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A key to the innermost limits of pure fun

September 08 2009 | Surfing, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

When I first watched George Greenough's Innermost Limits of Pure Fun something clicked.

In a field of films about surfing waves Greenough's film was all about being INSIDE the wave. It was about the essence of Surfrider's logo... looking out from the inside of a barreling wave.

That cinematic theme has been riffed on a few times since, a current day version might be My Eyes Won't Dry. But for me Greenough's film goes further as he didn't assume getting inside the wave equated to doing so on a surfboard. It almost seemed like the wave itself caused him to build a wave-riding vehicle from scratch... and he stripped away everything he could in order to get closer and closer to the wave.

This brings me to Mark Cunningham (and Mike Stewart). I caught up with Mark a year or so ago at the Pipeline lifeguard tower and recorded this podcast. I won't add more color to their stories other than to say that, like George, these two don't assume a surfboard is a prerequisite to seeing the wave from the inside out. It's also worth pointing out to the non-surfing readers of this blog that these two are world renown wave riders... as body surfers.

The problem with all this is that... I'm not George Greenough. Nor am I Mark Cunningham or Mike Stewart.


I picked up a handplane by Danny Hess and... I've discovered a new joy.

After my first session I found myself telling people that the session was among the most fun I've had in the last 12 months.

My last five sessions have been sans surfboard... just flippers and a handplane.

A few days ago I swam out at Georges in North County San Diego and it was, as this beach break tends to do, mostly closing out. I was out with a few guys on boards. In the hour or so our sessions overlapped I saw them try hard but get denied with virtually every wave. They were frustrated. I, on the other hand, was working to hold back my stoke. Almost every corner was makable in my eyes.

So fun.

We need to remember to change things up. We need to not be so dialed into our ways that we're afraid to try a new approach. If I knew handplanes were as fun as they are I would have built or bought one years ago.

There are always new ways to approach our oceans, waves and beaches... to understand them, to appreciate them... to get inside them.
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