Surfer Terminology

A short time back, you ran a story about a young man who ran afoul of the law, felt he had been treated unfairly, sent a handwritten letter explaining his point of view to the authorities and was subsequently cleared on the basis of the content of that letter. Although neither the story nor the young man’s alleged infraction had anything whatsoever to do with surfing, the story ran under the headline “Surfer Hangs Ten on the Legal System.”

As a longtime surfer and former editor of Surfer magazine, I am disturbed when people/the media place surfers in a separate category of the population and define their actions by that placement. If the subject of the story had been a golfer, would the headline have read “Golfer Shoots a Birdie on Legal System”? Now, if a story concerns a surfer’s actions within a surfing context, e.g. “Surfer Rescues Drowning Swimmer in Big O.B. Surf,” I’d have no argument.

When you do have occasion to write about surfers, and you want to toss in some appropriate terminology, you should know that hanging ten went out with long boards in the late ‘60s. It’s physically impossible to hang ten on the short boards that have taken over the sport since then. The only time you might see the maneuver performed today is by the occasional nostalgic longboarder.