teenage kicks and drama queens

In much the same way as a river flows to the sea so too are we drawn to the mystery and drama of the ocean, forming  what is a unique bond with the waters that surround us.For most the attraction ends with a springtime stroll on the beach or a summertime dip with the kids. No such flirtation for the surfers amoungst us however, with attraction quickly turning to obsession.  Yet some things ,like the river and the ocean are constant.Check out what is surely the first ever surf report from Tahiti

  then I saw a man paddling in a small canoe so quickly and looking around him with such eagerness of each side as he sat motionless and was carried along at the same swift rate as the wave till it landed him on the beach.  Then he started out emptied his canoe and went in search of another swell.  I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea.                  Captain Cook circa 1700

In surfing terms Ireland is a young nation and  growing.  We are however coming of age. The novelty factor is beginning to wear off as international exposure increases year on year. Our arrival at the top table is announced in typical Irish style, with   great welcome for ourselves. Viewed through the prism of  corporate exploitation we are innocents abroad ,fresh meat  ripe for the picking.  There is little new about any of it with the same shabby con job having played out in many of the great surfing nations. We are maturing pretty  quickly though and starting to show some of the street smarts of the moody teenager.

                                                                As surely as the river finds its way to the sea, Irish surfing will continue to grow and develop and just as with the river a lot of rubbish will be carried along in the flow. Now and then though the river will carry something  truely extraordinary into our lives. So it is in the surf world which regularly throws up inspirational charachters from poet to artist, visionary to lunatic, the kinds of people who see past the rubbish and help to inspire the rest of us. It,s often said that drama and art function as a mirror to reflect our lives back to us.  That being the case there is no lack of drama in the life of the  irish surfer.  The oceans many moods reflect  back to us our own constant state of change and adaptability.  The variety of personalities the sea presents to us makes for never ending drama, from  shimmering playmates to steely eyed monsters and from groomed lookers to corrugated psychos ,we have it all in Ireland  , a surfing soap opera as addictive as the real thing.  All we ,re missing is  a moody  teenager……….

For the first time in thirty years of surfing this past winter i,ve found myself lacking in inspiration at times.  Surfing in an ever growing pack has left me a little cold(in more ways than one). The mentality needed to succeed in this type of atmosphere is driven ,aggressive ,and neccessarily greedy.  This is a stage on the growth path of surfing where the sport begins to evolve into a more mature version of itself. ,and  consume itself Its a lot of things including inevitable but one thing its not is inspiring.  So therin lies the dilemma.   For me though I am beginning to make sense of it. Now when I have a good session  I tend to hold onto the memory a little longer than I used to and am a bit more reluctant to surf in less than ideal conditions afterwards ,mentally polishing precious memories for future reference.  But its not just the waves that inspire anymore and its a deeper well I am drawing on now .By times the ocean itself can be enough to keep the love affair alive. The obscured horizons of foggy mornings evoking the feelings of youth ,long forgotton memories that had no beginning and no end when warming spring air confronts the winter sea, low tide gatherings of oystercatchers in gossipy groups all to the soundtrack of the seagulls curious cry, can help to satisfy a need while we wait for the next clean swell ,one that defies computer modelling and much to the confusion of the spoonfed generation………………arrives a day early

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