Monday, May 18, 2009

Wave Riders

As a teenager, I spent a good part of each summer strolling the sand at Galveston. On the radio, The Beach Boys sang about California girls, and Hollywood movies always featured perfect waves and Pacific Ocean sunsets, but that didn’t make surfers on Texas beaches any less cool. Despite surfing’s influence on the pop culture of my youth, though, I never got around to trying surfing myself.
As an adult, I love the beach as much as ever, and my kids fell under the ocean’s spell at an early age. And they wanted to surf. After trying boogie boards and body surfing, we discovered that Texas has surfing camps and lessons for all levels and ages. The instructors confidently vow that just about anyone can surf, and they deliver on that promise.
Surfing, you see, quickly becomes addictive. After catching one wave, surfers want to catch another—one that’s bigger, or that goes farther. Then one more, and still another, and just one last wave, until an entire afternoon is gone and no one has uttered the words ‘I’m bored’—though I may have whimpered ‘I’m tired’ a time or two.
Weeklong camp suits kids perfectly, allowing time for thorough instruction and plenty of practice. Camp also provides opportunities for activities like creating a giant surfboard raft, building sandcastles, and playing games on the beach.
For those without a week to spare, or families that want to learn together, individual or small-group lessons are an alternative.
In Texas these days, there are at least two reasons that more boards are hitting the water. First, surfers no longer scoff at Texas waves, in part thanks to Texas Surf Camp’s Morgan Faulkner himself. He holds two national surfing titles, 22 Texas titles, and other assorted accolades; is a former member of the U.S. Surfing Team; and is now a professional competitor in the World Qualifying Series. Faulkner credits much of his success to learning on the unpredictable waves off Port Aransas. “If you can surf in Texas, you can surf anywhere,” he says. While no one is likely to confuse Texas surf with that of Hawaii or California, there are plenty of waves to ride—and the water is warm enough that surfers rarely need a wetsuit.
Second, folks are realizing you don’t have to be young, buff, and a little rebellious to surf.
Surf shops do cultivate that image, and it probably attracts a fair number of teens to the sport. But there are plenty of, ahem, mature surfers out there, and there’s plenty of ocean for everyone.
Cool photo at
See the full article in June 2009 issue of Texas Highways, which also has my article on sea turtles.

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