Localism

Here in the Pacific NW our surf breaks are empty most of the time mainly due to the considerable distance it takes to get there and due to the year around cold temperatures. The advantage of those elements is that over crowding is rarely a problem and there's no localism. Unlike California where as early as the 70's, localism was so bad that fights were common as was vandalism to cars parked at the wrong break at the wrong time. While this mentality still exists, it's not as common.

As a surf kayaker in the NW, I did however feel a sense of tension at several breaks mainly because I was different. Everybody likes to fit in, it's a human trait. When an outsider shows up, problems can arise. I've had board surfers flick me off while driving to a break, and even one guy ask me if i was going to run into him out there. I suggested I wouldn't, providing he didn't run into me. Often localism starts with ignorance, in simply not understanding the other's craft. Surf kayaking is easier than board surfing, so many a dork with no prior kayaking experience have run into others in the surf zone, thus creating the stereotype that we're all bad. Ironically, I've had more board surfers steal waves, create collisions than kayakers simply due to larger demographic on boards.

Stand up paddlers are getting known in some surf breaks for getting in the way, taking waves earlier, and getting more waves than traditional board surfers. Novice sup'ers shouldn't take waves in crowded areas until they have total control of their boards at all times. I don't take a wave unless I know 100% if it can thread it through a crowd without incident. Like kayakers, sups have the issue of extra gear which in wipeouts can lead to a loose paddle or if a leash breaks or isn't used, a large heavy loose board out of control in the waves.

All this to say, I was paddling my sup tonight in my local waters of Shilshole Bay in Seattle which I paddle several days a week, all year, in all conditions. Few paddle it in winter and we know most folks out there. A sea kayaker and his son paddled past me. He called out, 'what' for supper?'. Perplexed, I asked what he meant. He claimed it' was a joke he plays on stand up paddlers, 'sup, supper, get it?'. Kinda interesting, being that I'm actually more of a kayaker than a sup'er, and own 3 sea kayaks, 2 waveskis, 2 surf kayaks and started a local surf kayaking competition, the Hobuck Hoedown. Not to mention writing articles for Sea Kayaker Magazine, and rescuing 7 folks with my kayak from Shilshole Bay over the past decade. I'm sure the paddler wouldn't of said anything if he had seen me on my sea kayak the day before. I was the only one out on the bay for Superbowl Sunday.

Interestingly, I've had more sea kayakers giving me flack for being on a sup than any other watercraft. Not a likely bunch for this sort of thing. On a previous posting last fall here, I wrote of an old paddling buddy who asked if I had 'crossed to the dark side.'
It's a pity, being that we're all here for the same reason or purpose. It's just a different method of being on the water, and being responsible for our craft in all situations.

Comments