Local surfers have been busy these past months surfing Trestles, the San Clemente Pier, Huntington Beach, Australia, Tasmania, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, France, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Tahiti and the picturesque islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago for classic photo shoots. These pictures provide legions of young gremmies succor for their unlimited surfing dreams.
NSSA stars past and present like Dane Ward, Andrew Gehan, Michael Taras, Trevor Sanders, Nate Yeoman, Mike Losness, Chris Ward, the Beschen brothers, Long brothers, Gudauskas brothers, Kolohe Andino, Dustin Franks, Troy Mothershead, Chris Wach, Collin McPhilipps, Lexie Papillion and Colleen Mehlberg are all helping to assure that quality surfing continues in San Clemente for years to come.
It is amazing to watch these athletes laugh, clown and challenge each other with sundry mind-blowing surfing movements, then suddenly reactivate themselves with displays of almost unbroken surfing perfection. A bronze plaque at T-Street or the Pier entrance honoring the lively surfers of San Clemente, (such as Huntington Beach, Hawaii, La Jolla and Santa Cruz have) might be appropriate.
Our high school surfing teams gets better each passing spring and summer. San Clemente individual surfers have to be honored for most of that. I’m sure they have been through the NSSA and the CIF. Although the finest compliments still arise from their surfing peers themselves, they always do.
THE MAKING OF A SURFER
Through observation, questioning and thinking about what makes an outstanding surfer like those extra- extraordinary athletes mentioned above, it becomes noticeable how the sport and its industry have contributed to the success of surfers not only in San Clemente, but nationally and internationally as well.
The industry has made vast improvements on the designs and colors of many of its diversified products, such as taking surfers out of that ‘old black seal’ look, into the newer more colorful wetsuits. Noting the millions spent designing sleek racing hulls, board designers have paid pointed attention to those ideas when sculpting today’s boards. While these quality boards cost more, that is the price of perfection. And … it certainly beats that 50 pound plank surfers used to drag along behind them in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.
Like most athletes today, surfers seem to be placing greater importance on their physical and mental development, with stronger health and training programs. Along with understanding that tactical and rudimentary skills are of the utmost importance, these waveriders are acknowledging that they must be as fit as that carefully designed board below. The body riding the board today has to be stronger and able to mold with the beautifully designed product beneath ... a most decisive truth!
One cannot help but think about the things a surfer must overcome physically and mentally as he forces himself into a daily ice bath. The heart muscle is being called upon to react to the anaerobic stresses of sudden quick paddling movements. Warming up exercises become extremely important. Many surfers perform these exercises by jumping up and down and swinging their arms as they stand around talking, giving little thought to their body frames. Some do exercises to keep body flab under control and to slow the retreating stages of ‘twitch powers’. (Quick body movements that tend to slip away from us with age.) A practical book on both the physiological and psychological aspects of surfing, stressing the enhanced benefits to body/mind performances might be in order here.
Surfers today are learning to function in this not so small surfing world. Quality surfers can be found in almost every ocean, with skills and bodies well honed for all types of maneuvers. Veteran surfers are forced to compete weekly against a rising crowd of challenging, hungry young boardriders emerging the world over, forcing that older surfer to face new challenges. The old adage, "Fear naught, for I am a surfer" is noble, but new styles and ideas are appearing from gremmie’s seeking their space in the world of sea and sun. These developments are changing many of surfing’s older ideas and methods.
Suggesting that surf hard should be reversed to surf smart, I have interviewed a few local surfers with the question, “WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES AN OUTSTANDING SURFER?” Many responses were similar, differing only in personalities and individual observations.
Some said a strong body build of Herculean size and power, with long arms and strong flexible shoulders allowing for firm control, balance and rapid power moves was important.
Others felt a small, lithe body allowed for even quicker reactions and the ability to move more lightly across the water on their boards.
All said early training on the basics of surfing is very important. These early training programs, intelligent and meaningful, ranked very high among most of the older surfers.
Many felt learning about all types of waves and weather conditions early on helped make them a stronger and much better surfer.
Some expressed that anyone surfing twice daily had to be physically fit in his body structure to start with.
Others felt that feelings of lassitude might show up in colds, slower recoveries, tiredness and even jaded feelings towards surfing...(A state visited upon by many athletes at times.) After an unsuccessful contest, a contest they dearly wanted to win, they felt this could happen.
Most opinions and observations pointed strongly towards four dominant themes:
1st - MENTAL ATTITUDE - (Desire to learn, to succeed, iron will, love challenges )
2nd - BODY CONDITIONING - (Physically fit, mind and body, diet, rest)
3rd - SURFING MECHANICS - (Surfing skills, style, placement, balance)
4th - STRUCTURAL APTITUDE - ( Size, weight, muscle, bone structure, good
It has been a pleasure to read, listen and discuss the question above with many
local surfers giving comment. What insight they all seem to have into the meaning of ‘outstanding’. “A great surfer does not need to be the best surfer!” “Set your own goals for surfing and work to reach them.” “A passion for the sport, a lasting passion, continues as your body allows, even when you grow too old, supposedly, for such things...” “Gain your confidence through sound use of mental visualization on your difficult surfing moves. Picture the actions in your mind daily, then practice them diligently.”
Add this practical little practical gem. “Know how to read your waves at the beginning of your contests, then flow fluidly with these waves...” Remember your own body is 90% water!!!
Many minor observations have not been listed here. Still, these may give younger surfers a view of honest opinions to think about, while trying to improve their own surfing skills.
A.E.Housman, the English poet, possibly said it somewhat more inspirationally ...
“THEREFORE, THOUGH THE BEST IS BAD, STAND AND DO THE BEST, MY LAD.” b
Surfers often like to reflect upon memories
Of their enduring well-traveled pasts.
Like surfing far off Funa Futi,
Where the suns never set, and majestic swells roll on forever.
Or those wild crazy attempts at surfing
Mountain high Lake Titicaca.
Then barrel-assing down its blood red sunsets,
Into the home of the Inca Gods.
The stillness of silence found when surfing early dawn,
With only heavenly Venus looking on.
Ever radiant with her glimmering luster,
Proudly she fights to hold back the dawn.
Now it’s been said, surfers carry touches of wave fever
From perhaps too much of the sea, or even summer’s hot sun?
Yet, does it really all matter,
Such being the price of lasting memories.
To have been there -- to have lived the beautiful...
Young gremmies understand, and so do their dreams!