FLOW STATE OF MIND
words by Lottie Lewis, & pictures by Bjorn Haeck
Gijs Van Den Berg
What is surfing to you?
Is it fun, exercise, escape, expression?
Everyone's reason for paddling out is as unique as their style of surfing. Some of us surf like fire - big hacks and sharp turns and tearing down the line. Some of us surf to be at one with the earth - reading the water and drawing long, flowing lines down the face. Some of us surf for pure-play - party waves and joyously cross-stepping our way across the ocean's surface. Our emotions are so easily translated through how we surf; sometimes, that guy hassling you in the lineup just needs a break. Maybe give him some space.
Our individual style defines us. Like the music we make, the art we create, or our work, surfing can be as much of a creative outlet as putting paint to paper or words to a song. And in the same way that art is subjective, style is a matter of perception. Open to interpretation.
Open to interpretation. This freedom of expression makes us all artists.
Often a riders style is dictated by the board itself. Surfing is thought to have originated in Polynesia, where cave paintings dating back to the 12th Century can be found. These first surfers would have been riding finless planks of wood, carved from indigenous trees and crafted into boards.When surfing reached Hawaii it became a very important part of their religion.
It was so much more than just a sport.This soul surfing transcended through the generations and the boards developed alongside it. The long-boarders and single fin riders that you see today probably bear the most resemblance to these first Hawaiians, using the long, drawn out turns and board space to experiment, explore and escape, totally at one with the water and waves.
Everyone's watched Lords Of Dogtown
Whilst the culture and boards may have changed from that of the early Hawaiians, the Californian crew had similar reasons behind their riding: to experiment, explore and escape. Influenced heavily by skating, the style was fast, aggressive and progressive. The vintage guns and twin fins ridden were classic of the era and when used today still evoke memories of 70s style. Surfboards developed and the fine-tuned thrusters of today may seem a million miles away from the Z-boys, but the quick tricks and powerful style has remained.
As in life, there are things we love and things that simply don't float our boat. Whilst the flow captured by Mickey February and Leah Dawson may seem other-worldly to some, others prefer John-John and Tyler Wright. The dramatic difference between natural, soulful movement and fine-tuned, explosive movements is almost incomparable. Yet, everyone is working from the same box of paints. It's just the way you mix the colours and brush them onto the page.
The constant debate of nature and nurture transcends into surfing too.
Those of us born on pacific islands surrounded by exotic reefs and turquoise waters are surely destined to be die-hard, charging barrel riders, right? Whilst the tanned-legged longboarders of Hawaii would never dream of riding anything with more than one fin, surely? Well, probably not.
The friends, culture, conditions and geography that surrounds us is bound to rub off on our surfing style (best portrayed by the Lords of Dogtown), yet that flow state of mind that you enter when you paddle out is entirely unique. Sure, our surfing is influenced by the surrounding riders and conditions.
But style comes from within
Freedom of expression is made even easier as no two waves are the same - much lke us as human beings.
There is no right or wrong way to surf. For some, it's dancing. For others, it's a sport. As long as you respect the others in the lineup, take care of the planet and stay true to yourself, you're bound to find moments of solace, excitement and enjoyment in an otherwise unpredictable world. Whether the sun is smiling upon your freckled skin, the rain is beating against your neoprene, or you're catching the last golden rays of a windless, hazy sunset, enjoy the moment and enjoy the ride. These are the moments when we are most alive.
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