First of all, I don’t like the term ‘extreme’ sport but that’s for another article.
I use the term because you know what I mean by ‘extreme sports’ – things like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, motocross, skateboarding – all the sports featured on this mighty Mpora site.
What you probably don’t know is that surfing is by far the best of these sports.
OK, as a surfer I am biased, but I’ve tried all of the others and I’m sticking with the best. Here’s why…
1. No broken bones when you fall
Extreme sports hurt. From minor scrapes to paraplegia, if you go fast and hit something hard, your body is going to suffer. That’s why it’s called terra firma.
If you take sports on wheels or zipping down mountains seriously, then you’re gonna break something sooner or later.
However, the ‘speed + hard surface = pain’ formula does not apply (so much) to extreme sports on water.
Unwieldy crafts like windsurf gear, wave skis, SUPs, kayaks appeal less than the simple surfboard. With surfing, you have one small board to dodge, and a wave full off air bubbles to cushion your fall. It’s like sliding into a jacuzzi.
OK, if you get hit by a fin you might get a bruise or a small gash, but in 20 years of surfing that’s happened to me twice and once it was a mate’s fin, on a wave ski!
There is of course the risk of drowning, but apparently it doesn’t hurt much.
2. Surf spots are in the best locations
Which of the following holidays do you think is the most popular?
a) tanning on a tropical beach
b) dodging hypothermia on a snowy mountain
c) exploring muddy creepy woodlands
d) hanging out in graffiti stained concrete and steel city slums
Personally, I think holiday A is the most appealing, don’t you?
Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding might have beautiful, majestic mountains to gaze upon, but you need multiple layers of clothing plus a bag full of specialised kit before you even get out of the hotel.
Motocross and mountain biking might take you to some remote unspoilt woodlands, mountains or muddy fields, but that’s more appealing to goats than the other half.
As for skateboarding and BMX, sure you could try and sell it as a city break. But you know, to get the best rails and suitable obstacles you’re going to end up in the rough part of town. Those aren’t the ‘cultural’ excursions your partner had in mind.
Personally, I’ve never had any trouble talking my partner into a two week holiday on the golden beaches of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Australia, Caribbean or Brazil. Even a budget trip down to the south of France meets little resistance.
If you want to go on an extreme sport holiday with your nearest and dearest, a surfing holiday is the best.
3. You can do it naked
I guess you could say the same about skateboarding, biking, skiing and snowboarding, but would you really want to do them naked?
You risk potentially irreversible consequences and frostbite in some, errr… painful places. Wipeout when naked surfing in tropical waters, no problem.
I highly recommend trying naked surfing at least once. The issue of wax and wobbly bits are a myth. However, I suggest choosing a secluded secret spot rather than a popular family beach for your outing.
4. Boardies and bikinis. Need I say more?
Forget bulky outerwear, protective armour and multiple base layers. Surfers don’t need all of that. We wear boardies or bikinis and make them look good.
Want evidence? Flick through any surf mag and view the adverts.
Sure, in colder climates surfers might wear a beanie and/or jumper. However in all but a handful of surf locations, you can get away with wearing boardies or bikini for eight months of the year.
Don’t believe me? Visit anywhere in North Cornwall in February and I can guarantee you’ll see someone wearing shorts and flip flops.
5. Surfers are environmentally friendly
I’m sure mountain bikers contribute to the Woodland Trust and skateboarders probably give a few quid to Greenpeace. I’m not saying that other extreme sports are completely ignorant of their environment.
It’s just surfers seem to understand the impact humans have on the environment more than most. We’re not just softy, sun worshipping, nudist, narcissists – surfers are also soap dodging, hippy, tree huggers.
OK we normally focus on the big wets bits in our world, but the wellbeing of our oceans are important for everyone. Surfers and saltwater lovers are usually ocean activists who enjoying chipping in with everything from beach cleans to lobbying governments.
I’m pretty sure no other extreme sports community does so much to protect our environment, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.
6. We have the best music
Heard any good BMX or ski music recently? No? That’s because there isn’t any (excluding the theme tune to Ski Sunday). Few sports can claim to have their own musical genres, but surfing can.
From the hula music of Hawaii to guitar strumming surfers like Jack Johnson, surf music has a long vibrant history.
Commercial surf music began with instrumental tracks by the likes of the legendary Dick Dale. But soon The Beach Boys and later The B52s, The Pixies, Joe Satriani, Pearl Jam and Ben Howard all helped enrich the surf music genre.
Even if you’re a purist and define ‘surf music’ as no more than ukuleles and long whining guitar tracks, we still have our own music. And that’s pretty cool.
7. Surfing has cool historic origins
I’ll admit there’s some cool vintage photos of skateboarding in the 1960s and BMX in the 1970s. Skiing has roots in ancient hunter gatherer cultures, but it was more for food than fun.
The origins of surfing go back over 300 years, when Polynesian men and women surfed just for the love of it.
In 1769, Joseph Banks observed “Indians amuse or exercise themselves in a manner truly surprising”, while cruising with Captain Cook on the HMS Endeavour.
Banks described the act of surfing as this
“Their chief amusement was carried on by the stern of an old canoe, with this before them they swam out as far as the outermost breach, then one or two would get into it and opposing the blunt end to the breaking wave were hurried in with incredible swiftness.
We stood admiring this very wonderful scene for full half an hour, in which time no one of the actors attempted to come ashore but all seemed most highly entertained with their strange diversion.”
On top of that surf history is permeated with rad characters such as Duke Kahanamoku, who in 1914 taught the Aussies how to surf, and Agatha Christie who liked to catch a few waves from time to time.
8. We have a surfing super hero
Everyone likes a comic book hero right? Well surfers have their own superhero – Silver Surfer.
I am genuinely puzzled as to why there aren’t any super heroes who ski or snowboard. It’s fast, looks sick and lots of bad guys have mountain hideouts. If winter sports are good enough for James Bond, surely they’re good enough for super heroes?
Until graphic novel artists decide to create a skateboarder with supernatural powers (Bart Simpson does not count) or another extreme sports super hero, Silver Surfer will remain the best.
9. Surfers annoy less people
Skaters and BMXers are urban pests, windsurfers and kitesurfers are a menace to beach goers with their kites and sails. Snowboarders are loathed by skiers, and skiers are often loathed for their upper class attitudes.
Surfers don’t escape these stereotypes either. They’re often perceived as job dodging, drug taking, beach bums and bimbos. Yet we still remain kinda likeable, like Shaggy and Scooby Doo or Barbie.
Our generally easy going nature and existence on the fringes of society help us remain inoffensive – while other extreme sports regularly confront the mainstream with annoying effect.
Don’t you agree?