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April 21st, 2015

“Surfers Make Good People”

Another surfer once told me, in no uncertain terms, “surfers make good people.” We were chatting after a surf on the island of Lombok, one of Indonesia’s many surfing gems, and it was the kind of conversation that meanders along when you’re surfed out and don’t really have anything more pressing on the schedule.

We talked about the surf back home: Western Australia for him and not much in the way of comparison to our surf in Maine. He had been telling me about his plans to move from ‘West Oz’ with his Indonesian wife and open a guesthouse just up the road… the type of retirement plan that every surfer dreams about.

His pronouncement came after I told him about teaching kids to surf at Surf Camp. He blurted out with surprising excitement:

“Mate, good job! The world could use more surfers because surfers make good people.”

These are the highlights from the conversation that followed, which was about the life lessons that surfing teaches us.


Lesson 1: Rely on Yourself and Always be Humble

Surfing teaches confidence and humility simultaneously. Entering the ocean to ride waves means putting yourself in a position where you’re on your own. If you get into trouble, you can’t just hit the pause button to gather your thoughts.

In the ocean, the situation is always dynamic: in addition to pounding waves, surfing often means contending with rocks and reefs, strong currents, weather, wind, and (sometimes) sea-life. As any surfer knows, when a big set bears down there is nothing and no one that can help.

The ocean will humble the very best surfers.

As a result, surfing teaches us to rely on ourselves and have confidence in our capacity to overcome challenges. It teaches strength and resilience. But even more, surfing shows us our limits and teaches us to know and respect them.

The ocean will humble the very best surfers, and in fact, those surfers are usually the ones that stand most in awe of the ocean’s power.


Lesson 2: Cherish Nature

There are few pursuits that are so dependent on a close relationship with nature. After all, good waves are the result of weather events that happen thousands of miles away. They can’t be recreated or manufactured by man and as a result surfers are completely beholden to ‘Mother Nature.’

The Point, J-Bay. Photo: Dustin Turin.

Nature giving in abundance. Photo: Dustin.

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March 8th, 2014

Cold Classic Maine or Tropical Perfection?

Dustin Turin // Scarborough, ME — You would think that after a month of surfing perfect tropical waves, the frigid Maine water — currently hovering around 37 degrees — would be a pretty significant buzz-kill. After all, 6mm of rubber definitely slows you down a bit and the 14 degree air that greeted us on our first surf back is cold by any standard. On the temperature front, I’ll take Bali’s 85 degree water any day of the week. No surprise, the Indian Ocean also beats Maine when it comes to producing consistently epic waves. But the reality is, even though Indonesia is always going to ‘beat’ Maine in the surfing hall of fame, it’s almost impossible to compare the two experiences.

Winter Surfing in Maine

Above: Even though it’s cold, waves make a welcome homecoming in Maine.

Below: Surf Camp instructor Sawyer Theriault scores a tropical beauty in Indonesia only a few days earlier.

Sawyer Theriault surfing in Keramas, Bali, Indonesia

When the waves are always on — not an issue we are too familiar with here in Maine — it’s amazing how quickly surfing starts to feel more routine then special. Our standards go through the roof and soon enough we’re complaining when it’s smaller than head high and/or not tubing. Too many people. Too hot. And so on…

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February 14th, 2014

Reflections from Bali: Waves, the Great Equalizer

Dustin Turin // Bali, Indonesia — All surfers embrace exploration: ‘the search,’ as it has been called, is ingrained in every wave rider’s DNA. It means ‘the search’ for better waves, ‘the search’ for empty lineups, ‘the search’ for places untouched and unknown and waiting to be explored. ‘The search’ is a point of pilgrimage with no final location, always moving one bend at a time up the coast.

Bali is most definitely a point along the well-trodden path of surf pilgrimage, a mecca surrounded in an accompanying myth and mysticism. It is certainly not unknown, or — unfortunately — untouched, but for every surfer who has never been, it is still waiting to be explored. The waves here feel unreal to the experience of surfers raised in the cold Northeast. Long period groundswell is nearly constant, the coast is ringed with reefs that produce perfect waves in practically all conditions, and the wind amazes with its ability to disappear for days on end.


Surfing in a place like Bali, in the crowded and competitive lineups of Uluwatu, Keramas, or Bingin, can be a humbling, inspiring, and frustrating experience, or more likely, all three simultaneously. But being in the water here is also a reminder of one of surfing’s best qualities: that is, waves are the ultimate equalizer.

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