I was raised right on the beach. Our house on St. Simons Island sat at the back of the dunes and I lived in the salt water. Like fish, swimming, floating, body surfing, me and my gang of friends would find scraps of plywood and bend them into rideable sizes. The frayed edges were a hazard, but we took off in the waves, riding on our stomachs. I still remember one giant wave throwing me straight down on the bottom – the nose dive hit sand and slammed my hip bones against the edge for a terrible bone bruising. Eventually we found suitable replacements and slowly graduated to surf boards as we grew older. But, I think we stopped riding plywood after the blood and bruises convinced us of our folly.
But it took me a long time before I really surfed. I was in San Diego at sunset. Those Pacific swells were so easy to ride. Gliding left on that glassy swell and seeing the sun setting on the horizon was the hook. I’ve surfed every chance since then.
I got a crash course in surfing on a six-month trip to Indonesia. First stop was Nias. By far the best waves I’ve ever seen. Barrel after barrel coming through like the hands of a clock. Surfers from around the world were there. We all stayed in little bamboo shacks standing up at the water’s edge. It was surf, eat, surf, eat, nap in hammock, surf till dusk and eat again. I pretty much sucked out there on the waves. Those beautiful waves crested up taller than a house and slammed down in an explosion. They scared the piss out of me. My brother and I really improved our surfing on the post-break shoulders. We were so stoked that the veterans getting buried in the 20-foot-tall tubes kept telling us that we reminded them of why they got into surfing. That they had lost some of that excitement from their youth: “Reminds us what we were like when we were little groms,” they’d say.
These days, when the swell comes up and is at all rideable, I grab my longboard, a 9-foot-6-inch Takiyama, and rush to the beach. Surfing is my favorite thing to do. The salt water, the wind, the sun, the dolphins feeding and the birds floating in the sky- it never gets old. Surfing is akin to lightening, sun rays punching through the cumulous clouds, the northern lights. The moment on the wave is a sparkling pinnacle on the peak of life on Earth, an ecstatic moment hanging in time. Reading the endless pattern of waves and then choosing the right one at the perfect spot leads to a communion with that Great Ocean flying along that breaking edge of water. It makes me feel whole again.
I am so glad to have been introduced to Robert and to, in a small way, sponsor him on his quest to be the greatest long boarder. At 15 years old, he is ten times the surfer I am. He kicks ass at every tournament and yet his passion for the soulful meaning of surfing is unwavering. The boy gets it. He asked about working at the Bee Company, when I said “Sure, but you have to be here 8:30 – 5, unless there is a swell, and then you can take two hours off.”
He immediately realized he’d rather be free to surf all the time and declined the job offer.
“Damn right!” I’ll try to support him as I can. His pursuit of surfing should be fulfilled. How lucky to be him.
I’m proud of him, his ability and his accomplishments. Surfing is his job and his life. How enviable. Robert has promised to surf with me and teach me some new graceful moves on the nose. I can’t wait.
About Robert Powers:
Name: Robert Joseph Powers, Jr.
Hometown: Savannah, GA
When you started surfing: Too young to remember! Around 6
Favorite place to surf: Anywhere
Favorite board: 9’7″ Brucker Noserider
What bothers you the most about surfing: Hollister Surf Life – the people that wear Hollister pretend like they are surfers, but don’t anything about real surfing.
If you could surf anywhere where would it be? Mentawaii Islands, Indonesia
Most memorable surf story: Going to Puerto Rico with a friend that is a native Puerto Rican. I got to see the real Puerto Rico, not the fake touristy version. I ended up scoring perfect waves while I was there also.
Finish this sentence: “If I wasn’t surfing all the time, I would be lost.”
Other hobbies besides surfing: Painting, Playing Guitar
I don’t like to shortboard too much. I love longboarding because it is like art. You are judged on style. You don’t have to destroy the wave. You flow with the wave.