Surfer Inspiration: Kelly Slater

If you’ve followed surfing at all in the last twenty years, and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard the name Kelly Slater. Usually, the name is associated with a number. For example, he holds the record for number of ASP World Championships won (10), youngest surfer to win (age 20, 1992), and oldest surfer to win (38, 2010).

In 2005, he was the first surfer awarded two perfect scores in the ASP system, and he is the all-time leader in career event wins since winning the Boost Mobile Pro event in 2007. However, Slater is so much more than a collection of numbers. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to introducing the sport of surfing to a wider audience and to conserving the oceans which provide him with his livelihood. In the service of the first goal, Slater has appeared in numerous film, television, and musical projects. He appeared in 10 episodes of Baywatch as Jimmy Slade and more recently, an episode of the reality television show The Girls Next Door. In addition, he’s appeared in several “surf films,” from Kelly Slater in Black and White (1991) to Ultimate Wave Tahiti (2010).

Slater has also performed in a band unsurprisingly called the Surfers, and performed with artists Ben Harper and Pearl Jam. He also appeared in the music video for Garbage’s 1999 single “You Look So Fine,” from their 1998 album Version 2.0. The surfer’s other appearances on the screen have been a little more animated. He first appeared as a playable character in the 2001 game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and then as the star of the 2002 game Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer, developed by Treyarch (who also developed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast). The similarities between these games were useful for drawing in fans of skateboarding while also demonstrating the unique aspects that surfing offers.

Kelly’s other passion, ocean conservation, is supported through a collaboration with Reefs Neck, which protects temperate reefs in the oceans off California. More of his personal philosophy and autobiography can be found in his two books, 2003′s Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey and 2008′s Kelly Slater: For the Love(written in conjunction with Phil Jarratt).Of course, when Slater hits the waves, all of the above is just background. His style is built on speed and energy, but he also incorporates plenty of air and barrel maneuvers to keep things interesting.

Slater has been sponsored by surfing giant Quiksilver since the early 1990s, and rides Channel Islands surfboards with his own brand of FCS fins. On land, Slater has also had another sponsor Bill Posey, Florida House Representative, who in 2010 sponsored a resolution honoring Slater for his “outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model.” The resolution was passed unanimously by a voice vote.

Taking a Look at Popular Surfing Magazines

There are several popular surfing magazines that one might find when they’re not catching a wave at Mavericks or Bells Beach. The aptly named Surfing Magazine first ran in December 1964, and continues to see a strong monthly release. It is perhaps best known for the special issues that it runs on an annual basis. These include a special feature on International Surfing Day.

Surfer is another magazine that doesn’t try to get too fancy with the name. John Severson founded the magazine in 1959, and his photography was something of a trendsetter in the surf media industry. The whole story can be found on Lunasurfshop’s Blog. There is still a lot of respect for the publication today, and many have considered it a premier magazine. A good portion of this comes from the fact that it reads like a forum for surfing culture.

Transworld Surf also has a strong following and has the advantage of being part of a family of other extreme sports magazines. Along with skateboarding, snowboarding and motocross, the Transworld series carries top content about the latest in each aspect of the surfing community. Regardless of which surfing magazine a person reads, however, one of the main things to watch out for are the awesome images that they will be treated as soon as they open the cover.

Big Waves on the Big Screen: Best Surfing Movies

When it comes to surfing movies, there are a few classic films that have truly been able to capture the essence of this sport. There cannot be an article on surfing movies at least without the mention of the original surfing classic, “The Endless Summer”. This was the first movie to truly depict the surfing lifestyle instead of just depicting surfing as a dangerous water sport as it detailed the strenuous process of not only surfing the waves but finding that perfect wave to ride.

Nineties’ films “The Green Iguana” and “Momentum” provided a more realistic look at surfing culture, surfing teams and most importantly the impressive tricks and stunts performed by some of the world’s best surfers. “Momentum” even featured a then relatively unknown Kelly Slater as he performed some of his never-before-seen skateboarding inspired tricks on some truly treacherous looking waves. These films showed audiences something most people had not seen before and that is the danger, dedication, and athleticism involved in professional surfing, and showed these images in a raw gritty manner that captivated viewers.

