Beginning my thoughts I mention once again, Joyce Hoffman, San Clemente pioneer woman surfer who brought national honors to herself as well as San Clemente High School. Ahead of her time, she traveled both the California and International Circuit as a champion for women’s surfing.
Also, in announcing Chris Ward as The San Clemente Journal’s “Outstanding Surfer” for the year 2006, I neglected to mention those surfers who were also in consideration— Patrick & Dane Gudaukas, Mike Losness, Nate Yeomans and the Long brothers. All these young men seemed to have managed to escape that prosaic mold so many get poured into today, by maintaining freedom through the use of their exceptional surfing skills. These freedoms allow them to travel and explore the furthermost corners of the vast oceans of the world, participating in surfing contests and learning about other cultures. More incredibly, they are being paid a salary for surfing. Their aggressive efforts appear centered to challenge all minor setbacks with strong sure-fire comebacks. Failure is a word seldom mentioned in their boundless competitive attitudes. At this present time, surfing adventures have become a dominant part of their lives.
Rudyard Kipling, that observing English poet, said it all for these worldly young vagabonds when he wrote his famous poem called ‘The Gypsy Trail’ - (GIPSY is the original spelling by Kipling.)
THE GIPSY TRAIL
“Gipsy blood to Gipsy blood
Ever the wide world over -
Where the bosom of God is the wild
South wind, Sweeping the sea floors
As the summer surfing contests begin to unfold, I’ve noted the amazing feeling one tends to get upon entering the marshalling arena of top contests. It is almost reminiscent of a football huddle as gremmies prepare to battle with the more gifted surfers for honors and ego satisfaction. One imagines what a WC (World Championship) meet, with its elbow-knocking crowds, might be like. Add to this the pressure of staying focused amongst those more determined bullets in their colorful wetsuits, who always manage to appear to be just that! (Known to pass on TV interviews to stay totally intent on planned objectives.) Rivalry can be keen, but one also witnesses a sincere respect many carry towards each other. This is certainly an emotional time for surfers, coaches and parents alike. The more experienced surfers try not to dwell on these pressures, concentrating instead on the long hours spent in repetitive training for these championships, most often against the world’s more efficient and gifted surfers.
In these power championship series, it is the placing that counts. Heats are so highly technical today. It is extraordinary how totally skilled even the quarter- and semi-finalist surfers can be. Not that they surf like a dolphin, yet their actions in the handling of important key waves can certainly be almost as equally impressive … San Clemente surfers have often spoken to me about philosophies written here, adding their personal observations that have helped them become better competitive surfers ...
Mental Attitude - A tenacious, invariably ‘can win’ approach, mainly self-motivated.
Organic - Foods, liquids, vitamins, rest, and keeping bodies and minds healthy & fit.
Structural - Bones, Muscles, Weight, Suppleness.
All of the above are closely related to a surfer’s proficiency and can be observed almost daily in extraordinary younger surfers like Kolohe Andino, Ian Crane, Riley Metcalf, Tanner Gudaukas, Dane Ward, Jason Miller, Christian Wach, Troy Mothershead, Annke Barrie and Tara Franz. One can explore this observation further by reversing the youth theme and adding veteran surfers like Dino Andino, Gavin Beschen, Christian Fletcher, Collin McPhillips and Josh Baxter.
One must then ask, has any sport in America become as popular with boys and girls as the sport of surfing, including the effortless grace of long boarding? Surfing appears to have captured persons of independent minds who wish to express themselves in an athletic sense in their own manner, caring very little if noticed at all.
Congratulations to this year’s winning Triton surfing team, for bringing the NSSA state title and CIF honors to San Clemente High School once again. Their sang-froid (coolness under pressure) is a tribute to themselves and Coach John Dowell. Perhaps the most unfailing member of this year’s team has to be the highly talented Trevor Saunders.
Plaudits here as well to the Triton swimming teams for improved times under the guidance of coaches Batten and Bandurak. These spirited swimmers and divers have brought new life to this CIF sport at SCHS.
Thinking Outloud -
With the conditions that prevail abroad in the world today, let us trust younger surfers are learning to travel overseas in groups. Not all worldly places are as gentle and friendly as San Clemente. Actually sponsors should go out of their way to alert their charges of concerns.
Also noting that two of the finest, perhaps amongst the greatest, athletes in the world today are from Aquatic sports - Michael Phelps, USA swimming and Kelly Slater, USA surfing. Very Interesting! b