Step into the rabbit’s hole please…
Flyboarding, coasteering, creeking, ice swimming. Definitely not your typical outdoor activities for adults. Yet, the lure for risk, danger and the reward for that one moment of pure adrenalin, have made these very unusual sports ever more popular.
These activities demand a very different approach for their practice.
The expression “thinking out of the box” has very fertile ground here, where alternative activities such as these can not only grab hold, but flourish.
Enter wave surf skiing, for instance.
Put two water skis together, two poles, one super conditioned waterman, and some of the world’s biggest waves, and you have a new, spectacular sport as a result. Check this out:
The dare devil/waterman in the above video is Chuck “The Ripper” Patterson. He excels in big wave surfing, SUP paddle boarding, kite surfing, and snow skiing (off cliffs 100+ feet high).
And now, wave surf skiing.
The Journey Begins…
It all began with an idea shared with long time friend (now passed) Shane McConkey. Together, they came up with a “why not” moment: using water skis to surf waves.
Patterson’s versatility as a water and alpine athlete made this experiment even more feasible.
First tries were done with jump water skis. The experiment took place in a Central California break, off 12 mt. slabs. Patterson did very well, going on for 20 more successful take-offs.
Convinced that he could take the experiment to the next level, Patterson traveled to Maui, to face one of the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves: Pe’ahi (a.k.a. Jaws).
With support from respected watermen like Robby Naish and Dave Kalama, Patterson was able to complete 3 rides in massive Pe’ahi, in front of an unbelieving crowd. Later, he would reflect about his very first ride in Pe’ahi:
“The first drop was nuts – I barely made it, and dropped the lip just like a cornice, going faster than I’ve ever gone. I got three rides and called it a day. The next day we went back to smaller but cleaner waves and just had a blast – big S-turns, fading back into the wave…”
And when asked how do the wave skis work, Patterson explains:
“Much like snow skis when you’re skiing powder. The big difference is you’re steering from the middle of the boot to the back of the ski, not using the whole ski like you do in skiing. The front of the ski is out of the water”.
This sport, as mentioned before, requires definite out of the box thinking. Specially where Patterson wants to take it next. Balharra, France, and Teahupoo, Tahiti. “This”, he says, “would be the pinnacle”.
Thinking out of the box…
Who is out there, now, leaving a mark in the rabbit’s hole? Think about that for a minute. Elon Musk? Richard Branson? Michio Kaku?
This group of very special people are the vanguard of innovation and invention. They are also immensely successful, both financially and in their personal lives.
They all have one thing in common and that is their willingness to think
outside the box, regardless of what other naysayers may think. The following quote from Eleanor Roosevelt sums it up very nicely:
Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
And in the water realm, where we feel most comfortable, who or what has left (or is currently leaving) a wake of innovation and vanguard? Here are just a few examples of some of our heroes, leaving their mark on this very exclusive club:
The Endless Summer
Surf travel and the search for perfect uncrowded waves in exotic surroundings, some very, very far away, like Cape St. Francis, paved the way for traveling surfers around the world. But more importantly the impact this visionary movie had on Africa would be felt for decades to come.
From balsa to foam.
Old timers may hold a nostalgic view about their heavy, wooden boards, times gone by, including uncrowded beaches. But the fact is that if polyurethane foam hadn’t come about, modern surfing (and all its derivatives) would never have existed.
O’Neill, Bev Morgan, Bob and Bill Mistrell…
Creators of closed-cel neoprene rubber wet suits and vests. Later on this would evolve into the O’Neill front zip seal suit.
The surf leash.
Many take credit for the creation of this accessory, but in fact, functional versions were originally designed in Santa Cruz, by Steve Russ and Pat O’Neill, in the early 70s .
Today, surf leashes are a mainstay part of any surfing quiver, beginner, or otherwise.