Finally, there is “Stranger Than Fiction” that is similar in fashion to “Momentum” only without Kelly Slater, this movie, shot in amazing quality was released in 2008 and showed some of the most gravity defying and impressive surfing tricks ever attempted in the sport.

How the Surfing Culture Uses Modern Technology

Surfing is the ultimate thrill for some who desire to take on one of the most awesome forces of nature on the planet Earth, the ocean. The ocean is a fickle and somewhat harsh mistress. One minute she can caress you with soft waves and the next carry you off to a watery grave.

If you are out there on the beach looking for the perfect wave, you owe it to yourself to have the best technology the world can provide you to help you in your search. Satellite internet helps surfers keep track of weather conditions and provides a means of communication outside of mobile phone coverage areas. However, surfers haven’t always had access to such impressive technology.

Well known for their love of both the beach life and the ocean, surfers have been with us since the early 20th century. The surf culture started to spread through the 1950′s and has continually adapted and evolved into what we see today. Surfers who were looking to bring their surfing experience on land created the skateboard. Skateboarding has become very popular with both surfers and non-surfers alike and the skateboarding industry generates an average of 5.7 billion dollars in revenue each year. Quite an impressive accomplishment considering it all started with one man, one board, and one desire to surf on land.

Today, surfers, skateboarders, and other athletes use the internet to communicate with each other across the world. Satellite internet can reach parts of the world where cable is unavailable. Coincidentally, those may be some of the best places for catching a wave.

Familiarize Yourself with These Surfing Terms

Surfing has its own language, and understanding specific terms is imperative to a safe and smooth ride. Before paddling out, be sure to know at least a handful of these important terms.

Air/aerial: riding the board into the air and then landing back on the wave.

Caught inside: a surfer who cannot get through the surf to reach the wider ocean.

Carve: a turn.

Closeout: A wave or large section of a wave that breaks at the same time, making it impossible to surf the open face.

Cutback: a turn back toward the breaking wave.

Deep: The steepest part of the shoulder closest to the peak of a wave.

Down the line: Along the face of the wave.

Drop in: the act of entering the wave.

Duck dive: A technique used to paddle out past a breaking wave. Use your arms to push the nose of the surfboard down while the knee pushes town on the tail.

Face: The open, unbroken part of a wave.

Goofy foot: standing with your left foot in the back.

Green wave: An open wave which allows the surfer to ride along the face.

Grom/Grommet: a young surfer.

Hang ten: putting five toes over the nose; also see “hang five.”

Hang loose: the meaning of the classic surfer hand signal (thumb and pinkie up, middle three fingers down); means either “catch that wave” or “well done.”

Kick out: To end your ride by surfing out the wave.

Kook: unskilled surfer wannabe.

Lineup: The area where waves normally begin breaking. This is the place where surfers sit on their boards to wait for rides.

Off the hook: refers to a good surf spot.

Over the falls: when a surfer falls off and is carried in a circular motion by the wave lip.

Peak: The immediately breaking part of the wave.

Pearl: accidentally pushing the nose underwater.

Pop-up: jumping up on the board from a lying-down position.

Re-entry: hitting the lip and dropping back into the wave.

Shoulder: The unbroken section of the wave directly next to the peak.

Snake: a surfer who steals a wave from another surfer.

Stall: to slow down by shifting weight or putting your hand in the water.

Switchfoot: being able to surf regular foot or goofy foot.

Tube riding: riding within the curl of a wave.

Turtle roll: A technique used to paddle a board past a breaking wave. The surfer turns upside-down and propels the surfboard through the breaking wave.

Wipe Out: a surfing accident; immortalized in the Surfaris 1963 song of the same name.

Surfer Inspiration: Lisa Andersen

Born March 8, 1969, Lisa Andersen is a four-time world surfing champion. She began surfing at the tender age of 13 in Ormond Beach, Florida. At the time, she was the only woman surfing her hometown; much of women’s surfing was underground in the early 80s. She worked hard to impress her peers, pioneering her own smooth but aggressive style. At 16, she ran away to Huntington Beach, California to pursue her passion and train with America’s best surfers.

While in Huntington Beach, Andersen entered amateur competitions, winning 25 National Scholastic Surfing Association trophies in just eight months. In 1987, she won the US Championships at Sebastien Inlet. This victory allowed Andersen to become a professional surfer, and when she finished her year on tour, she ranked 12th. She was elected Rookie of the Year.

