You've heard the rumour on the street and in the lineup. You've seen the pixilated and shakey footage on YouTube, Vimeo, Myspot, Yourplace and iSaw. You've tapped out messages to your peeps using iArp on iPhoney to check the rumours. But there's been nothing in the surf mags. Can the rumours be true? Is it a hoax, like Brinetopia's wrestling king, Nacho Beastmeister?
Stop the presses! Yes it's now official. It's OK to ride whatever surf craft you want in order to have a quality brine experience (aka FUN) and reconnect with your inner smile. Bodysurf with or without flippers (fins). Add a home-made or store bought handplane. Ride an airmat like Mr Greenough or Mr Pranaglider of 23Breaths fame. Do your own thang!
(Note: File picture bears no resemblance to Mr Pranaglider)
Let's be brutally honest here, the surf doesn't always crank like the sanitised perfection presented in surf mags. Sometimes it is uncrowded and perfect for a 6' 2" thruster with ample rocker, or a quad with a bat tail, or a swallow tail fish. Sometimes it's small but perfect for a slide on a big ole log. Have a good look around your local point break next time it's cranking. There'll probably be people of all ages on all kinds of craft. Even kneeboarders. Where are they in the mags? I don't have one, but go kneelos!
In the advertising world, we are increasingly being sold an "Us and Them" concept as if the universe is neatly divided into little tribes - ones that only ride shortboards or only ride long boards or only look and dress and drive a certain way. The mainstream surfing media loves market segmentation. They guesstimate what their "target demographic" is and then sell the concept to advertisers, whose team riders just so happen to grace the pages of said mags.
Yes, I hear you say that they are the best riders in the world. Sure - based on some logo sponsored contests that some logo sponsored surfers can afford to attend but unsponsored surfers probably can't. And what about those logos all over their boards and bodies? Is it the manouver or the logo the mags want us to see? Just how many backlit and silouhette shots do you see in the surfing press these days? It's almost like subliminal advertising sneaking to override our better judgement.
We don't have to adopt the lifestyle or the products they are making a profit by selling to us, unless we want to. That's we the masses - the average punters bobbing amateurishly in the brine. We the folks who can't really afford to attempt that death defying manouver for our mate's camera because we have to pay for our own boards and can't afford another broken one.
I have no beef with purveyors of quality surf products that enhance my experienec while I'm on this spinning blob of brine called Earth. But don't tell me how to think, look, dress, drive, ride. vote. I certainly won't be making my purchasing decisions based on a plethora of strategically placed logos.
Sometimes even a body board will do it.