Reminder: Have Fun

Kelly Slater, exactly where he wants to be. Photo: Glaser

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.

What made you become a surfer? Was it for the glory, fame, and/or money? Not likely. Most surfers who gain any form of glory, fame, or money through the act of riding waves were way too young to have had any of those things on their minds during the early stages of becoming a surfer anyway. My first picture of me surfing is standing on my dad’s longboard, wearing only a diaper—of which I have zero memory.

So why do we love to surf so much? Because it is fun, pure, cleansing, challenging, frustrating, and totally different everyday, every season, even every wave.

Take the plight of Kelly Slater presently: He’s still the world title favorite for 2011, but an epic swell in Tavi, along with pitiful surf at J-Bay, just saw him choose perfection over obligation and a lifelong pursuit to win at all costs.

Would a top ranked golfer ever elect to stay at Pebble Beach for a few more practice rounds in perfect conditions, while simultaneously missing the Torrey Pines tournament because it wasn’t going to be as good?

Not a chance.

What about a tennis player, would one ever pass up a tournament because another court was going to play better that week?

Highly doubtful.

Is their even such thing as a golfer or tennis player that is just as good or better than the competing athletes, but elects to chase perfection and freedom over competition and structure?

I don’t think so.

As surfers we are some of the luckiest humans on the planet. I still remember the day I woke up and no longer had any interest in playing organized team sports. I count my lucky stars for that decision every day, especially when I see guys that were better athletes than me grinding it out at home with their massive beer bellies in place of a long gone six-pack.

With surfing the lines have always been blurred between the best competitor and best freesurfer, but never the ones having the most fun. That honor goes to the lucky ones who are experiencing their very first ride on a wave. It’s the feeling we get as beginners on 1-foot waves that keeps us coming back for a lifetime in an attempt to duplicate those emotions, even as we progress to 20-foot Cloudbreak in hopes of getting our fix.

Thanks Kelly for reminding everyone out there it is about nature, and the bond we share with her every time we go in the water—especially on those once-in-a-lifetime swells that are worth missing just about anything for. And thanks too, Dad, for lying about all those dentists appointments at school when the surf came up so I could join you for all the great memories.

Unlike J-Bay, Fiji hasn't seen too many lay days recently. Just ask Kelly. Photo: Glaser