4 Reasons Surfers Get Overly Aggressive in the Lineup
This post was inspired by my recent trip to the north shore of Oahu. I have to admit: I was totally presumptuous in thinking that it would be difficult to have an enjoyable surfing experience there. I thought the localism would be tough to handle and that the potential to get stink-eyed all the way home would be high. Maybe I watched Blue Crush too many times, or perhaps the couple of years I spent living and surfing on Maui exposed me to some less-than-awesome behavior in the line up. Whatever the reasons, I expected the North Shore to be an amplified version of the worst surfing etiquette in the world. Nonetheless, surf culture runs deep on the North Shore and I feel like it’s a right of passage for any surfer to make the pilgrimage to an area, so off I went.
I was surprised and elated to find that the people were friendly and the overall energy was really laid back. And, I have to say, being a female surfer there was awesome. On the North Shore, women surfers are not a novelty and this changes the energy of being a female surfer immensely. I’m used to surfing in LA and let me tell you, women surfers are in the minority there, by a long shot.
So why, in an area where the waves could be so aggressive, did the people seem so relaxed? And what causes bad behavior in the line up anyway? I started pondering these questions after I returned from the North Shore with new perspective, and here are four reasons I came up with:
When you live in an area where good conditions are few and far between, the scarcity makes for a more charged surfing scenario. When the surf finally picks up there has been so much frothing at the mouth, the line up can feel like a bunch of rabid dogs waiting for their next bite.
2. Too much testosterone.
Let’s face it, for now, surfing is a largely male dominated sport. Whenever you have that much testosterone all in one place, ego’s can flare. I am not saying that women can’t be unfriendly too (I am always surprised and disappointed when I see another female in the line up only to be met by the same glazed-over, unfriendly look that 99% of the surfing population has) but there must be some primal settings at play here. Perhaps man hasn’t evolved quite far enough away from its knuckle dragging pre-disposition.
Most people in the line up are still honing their craft. There is so much pressure to rip like Kelly Slater that people can feel slightly embarrassed which then translates into a defensive or unfriendly vibe. My favorite version of this is the guy in the line up who will throw a fit if he misses a wave and try to pretend it was because you were in his way. If you are good enough at your craft you will see the line you need and that person in front of you will be nothing but part of your decision-making process. Not that accidents don’t still happen, but it’s totally not the end of the world.
4. The lowest common denominator.
Most people go to the beach with a good attitude. They suit up and wax their boards with an air of excitement. It’s usually not until they come in contact with their first douche bag that everything goes south. It’s happened to every surfer on the planet. Someone in the line up decides to throw you a big ball of negative energy. Suddenly, you realize they got their goo on you. It’s contagious and sadly that ball of goo gets everywhere, everybody starts to feel all gooey and the whole day is shot to shit.
I love surfing with all of my heart and it is always disappointing when I see my fellow surfers not acting as their highest selves. I get it. This is a serious. We are competing for the next spot on the Open. No wait. We’re not. We are all supposed to be out here having fun and enjoying Mother Nature’s playground. Surfing is one of the most spiritual expressions I’ve ever experienced and I am disheartened by the behavior that is often present in the line up. How can we make the world a better place if we can’t even have fun in these conditions? So today, as I paddle out, I think to myself: Be the change you wish to see in the waves, and I smile. Who knows, maybe someone will smile back.
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