Stab Magazine | It's Been Five Months. What Does Surfing's "New Normal" Look Like?

It’s Been Five Months. What Does Surfing’s “New Normal” Look Like?

Excuse me, what world is this?

style // Jul 19, 2020
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ed note: the following is the third installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you’re into it, subscribe here.

“The New Normal.”

Remember, a few months back, when people kept using that term to describe a world in the throes of COVID? Stab even employed it for a series of interviews with professional surfers, business people, etc. while it appeared as though the entire surf industry was rapidly approaching entropy. Good times. 

Anyway, where are we now? Is it the new world yet? 

It’s not the old one. If it were, we’d be halfway through the WSL season and a week away from surfing’s first Olympics. But it also doesn’t feel like the new world that we were promised. The one in which things would be different — meaning either a better, more refined version of civilization or the end of it entirely. It also seems clear that we’re not there yet. 

So, we still don’t have a clear picture of what the real “new normal” will look like or when it will come. When this whole thing kicked off, I think the amount of time we’d spend living in this transitory world seemed to be widely overlooked. Even now, it is. 

I gotta say, though: The temporary new normal ain’t so bad. Want proof? 

As always, today’s Fwd will start with Stab’s three most-clicked stories of the past week. After that, I’m going to highlight a few pieces that nod to whatever world we’re living in now, in all its fleeting glory.

No Contest Unplugged G-Land: The Legacy And Lore Of “The Forgotten Left” With Kelly Slater And Luke Egan 

When I was in my early teens, I recall walking into my local surf shop to buy a movie. I worked as a dish-washer at the time, which afforded me the capital to make such purchases. All surf movies were displayed in the same case, which led me to believe that they were of the same global standard. The film I reference here was produced locally, I learned after purchase, and consisted of sub-par surfing cut to bad music and punctuated by Jackass style pranks and performances often involving bodily secretions and waste. I watched it hundreds of times because why not. 

Surf cinema has come a long way. You can now consume very good things like this without having to wash any dishes, which is a normality we should all be pleased with. 

Meet The Guy Who’s Surfed Empty Kandui, Bank Vaults, Hideaways, Etc. For The Past Four Months

Remember when you had to lock yourself in your house because COVID? Maybe you’re still locked in your house cause COVID? Or maybe you never did that at all? Well, no matter where you land on the confinement spectrum, this guy had a better time than you. Jealously enjoy. 

If You Lose 50 Pounds, You’re (Probably) Gonna Surf Better

Or, how about, do you remember when you were locked inside your house because COVID and you told yourself that you’d use the time to start a fitness regimen and become the new you/Mick but then you got kind of fat instead? Common. Well, this might fire you up to shed your little quarantine belly.  

Now, want to see the silver lining? 

Grab binoculars. For most people, surf travel is incredibly difficult right now. Know what that means? It means that for most people, surf travel is incredibly difficult right now. So, if you’re willing to deal with a few extra steps, risks and cotton swabs far enough up your nose so that it feels like they’re scraping your brain, you could end up on the best surf trip of your life. This piece breaks it all down for you. 

Want to see it without binoculars? 

As we touched upon before, we’re experiencing a golden era of free surf content. The pandemic seems to be enhancing that. Here, you can spend ten minutes with Griffin Colapinto and switch between watching him field a bombardment of questions while bombarding sections at the rumored-to-be 2021 World Title deciding wave.  

Also: This Stab High film will happily devour twenty-three of your minutes and fill you with no regret.

Can’t look. I’m driving. 

Fine, listen to this podcast. 

An update. 

Last week, I asked for the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in or around the ocean. There were a few great answers, but one stuck out to me. In the age of Instagram, mythical creatures quickly become memes, making simple encounters like this increasingly uncommon. Keep your eyes peeled and cherish any sightings you may get. Now, here’s Bobby’s story. Thanks to everyone who entered.

I pulled up to my local and started undressing. A man wearing a fullsuit drove his motorbike past me to the end of the street, parking it overlooking the bluff. He had a cloth hoodie on (think a firefighter’s under-helmet garment), which I assumed was for under his bike helmet. I turned back to my car, finished waxing, and then locked up. 

At that point, I saw him head down the stairs with a neoprene hat on over the cloth hoodie. Weird, but it was pretty sunny, and it looked like a solid neck mullet sun solution. Then, I saw that he hadn’t left on his bike the two huge fluorescent lime-green straps that were draped over his board as he headed down the stairs. I literally almost called out to him, but I figured maybe he didn’t want them stolen and was bringing them down intentionally.

I get in the water and end up just inside of him. When he started paddling (awfully aggressively, I may add), I thought I noticed fins on his feet. “Wow,” I thought. “That looks more like an old, yellowed RNF than a kneeboard. Strange.”

My attention was out the back when he took off on a wave, but when I turned to the beach to check my marker, he was standing up straight instead of kneeboarding. “Maybe he stands with fins on? Maybe he is a knee-standing hybrid? Maybe those weren’t fins?” I was perplexed. 

He paddled back out, and I gave his feet a second look. There were the lime green straps, wrapped around each foot like an Ace bandage. On the bottom of each arch was an apple-sized Velcro pad to (I’m assuming here) stick to the opposite Velcro pad on the deck. 

I let him paddle inside me on a few waves just to confirm the deck patches, but he would get to his knees first, then thrust himself to his feet in one convulsive jerk, so there was never space to see what was on the deck. Regardless, of the deck contraption, he endowed enigma, excitement, and wonder into a mediocre session. Cheers to that man!

And cheers to you. 

One last thing: 

Never trust a summer swell.

Subscribe here to the Stab Fwd.



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