Surfers love Christmas because they get presents and if there’s one thing surfers love more than surfing, it’s getting free stuff. But if you’re thinking of giving us something that isn’t somehow connected to surfing or the sea, please don’t bother. Sure, we’ll smile and pretend to be grateful, but when you’re not looking we will spit in your egg nog and let your tyres down.
You don’t have to trawl the mall to get us something, either. If you’re not giving the surfer in your life an all-expenses paid trip to Indo, or a Ferarri with decent roof racks, then all you have to do is go to your nearest surf shop. Woolworths is not a surf shop. Don’t fall for their lame attempts to tap into the lifestyle with catchy T-shirt slogans like “Pushing Tides”, “Mau Loa Hawaii” and “Surf Club California”. There’s even one with “Oahu – Welcome to Paradise” printed on the front. Not such a paradise when you have the likes of Sunny Garcia, Kala Alexander and the rest of the Wolfpak kicking your haole ass down the beach.
With the best interests of surfers in mind, I went to a proper surf shop and researched what’s on offer this festive season. Genuine surf shops don’t buy into the whole Chrismyth hype and there’s no tinsel and shiny baubles, no stupid carols playing and no plastic trees with fake snow. There is also no one to help you because, well, it’s a surf shop.
This year, like every year, the apex gift is a surfboard. You will never hear a surfer say, “No thanks. I already have a board.” Surfers collect boards like Lewis Hamilton collects speeding tickets. There is even a collective noun for it – a quiver of boards. There are surfers who prefer their quiver to range in length from, say, 5’11” to 6’1”. For them, size really does matter.
Non-surfing amateur gift buyers might opt for a longboard because there’s a difference of only a couple of hundred rand between a 9′ board and a 6′ board.
“There’s so much more of it for virtually the same price!”
“Brian will love it! Let’s get it.”
But Brian doesn’t love it. Brian suddenly sees himself 30 years down the line and it’s not a pretty sight. Forced to confront his own mortality, Brian gets very drunk and disgraces himself at the family lunch.
As long as there are stoners, there will be hackeysacks. At R55, these ridiculous crocheted balls are the cheapest thing you’ll find in a surf shop, apart from the heavy-lidded skateboarder behind the counter who makes his girlfriend pay for everything.
There is also a huge range of truckers that come readily branded for the surfer who wants to give the impression of being sponsored but who, in truth, will only ever get a sponsor when he joins Alcoholics Anonymous.
For the frustrated war junkie, there’s a range of camo slops, socks and floppy hats. “Due to the unique fabric used to make this hat, the colour may change, fade or transfer when worn.” Well worth the risk, then, of ending up with a pink barnet or a permanently stained camo-face.
Halfway decent boardshorts come in at around R800. This is about as ridiculous as Donald Trump being elected president of America. I don’t know why they even bother selling them in Cape Town. There might be one or two days a year you can get away with it at Muizenberg, but the rest of the year it’s head-to-toe rubber. As for “performance” boardshorts, that’s just altogether too much pressure on a person. I can’t be worrying about whether my baggies are going to perform when I can barely reach backline without going into cardiac arrest.
If you hate the sight of your feet, you’ll enjoy a pair of Billabong’s invisible socks. To go with your camouflaged face.
There are, as always, a billion T-shirts to choose from for those who don’t mind being human billboards for the corporates. Funny, isn’t it, how the surf apparel industry has so successfully conned us into paying for the privilege of giving them free advertising? Clothing marked with brand names should be cheaper.
Nobody should be forced to wear shoes but we do otherwise we’ll be mistaken for escaped lunatics, darted and thrown into the underground dungeons. I saw a pair of slops for R900. If you’re prepared to pay that much for two pieces of rubber, you also belong in the dungeons.
A waterproof watch with built-in GPS makes a nice gift, although if you’re in the water and you don’t know where you are or you’re worrying about the time, you’re probably doing it wrong. Time is not your friend. The best you can do is ignore it and hope it leaves you alone.
Wetsuits have finally reached the price of surfboards. Grab an O’Neill Mutant and you’ll leave the shop R5 500 poorer for it. The Psycho is even more expensive, but that’s probably because it’s made from Techno Butter. I don’t know if there’s a cheaper version made from Techno Margarine.
Neoprene hoodies and booties make relatively inexpensive gifts and can be worn in and out of the water. O’Neill’s Psycho gloves are R600, cheap at the price if you want to avoid leaving fingerprints behind. Leashes are fairly cheap and make a fun accessory in the bedroom during those flat spells.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Santa on his new 6’2” swallowtail sled.