Even Bob Bain, the world's most enthusiastic surfer, has days where he ponders, is this all there is? Am I just a collection of forehand sssssaaaahhh turns? Photo Alex Brunton


Tube, turn… yawn.

There were several lines in the latest Tom Curren movie that required examination on a Freudian level. Tom only has about a dozen speaking lines in the film, but all of them offer some kind of window into the Curren psyche. 

Among them were Tom’s relative excitement at finding a scrubbing brush lying in a pile of junk behind the house. “A scrubber… a free scrubber.” Marvelling that some benevolent, divine force had placed it there solely for his use. Or Tom walking out to the point delirious after five-hundred surfs in a Mexican month, uttering the immortal line, “A-blub-blub-blub-blub-blub.” But maybe the most telling insight came when he was describing his surfing travels over the decades, pondering the sameness of the surfing experience when repeated wave after wave, session after session, year after year. 

“It’s like tuuuuube… (sighs)… barrel… chandelier.” 

Nobody has described the surfing act less enthusiastically, and you could only conclude that for Tom Curren at least, surfing often becomes a crushing fucking bore. No wonder the guy gets so jazzed about bombing hills on rollerblades. Tom was the best surfer in the world for a long time and has caught thousands more waves than the rest of us. So is this condition unique only to surfing demigods, or does this general malaise effect the rest of us shitkickers as well? 

In recent weeks at home we’ve had a good run of swell. After the worst year of waves in living memory, the switch finally got flicked and it hasn’t stopped since. As this mag prints we’re into week four of a golden run of swell. The first week looked like zombie film. Desperate surfers who hadn’t seen a 16-second period swell for a year tore each other limb from limb to get a piece. By week two the mood had settled. There was a baseline bliss in the lineup. The endorphin spikes had become a level hum. This was the sweet spot.

By week three however it had almost become like going to work. Surfers pulled up in the car park, got out, and pulled on wetsuits without even checking it. They’d grab their boards then shuffle off down the track. That great surfing humourist, Tony Edwards once described Bob Eilis walking past his house as like “a bloodhound on a monorail” and that’s what these guys looked like. They got on the path down to the beach and moved along a conveyor belt, were tipped into the ocean and drifted into the lineup. Once they got there they climbed aboard a set wave and rode an invisible bus down the line, one after the other on their daily commute.

Tube… sigh… turn… yawn. 

Short of sex-while-skydiving, surfing is held up as possibly the most exciting thing you could ever do, and yet there are days when it’s no more exciting than putting the bins out on a Thursday night. People like to ascribe metaphysical qualities to surfing, put it on an elevated plane of consciousness, but like any of life’s great expressions of the human condition – love, sex, art, music – it’s the space between the notes that makes surfing great. Without that space it simply becomes one long, droning note. Surfing forever is held up as some sort of idyll, but surfing three times every day for eternity would be its own special Hell. 

Most of us never have the luxury of becoming bored with surfing – life, other shit etc – but for the more highly evolved surfing mind (see Curren) this boredom can become pronounced, leading to evolutionary sidebars on homemade skimboards, cigar box guitars and rollerblades. And therein lies the secret. When we interviewed him for this mag, Dane Reynolds had barely surfed in months. A bad run of swell in California, no travel and three kids under five have seen his boards gathering dust in the garage. Instead he’s been watching Seinfeld reruns, and you know what he said? “The thing is, I’m never bored.”

We considered doing a whole magazine themed around the idea of how boring surfing can be but later reconsidered. For a surf mag to do this might potentially be an extinction event. Surfing loves to self-lubricate. But maybe – just maybe – becoming bored with surfing occasionally is the most hardcore state a surfer can exist in.