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Surfing is one of the most popular sports in the world, even though it does not involve a ball, a net and individuals rather than teams. Surfing requires intense training, balance and a love of the ocean. Many surfers claim that their strong connection to the salty waters is what drew them to surfing.
“I grew up in El Porvenir, Panama, so we were right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea,” says Daisy Thomas, a casual surfer who now studies at Queen’s University. “I’m not professional by any means,” she laughs. “It’s just something that I love. Being in the water, the feeling of being devoured by the sea; it’s breathtaking.”
Like Daisy, hardcore surfer and fellow Canadian Brandon Bridges spent his childhood by the water. For him, it was Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout high school he competed in surfing competitions throughout Nova Scotia and British Columbia. During the summers, he travelled to Florida and Hawaii to experience some new waves. While in Honolulu, he was offered a full scholarship to the university and a job as an instructor at Surf Hawaii Surf School. He immediately accepted the offer and packed up his life to Honolulu.
“I’m so grateful,” he says. “I graduate next year in Exercise Science, and I continue to surf. I have no aspirations to be famous by any means; I just want to grow as a surfer and help train those who want to learn. You need to have strong drive, courage and a love for the beach. And waking up at dawn to catch those early morning waves!”
With the surfers, come those who wish to surf, like Canadian Katie Porter. She considers herself a beach bum, and has a passion for scuba diving and surfing. She lived in Nova Scotia for a few years before moving to Kingston, Ontario. She went from being in the Maritimes to being landlocked. Trips to nearby beaches and Florida led her to her seaside escape.
“The beach is popular with almost everyone,” she says. “I think that’s why surfing is so popular; it takes place under the sun. Something about almost being one with the ocean is appealing; that’s what attracts me. Surfing is like one big daydream, I would love to go to Ireland, they have some of the largest waves. Also a little closer to home, Tofino, BC; it looks like a tropical hotspot.”
Ireland and British Columbia are some of the top surfing spots in the world, as well as Florida and Queensland’s Gold Coast according to Surf Travel: The Complete Guide: The Planet’s 50 Most Thrilling Surf Destinations by Chris Power. Other locations include Hawaii’s North Shore, Fiji and Tahiti. The book includes over 250 photos of the beautiful exotic locations.
Surfing has been popular since the 1970s, and the popularity continues to grow with surfing icons like Bethany Hamilton, Kelly Slater and Alana Blanchard. Whenever the opportunity arises, grab a board and hit the waves; no one is going to judge how many times you fall down.
By Melina Livermore