The Art of Doing Your Own Thing

By Skye Walker

One could argue the point of what is cool and what is not cool in this world. I know I have certainly passed judgement on others because what they were doing didn’t appear to be cool to me. But in the same respect, I know that same judgement has been passed on me too. Shame on me for ever doing that. Because whatever activity thatperson was doing, that I didn’t think was ‘cool’, was making them happy and isn’t that the point of life? No matter what we do, we can’t escape the subtle or harsh criticisms of the world.

It’s inevitable. But don’t let that deter you from your path of happiness.
signsBeing cool has nothing to do with being happy because being cool is a figment of our imagination and a projection of our pop culture soaked society. Being happy means you don’t care about cool one bit.

So you want to go rollerblading with just a speedo on? Do it. You want to do paintings of pink elephants in Cadillacs? Have at it. You want to be a uni-cycle mountain biker? Go send it. You want to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Get after it. You want to boogie board? Okey dokey. The point is, if it’s making you happy (and not hurting anyone) who cares what others think about it? It’s your life… do what you like, right? Yes. Go do it now.

I love surfing. Of course, it’s cool. One could argue that it is one of the coolest things you can do in this world! To ride on a wave, maneuver down the line and pull into barrels and feel the energy of the earth and ocean under your feet… damn that’s cool. Nothing compares. It’s so cool that a lot of people like to do it. It’s open season in the seas now. Everyone has their favorite shred sticks and it’s game on at your favorite breaks. The weekdays don’t even accommodate “Gentleman’s Hour” anymore. It’s a war out there… Everyone is doing their own thing… with 100 of their “best” friends.
Thier thing (1)This influx of people rushing to the seas to enjoy the splendor of the waves hasn’t scared me away from surfing… but it did shift me in a different direction to experience the joys of the sea. I received a pair of Viper V5 Flex fins for my 30th birthday from some good friends six years ago… but they sat in my house for about a year and half before I ever used them.

I was a surfer, not a bodysurfer. I needed to get my wave count on my board because I loved it! But man, my wave count was down with the amount of pros, locals, barneys and kooks crowding the line-up. I didn’t dislike surfing, but the frustration of paddle battling was getting to me… but I didn’t know how much it was bugging me.

Then one day I took those fins out and discovered the subtle, freeing and under-the-radar nature of body surfing. To my left was a familiar, crowded peak with an onslaught of boards going in all directions… and where I was, well, it was empty. Just me and my buddy Kyle, dropping into unridden little gems, getting blown up in mini barrels and laughing our asses off. And not fighting any crowd to do it. Having the time of our lives without a care in the world and certainly not giving a second thought to whether or not what we were doing was cool. We were having a blast, and what could be cooler than that? I’m sure it looked like two guys flopping around from the beach… It was awesome, addictive, freeing and mostly, we were doing our OWN thing. We weren’t fighting for waves to enjoy and have fun… we were having a blast on our own terms.
Your thingThe climbing community recently lost one of it’s most influential athletes. Dean Potter perished BASE jumping/wingsuit flying in Yosemite, CA. He was an absolute superhuman climber, slackliner, BASE jumper, wingsuit flier and he founded the sport of free-basing (climbing with just a chute and no ropes). People in the climbing community along with normal people who don’t climb certainly called him crazy, nuts, looney and more. His nickname was “The Dark Wizard”. But he didn’t care. He was doing what HE wanted, for himself. To feed that hunger inside of him. He didn’t give two cents about what people thought, and he broke the rules to do it. He was jumping illegally in Yosemite when he died. He went outside the rules to do his own thing and he paid the ultimate price. But he wouldn’t have wanted to go any other way because he left this world on his own terms.

This is an extreme example of someone ignoring the world to do their own thing to be happy. But it still hammers in the fact that if there is something you want to do that makes you happy, then do it. Screw the nay sayers. Do your thing and don’t look back. If your friends surf and won’t touch fins because they are “too cool” to do it, who cares? Go get pitted without them. Chances are, you’ll catch more waves and barrels than they will and all they’ll have to say is how many times there were burned on a wave.
SwimmersThere is a special place inside each of us that holds the truth of who we are and what we do… and we know that truth. You can wear this truth as a silent badge of honor and know that yes, I’m a rollerblader… I’m a mime… I re-enact the Lord of the Rings for fun… I’m a BASE jumper… I’m a bodysurfer and love it. Whether or not people know these truths about you, it doesn’t matter because you know the truth. You know it makes you happy to do your own thing… and no one can take that away from you.

Sandy Pages: The Art of Body Surfing

There are a handful of fervent bodysurfers who took the time to document, educate and rave about this one-of-a-kind activity. Here is a brief review of one such pursuit.

The Art of Bodysurfing by Robert Gardner.The Art of Body Surfing: Robert Gardner
Chilton Book Company, 1972.







The Judge, as many prefer to call him, starts his book by detailing a scene we’ve all witnessed, the masses bodysurfing. Despite being less than “proficient,” people seem to love floundering in the surf. Much of the book is dedicated to the education of these masses. Gardner reviews the basics of bodysurfing in chapters 3, 4 and 5. He describes the process by which beginners can first “feel” what it is like to bodysurf and then progressively work their way into cutting and riding bigger waves. The Judge writes with authority and does not hesitate to remind beginners to get out of the way of the rest of us. It is the Judges authoritative voice which pulls the reader in. I found myself laughing aloud often at his matter-of-fact commentary on more than one occasion.

