Corky Carroll

Oh, to be young and adventurous again

When I was a kid I used to like to try all kinds of different surf-related stuff. I was literally made of energy in those days. Some skin, a few bones and a power plant of energy.

I could surf six hours and still want to go out and skateboard down the highest hills in Laguna Beach -- sometimes with my girlfriend, the lovely Banzai Betty, on my shoulders. No shoes or shirt and way before protective gear was even thought of. Then we would grab a tandem board and head down to Doheny or San Onofre for a session of two on a board fun. And then bail on that for an evening surf session.

No problem. Then we would go to the dance that night followed by a couple of hours of discussing current events while parked in some obscure valley up in the Dana Point Hills. That was before there were homes all over that area. It was used for motorcycles in the daytime and young lovers at night.

Then there was paddle racing. I got way deep into that side sport and went to all the races. I won just about every one of them available during those days. I had more energy than the older and bigger dudes. The problem with that sport was that nobody that wasn't doing it cared about it at all. I can remember being in some zillion-mile marathon and the only people there at the end would be the guy putting on the race, some chick to hand you the trophy and give you a kiss, and you.

Then you would be at a party that night and everybody would be telling you that the surf was unreal that day and that you really missed it. You'd say, "yeah, but I won the zillion mile marathon paddleboard race!" They would look at you like you were stupid or something and shrug their shoulders. Like, "so what." Humph.

As I got older I became more focused on just straight ahead surfing. Concrete became too hard to fall on and it seemed that I didn't really have the urge to do all the other stuff anymore. Skiing and tennis were my side sports. And then only tennis. And then nothing but surfing.

The good part is I surf more now than when I was driving to the mountains going skiing or hanging out at the tennis clubs.

This brings me to the part about having become a "surf snob." There are all these alternative surf things available now that I have little use for. Surf kayaks, kneeboards, Boogie boards (O.K. I do like those), butt boards (I think they call those surf skis) and the new craze of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP).

I am one of those guys sitting in the lineup grumbling about all that stuff. It's funny. The state of the art surfing, I do not care what anybody says, is shortboarding. And in the struggle for getting the most waves the shortboard guys are at the bottom on the food chain. I see them sitting inside of everybody else just lividly angry that all these geeks and old fat dudes are taking off outside of them and hogging all the good waves.

You have the longboarders. They can catch waves way easier and further out. And they do. Put five halfway decent guys on longboards in the lineup and the shortboarders go ballistic. And, honestly, rightfully so in my eyes.

I am in the middle. I ride midsize boards. I try to be considerate of the shortboarders, who are glaring at me, and I glare at the longboarders.

And when someone dares to come out on a surfski we all glare at them. And now there are the "sweepers." The dudes on the SUP's. Geeze.

In fairness to new ideas and not wanting to be a total butthead about these things I gave the SUP a try a couple of days ago. My pal Ron Chrislip showed up with a small one, only 9'. He let me take it out for a spin. First off it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Secondly it was more of a workout than I thought it would be. And lastly it was more fun that I thought it would be.

I just paddled it around for a little while. I really had no desire to ride waves on it as the board itself seems way too clunky to really be able to surf well on -- although I am sure that Laird Hamilton and Gerry Lopez rip on them. But I just enjoyed the cruising around standing up part.

I think I want one. But I will certainly NOT be giving up any surfing time when the waves are good. I have spent a good amount of years fine-tuning my surf snobbery and I am not turning back now. If it comes to that I might as well turn in my twin fin for a cruise ship.