What’s more clich than surfing? The term “surfer” no longer conjures up a single image of the sun-bleached “dude” of yesteryear. Today, a whole new slew of surf characters clogs the lineup. They often travel in packs, sticking closely to their kin, but the daily invasion of your local break wouldn’t be complete without this distinct cast of characters:
You know him, he's the kid who gets a few T-shirts, maybe a pair of trunks and a rashguard from his buddy who reps for a company, then proceeds to put an 8″x10″ sticker on the nose of his board. He’s the kid who's got stickers from a random surf shop, a no-name start-up surf company, and a small-town restaurant chain plastered all over his stick. He may not need to claim any salary from his sponsors on his IRS-1040, but don't worry, heads turn as he walks down the beach, and that's all that matters.
He may still live with his parents and work construction, but he's got his lifted '97 Tacoma almost paid for and his girlfriend's dad said that he might need someone to start doing their yard work starting next month. After his brief stint on the 'QS, he spent several summers hosting surf camps, until he slowly lost his name recognition and the next ex-pro stepped up (or, uh, down) and took his place. He drinks a few beers with buddies from time to time (that is, morning time to night time), and still loves a good party.
Wait, there are surfers who aren't "artists"? Ever since "art" was redefined to include any half-assed scribble or paint splatter, the surfer/artist category has increased tenfold. Not to be confused with homeless people, Euros, or the color blind, these surfers generally dress in a messy hodge-podge of colors, tight pants, and the occasional odd hat. They make their living by selling their artwork to friends and at local galleries, where they are able to ride the wave of surf hype to the peak of exorbitance, getting far more money for it than they would ever be able to get in the outside world.
This guy has the brand new Ford off-road vehicle with roof racks, a tow hitch, the convertible tent pop-top, and a whopping 5 highway miles per gallon. He just got two new stand-up paddle boards to add to his twenty-board quiver consisting largely of 9'6"-10'4" longboards, all in mint condition and barely ridden. He just got brand new booties and 2008 Rip Curl suits in 4/3, 3/2 and a short-arm-spring for the summer. He's gone on boat trips to the Maldives, where he and his five closest bootie-and-springsuit-wearing friends spend $7000 each for 5 days worth of empty surf. Screw this guy.
God has a special place in his heart for surfers who choose Him over Vodka-Red Bull and sex. These saintly surfers straddle the divide between selflessness and self-promotion with an ease that could only be explained by the influence of the divine. In their synchronized attempt to feed the starving children and make cash surfing, they often end up accomplishing neither. But, you gotta love them—every Sunday morning the Church bells ring and they clear the water just for you.
Surfing is all about being one with the ocean, gliding like a dolphin, being in touch with the Earth and letting mother nature embrace you in her loving barrel-y arms, or so the transcendentals would proclaim. Usually amassed in this crowd are also the granola-munchers, hopped up on wheat grass and flax seeds, doing yoga while simultaneously saving the whales and most of the trees, all while singing a lovely acoustic song about it. They generally mind their own business, remaining slightly detached from the surf scene. You'll usually spot them as they pull out of the parking lot in their Biodeisel vans, leaving you in their hazy wake of vegetable oil and marijuana smoke.
Of course none of us fall into any of these stereotypes. We aren't in any designated group. We don't adhere to labels. We are individuals. We are distinct. We create our own identities. Man, how clich.