The introduction of fin technology revolutionized the surfing industry. No other accessory has impacted or innovated surfing as much as this tiny, unassuming accessory. Fins influence mobility, stability and the overall “feel” of the board and also allow for much better control on the wave’s surface. Getting into more technicalities regarding how fins work would take another article altogether.
Fins have been, and continue to be, that all-important accessory for any surfboard.
So…who stepped out of the box (which at the time was the bowl at Ala Moana, in the island of Oahu Hawaii), and set the stage for modern tube riding as we know it?
Gerry Lopez? Rory Russell? Buttons K? Shaun Thompson?
Even though these legendary surfers were the elite of the Banzai Pipeline during the 70s, the real pioneers were early barrel riders Conrad Canha and Sammy Lee.
For surfers around the world, tube riding became the holy grail of surfing, going to the ends of the earth in search for that elusive moment found between the lip and the face of the wave.
Once again, The Endless Summer only made this search even more mythical.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
At first glance, SUP boarding would appear dull, boring and too passive for the active waterman.
But its versatility for casual users, yoga enthusiasts and open water paddle boarders around the world have made it incredibly popular.
SUP boarding also has recently acquired a mean, extreme streak, having being tested at Pe’ahi and Teahupoo, resulting in wide acceptance as full fledged action water sport.
Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, but heading the list since 1986, Fiji’s Tavarua Island. If you have the cash and the time, Tavarua has the perfection and resort services you are looking for.
Personal water craft.
Essential for water rescue and tow in on some of the world’s heaviest waves, the wave runner has also allowed surfers and watermen alike to break away from the limitations of traditional surfing, allowing them to really step out and look beyond the box (a.k.a. Teahupoo, Shipsterns Bluff and Nazare).
Riding an unbroken wave for nearly an indefinite time, across vast distances. Now that is going deep into the rabbit’s hole. In fact, you are now looking outside of the hole itself, if that can be even interpreted.
And the person spear-heading this concept is none other than Laird Hamilton, waterman and innovator.
In words we can understand, the concept of hydrofoil surfing is similar to whales gliding on an ocean swell. Hamilton has reached speeds of up to 80 km/h.
Like minds think alike…
People who think out of the box are certainly a breed apart. Their minds are wired a bit differently than the rest of us.
Some can be wacky, even eccentric. Many, like Albert Einstein (king of the rabbit hole!), are natural loners.
That is not to say that there your exceptions. Richard Branson comes to mind.
Shedding light inside the rabbit’s hole…
The good news is that you can retrain your mind and make this skill your very own.
Follow these few simple tips:
- Once you have the solution of a problem insight, don’t stop there. Search for alternative solutions that allow for a different approach to solving the problem.
- Don’t be afraid of criticism. In fact, do the opposite: embrace opposition and critique.
- This one is a bit of a challenge for most of us. Try to change your daily routine.
- Creativity is a very important part of outside of the box thinking. Try to give your creativity the opportunity to grow and expand by doing things you aren’t very good at.
- Mind your thoughts. Be flexible. Avoid saying things like “This is the way it is” or It’s always been done that way”.
- Go back to an old project and try renewing it using a completely different methodology.
- Enrich your mind by watching and reading articles and programs that you usually wouldn’t read or watch.
- Dare to be experimental with music, food, art, etc. Explore and reward your senses.
- Failure will happen. It is a part of growth. When this happens, write down all that you have learned from this failure as soon as you can. Reflect and make the pertinent adjustments in your journey.
Let’s think about the above tips for a minute. I would venture that some parts of our life style go hand in hand with at least one or more of these tips.
“Naturals” at thinking outside the box?
I think watermen and surfers around the world who love the ocean, and are actively a part of it, are constantly thinking outside the box.
It’s the environment where we display our creativity and skill.
The ocean requires that we shift, move, change and adapt to its rhythm.
And that is also thiking outside of the box.
It is good.
It is growth.
And it is free for the taking.
Hope you liked this article. Please leave your comments ans/or critiques below. I will be very glad to read them and get back to you. Thanks again for reading!