- 25 October 2012 | Surfing
Pro surfers are always under extreme stress. They need to keep sponsors, judges, fans, event managers, family and friends happy with their performances, while maintaining style and coolness.
The professional surfing circus can be, at times, quite ungrateful. The sport is under media spotlight, online broadcasts are seen by several million fans and all brands want to market their products with help of the stars.
The standard surfing recipe does not allow many variations. Be cool, show sportsmanship, smile, show self-confidence, surf well and let life do the rest.
As in any other sport, surfing has its vices, practices, mannerisms and modus operandi. Some behaviors pass almost unnoticed, but the surf industry has a few good ones. So, what are the most charming, unusual and atypical tics, habits and behaviors in pro surfing?
1. Splashing water Kelly Slater way. Are you being hassled? Are you running out of time? Do you fear or want to irritate your opponent? Was your wave underscored? Splash the water while paddling or while waiting for the next set. Why? Just because it's cool.
2. The unbearable silence in the line-up during heats. You're holding a precious priority in the last minute of a final. Your opponent knows that and is sitting one metre away from you, desperate to get a wave. Both surfers have very much to say, but the silence reigns. Anxiety grows in the absence of communication.
3. Glancing through the corner of the eye in the line-up during heats. Silence invades the line-up, but the surfers' two eye cameras are always working. A quick glance provides important information about your opponent's intentions. Or not.
4. Thanking free surfers for their patience, when leaving the contest area for hours, days and maybe one week. Surf contest commentators are like clerics. Spreading peace, love and understanding. Local surfers will be forced to leave the line-up, anyway. "A big shoot-out to the local free surfers. Thank you for sharing your waves". Yeah, right.
5. Waxing surfboards that are already waxed before each heat. A classic pro surfer tic. Fifteen minutes before hitting the water, competitive surfers tend to re-wax their surfboards for the 10th time. Tenth time, in the last two hours.
6. Putting the sponsor cap on when TV and photographers are around. Even when it's raining, pro surfers are advised by their sponsors to protect from the sun. Photo op? No, just skin protection.
7. Punching the surfboard after losing the heat. Surfboards are live entities and should be educated. If a pro surfer can't land an aerial or if rails carve too much, blame the surfboard. With a good fist or head punch.
8. Claiming waves discreetly like a British gentleman. They say judges and commentators don't like claims, but they're the only ones. Fans love enthusiastic wave claims. So, pro surfers tend to use a middle term with low profile body language. Tested. It works.
9. Using the entire surfing phrase arsenal in an interview, starting with "yeah". "Yeah, happy to get through to the next round. Yeah, just stoked. Yeah, I've always loved this wave. Yeah, I just want to surf and go heat by heat. Yeah, feels great".
10. Using the word "stoked" after losing a final. It's great to find happiness in defeat. Only surfers can do that. "Yeah, just stoked to finish runner-up. It's a great result".