Surfing is technically a solitary sport. You have your own board, you catch your own waves. But, really, there’s nothing lonesome about it. Each surfer out in the water is part of something bigger, something indescribably unifying. You form camaraderie, a kind of relation to those beside you in the vast openness of the sea. There’s a mutual respect and an ambience of admiration for one another. You may be on your own board, on your own wave, but the air of euphoria and bliss that hangs above the resting surfers beyond the waves creates the most indefinable companionship.
In the seventies, surfers from all over fled to the mecca of the North Shore in search of the perfect wave. These young guys all had an intense fervor and love for surfing that they ultimately dedicated their lives to. Bobby Owens was one of the most personable, genial surfers on the North Shore and with his unlikely pale skin and red hair, was one of the most respected surfers at Sunset Beach. His parents bought a home overlooking Sunset and opened it up to countless surfers on Thanksgiving, providing them with boundless amounts of food that they could hardly afford. These were some of the most special occasions, surfers amidst family and friends with a tangible atmosphere of love that many still talk about today. In the Lost and Found documentary, Bernie Baker remembers the Christmases he spent at the Owens’ home, Bobby’s modest parents providing gifts for each guest. Surfing sows the seeds of an eternal camaraderie, creating beautiful, unforgettable moments even out of the water.
It’s somewhat difficult to explain to a non-surfer what that simple exhilaration of catching a wave is like. But, I’ll try. It’s like the world stops spinning for a moment, and the only movement on Earth is you, upon your surfboard. It’s like some natural force is impelling you forward, onward to something better. It liberates you from reality, allowing you to live in a reverie; a brief reverie, just for a moment. You find yourself in this surreal state of thrill and adrenaline. And, it’s this feeling that leaves surfers paddling back out for more. They don’t describe the experience of riding a wave to one another because when they look into each other’s eyes, there’s a mutual understanding. And it’s that look that shapes an undying companionship.