Aggression in Surfing

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER’s Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

In light of the recent events that transpired during the Breaka Pro at Burleigh Heads, I began thinking back to my own mindset as I neared the end of my competitive career.

Being a focused, determined competitor requires a need to bring emotions and actions into play that have no place in everyday surfing. Two such instances that I was involved with during that final year ultimately led to my decision to stop competing. Both were captured on film and spread all over the world wide web. I’m not proud of those moments, actually. I’m quite shocked it’s even me in the videos, as those type of actions are the farthest thing from who I feel I really am as a person. Having seen what competing, losing, and the whole process had begun to extract from my emotions, I wasted no time in throwing in the towel and getting back to being at peace with myself, the ocean, and my fellow surfers—the way God, Duke Kahanamoku, and Rasta would like it.

If we could all learn one thing from the drama at Burleigh, it should be this: Acts of aggression have no place in the surfing world, yet the very nature of the sport (whether competing or surfing a crowded lineup such as Burleigh) lends itself to conflict. We all must do our best to subdue those feelings and at times show restraint, even when you know the other surfer is in the “wrong.”