In 1990, Andersen won her first pro event. Though she struggled to remain focused throughout the competitive season, the birth of her first child, Erika, allowed her to reclaim her center. Just one month after giving birth, Andersen reached the finals in Japan. She later made competitive surfing history as a single mom.

This success allowed Andersen’s persona to become iconic. She transformed women’s surfing for the better, ignoring the former “beach bunny” image and edging out the “unfeminine” stereotype that often plagues female athlete. She drove thousands of young women to the sport, later gaining a sponsorship from Roxy and changing beach fashion with the development of the women’s board short.

Andersen retired from surfing in 2001; she had sustained several back injuries and gave birth to her second child, Mason. She currently works as a global brand ambassador with Roxy, and she is the subject of Nick Carroll’s biography, “Fearless.”

Surfing Etiquette for Dummies

Most sports have lists of both “official” and “unofficial” rules. In skiing, for example, you should always yield to the person on the higher portion of an intersection. The rule is rarely put in writing, but most people who practice the sport know to do it. Surfing is similar and understanding surfing etiquette is one of the best ways to learn the sport and make some friends along the way. Without these rules, the sport would see more injuries, fewer participants, and a decrease in the iconic “laid back” attitude.

So, without further ado, here are the rules of the waves.


  1. Don’t drop in on other surfers. If you’re paddling for a wave on the right and another is paddling in on the left, you should yield to that surfer. Whoever is closest to the break of the wave should get the ride. You should only ever drop in on someone if you are sure that they have fallen or if you are certain they will not make the section between you.


  1. The paddling surfer yields to the riding surfer. If you’re are initially paddling out from the beach, don’t aim straight into the heart of the lineup. If you do this, you risk the chance of being in someone’s way. Instead, paddling out through a channel to the outside. When you’re ready, paddle parallel to the beach toward the lineup.


  1. Never ditch your board. If you’re ready to paddle out in a lineup, you must be able to control your surfboard at all times. If you plan to ditch your board whenever a big wave comes through, you could end up injuring yourself or someone else. This equipment is large and heavy, and the fins are sharp. Don’t rely on your leash (cords frequently break); instead, learn to duck, dive, or turtle roll if you want to avoid certain waves.


  1. Don’t steal someone else’s wave. The term for this is “snake.” When another surfer “snakes” you, they intentionally paddle around in order to gain right-of-way on a breaking wave you are paddling toward. Don’t do it. Wait your turn.


Surfer Inspiration: Kathy Kohner

Born in the mid-50s in Brentwood, California, Kathy Kohner began surfing at the age of 15. She spent most of her childhood on Malibu’s beaches, becoming a sort of mascot for the local scene there. Her proximity to Malibu allowed her to befriend and surf with seminal surfer like Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy, Johnny Fain, Miki Dora, and Dewey Weber.

You may know Kathy Kohner by a different name: Gidget. According to David Rensin’s All For a Few Perfect Waves, Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy gave her the nickname as a kid, calling her a “girl-midget.” The name stuck around. When Kohner explained her exploits in Malibu to her father (and journaled about her trips privately), Frederick Kohner, a screenwriter, wrote Gidget: The Little Girl with Big Ideas. The novel was completed in a month and a half, full of young Kohner’s stories from the beach.

The book was eventually turned into a movie in 1959, spawning a surfing phenomenon. Malibu was taken by storm as armies of inland surfers moved to the coast in search of their chance to embody the surfer’s lifestyle. Most surfing historians consider this to be the true beginning of the surfer culture as we know it today. One year later, Surfer Magazine was founded. A year after that, the Beach Boys began their rise to fame.

In the following decade, Gidget’s father wrote and released several additional Gidget novels and films. She still surfs annually to benefit a cancer charity, and she was named Number 7 in Surfer Magazine‘s 25 Most Influential People in Surfing. In 2011, she was inducted in to the Surfing Walk of Fame in the Woman of the Year Category.

Surfer Inspiration: Duke Kahanamoku

If you’ve ever stepped onto a surfboard, you have Duke Kahanamoku to thank. Known colloquially as “The Duke,” Kahanamoku was born in Honolulu Hawaii in 1890. The first of nine children, Duke is responsible for spreading the love and compassion concomitant with the surfer lifestyle.

