to life. It doesn't make sense that this rule stops at the sand. he energy from the wave, where does it go? What if it just keeps going?
And then it happened: I stood up and I stayed stood up. And I was still standing when I saw the beach approach and still standing when the board met sand and I stepped oﬀ my board onto the shoreline. I turned to‐ ward the sea and Eric's blonde head in the waves and raised my palms to the sky. he sky did not part, bal‐ loons and confetti did not fall through but I did feel a tiny bit magical. hen it was back to falling oﬀ my board and the reassertion of my brain overthinking the process. "It's all about the repetition," Eric said. I want‐ ed another magic ride but it didn't happen. What hap‐ pened instead was the realization that I lacked the con‐ idence to stand up and hesitated in the critical moment. Now to me, this is a whopping good metaphor for life. I was ready for the lesson to be done when it was time. I had some pretty good moments and I was tired. But in‐ stead of crashing out on the sand I followed my instinct to get back out there and body surf. As I let my body go with the curl of the waves and let them wash me to shore all my frustration and anxiety unwound. I stayed until my ingers pruned.
he Pipe Masters: Where World Titles Are Decided. Location: North Shore Of Oahu, Hawaii. By Alvar Sirlin
he Portraits Of Pro Suring Alvar Sirlin took his sketchbook to Hawaii in December so he could
he Son And he Father. By Alvar Sirlin
document the inal contest oďŹ&#x20AC;er an illustrated tour of of the 2018 season. he the personalities who images he brought back deine professional suring.
In Hawaii hese Men Are In Charge Of he Local Beaches: Bruce Irons, Jamie O'Brien, Ian Walsh (clockwise). By Alvar Sirlin
Twenty Magazine, Issue #3 Editor: Dan Fitzpatrick Writers: Alex Roth, Charlotte Slivka Illustrators: Alvar Sirlin, Ignacio Serrano, Xiao Hua Yang (cover) Photos: Chris Hamlet, Robert Beck, World Surf League, Alex Roth HQ: Queens, NYC Web: surtwenty.com Instagram, Twitter, Facebook: @surtwenty Printed by Newspaper Club
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John John Florence: he Blond Bomber. By Alvar Sirlin
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