Surf or Die…
In my younger days I used to surf religiously. There was probably a solid ten year stretch where I was consumed by it. But over the course of time, there were many circumstances that I let get between me and surfing. Before I knew it the surfboard I lent out didn’t return and I just never got around to buying another one. Eventually I realized it’s been over ten years since I’ve been out in the water. My brother, bless his soul, is my constant reminder that I need to get back out there. Although it had been a decade, I always felt there was something missing, which is simply the joy of dropping in on a glassy left.
Recently I was passing the time by hunting around Craigslist for used office equipment and I stumbled upon a brand new longboad for $250 8ft with soft racks. Something possessed me to pick up the phone and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of a surfboard, again. I told my brother and he was so excited he gave me his wetsuit. So apparently I had no excuses now.
This past Friday rolls around and I figure it’s time to blow the dust off. I check the wave report and i see a solid 3-4 down at the HB Cliffs (my old home turf). I pull up and it’s going off. Without hesitation I start paddling out. By the time I got out to the line-up I realized my arms were so dead, I didn’t know if I’d have the strength to catch a wave. When I did finally catch a wave, I bailed and my leash broke. I spent the next 20 minutes swimming in and nearly passing out on the shore. Such a kook:( By this time it was I needed to pack it up and get back to work. Unfortunately I had drifted close to a mile, but it made for a nice and looong walk back.
As I’m walking back to the car, all the old memories of beach/surf culture started coming back to me. Little nuances like talking to another surfer about the temperature of the water or the smell of salt water in the air. I remembered calling a 1-800 number for the wave report before heading out (now I have the Oakley iPhone app for that). It’s comforting knowing that the surf is there anytime you want it.
My great realization from my recent surf adventure was that it strengthened my belief in the fact that you cannot lump people together under the term Action Sports. Reaching surfers requires a completely different and authentic approach than let’s say reaching Skaters or Moto X guys. Each one of these activities/disciplines has so much history and without really knowing the intricacies of each you’ll never really be able to integrate yourself into the core community.
If you really want to know who surfers are, what they like, why they buy what they buy and how to best reach them through your marketing efforts, here is my honest suggestion – suit up, paddle out, bail, have your leash break and then spend the next 20 minutes swimming in a riptide towards the shore… that’s just the starting point. Good luck!