The Feelings I Get When Surfing

Bruce "Snake" Gabrielson
May 25, 1999

Note: this paper was prepared in response to a students request for help. Since the student didn't send a copy of their final paper, I have provided this to others doing similar research.

Several feelings are experienced during different parts of the surfing experience. If I meet friends, we visit during our drive, or sometimes stop for breakfast and then spend a few moments socializing. These are usually old friends with a common interest in surfing. We strive to leave our daily lives behind and focus on the simple pleasures surfing provides.

Looking out at the waves early in the morning fills your eyes with beauty, even on poor surf days. The beach itself is uncrowded and serene, the waves boom in the distance, the water has a bluish tint with white frosty soup rolling in towards the shore, and, if there are surfers out, their gliding motion on the waves create the visual equivalent of music to my senses.

I carry my board to the water and pause for a moment, a ritual I've performed many times, something akin to an artist looking at a blank canvas. Will this be a good day or will I even survive the sometimes-dangerous acts I'm about to perform. If the waves are challenging, I seek the best place and time to paddle out, and where I might be lucky enough to catch the best waves. Then, suddenly, I make my mad dash for the outside, forgetting cold, fatigue, what I did last night, and everything else.

Finally, I'm out in the lineup and again pause to catch my breath and get into position. It was easy when I was young, but the years have made this mad dash seem to last ever longer. My cares are left on the beach and it's time to become one with nature. If I'm by myself, I get the feel of the ocean and relax until a rideable wave appears. If I'm out with friends, we socialize the same as we might during breakfast.

When my wave starts to form, paddle like crazy, drop, and then throw caution to the wind as I try to dominate the wave I've selected. If the surf is challenging, particularly large surf, my heart pumps, and I feel the adrenaline flowing as I take the drop. In small surf, I try to become an artist on the wave, using what the wave offers to make the most of my ride. There is a rush even in small surf, but small surf allows more of my creative side to exhibit itself.

Finally, I'm tired, my arms ache, I'm cold, or I'm out of time and I either catch a wave or paddle in to shore. I pick my board up and walk up the beach, looking at the spectators to see if anyone acknowledges what I've accomplished. I'm a showman at heart, and I get still another rush if I hear someone on the beach says "boy that was a great wave you caught."

Eventually I go to my car and drive home. I'm happy that my day has started so well.