There Goes My Hero
Surfer|Volume 59, Issue - 7
There Goes My Hero

Why surfers often favor quiet rippers and misfits over mainstream surf stars

Justin Housman

I grew up surfing in a place where it was pretty much standard to have the lineup all to yourself. Or, if you were lucky, you might have a couple of friends to trade waves with. (This was in California, by the way— South of San Francisco, if you can believe it). Granted, you were alone because you were surfing the foggiest, coldest, most depressing closeouts or the weirdest, boil-ridden reefs you could possibly imagine. Still, empty, albeit imperfect, breaks were the norm. But, occasionally, I’d paddle out, look down the mostly-deserted beach and see a mysterious, hooded regularfoot stylishly working over an empty peak. Every time I’d glance in his direction, there he’d be, making a psychotically late drop, flinging a big arc of spray skyward after a high-velocity turn, or tucking into a long, sand-sucking tube where I’d seen nothing but dribbly bullshit before. Then, poof, he’d be gone—a ghost vanished over the iceplant-studded dunes. I was fascinated.

There weren’t many world-class rippers in this area, so I presumed that each time I sat there slackjawed, watching a mysto surfer tear the bag out of the place, it was always the same mysto surfer. Indeed, I had to presume that, because I never actually met him. Or at least if I did—perhaps serving me a greasy basket of fish and chips as a waiter in one of the zillions of bayside seafood joints in my hometown, or maybe drawing my espresso shot as a barista, or lecturing one of my courses in college—I was never able to recognize him as the anonymous guy ripping down the beach. Come to think of it, that was actual ly the nickname my friends and I bestowed upon the unknown shredder: “Guy Ripping Down the Beach.”


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Volume 59, Issue - 7