Part 1 of 3 – Where is the value in surfing today?
Now this could be tough, a bit of a rabbit hole you could say. But to make a start we could toss up a few loose suggestions, like maybe it’s the sanctioning body, possibly the top 5 surfers or even within the most stable company?
“I’d trade all my airs to do a proper functional roundhouse like yours”. – First Life surfer to a Second Life surfer after the NSW State Titles.
To begin, let’s create some new terminology within the demographics, simply to structure the point of view. In respect to seniority we’ll start with Third Life surfers, an older more refined generation of surfers around 45 years plus. They have seen more swells than the rest of us have had baked dinners. Knocking on their door are those in and around the 28 year old vintage, the Second Life surfer, fighting off father time in peak physical condition, and hopefully, still progressing. At the bottom of the food chain we have those under 18 years of age, First Life surfers. Little urchin types with cheeky demeanor that hide under the house when it gets big. These are the three age brackets that democratically put each of us in our place at our local beach.
To be a good surfer requires dedication, it’s one pursuit that takes a long time to get any good at. Experience also plays a big part, which suggests that the more experience you gain the more progress you make. So this gives a dedicated and experienced surfer some value to surfing. But both the surfer and surfing are generalized terms so lets define them.
We have ‘recreational wave riding’ and the ‘sport of surfing’. Lets assume your focus is on the sport of surfing, high performance modern short board surfing where the rate of progressive change is greatest. By doing this we leave those who are offended by the thought of surfing becoming a mainstream sport on the beach (and possibly quiet a few from each of the three age groups).
By definition dedicated Second and Third Life surfers have theoretically obtained a large amount experience enabling their version of wave riding to have reached advanced status. To make an assessment of the sport and its participants has these two age groups obtaining credible value, as it’s comprised of advanced surfers with more experience than First Life surfers.
The Second Life surfer and their portion of value are of interest, as they are physically more in optimum condition than Third Life surfers. Knowing the average age of surfers on the CT is roughly 28 it suggests that this portion of value is no doubt the greatest in surfing demographics. So it would be valid to expect that the focus of the sport of surfing and industry would be on and around the Second Life.
“He is surfing better than he ever has. He is doing the moves that these kids are doing, but with more speed, more style and way more power. He is inspiring these kids, I am inspired!” Surfer (32) commenting on Surfer (37) in a carpark on the South Coast.
Professional surfers in their Second Life are getting more attention in recent times, largely due to the progression and highly publicized results from those who are well passed the competition age bracket of Senior Men’s, 28 plus. (I’ll address this dysfunction of titles in a moment). While it’s easy to make exceptions to those who win 10 world titles exemplifying sheer superiority as an athlete, it does set the threshold of what is possible and filters on down through the community. The value of a surfer over the age of 28 has increased dramatically in recent times… so you’d think.
A friend of mine is 36 and just learned how to nail air reverses, already 8 years past the Senior Men’s division, he resides in the next age division, the over 35’s. ‘Senior’ suggests a much older person in society, and you’d think that ‘senior’ would hold relevant value, though much like the forgotten granny in the nursing home I am not sure this is the case.
Maneuvers are but one of the elements that form a surfing approach. What determines how well a surfer performs the skill of wave riding is made of numerous components such as flexibility, strength, bravado, timing, agility and endurance, and executed by using patience, knowledge and wisdom to name a few. As a whole these components, maneuvers included, equate to a complete surfer. To propose that a surfer’s true value is best realized when the total of all components are delivered together would not be unreasonable.
One of the most important components to a surfing approach are the fundamentals, and like most things in life if the fundamentals aren’t sorted the end result will be less than classic. It’s the foundation to build a technically superior approach from. All world champions have classic interpretations of the fundamentals and giving clarity to this point is that the average age of a world champion is very close to the Second Life age.
Again, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that the Second Life demographic obtains a lion’s share of tangible value. So the Second Life surfer is on pole position with all the right assets in peak condition, but does it correlate with the focus of the surf media and where the industry places the majority of its support?
In part two of Second Life, we investigate how the Second Life surfer delivers their value set, and isolate why there may be a serious imbalance in surfing’s value system.
Written by Jay Killvan – Surfer/Journalist/Photographer/Creative
Jay Killvan is a surfer from Cronulla, Australia. With pursuits ranging from journalism, various design disciplines and photography, he is often sleep deprived. A desire for raw adventure has led Jay to pursue big episodes in remote corners of the world, engaging in foreign cultures, unique people and the best waves possible. With work published in numerous publications, Jay Killvan continues to evolve. Read more from Jay at www.Killvan.com