Revolutionary wave

Surfing the storm swells of history

Featured in

  • Published 20230801
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-86-3
  • Extent: 196pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

I CAN’T REMEMBER exactly how it started. With a random sighting, perhaps, of a lone surfer carving up a sunlit wave: like entering a cathedral for the first time and seeing all that stained glass. But from that point forward the sight, smell and sound of a storm swell steaming into shore exerted a devastating pull on me. I was a thirteen-year-old provincial boy from Swansea in South Wales, and already a student in the science of Atlantic swells, the way they travel to shore in neat parallel lines, in sets of three – a prime number. Swells have order but it comes from disorder; their source is always chaos. They arrive on shore in graceful step, wearing bridal veils of pale spindrift. What the eye can’t see is their fantastic propensity for violence. 

Surfing is a whole other thing, a primordial art, some might say. The urge to stand up on a wave – pure atavism. I bought my first, second-hand board with my paper-round money for £5. My father refused to help out since he thought surfing was effeminate. He used to say that Wales was a sporting nation, but surfing was not on his list of legitimate sports. Rugby, definitely. Cricket. Boxing. He never once came to watch me surf.

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