Soul Surfing Versus Competitive Surfing

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Soul Surfing Versus Competitive Surfing

What's your surf style? No, we're not talking about what type of board you like to use. Or even the size of wave you like to ride. We're talking about what gets you out there, in the big blue; why you do what you do. Why you're here reading this.

The Nature of Soul Surfing

Do you feel an itchiness when you're on dry land? Does your heart yearn for the ocean; for the early morning light dancing on the water; for the sound of gulls and sea birds? Are you happiest when you feel a board beneath your feet; when there's nothing around you but sky; when you feel like a tiny speck in this big old world?

You, my friend, sound like a soul surfer. Someone who surfs for the sheer joy of it—for no other reason except that it just feels like it's where you’re meant to be.

The Call of Competition

Or do you get your kicks from something else? Do you push harder, stronger, faster to be the swiftest, the most agile, the most creative, the most daring? Is it all or nothing for you? All the guts for all the glory? Taking risks and trying the unknown because it may be the difference between first and second place; the difference between a pat on the back and a six-figure sponsorship deal?

Well, if that sounds pretty competitive, then you are right! And that's you. You're out there because you're good, you know you're good, and you want to show everyone just how good you are.

You May Not Just Be One Type

Can you be both, depending on the time of the year, or your mindset that day? Because surfing has some consistent factors, and regardless of why you love to ride, there are some things true for all.

One of the best and worst things about surfing is its unpredictability; we love it because we never know what's going to happen next; we hate it because we never know what's going to happen next. We're at the mercy of the elements, and that's true for competitive and soul surfing. If you've ever looked forward to a gnarly weekend riding only to experience the crushing disappointment of zero waves, you'll be all too familiar with this.

But, if you're the spontaneous sort, follow the example of some of our favorite surfing events and play it! Events like the Mavericks sit tight and wait for the heavens to align (and by that, we mean waves and weather being spot on), then competitors get just 48 hours to get to California to compete—and they do. And they travel from all over the world to be there. Because it's the Mavericks and the waves are going to be off the chart.

Even if you don't chase to compete, you can still follow the waves for the heck of it to get your fix all year round. True, you have to have pretty deep pockets and a very understanding family, but work that ocean volatility like a pro, and you'll catch some of the best waves of your life.

Surfing Is a Worldwide Phenomenon

Pick any country—it's highly likely there's a beach nearby where you can catch a wave. From Ireland to Peru, Australia to France, and a million beaches in between—if there's an ocean and some killer waves, you can guarantee there'll be some crazy person out there with a surfboard riding them.

Temperature doesn't matter (that's what wetsuits are for, right?), all that counts are the conditions. Not only can you travel the globe seeing some of the most stunning places in the world, but you can also surf all year round, too—not something our winter sports buddies get to claim (at least, not easily).

That also means that surfing can cost as much or as little as you like. Obviously, if you surf competitively, you need a different level of equipment, and if you're lucky enough to have won a lucrative sponsorship deal and to be picking up some of the bigger prize pots, you can afford to have top-grade everything—including swanky hotels in luxury resorts.

But traveling to surf doesn't have to break the bank. A tent on a beach costs nothing. Diving into the ocean is free. You can feel like a rock star, on a club-soda budget when you're there, because once you have your basic equipment (that is, board and wetsuit), that ocean is yours for the taking!

We're All Here for the Same Reason—We Love to Surf

Ultimately, you're not going to be straight-down-the-line one type or the other; you may be one of the best-known surfers in the world and spend most of your year competing globally, yet love nothing more than getting out in your local bay with your best pals and larking around.

Or you may have Pipe-Masters skills, yet have never set foot (or board) in a competition in your life. At the end of the day, we're all here for the buzz, the freedom, and the world of surf; so, respect the love and let's all be thankful that we get to live our best life out there—how ever we choose to do it!

What gets your juices flowing when it's just you and the waves? Are you a full-on soul surfer, a 100% competitive surfer, or a happy hybrid—we want to know!


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.