Surfers are frequently considered to be little more than slackers. For many years they’ve been stigmatized as lazy, dope-smoking layabouts who have nothing better to do than hang out on the beach all day. I’m not a surfer myself, but many of my friends are, and while they tend to have a very relaxed attitude towards life, I’ve found that as a community they’ve been unfairly stereotyped.
Many of my surfer friends are involved in social issues and as people who spend many hours quite literally immersed in nature, they tend to have a very well-developed environmental consciousness. They love the sea and the creatures they share it with and hate what humanity is doing to our oceans.
The fact that surfers really do care was once again driven home very forcefully for me last night when I attended the 7th annual surf board charity auction in Cape Town organized by Wavescape, a local surfing website. Eleven surfboards, beautifully decorated and donated by top local artists were auctioned for a record-breaking total of R221 000 (about $27 500). All of the proceeds go towards local causes dear to surfers’ hearts: the National Sea Rescue Institute, Shark Spotters, a shark safety, conservation, education and research organization, and the Isiqalo Foundation, an HIV/Aids awareness group.
The money from the sale of one of the boards went to Isiqalo’s Waves for Change program which uses surfing to attract kids to Aids education initiatives. Here’s a short video that explains the work they do:
The board “decorated” by Cape Town performance artists and surfing activist Conn Bertish is marked by a series of ugly gashes where its fin is supposed to be. In protest against shark fining, which kills millions of sharks around the globe every year, Bertish, clad in a full wetsuit, used a panga (machete) to hack off the board’s fin in front of the Chinese consulate in Cape Town ; most of the world trade in shark fins is centerd on China.
A board by renowned South African political cartoonist Zapiro went for R35 000 (more than $4000), but the evenings biggest seller and all time record-breaker was this provocative piece by Brett Murray which fetched R41 000 (more than $5000).
So as far as I’m concerned, it’s high time that we rid ourselves of the inaccurate generalisation that depicts surfers as people who’re refusing to grow up and are only interested in having fun. The fact is that many surfers care more about our planet and its people than you might have thought.
Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath
Photo from: Stock.Xchng