– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form


The other day I paddled out with a good friend to a spot on the side of the road. The waves were overhead and barreling. It was as good as it gets around here. There were just a few guys out and plenty of waves and yet we were met with a lot of stink eye and even a bit of vocal intimidation tactics. The experience got me to thinking back to my early surfing influences and who inspires me now. We’ve been exploring the essence of surfing and for me enjoyment is a big aspect of why I surf.

I first met Lawmang while a university student. We met in the water and slowly became friends. Lawmang taught me how to pump and act a fool in the line up. Learning to pump down the line changed my surfing forever and I can still remember the first wave where I managed to get my board to go rail to rail to generate speed. Whapow!

Lawmang in turn introduced me to one of the most powerful surfers I’ve ever met. I’ll just refer to him as Mr. Mackin.  Mr. Mackin used to be a vert skater in the 80’s during the crazy drug and booze skate scene and he quickly burned out. Then he moved to Florida and took up surfing. He’s a naturally gifted athlete and soon was ripping on a shortboard. One day he surfed a longboard and was hooked. Mr. Mackin is probably the most powerful surfer I’ve ever seen. He’s a big guy and built like a brick shit house. He usually rides the hi-performance longboards around 9’4″. I’ve seen him do huge roundhouses in double overhead closed out hurricane surf. I’ve also seen him get more speed than a junkie on knee high days. He’s always stoked, pulls into barrels that appear as if from the ether and is generally an amazing character.

These two men have deeply influenced not only the way I surf but in some ways also the way I live my life. Although both are responsible family men and professionals, they never take their surfing too seriously. Unlike other surfers I’ve met of the same caliber and surfing history, these two retain a grom-esque stoke and refuse to become jaded about the crowds or passing fads. You can count on them to paddle out if it’s rideable. I should explain what rideable means when you’re surf stoked in Florida. Knee high or better with onshore winds is rideable. These guys dominate in that kind of stuff and you can only imagine what they do when it’s clean and punchy.

More recently I’ve been influenced by a couple of standouts around my local haunts. Both have unique styles and both surf with an ease that betrays their years of practice. They share similar characteristics to Lawmang and Mr. Mackin. They will paddle out whether it’s victory at sea and snowing or overhead and looking like a cold Indo set-up. They are unassuming, surf stoked men. They paddle like hell and hoot and holler their fellow surfers with an undeniable joy. They have a reverence for the ocean and our earth.

Perhaps that outlook on surfing is the true essence, the reason why we devote our lives to it. There are so many good reasons to be jaded. It’s crowded. For some the water is polluted. Our society seems like it’s on the brink. I could go on. But when we surf we transcend all that if we allow ourselves. We use our bodies and minds to ride waves. It still boggles me sometimes when I think about how pure that sensation of paddling into a wave and racing down the line can be. Many have tried to explain it with words and film and most fail. But when I’m surfing with the guys who’ve influenced me I can clearly see the essence and it’s not for sale. Aloha.


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3 Responses »

  1. Nice. Its good to remember some source.

  2. Ricardo,
    You’re lucky to have known people so well tuned into what it’s all about. When I was learning (at the tender age of 19 years, 17 years ago), I had noone to show me the ways, teach me what it’s all about or to look up to. It may be this very thing that was lacking in my early days that has made me strive to be the sort of person you describe these men to be, keeping the vibe in the water at the wavelength it ought to be and remembering why we do it in the first place. The Essence.

  3. Nice one Ricardo.

    Just what I needed before thinking about paddling out into the North Sea tomorrow.