Surf or Die! ...Or Move! : Daydreaming They say you can't truly call yourself a Californian unless you try surfing -- at least once. Alex Cohen investigates.
NPR logo Surf or Die! ...Or Move!

Surf or Die! ...Or Move!


Becker Surfboards CEO Dave Hollander tests out one of his boards.
Photo courtesy Becker Surfboards

I've always thought that you can't truly call yourself a Californian unless you try surfin--at least once.

That said, I put it off for most of my life. I didn't know what I feared more: getting sucked into the undertow or what I would look like in a wetsuit.

Then, in the summer of 2005, my husband and I decided to move to Texas and I decided I couldn't leave the golden state without giving it a go. So, one Saturday morning, I woke up very early and headed to Malibu with my friends Kara and Danny.

I was lucky enough to borrow a friend's wetsuit and another friend's board. I headed out the ocean... and made a complete idiot of myself. Despite Kara and Danny's excellent tutelage, I think I might have been able to stand up on the board for a whopping two seconds. I spent most of the day letting myself get pounded by the waves over and over and over again.

But I had the time of my life. It may sound cliche, but there's nothing quite like playing in the Pacific on a sunny day. It also just feels really cool to run down the beach in a wetsuit carrying a board under your arm. Gidget, eat your heart out!

Soon after that day, I moved to Texas where the waves are somewhat less than "tubular." And that was the end of my surfing career.

I returned to Los Angeles last summer and am sad to admit, I hadn't been back to the beach since.... Until I went to meet Dave Hollander of Becker Boards in Hermosa Beach last week as part of today's California Dreamin' segment on how the economic downturn is affecting the business of surfing.

Dave Hollander away from the water Photo courtesy Becker Surfboards hide caption

toggle caption
Photo courtesy Becker Surfboards

When Dave showed me the warehouse where they built their boards, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. They were BEAUTIFUL. Tall, twelve-foot long, cherry-red boards. Short boards coated in a finish that looked like an iguana's green velvety skin. I felt like I couldn't get into a wetsuit soon enough!

I confessed to Dave that I have only surfed once, but that seeing his boards definitely renewed my interest. I also confessed that I am a really sucky surfer. But he gave me this great advice, "That's the best part about surfing... The more you do it, the easier it gets."

He added, "Until you hit 50.... Then it gets a bit trickier." Thankfully, I have a few years left...