At age 20, the Duke broke the American short-distance swimming record for the 50-yard sprint, then beat the 100-yard world record by close to five seconds. In 1912, he set another world record, winning gold in both the 100 and 400-meter freestyle relay at the Stockholm Olympics. From a young age, Duke was a menace in the water. The popularity and global acclaim later brought him to the front of the public’s perception of surfing.

Between Olympic competitions, as well as after his Olympic retirement, the Duke began to travel internationally to give swimming exhibitions. This widespread travel and teaching experience allowed him to popularize the sport of surfing; previously, it had only been known in Hawaii. He incorporated surfing exhibitions into these visits, and his Australian show in 1914 is regarded as a seminal event in the development of surfing in the country.

Later in life, Kahanamoku lived in Southern California, performing in Hollywood as a background actor and character actor in several films. Though this may have been for personal interest, the connections resulted in his knowing and befriending people who could further publicize the sport of surfing.

Kahanamoku died of a heart attack in January of 1968 at the age of 77. The City of Honolulu commemorated his Waikiki Beach burial site with a 9-foot cast bronze statue of the Duke.


Surfer Inspiration: Doc Paskowitz

When imagining a surfer’s lifestyle, laidback beaches, hammocks, and relaxed attitudes come to mind. For that, we thank Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz: the man considered to be one of the earliest pioneers of the surf culture we know today. Doc spent nearly 25 years on the road, living in used campers and travelling up and down the coast of California.

Galveston, Texas, 1921: Dorian Paskowitz was born. Raised in a Russian Jewish immigrant household, Doc was encouraged to pursue a degree in medicine. At age 25, he graduated from Stanford Medical School with his doctoral degree. Though a skilled physician, Doc was unhappy as a doctor; after several years of practicing medicine, he moved to Israel for a year. Realizing he was happier here than he was in California, Paskowitz volunteered for the Israeli army during the Suez crisis. He was rejected.

Doc returned to America with a new sense of purpose. He and his third wife, Juliette, embarked on a transient, bohemian lifestyle. Nine children later, the family continued to live, travel, and surf together, living in a succession of camper vans. None of Paskowitz’s children were formally educated; Doc believed that formal education was dangerous to young minds (despite being a Stanford graduate and a professor at several community colleges). However, this health-centered lifestyle began to pervade surf culture at large.

The bohemian lifestyle adopted by surfers is attributed to Doc. His personal philosophy molded the ideals surfers now live and work by; despite the public perception of irresponsibility, he lived unapologetically.

Surfer Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton

If you’ve spent any time reading about surfing, you’ve likely encountered Bethany Hamilton. A titanic voice within the Hawaiian surfing community, Hamilton is known for her excellent competition record, distinct surf style, and—most notably—for surviving a devastating shark attack in 2003.

The attack happened when Hamilton was just thirteen years old; she was out for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach in Kauai with her best friend, Alana Blanchard. At around 7:30 in the morning, Hamilton took a short break from the waves, instead lying on her surfboard, her left arm dangling into the water. A fourteen-foot-long tiger shark attacked, severing her left arm just below the shoulder. Upon reaching the shore, Hamilton was rushed to a nearby hospital; by the time she arrived, she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock.

Coincidentally, Hamilton’s father was scheduled to have knee surgery that morning–he was already at the hospital when she and her friend arrived. Hamilton spent three weeks in recovery before being released. Later, the attacking shark was caught and killed; in 2004, the police officially confirmed the match.

Despite the traumatic attack, Hamilton returned to surfing just one week after her hospital release. She has since won several surfing competitions and athletic awards and has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. Just a year after the attack, Hamilton published her story, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. Now twenty-eight years old, Hamilton is an accomplished athlete and activist.


Photo by Troy Williams.

The Best Places for High Wind and Speed Surfing

Whether you prefer the extra speed and thrill of windsurfing or you’re just interested in going faster on your traditional surfboard, some places are better than others for speed surfing. We thought we’d compile a video list of the best places around the world to go fast on a surfboard. If you’re going to be near one of these places, don’t miss out on what might be the opportunity of a lifetime: