Maybe you've seen it. A viral video produced by an energy drink brand, doing the rounds on Youtube and bouncing from inbox to inbox, clogging up bandwidth and making deskbound weekend warriors, surf wannabes and sad, gullible old farts like you all bleary-eyed and weak-kneed. Highly trained cynics like me just go: what a load of hype generating balls. Purpose built shmaltz (that's chicken fat to all you shmucks who don't know any Yiddish), thoughtless surf porn commotion. White noise. Drek. Designed to tug on your emotions and manipulate you. Whip you into a frenzy of amp and stoke and hopefully the brand gets to piggy-back those positive emotions to a happy, loving place deep inside your heart. But come on dude. Comparisons between religion and surfing are such old hat. Stinky old bergie hat that smells of vom and pish. We keep getting fed this cruddy old cliché of the Endless Summer, Gidget, The Search and Aloha. Hula girls and good times brah! It's patronising brah! Just another rendition of the same old kak marketing people have been using for years to pimp surfing wholesale to the mainstream and make bags of cash.
Sure, a lot of people have noticed the fanatical zeal that some of us focus on our surfing habit. Sure surfing is a fantastic thing to do with your life, that involves a slavish dedication to the flimsy dictates of ocean and weather. Sure surfing requires commitment and dedication. And sure the waves can measure up to the most pleasing and beautiful scenes and sensations available to us mere mortals waiting out our time on planet Earth. And ja, if you ride massive waves that can kill you - like Ross Clarke-Jones - then maybe, just maybe, you can claim that surfing is a kind of spiritual quest. Or a death stunt, for which you get handsomely rewarded. But really, most of us will never know what it is to tow into a 60 foot beast at Teahupo'o. Because we want to live. And for the rest of us - that's you and me bubba - our commitment to surfing can quite rightly be compared to that of a golfing enthusiast. They play every chance they get, but you don't hear about any soul golfers on the links. If this emotive shit was tried on other sports like tennis or athletics the howls of laughter would shut down entire advertising agencies. It's almost as bad as that awful bloody propaganda CGI Springbok ad - tonight we conquer - but I'll save that rant for another magazine. And if surfing is so spiritual, dude, why aren't surfers more spiritually evolved and wisened? Because let's face it, by and large we're a motley bunch of over-privileged, chest thumping alpha-males, passive-agressives and anti-social wide-ous ready to maim and kill one another for the next set wave. We're unfriendly to strangers. We abuse the weak. We're selfish pigs who hoard our spots and covet our waves. We take light and make dark. And sure the big secret about surfing is that it's really, really kif. But that secret is out. And this jive should be chucked into the box clearly marked 'shameless surf hype'. For the truth, my brothers and sisters, is that we already take surfing far too seriously.
Check out the third world for a bit of surf perspective. My taxi driver in Bali, taking one look at the coffin of boards I was tying to the roof of his Suzuki Katana says:
'Oh you from Sout Aprika! You like to play surping!'
Yes. I like to play surping. 'Play' being the operative word.
Don't go blow yourself up in the name of surfing now.