It was on a trip to the Gulf of Mexico, in Longboat Key, Florida forty years ago that I would ride my first waves, and refer to it as surfing. Perhaps I'd ridden waves before, I was in the 5th grade and been going to the beach in Dania/Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale since I was old enough to have memories. But this time in the Gulf, I was on an inflatable surf raft that I begged my mom to buy for me, and I was calling it surfing to anyone who asked. Truthfully, I was riding waves on my belly, but I rode them all afternoon for days in a row, after my tennis practices were done... there must've been some small ground swell, I'm not sure... I just remember riding waves, then walking back out on the sandbar, to the spot that I'd figured out you could catch them before they broke. 'Ye Old Faithful Pier is now just a relic, and that Longboat Key resort where I spent a couple of summers being groomed to play tournament tennis, and learning to catch waves, are just memories to me.
A lot of my beginnings in surfing, and probably through my first 20 years in the sport for that matter, are just that, surfing memories. All of those sessions are just small figments in my brain at this point. Not a lot of pictures to show, hardly any video or film, and absolutely no data... which is good and bad. I remember mostly the good. But we didn't have the kind of tools at our fingertips to document what we were doing like we have today. So that's why I like to capture, calculate, and share the moments so much these days... it's because aging out of shortboard surfing, and entering whatever's next for me, I want to re-live the memories as much as possible and enjoy what time I have left. Using new tech tools gets me in the water more often, helps me remember my sessions, and staves-off regression. These are good things.
I recently listened to a podcast where Matt Warshaw, former editor of Surfer Magazine was talking about how he quit surfing all-together after getting into his 50's. I think that's taking it a bit extreme, but for me, I just don't want to forget how good surfing makes me feel from a mental standpoint. I track and document my surfs for me, it's not really for anyone else. And if you follow me on Instagram, but don't really know me, just understand that most of my followers are former students, personal friends, and extended family members. I appreciate their love and support. It makes me feel good. So that's why I post pictures and stats on that platform. I feel no pressure to surf when I don't want to surf or gain more followers... and I define the activity by my own standards.
So where am I going with all of this? Recently, I read an article in an online publication (STAB Magazine) focusing on the topic of surf stats, apple watches, and sharing surf data. Whether this STAB article was solid journalism or not, I'll leave that up to you to decide, that's not what this is about. This is actually about whether tracking surf stats makes me a kook. And wow, judging by the comments section, I did not realize I'm such a kook! Hahaha. Oh well. I'm fine with it.
Believe what you want to believe about me, for that I've ultimately no control. I actually chose the current beach I live at, and carved out a little spot for myself to surf here, mainly to get away from all of the negative. I surf a cold water break in the uncrowded waters of the northeast because I want to, not because I have to. The locals around here keep to themselves, practice good etiquette out in the water, and don't hassle me about this blog. I really appreciate that. The truth is, I like nerding out on stats and I'm into using new tech gadgets... I proudly own my nerdom. Bottom line, I don't need anyone's approval for the things I do in my life. If anything I do on this website bothers you, I'd ask yourself why it bothers you. Because it doesn't impact you, so just move on. I'm out here living my best life. My surf stats have nothing to do with you.
To the small percentage of readers and followers that don't know me personally- and I'm speaking to the Surfers United New England facebook group of adult learners, a handful of local MA surfers, UCF_Jebshred Twitter followers, and all the other randoms that hit my blog in a month.... thank you for being so cool! Thank you for supporting me even though I'm a kook who likes to track my surf sessions, hahaha. Thank you for all those Merch purchases. This brand was dreamt up by my students, once upon a time, and i'm so proud to carry it on. I wish the comments section from this STAB article hadn't made me so defensive about my stat posting, but it did. I'm honestly just trying to give folks a surf report and crunch some of my personal stats... while adding-in a little advice for getting in the cold waters of New England.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or however you celebrate this holiday season. I'm still looking to post a 2022 Stats Blog for all of my app stat haters out there, hahaha, so be on the lookout for that in January. Please be kind, share some great waves in this new year, (and I know I say this every time but I truly mean it) I hope you're surfing where you are! Cheers!