But I Surfed Instead… Part 4

Fear of the ocean is logical. After all, it’s killed some of surfing’s greats. Kalani Lattanzi was lucky not to join that group by attempting to bodysurf lethal Nazaré. Photo: Joao Brek Bracourt

The sea is a dangerous place. We sometimes walk into it and don't come back. Sharks attack us every year and we die literally being eaten alive. And that's an extremely shitty way to go. We hit our heads on the bottom and don't pop back up. We fall off boats in the middle of the night on surf trips, seasick and delirious, and drift away into oblivion. We get lost in hurricanes, get struck by lightning, get poked by urchins, get burned by fire coral. We don't f–king learn.

I was stung by a box jellyfish some years back and went into anaphylactic shock. Before helping me in, as I screamed out to him from the impact zone as my spine seized with the toxins, my friend surfing with me motioned to hold on and he caught one more wave instead. And I don't hold that "instead" against him in the very least. How could I? The waves were sick that day.

"Fear is a great teacher," says Gudauskas. "And surfing is a way of exorcising fear in my own life. You can go out there and learn about yourself in bigger waves. Like, what the hell do I do now? [laughs] You know inside that you're terrified and surfing is that vehicle to explore what you'll do about it. Yeah, it’s dangerous, but a lot of passions are.

*Part 4 of 5 from the "I Surfed Instead" cover feature essay
Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here