Zen and the Art of Surfing

Essay by Luke Foster

“I’ve always had a determination to perfect whatever I’m doing. If I can’t do something, I work on it until I figure it out.”

Stephanie Gilmore

I was beach walking this morning and saw a woman pro surfer on the beach, but I am not sure who it was and only knew she was a pro surfer because she had a billabong insignia on the bottom of her board. When I was surfing on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the eighties and early nineties there weren’t that many female surfers but that’s all changed now, and I always see a lot when I go for my beach walks.

I used to go surfing after school everyday at Bilgola Beach and then three times a day on weekends.

I feel surfing is one of the most Zen past times as you’re in flow with nature and feel the brunt of the change of the seasons.

I found a surfboard a few weeks back for $40 at a garage sale and bought a leg rope and fins but when I tried to paddle out on it, I kept slipping off the sides as it was too narrow for me. I was so out of practise that I couldn’t even stand up.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
 George Gordon Byron

My best friend in high school days was Nick Cuttell and we had a competition of who could get up earliest on the weekend to go to the others window to tap on it to wake the other for an early morning surf where we would catch uncrowded waves and watch the sun rise.

“There are so many different elements to surfing. Small waves, big waves, long boards, short boards. This makes it a sport you can share with people. It’s not just a solitary thing – it’s become a family thing, too. It’s about exercising and passing something on from father to son, and from mother to daughter.” Kelly Slater

I think its amazing that women surfers are if not just as good as male surfers in the pro surfing ranks but also better a lot of the time.

Aussie surfer Stephanie Gilmore