The Long Distance Surfer

By Jay Vilarrubi-Smith

“What’s the weather going to be like? Will I need an umbrella?”

How times have changed.

It’s no longer a surf forecast I wake up and check, it’s the weather forecast – to see if I’ll need a jacket on over my suit.

This time last year I was writing tongue-in-cheek articles about how to balance surfing with a relationship and the challenges of surfing during a lunch break.

A lunch break surf now would require a three hour car journey, and even then I’d need to be keeping an eye on my emails.

To those wondering where I’ve disappeared to – (I’m sure you’ve all been missing my articles right?) – I moved to Bath in search of better job prospects.

It’s been nearly four months since I moved to the city and I’ve been dealing with a rather large identity crisis.

Am I still a surfer?  Can I say things like ‘sweet’ and wear the same clothes?

As I drive to the office in a yellow Mini Cooper, wearing a shirt and bow tie it’s pretty difficult to feel like a surfer.

Sitting in the corner of the flat is my ‘new’ surfboard which has been used twice in the 4 and a half months I’ve owned it. It’s got as much chance of getting any action as a twenty year-old World of Warcraft addict has.

I still stubbornly keep my two wetsuits, and all the gear that surfers insist is necessary. Two sets of top-of-the-range fins, two leashes, four blocks of wax and some Solarez.

The truth is I could do with swapping this stuff for some more black socks and a decent lunch-box.

You get the idea.

Now, this article isn’t designed to be an agony aunt entry, although I could probably do with a good chat with ‘Dear Deidre’ right now.

Having grown up in Newquay I definitely took the sea for granted. Innumerable days where I didn’t go in because it was a bit cold outside, or it wasn’t quite offshore enough.

I used to be a snob and think living near the sea was essential if you wanted to be taken seriously as a surfer.

I used to look down my nose at ‘surfers’ who travelled down from the city at the weekend and crowd the line-up at my local.

This isn’t the first time I’ve spent time away from the Ocean – four years of University were spent living in the city.

But that was different.

I was still calling Newquay home and as soon term finished I was straight back to a walk to the local with Clunk king, Kieran.

This move was more calculated. It wasn’t forced on me by anything other than the fact that I couldn’t face being a Sales Assistant anymore.

I naively told myself that nothing would change. Telling my extremely patient sponsor, Hoax UK, that I would still surf at weekends and that I’d even take up Skateboarding again to stay relevant.

The truth is, working 9-5 in a pretty hard job located a long way from the coast does not lend itself to the care-free, laid back surfing lifestyle.

Which brings me back to the point of the article. The difficulties of being a long distance surfer.

It’s almost like you need to have two personalities.

To fit in the city life you need to wear smarter clothes and talk about things like football and whether we need to leave the EU.

To still cling on to being a surfer, you need to talk to your brother about how his fantasy surfer team is getting on and stalk people’s Facebook pages to see the latest clips and pictures.

As I drive to the office in a yellow Mini Cooper, wearing a shirt and bow tie it’s pretty difficult to feel like a surfer.

I still watch the WSL events on my laptop – despite the fact that it seems like the WSL has turned into an advert filled, air reverse loving, Brazilian procession.

But I can’t go into work the next day to talk about who got through and who didn’t. I imagine if I went into work and asked my colleagues if they thought Adriano de Souza deserved to get through his heat, they would offer me some aspirin and tell me to take a break.

The problem is, being a surfer is who I am.

Trying to eliminate this out of my life, is like trying to mask what my personality is really like. I feel like I am pretending to be someone I’m not.

But it’s not like I can walk through the high-street with my board in hand wearing my boardshorts and flip-flops. Perhaps I should.

I guess I want to first tell people who do live near the sea to really appreciate how lucky you are to be in that position.

Secondly I want to offer my respect to all the surfers out there who do live away from the sea but still dedicate themselves to the lifestyle as much as they can.

I used to be a snob and think living near the sea was essential if you wanted to be taken seriously as a surfer.

These last few months have taught me that the people who commit to being surfers despite living miles from the ocean, deserve more respect than anyone.

Me? Well I’ll keep trying to figure out how to still feel like a surfer in a 9 to 5 world.

If all else fails…you might soon see me running down for a late evening session at South Fistral.

Peace Out.