19 January 2011

Why I Dislike Surfing in Crowds

This writer* in Surfers Path sums up well why I avoid surfing in crowds. He's having a great early session in Bali when the break starts to clot up with a lot more surfers, one of whom drops in, collides, and then chews him out.
Suddenly I felt angry. I looked around and realised I was surrounded by maybe 50 people, all waiting for the same thing I was. It was a magic, beautiful, powerful thing we were waiting for, a little hit of the magic wave-bong. But at that moment it felt sordid. I felt more like a junky queuing for a methadone prescription.
There's something fundamental that changes when the ratio of waves to surfers gets low. The magic becomes elusive, displaced by anxieties of competition and concerns for collision. I'd rather seek a purer surfing experience in worse conditions than chase more perfect waves in a pack.

*Sorry I can't properly attribute, but after snapping a pic of this paragraph, I finished the magazine on the flight to Frankfurt and passed it on to Tracey, who by random chance was on the same plane.


  1. Couldn't agree more. I know we all want waves so I am not blaming anyone particularly, but now that the waves are getting crowded the experience is often undermined by just having to be aware of other people all the damn time. I am thinking of taking up para-gliding. Seriously, I was so tempted the other day to do a tandem flight - off the high ground over the sea. If my foot hadn't been buggered I reckon I would have.

  2. Wow, paragliding. That's a whole 'nother animal but sounds exciting. And hopefully no crowds!

  3. I get what you're saying but I like the safety in numbers thing. You're a braver girl than me. When there's too few surfers the thought of Old Whitey swimming beneath enters my mind way more than necessary. But, on the flip side, while surfing at Cowells the other day, it was ridiculous. Way too many people and a complete bummer.

  4. There are a few breaks that spook me to surf alone, but if I have at least one buddy with me, it's all good.

  5. Now you REALLY have a reason not to like surfing in crowds…short board kook who ran you over - grrr!