[This is an introduction to Wavelength Volume 258, landing exclusively with subscribers on 25th June. Subscribe now to get your copy]
Mythology has always blossomed in communities that rely on the vagaries of the natural world.
Rural folk, nomadic tribes and those who sought their fortune on the high seas passed down stories to make sense of themselves and the wild forces that surrounded them. Slowly though, as the duvet of modernity has muffled nature’s thumping drum, the lore upon which they relied began to fade.
Surfers, on the other hand, have continued to gaze as determinedly as ever into the navel of our own mythology. Our fascination with heroism, peril and the transient and ferocious nature of our playground combine to create fertile ground for all sorts of grand stories. Each surf spot boasts its own tale of discovery and imagined character and each community its own creation myth.
There’s no doubt these tales become taller with time, because when the setting was a coastal wilderness and surfers the only attentive witnesses, a bit of embellishment is bound to have crept in by the thousandth retelling.
Occasionally, the role of these stories extends beyond the bragging rights of the teller. As you’ll see from the collection we’ve assembled here, they serve to inspire mysticism and honour legends, spur adventure, pass down wisdom and of course, keep us entertained in the pub during flat spells.
We’ll begin with an introduction to some of surfing’s most pervasive myths, complete with pop-psychology underpinning and some gentle debunking. Then, the tale of a nudist surfer, an off-hand slur that christened a surf spot and an examination of romanticism’s distorting role in our sport’s official history. We’ll learn the true story behind a scintillating tsunami surfing myth and have Jed Smith spin us an old yarn about a trio of Aussies who set off in search of a desert mirage. We’ll discover the curious history of a South Pacific island, that may or may not be sinking below the waves and learn how hippies and soldiers accidentally collaborated to conceive modern surfing in Morocco.
We’ll pay visits to Sweden’s Baltic Coast and an island in the Mentawais to meet characters who loom large in local legend, before perusing the awe-inspiring imagery of Mark McInnis. Then, we’ll dive deep into a collection of surf-lore from Ireland’s golden age of discovery, filled with tales of bravery, lunacy and camaraderie, dredged up and recounted by those who lived it.
And finally, an interview with Dr Dave; the founder of SurfAid, with an account that stands as a testament to the transformative power of good storytelling.
[Subscribe now to get your copy.]