We all have a different idea of what makes a person a kook. You might think it’s just a surfer with limited wave-riding ability, but you would be wrong. It is a multi-faceted creature; someone with varied and numerous kooky habits. A kooky habit is something that is counterproductive to your surfing and usually humorous for fellow surfers to witness. In our own way we’re all at least a bit of a kook. But it’s usually just the judgement of others that makes us so. The kook is a timeless character of surfing, as far back as you might care to reminisce surfers have been laughing at each other’s odd behaviour. There are a few things that seem to be unique to the modern day kook. Have a read through this list and take note. When you see someone with these mannerisms you will be rewarded with that smug feeling of knowing that there is someone out there that’s a little bit more of a kook than you are.
Back when mobile phones first became popular surfers started calling each other from the beach to give a surf report. Pretty soon you surfed with the same mates every time; you’d expect a call if the surf was on, and vice versa. Then maybe one of your mates would bring a mate who’d call one of their mates who brings four of his own mates and suddenly the surf is more crowded than ever before. If you were smart enough you cottoned onto the source of this line-up crowding pretty quickly and stopped calling mates-who-brought-mates. Those who didn’t cotton on were serious kooks. These days social media has exasperated the problem. Every iPhone-toting grom is so stoked on accumulating likes and they don’t mind sacrificing a few waves for a bit of Insta-fame. The two other guys in the water probably aren’t quite so happy though. Empty line-up shot = 100 likes and 100 guys in the water with you ten minutes later. Don’t surf and Instagram, kids.
Then there are those kooks who pick the most retro single-fin off the rack because they saw Alex Knost on one, cycle to the beach on their fixed-gear rig and blow every wave because they’re on a completely unsuitable board.
2. Alternative to the point of impracticality
There are surfers who genuinely rip on old-school boards. Or put a lot of time and effort into taking the best aspects of old designs and adapting them to modern style and technology. Then there are those kooks who pick the most retro single-fin off the rack because they saw Alex Knost on one, cycle to the beach on their fixed-gear rig and blow every wave because they’re on a completely unsuitable board. Sometimes it’s fun to get an old board in the water; it’s great for your surfing, but you realise pretty quickly that you wouldn’t want to surf it all the time. We’re a long way down the track from the short-board revolution. Hell, the thruster has been around for over thirty years. Surfboard design has improved over time, not gone backwards. By all means bust out the old Lightning Bolt every now and then, but when the surf is cooking you’d be doing yourself no favours by trying to ride impractical equipment, like a kook.
3. No leg rope
The no leg rope fad is alarmingly popular and can be observed at some very crowded beach-breaks. Always wear a leg rope. If you prefer the term leash (are you a dog being led by your board?) that’s fine as long as you wear one. Here are the two cases when you can get away without wearing a leg rope while surfing. Scenario a) you are being towed into really very huge waves and a leg rope would be useless and dangerous in the case of a wipe-out and could be sucked into the impeller or otherwise impede the operation of the jet ski. Scenario b) there is no one else in the water. At all. As far as the eye can see. If someone paddles out, you must paddle in and put a leggie on. We have very good leg ropes these days, they stop you losing your board but more importantly they stop that board from hitting another person and hurting them, possibly very badly. If you have ever uttered the sentence ‘I don’t need a leg rope’ what you actually said was ‘I am a giant kook’.
If you have ever uttered the sentence ‘I don’t need a leg rope’ what you actually said was ‘I am a giant kook’.
4. The drop in
There is no more obvious way to let everyone in the line-up know that you are inexperienced/disrespectful/a huge jerk than by burning someone. There is always another wave coming. Always. It is never ok to drop in on anyone. Ever. Except a friend who specifically tells you to take off on their wave. Show a little class and have a little patience. If there’s someone in the line-up disobeying this rule and you feel they need to be taught a lesson, try speaking to them. Use your words like a grown-up. Maybe they don’t realise what they’re doing is wrong, in which case you can help them learn to be less kooky. Maybe they’re a local and feel it is their right to snake a few grommets. Maybe they’re just a real jerk, in which case you can be happy in the knowledge that they are a kook and you are not.
This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Like most things in life; if you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong. Relax. It’s just surfing; have fun, you kook.