"Summer time done
Come and gone
My oh my"

-Grateful Dead
This is being written during a blazing hot Labor Day, September 6, 2004. Too hot to eat, too hot to sleep, and it's hotter inland, which has spent the weekend vomiting forth as many suffering people as can afford the time and expense to drive to the beach. Ever notice how close the words "surfing" and "suffering" are? Ah, but what difference does it make...

There has really only been one real revolution in surfing, one where design, construction, and materials came together with mental attitudes in a sudden, unexpected burst of excitement that in the end radically changed the face of the activity. The changes from wood to foam and fiberglass took too long - almost 15 years between the end of World War II and the "arrival" of foam - that's glacial evolution, not revolution. Evolution isn't bad, either; revolution has the sad cost of high casualties.

While surfboard design has continued to evolve since the shortboard revolution, the materials have in the end by and large remained the same. New things have come around, but never gained widespread acknowledgement. Spend time on the internet in areas where such topics are examined and debated and you will learn from the experience of men who have built surfboards for decades, who have run businesses or made their living crafting surfboards, who have seen the best surfers of many surf-generations come along and fade away. This kind of expertise isn't trotted out in the pages of the shorty surf magazines, making it priceless educational material.

The big stormwatch among such people now has to do with molded boards and the very recent rise of epoxy surfboards, and the basic issues have to do with jobs, labor safety, price, in short. This is deadly serious if you are a worker with 20-30 years of skill development and adult responsibilities. It isn't about fear of losing your job; you can always get another job. It's fear of your type of work simply vanishing, ceasing to exist. I can hardly think of an analogy. Typewriter repair? Local stables for when you ride your horse into a new town?

It's also a comfort issue for many of us. Foam and fiberglass - the mark of equipment used by experienced surfers for over 40 years, symbolizes custom crafted, soulful equipment.

I've come to realize this summer that the Second Revolution has come to surfing, has already come, to be honest, and in fact may be at least half over as this is written. Nobody to my knowledge has really called this, certainly not me until this point. My brain has gone through so many cycles this summer that little bits and pieces have popped up, but only recently in any order which made sense. The kicker was again coming to the conclusion that the next revolution would happen in our minds, not in manufacturing factories or solitary shaping bays.

The breakthrough came when I realized that it also didn't have anything to do with the most experienced surfers and craftspeople. The logic doesn't seem to be in that thought, at first glance, but think about it, for therein may lay the key to surfing today and where it's going for the forseeable future.

-Nels Norene

Copyright (C) 2004.  All rights reserved.