Corky Carroll: The definition of a ‘Real Surfer,’ revisited

In 1984 I did a piece in Surfer magazine titled “Real Surfers.” I worked there as advertising director from 1976 to 1986 and whenever they had a little space left over and needed something to fill it up, I would come up with some sort of little comedy bit or something hopefully approaching “witty” to plug the hole.

This was one of those and it kinda blew up. Before long the little quips were being repeated here and there and a chain of surf shops in Florida even printed T-shirts with the Real Surfers column printed on the back. It was meant to be kinda “punk.”

Some of the lines were Real Surfers never wear pink wetsuits, don’t gyro spaz on the shoulder, don’t read GQ, don’t have green hair, don’t wear ear rings unless they were chicks, meditate in the curl not on the beach, puke on trail mix, don’t wear shoes, don’t wear leather, don’t wear gold chains, gag on sprouts, don’t wear bun-huggers, don’t make beds, don’t jog or diet, don’t chicken out, don’t get caught, don’t wear designer anything, don’t sleep until noon and miss it, still surf when it’s blown out, don’t work, don’t care, just surf. You kinda get the vibe I was going for.

What brought back this little bit of past rambling was a comment I got on last week’s column. If you missed it, I wrote about a crew of older, completely stoked, surfers who revolve around “Beach Road,” in Capistrano Beach. These guys are all lifetime surfers who also happen to be super successful in real life.

Juliana McCants write, “Fantastic overview of amazing lifelong surfers who on the side participate in life in meaningful and successful ways!”

This got me thinking about what really is a “real” surfer. Honestly, it’s probably pretty much anybody who surfs a lot. But going a bit deeper it is interesting to note that there are actually people who are surfers first and foremost, and the rest of the stuff is just filler and a means to get in the water. These could actually be the “real” surfers.

Others are “other” things and surfing is something they do but is not their focus of life. Let me give you a couple of examples. My good pal and partner, Ron “the Shark Whisperer” Chrislip, loves to surf and is good at it. He is an avid SUP dude, the one who got me into it. But he is a lawyer, a really great trial lawyer. In truth that is what he is. He surfs for fun and recreation.

On the other hand, you have Walter “the Godfather” Hoffman, who is one of the dudes I talked about in last week’s column. He is the owner and head…

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