Thursday, June 12, 2008
Surfers are supposed to be cool– smiling with their eyes half-open and speech half-slow, playing guitars on the beach, risking their jobs to ask for time off to surf. But anybody who knows the difference between a longboard and a shortboard knows that cool is not always the case– that many surfers can be complete dicks.
Local surfers have engaged in some sincerely uncool behavior in the past year alone, throwing rocks at their own kind at Carmel Beach, swinging baseball bats at visitors at Moss Landing, and coating citizens’ car windows with wax– forcing the victim to drive home like Ace Ventura, sticking his head out of their window for an hour-long drive and endangering a highway’s worth of people in the process.
There is a reason many surfers are jerks, however, just as there is a reason behind the annual super event that is the Sunshine Surfabout, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15, at Carmel Beach. Surfers can be jerks because they believe waves are not public property, but instead resources earned by working up a hierarchical ladder. Unseasoned peeps who show up to secret breaks and other folks’ spots, they reason, deserve to get their windshields waxed and cracked. A good curl can be hard to come by.
The Surfabout, meanwhile, was created 28 years ago to help temper territorial grudges among local surfers. While that has worked, rivalries still make the event that much more fun to watch… and make the competitors that much more motivated to represent well– local surfers have been visiting Carmel for weeks to practice on their tube-rides and aerials on the beach’s unique close outs. Bragging rights, after all, last a year.
(There’s also the entertaining anthropological angle to be seen among the crews: Look how the Carmel crew feeds off of Carmel Roasting Co. coffee and Bruno’s Tri-tip sandwiches; check out the CSU Monterey Bay “team” brown bagging Natural Light tall cans; notice the Pacific Grove set carry in couches.)
The events, which range from skimboarding to shortboarding, distance paddling to bodyboarding, really fill up a weekend. The most impressive event is actually a combination of them all: The Waterman Award is bestowed upon the athlete who performs best across these many disciplines– surfers that succeed outside of their standard comfort zone and shine in a series of challenges, which also equates to living in a smelly wet wetsuit for a full two days. The toughest dogs in that heat– and where they hail from– are listed below.BRAD TRAVERS, MARINA
The waves at Marina are shifty, the rip currents are powerful, and the paddle can be as humbling as anywhere. Such unpredictable waves make someone like Marina-addict Travers ideally adapted to pull a good ride from the 20 minutes each surfer gets, whether he gets an ideal break or not.ZACH DOWNING, CARMEL
This surf dog is rabid– not just in training, which includes hunting boar in Carmel Valley, but in his willingness to risk injury for a good ride. Judges like that. Downing, meanwhile, doesn’t like you, or other crews– he’s fiercely territorial.JOHNNY CRAFT, CARMEL
The only local pro was good enough to beat Brad Gerlach, the number-two wave rider in the world, at Steamer Lane, but still makes time for this lil’ community tilt. He surfs Carmel more than anyone and sprints up the steep Ocean Avenue hill to heighten his personal fitness. He can do everything: 360 airs, cutbacks, ollie-oops, tubes– even chase cougars at Brophy’s Tavern. The guy is someone to watch.RON TRIPLETT, SEASIDE
Triplett surfs to keep his sanity and doesn’t care if anyone is watching. People watch, though, because he knows what he’s doing and knows how to ID the best break of the day– and drives to wherever the waves are the best. His gypsy approach gives him an advantage to adapt to change with ease.HEATH BRADDOCK, MOSS LANDING
Growing up with the bearded men at Moss Landing, he’s learned a thing or two about sitting in the barrel. The paddle at Moss can be so hard that it makes most newcomers want to quit surfing and move to work a corn field in Iowa. That’ll help condition him to catch more chances to impress the judges come Saturday.
SUNSHINE SURFABOUT takes place 6am-dusk Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15, at Carmel Beach, Ocean Avenue, Carmel. Free to attend; $40 to compete. 375-5015.