Once upon a time your typical surfer fit a relatively rigid mould. Physically they were lean and bronzed with an athlete’s silhouette, and in earlier days they rocked short shorts and sported seemingly ruffle-resistance hair.
As times progressed, surfers became wilder, more unruly. And their looks followed. No matter what but, they were always marked as perennial beach bums or outcasts whose life revolved around chasing waves and hanging out by the ocean. You could pick a surfer out of a crowd with absolute certainty.
These days though, surfing is a pursuit enjoyed by a lolly bag of participants who come in all shapes and sizes and from different backgrounds and religions. Don’t get us wrong, it still has a long way to go before it can be considered as diverse as other sports. And it’s all that accessible due to the cost of equipment compared to soccer or basketball (don’t even get us started on travelling with boards… yuk).
But as this same equipment becomes more affordable and surf camps, surf hostels and surf retreats become more competitive to keep up with the growing “learn to surf” trend, increasing numbers of people will be able to take to the waves, which means there will be more people touched by this potentially life-changing pastime.
Alas, knowing how to surf doesn’t necessarily make you a surfer in the same way that knowing how to drive a car makes you a formula one driver or owning golf clubs makes you a golfer. This brings us to the interesting and often character revealing question that many of us ask ourselves at least once in our life – what type of surfer am I?
The Weekend Warrior
The Weekend Warrior spends most of their time in the inner city, but while your body is in the office your mind is elsewhere. You spend all week dreaming of empty waves and sunny days between tedious meetings and boring business lunches.
Once Friday rolls around you hit the highway, checking every little spot on your way down or up the coast. Your business attire is swapped for boardies and a singlet. The only suit you wear for the next few days is made from neoprene. You’re on a mission to make the most of your weekend and nothing that can stop you now.
Well… nothing except maybe a call from your boss asking you to explain why the company credit card has been billed for something called a “Magic Seaweed annual subscription”. Other than that though, the Weekend Warrior will surf just about anything that looks like a wave… because even the worst day surfing is better than the best day at work.
The Dawn Patroller
An early riser by nature, the Dawn Patroller loves waking up before the sun and slipping into the water for a few quick waves at dawn. Whether the waves are worth getting out of bed for is somewhat inconsequential.
You prefer to avoid crowds and the sight of a stacked carpark makes you sweat behind the knees. Happy to surf with mates but also just as content to paddle out solo, you’re used to surfing on your own schedule. Often the first one to sneak off during late night parties.
If the Dawn Patroller isn’t the first one in the water their day is ruined. Somewhat similar to the Eternal Frother when it comes to keenness.
The Core Lord
A boardrider-level ripper, the Core Lord has been surfing since before they could walk. Dropping everything to chase swell is normal, as is blowing off work at the slightest whiff of a wave.
The Core Lord doesn’t care about the latest trends or wearing surf-brand clothing. All they need is petrol money, a swell chart and a great excuse to feed the boss. You may never know your local Core Lord’s name and you’ll always be too afraid to ask, but whispers of their feats in the water are passed amongst other mere mortals in a tone that borders on reverence.
As their name suggests, the Core Lord is a surfer in the truest sense of the word, addicted to the thrill that only wrangling a big wave spot or throwing themselves over the ledge on a mutant slab can provide. Could be accused of taking surfing too seriously, but that’s hard to argue if they absolutely rip.
The Socialiser of your crew is the one who surfs just because everyone else is doing it. They admit that they’re not the best in the water, but their form when it comes to on-land antics is legendary. The first to shout a round, the loudest of the bunch.
They’re an integral part of any crew and they do their best work when organising the accommodation or sorting out where to have drinks post-surf. There is, however, a dark side to the Socialiser’s presence, and it comes in the form of incessant requests for selfies.
A selfie in the car, a selfie in your wetsuit, a selfie as they wax the wrong side of their board. The Socialiser never misses an opportunity to whip the phone out for a shot. Totally harmless though… as long as they’re not snapping selfies with a secret spot in the background.
The Over-Enthusiastic Learner
Kelly Slater is your favourite surfer, you’ve got the lingo down pat and after a few lessons in crumbly knee-high waves, you’re ready to purchase a brand spanking new Channel Islands epoxy.
Perhaps your skills don’t exactly match your ambitions, but what the heck. You can stand up all by yourself and you once rode a wave all the way to the shore, which means it’s only a matter of time before you’re charging Chopes. Believes that the best surfer “is the one having the most fun” and probably has a sticker on their van that says just that.
If it’s not Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver or Hurley, you don’t wear it. Doesn’t have a problem dropping some serious cash on flights and accommodation and flying all the way to Bali just to surf the lumpy burger at Old Man's.
The Eternal Frother
You live to surf and everything in your life revolves around the waves. You may be married or in a committed relationship, but whoever your partner is, they know that surfing is and always will be your first love.
You learned to surf with mates as a kid and family holidays were always to surf spots. Your dad taught you how to ride your first wave, just as his dad taught him. Perhaps you entered a few contests when you were younger, but they always proved too regimented, too limiting. You prefer to surf when you want, where you want, which could be anywhere within a few hours’ drive on any given day depending on the conditions.
You surf because you love it, not because its seen as cool or trendy. You fish, you dive, you spend as much time as possible in the water. When you’re old and slow you’ll still hit the waves, albeit on a 9-foot plank. Why? Because the Eternal Frother never dies… they just gets a little greyer.