We all acknowledge the wonders of our local Superman and how
Kelly Slater has won so many of those world titles in his career. Kelly has also
influenced another aspect of our lives and that is the very board that we ride
today. You see, in the late 80’s, surfing was in a sad and stale state. We had
guys like John Holman who were doing air 360’s and yet the world of competitive
surfing gave us guys doing endless “s-turns” milking every wave to the beach.
Thankfully some kids decided that they were going to stick it to the dinosaurs
and armed themselves with 18” wide, flipped-nosed boards that allowed them to
slide, spin, and air out like never before. Then came the surf movie that defined a generation; Momentum. Upon seeing the closing credits, frothing men stormed out of their homes and drove frantically to the nearest shaper to purchase their own nimble craft. Soon enough they too would be pulling an endless series of floater to 360’s at their local break! The end result though was a bit more tragic: Average
Joes found themselves desperately hopping on 3 foot mush burgers to get speed
and sat in the lineup in water up to their necks on boards that could not
Then came the wonderful gift that King Kelly bestowed upon
us all and that was the realization that we are not Kelly Slater. Boards began
to grow pudgier and we ignored anything that Kelly did. Most of us realize how
foolish it would be for us to decide to take our 5’10” out at Backdoor and I am
sure the lifeguards on the North Shore are thankful for this revelation as
well! So our gift is that we can ride whatever makes us happy and probably in
no time has this been more noticeable as it is now. As you scour your local
surf break, you can see kids on shortboards, guys on eggs, Stand Up
Paddleboards, longboarders, and a host of other designs. Surfing has reached
a glorious age and we have embraced it.
On 10/24/11, I was able to slip away from Volusia County and
I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Satellite Beach to attend a festival
that has been gaining in popularity. The event is the Florida Fish Fry and it
is a concept that celebrates our differences in equipment and even pushes the
boundaries of something that surfers generally do not like to do and that is to
share. To nail down exactly what the Florida Fish Fry is would be doing the
event a disservice. That is because the idea is for people to show up and to
try different boards, speak to the shapers who are attending the event, display
your prized collectables and even to sell something if you feel like it.
When I arrived, the crowd was smaller than I what I had
expected but the event had several factors going against it. The weather was
poor and so was the surf and there was also a surf contest being held at the
same time a few miles to the south. Even with these factors, the people who did
attend were extremely enthusiastic and they had a lot of reason to be; the
amount of equipment “on display” was astounding. A line of boards stretched
down the beach and the line contained just about anything you could think of. I
noted some old 70’s guns, aliea boards, an asymmetrical board, some eggs,
performance fishes, old school 70’s styled fishes, some balsa longboards, epoxy
and alternative material boards, and they even had some Indo boards for people
to goof off on. I saw one guy at the event who I believe was trying to ride
every board he could get his hands on. First he was out on a pink old school
fish and twenty minutes later he was on a knee board. Over and over this went
on as people caught some waves and then switched out the board for something
else that caught their eye.
Another great aspect of the Fish Fry was the vendors who
were on hand to speak to the attendees. I saw shapers such as Brian Tudor of
BAT Surfboards and Richard Price chatting with the various surfers. Also in
attendance was FCS (Fin Control Systems) and the Christian Surfing Association
who supplied the surfers with free wax and snacks.
If you have an opportunity, this is a great grass-roots
event to attend in the future. You can speak to the shapers and perhaps even
pick up a collector’s item such as an old retro fish.
My pictures were awful so I swiped a few from Steve Moldenhaur. Thanks Mole!
Mole also runs one of the best surf forecast sites for the Central Florida area. It is called The Wave Caster. Visit his site for a great surf forecast…he must be accurate because he is always scoring great waves in Puerto Rico!