Surf kayakers deserve space in the line-up


I’m not one of those who believe surfers own their breaks. Swells begin miles out to sea under the auspices of winds that know no owner. It’s no different when they make it to shore, roll across a sandbar or reef and erupt into a whitewater culmination of pure nature around which so many lovers of the outdoors have built a lifestyle. Your method of harnessing that lifestyle is yours to choose, whether it be by surfboard, paddelboard, skim or kayak.

There has been way too much built up around the increasing presence of alternate watercraft in the lineup. Surf kayakers are paddling out for the same reason surfers do: the stoke. A poster on a message board built around my local break posted what I thought was a well-stated verse on the spirit of maintaining a tolerant line-up: If something about surfing makes you angry, you’re doing it wrong.

So the video posted here, created by Vincent Shay of vincentshaymedia.com, is meant to communicate that surf kayakers aren’t there to piss off the surfers. They’re there to surf.

Big box or local outfitter?

REI

LEED, anyone?

REI, EMS and Patagonia retail centers sure do have a lot offer. REI’s co-op membership even offers a sweet refund every year of a small percentage of your annual buy. Pretty solid.

But do the larger outdoor retailers leave service behind? How about knowledge of local destinations, trail access or climbing routes?

I think your level of service can vary, really. I’ve visited some small local shops only to feel like some sort of interloper. Now, I should note that sort of reception is more common in the surfing culture, especially when it comes to local breaks (there will forever be debate in the surfing world about the role of localism) but there can be an equally negative vibe in gear shops near highly coveted climbing locales.

For the most part, I’ve almost always had good service in an REI, for example, but have occasionally been challenged by a customer service rep or two about returning an item. Hey, it’s in your policy.

Anyway, what’s your take?