Editor’s Note, SURFER 58.7: The Underdogs Issue

I felt like the odd man out sitting on the boil at Rockpile, flanked on either side by a half dozen pros known for rushing the heaviest Hawaiian surf. Seeing as how I’m known for writing things like this magazine intro from the safety of my San Diego office, and not for throwing myself over mutant ledges in front of a literal pile of rocks, I thought maybe I’d crashed the wrong party.

There was one surfer, however, who seemed even more out of place among the logo-clad surfing elite. An anonymous, middle-aged man had paddled through the gauntlet of pros earlier in the session, wearing a helmet and a bulky life vest, on an oversized board that had “garage-sale find” written all over it. He had moved well past the pack on the boil, lining up some 20 yards outside where not a single wave had broken all morning.

He sat there for about an hour, occasionally looking back to check his lineup, otherwise simply staring out to sea. Then, suddenly, an enormous, shifty peak formed out the back and began lurching straight toward him. As the surfers sitting inside scrambled to get out of the way, this unknown, helmet-and-jacketclad, seemingly kooky surfer pointed his nose toward shore, took a few hard strokes and confidently backdoored the biggest, longest barrel that anyone — sponsored or otherwise — had ridden at Rockpile that day.

[Click here to order the Volume 58, Number 7 Issue of SURFER, on newsstands and available for download now.]

That just might be the very best part about surfing. It doesn’t matter what brand of boardshorts you’re wearing, what dusty garage you dug your board out of or whether or not there’s a sticker on its nose. If you’re in the right spot and know what you’re doing, you’ll always have a shot at getting the wave of the day, whether you’re a multiple world-title holder with millions of social media followers or a nine-to-fiver with a flip phone. The ocean doesn’t play favorites.

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