December Issue 2009 Surfing Magazine


I thought it'd be a good idea to brush up on my surf history this month. Not sure why. It's never seemed like a good idea before. But my knowledge of surfing's roots begins and ends with Greg Browning in a dryer, so I knew I had some work to do. Over the Labor Day weekend, as hordes with soft tops and surf hats bade farewell to, ummm, "surf season," I loaded my truck with fat binders of pre-{{{Focus}}} surf mags, some heavier reading like The History of Surfing by Nat Young and Matt Warshaw's Encyclopedia of Surfing, and a few vintage VHS tapes including The Cosmic Children and The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun. Armed with some strong coffee, I headed to my favorite book nook at the Huntington Beach library and began a close study of the material.

I absorbed quite a bit in those few days. I became a student of surf, taking notes and re-reading passages I liked. I began to understand today's retro movement. I liked George Greenough and the Fletchers. It was all pretty inspiring. But I started to think: Shouldn't I be turning my attention to the future? I'm more curious about today, or tomorrow, or next Tuesday -- not The Beatles and DayGlo and the world's first floater. Even the History Channel seems to be more focused on 2012 than 1220 these days.

Surfing, meanwhile, is stuck watching repeats. Kelly's won how many titles now? Amateur surfing in America is splintered...again? The Australians are coming...still? People always cling to what's familiar. We know what we like and we like what we know. We resist change. But now I'm saying: Thanks, but no thanks.

We need a whole new approach this time.

We've merged into the slow lane recently. The industry is under economic siege. The World Tour is threatened on the grounds of refusing to evolve. The fun seems to be missing and we want it back. Something has to change. This month, we find Dane Reynolds and his modern-minded cohorts trying to revive a once youthful, subversive form of expression from its current state of gloominess and hut, hut, hike! (pg. 74) Also, we perform hip-replacement surgery on the geriatric war between the U.S. and Australia by burning the jerseys and letting you play judge (pg. 86). What's past may be prologue, but we're deciding to focus on the sequels.

As I finished my third cup of coffee in the Huntington book dungeon, I realized I was wasting the best years of my life worrying about what's over and done with. And while the classics supposedly never go out of style, it seems like, this time, they just might have to. I looked around at the other lonely library souls burying their faces in dusty old hardbacks, and with an hour of daylight left, I knew exactly what to do. And not even the gaggle of soft tops could ruin what came next. --Travis Ferré