Let’s Talk About “Stoke”
What’s in a word?
Ed note: the following is the 634th installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you’re into it, subscribe here.
Let’s talk about the word stoke.
Other than that sentence, I can’t remember a time in which I’ve employed it without feeling snide. Growing up, nobody I knew used it, just like nobody I knew used the word “shred.” By the time I fell in love with surfing, those terms felt antiquated, kooky, or maybe both. My generation appears to be somehow the most and least self-aware of all time, and “stoke” was relegated to the land of cliche and vehemently ignored.
Lately, though, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t even know what stoke means.
It seems to be most commonly used to describe a state of joy experienced after something good happens. That could be a good wave. It could be a good session. It could be a good trip. The result, allegedly, is, stoke.
Another usage sees “stoked” as a synonym of motivated. That guy is always stoked to surf and so on.
Or, it can be used to describe a more or less unchanging mentality. Like, she’s the most stoked surfer I know — implying that she is always happy in the water. Or maybe out of the water too? I don’t know, ask her.
I am no longer a teenage prick, which is to say that I no longer pass judgement on people who use the word stoke — for any of the situations above, or more. You can have all the stoke you want. Yew.
(Sorry, still snide.)
However, I do think skepticism around stoke explains part of the ongoing tension between surfers and the surf industry. A lifetime of surfing exposes you to a wide range of experiences, and there is so much depth in all of them. To try and encapsulate that in the form of a word (or a product, brand, media outlet, etc) often comes off as just plain fucked.
I hope you experience all the details of surfing — from the intestinal terror felt while hunting down the biggest wave of your life to the skin-tingling surprise of landing something you never thought you could.
Even if you do come in feeling stoked.
I couldn’t watch this live due to my time zone, so I watched it on Sunday evening — the same night as the Lemoore Royal Rumble. If I were to dive into the details, I could write a few thousand words on the difference between the two events. This ain’t the space for that. So, I’ll just sum it up: Surf100 felt like it was truly made for surfers. That might not sound like much but, trust me, you’ll know (and love) the difference if you haven’t experienced it already.
Ah yes, the hooded rashguard heard round the world. The world’s best unsponsored surfer just went and sponsored himself. If you care about the surf industry — which you may or may not — this is a great read featuring an extended intro and interview with John from Stab’s founder, Sam McIntosh.
This is what we call a bait and switch. See that title? That image? You’d think that clicking on them would lead you to a film and a brief story advocating for mid-length surfboards. But the thing is, that’s not going to happen. Click and see what you get.
Shitty pun aside, the advent of the thruster was a turning point for performance surfing. I’ve always found it a little weird/absolutely fucking crazy that nobody has bothered to mess with fins much in the four decades we’ve had since Simon’s first thrust. That said, I’m fond of any fin evolution. These things, much like restaurants with small portions, look intimidatingly fancy to me — but I would love to try.
Ok, watch this instead. The latest episode of our First And Last series allows you to peer inside the mind of one of surfing’s next medium things, Eithan Osbourne. Come to watch him do airs. Stay to watch him choke out our Editor In Chief. Yes, that happens.
2020 has been…different. You’re likely unsure about when/where/how your next surf trip might be. Well, if you live in Aus, might as well embrace the travel bans and go all-in on the weird year by surfing the Great Barrier Reef. It has 3,000 individual reef systems and 600 islands — when there’s swell, there’s gotta be a tube somewhere. Find it and let us know.
Back to Surf100
Send me a 100 words (maximum) rant about surfing. That’s it. That’s your prompt. Take it in any direction you please. In the name of subjectivity, I will send my favorite entrant a code to watch a replay of Surf100 for free. [email protected].
The “wave pools aren’t progressing surfing” rhetoric makes me laugh.
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