- Words by Iain Evans & Mel Winter
Surfers are a strange and curious bunch. Moving to their own patterns, governed by the ocean, the tides and wind direction windows. If you date one, are married to one or even have one of these in your family, you may find them difficult to connect with, unless of course you bring the ocean into it. You see, surfers by their very nature and by the heritage of the surf lifestyle have always seen themselves as different. In the beginning, it was counter-culture and continues to be trend-setting these days - basically surfers are different and they like different things to most folks who don't surf.
Which makes buying them a gift a nightmare, because although you know you want to get them something to do with surfing, you have no idea where to start.
When you get into the surf culture, what was cool last year, is not cool now. And even with the most loving and careful intent, one might stroll into a surf shop and think you’ve got a good chance of nailing the perfect gift…only to see your loved-ones face flicker and twitch as the gift wrapping comes off and he pulls a face as he pulls at the fabric of the boardshorts you so lovingly picked out “to match their eyes” only to discover that they are not the specific 4-way hyperflex material that doesn’t chafe that they actually wanted. A fact you only find afterwards, and of course not wanting to ruin the surprise, could never have asked before.
Classic catch 22.
I remember one Christmas morning (and I don’t get a lot of gifts, so the ones you do get you really want to be cool ) and I could feel the rolled up fabric disguised as a cracker, which felt more like a fat sausage, and I knew it was a tee shirt. I hoped a cool surf tee shirt. Something I could wear down to the beach that identified me as a surfer and, not only that, the kind of surfer that I am… (you’ll see what I mean shortly) and as the wrapping paper came off and the fabric unrolled… my heart sank and my grin turned to a frozen grimace. Instead of a Large it was a Medium. Instead of being a shape from a brand that I knew and wear often, it was a no-name brand. The hem would sit around my navel, exposing my garden path (I’m tall) and instead of being a silky, top quality fabric, it was coarse and scratchy like the ones they give you to wear as a lightie when you’re doing bottle store promotion for cash at varsity. Worst of all it had a picture of a VW Bus and some longboards tied to the roof. No offense to that subculture of surfers, but it isn’t me. I knew straight away it came from the local supermarkets “fashion” section and I never ever wore it. Ever.
My brothers girlfriend, who bought me the gift, just didn’t understand why I didn’t love it.
Solution? Never try to buy a surfer a gift that involves surfwear, boards, leashes, boardbags, wetsuits, board shorts or anything else for that matter. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but there is 90% chance you’ll just disappoint them (or they’ll return it without you knowing!). Instead, shower them in love with a Gift Voucher to an online surf shop where they can choose exactly the right amount of hyperflex in their boardies. That will make their face glow with pleasure at the upcoming excitement of logging on and choosing the perfect surf accessory.
And take it from us, as strange as these accessories may sound, surfers can never have too many.
If you think that it’s not personal enough to get your favourite surfer a gift card, think again. From experience, and surfers are just weird like this, though we may seem overly-chilled, mellow and sometimes a bit wayward with our thoughts, every surfer knows exactly where, how and when every surfboard, fin set, board sock ad finfinitum came from. It’s a hardwired catalogue of surfing essentials and their origin, and you will forever be part of that, and he will be grateful to you for it.