Shark Infested Forums
Learner surfer looking for help? This is a safety warning: surf forums are shark infested waters…
Sadly, animosity towards beginners is part and parcel of surfing. It’s not universal, but there’s no denying the spitefulness of some people towards learner surfers or “kooks”.
The argument I’ve heard most often is that the waves are already too crowded, that kooks are dangerous in the water. There is sense in it; the sea is a dangerous place and adding in learners is an additional factor to worry about. I’m not denying that line ups are busy either – even in the short time I’ve been surfing I’ve seen the numbers go up.
But for all of that, the argument is defunct for (at least) three reasons…
1. No-one owns the waves. It doesn’t make any sense for any surfer, no matter how long they’ve surfed or how “local” they are, to lay claim to a wave. An ephemeral, unquantifiable piece of mother nature. I’ll always respect locals and more experienced surfers, but I find it hard to accept that anyone has more of a “right” to be in the water.
2. Everyone’s been there. Kelly Slater, Garret McNamara, Greg Noll, you, me, the angriest local in the baddest of badlands, even the Duke himself started as a beginner. With the heritage of the sport in mind it makes no sense for anyone to harbour negativity for learner surfers. How else would the joy of surfing and all the nuggets of surfing knowledge pass through the generations.
3. With proper tutelage time in the water is exactly what a learner needs to improve.
When you add in the confidence of anonymity and downright brutality some people display when they’re talking from behind a keyboard – trolling, case in point – the negativity towards kooks can really get potent.
Best way to deal with it? Well, when you go looking for tips or asking questions on forums, just remember you’re going to have to dig some diamonds out of the rough. Just the same as focussing on your own game when it comes to comparing yourselves to other surfers in the water, the best thing to do with the negativity is just put it out of your head.
As a final note, I want to make clear that “kook hating” is reserved to a small portion of the surfing community. In fact, whenever a learner surfer experiences negative commentary from fellow watermen, it’s usually in the interest of the learner. The vast majority of surfers will offer advice and warnings (even if it comes out sounding a touch exasperated) to learner surfers free of charge. There are far more awesome people in the world of surfing than there are “haters”, so take it with a pinch of salt.