How to describe surf kayaking to your friends

Are you troubled with the need to talk about your surf Kayaking experiences?

Don’t bother!

As humans, we have the need to contextualize our experiences. To explain them. Often when it comes to our physical endeavors, words fail us. Hemingway was a master at taking a niche sport and converting it into simple symbols and actions in very few words.

Coming down the mountain in the telemark position, kneeling one leg for-ward and bent, the other trailing: his sticks hanging like some insect’s thin legs, kicking puffs of snow as they touched the surface and finally the whole kneeling, trailing figure coming around in a beautiful right curve, crouching, the legs shot forward and back, the body leaning out against the swing, the sticks accenting the curve like points of light all in a wild cloud of snow. – Ernest Hemingway

Surfing, and specifically kayak surfing has eluded me for a descriptive lexicon. You can try to explain to people what it is like. Why you think about it so much, and why catching waves on your butt should deserve so much of your waking brain power, but in the end, there really isn’t a good reason, it is something outside of human language that can really only be experienced first hand. Dropping in on a steep wave, gliding at top speed edged over hard hanging in the greenwater by the thread of your paddle, even pictures lack the thrill, the punch of actually doing it. What’s even funnier, is that actually being good at it is totally secondary. I don’t care if I wipe out 20 times and catch 2 rides. I always remember the two rides more than I remember the 20 wipeouts.

So rather than trying to force conversation about surf kayaking with your co-workers, family, or non-paddling friends – don’t bother.

Tomorrow is looking like a 6-10 foot day with 25 knot winds out of the northwest. Hope it holds true.

Ride’s 1990 song Seagull may do the best job of explaining surfing through verse:

My eyes are sore, my body weak,
My throat is dry, I cannot speak.
My words are dead,
Falling like feathers to the floor.

You gave me things I’d never seen,
You made my life a waking dream.
But we are dead,
Falling like ashes to the floor.

Definitions confine thoughts, they are a myth,
Words are clumsy, language doesn’t fit.
But we know there’s no limit to thought,
We know there’s no limits.

Now it’s your turn to see me rise,
You burned your wings, now watch
me fly,
Above your head.
Looking down I see you far below,
Looking up you see my spirit glow