There seems to be some debate about the subject is surfing a sport or a lifestyle but to me it seems pretty obvious that it is both. Surfing has a very long history and it can be one thing to someone and something completely different for someone else perhaps even both for some people. I’ve met people around the world which for them surfing is like a religion, they are up every morning and down on the beach catching that first glassy wave at their home break before the sun comes up. They know the tides, they watch the weather and they do this every day. They know the break and all the other locals. They don’t travel the world to find different or better waves they are content to just exist in the moment and find their Zen being one with the ocean. To these people surfing isn’t just a lifestyle, its life.
Then there are those who do feel the need to travel the world to live the search and experience other cultures; to chase that perfect wave for much of their life. They’re not competitors, just travellers, enjoying the search as much as the ride and always chasing the next perfect wave. These are the ones who many times will reach a certain age when the travelling becomes just too much and return to settle down and become the first type and pass along the wisdom of the search to the next generation of worldly travellers. This group kinda defines the lifestyle of surfing sort of like a surfing circle of life
Still, every once in a while though you find the truly competitive types. The stand-outs at the local break who seem to have a divine gift for surfing and a deep burning need inside to push the limits of what is possible and who’s search is not just about the perfect wave but the perfect score. To continuously improve and always feeling a need to surf better than those around them. These are the athletes. The ones who are at the beach before sunrise with everyone else but after pushing the limits of imagination in the water they find themselves in the gym, watching videos of previous surf sessions and following strict diets in an effort to maintain the highest levels of fitness. For these people truly are athletes and for them surfing is a sport, one in which they hope will become a successful occupation as well. This is the glorified side of surfing much of the world sees. This is the glitz and glamour, where clothing brands and surfing manufacturers make their money. For these people as time marches on and the competition years wane surfing once again becomes more of a lifestyle, even for the ones who continue to make their living in the surfing industry once the competition days are behind them.
So, that’s my take on the whole sport vs. lifestyle debate and who knows perhaps I’m completely off the mark but having travelled around the world myself I don’t believe I’ve missed it by too much.