In his early chapters, Judge Gardner gives his interpretation of primitive bodysurfing. He refers to the imaginary bodysurfing pioneer, Crazy Og, who sparked the spirit of his onlooking tribe when he rode his first wave into shore. Crazy Og is referred to throughout the book in both reverence and as a reminder to not give up. Gardner progresses to briefly chronicle the “post swim-fin” era of bodysurfing, recognizing the tremendous advancement swimmers were able to make with the aid of the swim fin.

Fred Simpson in the Art of Body Surfing

As Gardner moves into the modern art of body surfing, his passion for riding waves, especially big waves, is most evident. He name-drops those he considers to be the top riders of the day including Buffalo Keaulana, Micky Munoz, Fred Simpson among many others. The Judge also provides a list of body surfing beaches on both coasts with anecdotal commentary. 

Like most of the book, his information on riders, technique, spots and history is very brief. In 83 pages, Judge Gardner can transport present day bodysurfers back to a simpler time. The irony is, in many ways, bodysurfing itself hasn’t evolutionarily transformed. The equipment and basics remain true and much of the techniques are still relevant.  In Judge Gardner’s second to last chapter he concludes “… just you wait, you board surfers. Body surfing is about to take off. Just remember that you are on the water; we are in it.” Although his vision of a future Ocean filled with competent bodysurfers has not yet come to fruition, his elegant and heartfelt contribution to the culture of bodysurfing is one I recommend any serious bodysurfer pick up.



You know her moods. You know what she likes. You know exactly what gets her going. Swell size and direction. Wind and tide. You know what will happen as the tide shifts and the swell fills. She’s been good to you and you respect her. You don’t brag to everyone how good she gets because you prefer not to share. She is your homebreak.

The spot you can trust to have a couple fun waves under most conditions. The spot with easiest access from home. The spot you gather with your buddies at 5:30am on a chilly winter morning for an exhilarating, pre-work swim.  The spot you run to when the sun is setting, you had a bad day at work and you can’t check anywhere else. Old faithful.

You know the parking situation. You know every loose nail in the stairs. You know the squirrels and cats that frequent the area. You know the rip currents and the fun double-ups that warp off of them. You know the cobblestones and the keyhole in the reef. From the water, you know the contours of the entire coastline. You have lineups and landmarks for every possible peak. You know it will be offshore at dawn and glassoff before sunset. From your homebreak, you’ve seen stunning sunrises and sunsets and you’ve been scorched by the mid-day sun. Maybe you’ve even been barreled in the Moonlight.

Your homebreak is the spot you spend the most time and feel most comfortable in the water. You nod at familiar faces and talk swell Science with the people you see there day after day. The local, ripping surfers have watched you pull into enough heavy barrels that they give you a hoot. They know you’ll be out of the way as you spectate their rides. There is a mutual respect.

It might not be the best spot in the county. But your homebreak has epic days and you are certainly there…in the heart of it. Enjoying it to the maximum, knowing that all those days going straight on weak waves or just floating in the flat Ocean for the sake of being in the Ocean payout glorious, cylindrical dividends.

Word got out…its head high and fun right now. All of a sudden there are dozens of heads in the water. Where was everybody last week when it was knee high? You may even start to develop a local complex. But have confidence that your homebreak will take care of you. Trust your local knowledge. You know which peak offers the most value. You know her moods better than most everyone else in the water.

Cheers to your homebreak!  Wherever it is…from Lake Erie to Encinitas…from the North Shore to South Africa. All waveriders have a homebreak that means the world to them. Respect other’s homebreaks as you would hope they respect yours.


Never a Bad Time in the Ocean

Never a bad time in the Ocean…

The Maverick's Boneyard
The Maverick’s Boneyard

…unless you’re being washed into the boneyard rocks at 30ft Mavericks or stuck in an underwater cave at 15ft Pipeline or being recycled in the waist deep impact zone at 20ft Wedge or fistfighting a great white shark or taking a 10 wave set on the head at maxing Puerto Escondido or wearing a ditched board across the forehead or cartwheeling deep in the darkness of a Teahupoo bomb or getting hung up in the lip of a barrel on the face of the actual barrel at Shipstern Bluff or taking your 4th trip around the Bay at closed out Waimea or taking a 40ft set on the head at Jaws or lost in a whirlpool at 80ft Cortez Bank or knocked unconscious, underwater at your heavy local beachbreak.

Recycling Station
Recycling Station

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of bad times in the Ocean so leave a comment with anything we missed.


Closeout Comrades

Abandon all hope of glory

let it fall from your hand,

float through grit

and settle to the sand.

Swim on comrades

the Closeout is come.


Breathe in Earth’s aura,

the magnificent clear.

Where you go you’ll stay

held under your fear.

Swim on Comrades

the Closeout is come.


Kick with resolve

the most euphoric whim.

Hoots and shakas

Outlook is grim.

Swim on comrades

Closeout is come.


Bodysurfing a big Closeout