By Ben Adler—I’d like to humbly submit an idea. It’s controversial, but it would send an important message to the world that surfing, aggressive localism and violence should not mix. With that in mind, if I were the CEO of a big surf company, I would halt investments in the North Shore for a few years until relationships between the visiting and hosting communities become more amicable.
I make this suggestion only because I fear that a certain segment of the powers that be on the North Shore promote an unhealthy dynamic. Instead of participating in (and validating) their mafia-like paradigm, I suggest we leave notoriously localized surf spots for Da Hui and the Wolf Pack. We will grant the wish of these guys to surf alone for a few years without cameras and outsiders. Instead of Hawaii, the contests will be held in other great places like Indonesia, Fiji, Mexico, Costa Rica, The Philippines, Australia, California, Chile, Peru and Europe.
There will be many great waves. Big waves, small waves, medium waves, barrels, long point breaks and beach breaks. There will also be many great surfers (hopefully including plenty of Hawaiians), stories, victories, defeats, 10-point rides and wipeouts. But two things that will not be tolerated or accepted are intimidation and violence of the kind that seems to happen on the North Shore.
Although I realize this video is pretty old, I stumbled across it recently, and I was shocked. How ungrateful can you get? Admittedly, the video only features one perspective, but the message crystal clear: Hawaii doesn’t need the wider surfing community. So I propose that the surf community reciprocate the sentiment. We can get along fine without Hawaii.
The idea is not to insult the good people of Hawaii; it’s to push for a better, more equitable relationship for both sides in the future. To compare it with a relationship, we’d rather NOT break up, but some counseling is definitely in order.
If the separation were done properly it could create an honest opportunity for the Hawaiian surfing community to rebuild itself with a healthier image based on admiration and respect instead of fear and thuggery. And if the North Shore community does, in fact, retain strong elements of intimidation and we in the wider surf community are guilty of exploiting them and overcrowding their lineups, let’s honor their wish. Let’s leave.
Hawaiians invented surfing, and will always symbolize its essence. If we can create an opportunity to reshape surfing’s image over there (which seems to have strayed from its origins of aloha), I think they will come back better and stronger, and will be the quintessential role model for what a surfing community should be. I truly think that Hawaii can be the best surf community in the world, but before that happens, something has to change.
This essay first appeared on The Inertia.