Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kelly Slater Killed My Surfing!

When I was a kid (the 70's through the early 80's-how weird! I started surfing in 1974!) I was one of the guys in the line-up that got looked at. I was always inside playing dare with the jetties that we surfed off of, taking off deep on blustery January Nor'easters, when the air temperature was 25 degrees and the the water was maybe 40 degrees. Over the years I continued to surf on and off and I probably peaked from 83-1990 when I spent much of the winter in Malibu. Malibu was a lot more chilled out then but that's another blog. So how did Kelly kill my game you ask?

Well let's fast forward to 2000, I was riding a board I bought in Mexico in the late 80's, then a retro "Black Beauty" from CI, in hindsight I should have stuck with that board! But as my surfing started to improve I got sucked back into wanting to move from a soul surf style to a more aggressive style of lips smacks and cut backs. Now, by the time I was feeling good about what I was doing, it was 2005, so I went out and bought a 5'10" CI "Five", this thing was a potato chip, about 18 1/4", thin, lots of rocker...what was I thinking? First of all, at this stage of the game this was not the board for me for many reasons. But more than anything else, I just never surfed well on it, especially in the slop we get in Jersey during the summer. Once in a blue moon, while in Costa Rica, (Playa Hermosa) I would get into a nice juicy wave and it would just work so well but everything had to be just right. Mostly, I really just got down on my own ability and I started to lose confidence in my own ability to surf. This was not only a difficult board to surf on if you are not at the very top of your game (I was not), it was very difficult to paddle out into a harsh beach break and even harder to catch a wave with. I was always taking off at the very last second and often getting my ass kicked! Surfing in 2-3 foot Jersey summer mush on this board made me feel like I had lost it all together. I practically could not stand up!

This was a really demoralizing time for me. I never thought my board could have something to do with my poor surfing. I thought I should be shredding on the thing just like Kelly, LOL! I sort of put two and two together and being kind of a gear-guy, knew it was time for a change. I was really pumped about the new shorter and fatter boards being shaped. After lots of looking around and reading I decided to buy the new Rusty DWART. I almost went with a CI Pod Quad and was also interested in the Firewire stuff. I really like the technology behind the FW's but they are really expensive and there was a lot of talk about boards that had broken down and the customer service was not great.

So anyway, I just started to ride my DWART, 5'10" (set up as a quad). I love it and look forward to a full year of surfing. Last year I was only out a handful of times after breaking my back surfing in Play Hermosa, Costa Rica. But I am feeling more confident and ready to have some fun, almost nothing means more to me than riding waves and it was difficult getting in such a funk the last few years. So it all made sense when I read an article in the February 2011 edition of Surfer magazine written by Chris Mauro. I had fallen victim to this board design that KS was ripping on in the 90's. It kind of makes sense, as that was a time when I was surfing quite a bit and I was stuck in that era of KS dominance and the sticks he was riding. Ironically, it was Slater who started to experiment with new designs and was actually riding these boards in competitions. Of course, Kelly didn't really kill my surfing (well sort of) but like anything else in life you have to be fluid, receptive and open to what's going on in the moment. Clearly I was stuck in the past and had the complete wrong idea about what I should be riding. Before, when I walked into a surf shop, I had tunnel vision when it came to choosing a board. It had to be thin, narrow and short! How dumb was I? I should have been paying more attention to people like Rob Machado.

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