Do you get a bit sulky when you Surf?

cause and symptoms of surf sulk

Surf Sulk is an affliction which is usually a secret, sorry sufferers, I’m outing us. It generally affects the person in a group of friends or duo who is the least skillful surfer but, who tries really, really hard. The sufferer will usually have spent months watching their friends progress while they remain where they are.  Although called Surf Sulk , the affliction is more complexed than simple jealousy and sulking and is more about a build up of frustration with oneself coupled with the emotional exhaustion of always being the crap one who is struggling.

Surf Sulk can manifest in many ways for the sufferer, the mildest being a bit of sulking, a few faces and crying in the shower to the other end of the scale,  with a full on Hulk, smashing boards into pieces and stomping up the beach ( yes, this is a true story, though not mine and the board smasher will not be named here). Surf Sulk often causes a conflict in the sufferer who wants to be pleased for their friend but, also wants to punch them. Of course, the sufferer would never say this so smiles through gritted teeth whilst inwardly sulking.

 the curse of an expressive face

Surfing is an activity of such polarity. More often than not it can induce the most amazing  sense of well-being, calm and all round warm fuzzy glow but,  on the other hand it can turn you into a demonic two year old. I can only assume my nickname of ‘The Hulk’ at one surf camp wasn’t just because I had a green board that week. The hardest part about being a Surf Hulk is the struggle to contain it, to be a good person.  I wear my heart on my sleeve,  I always have.  Hiding the Hulk is difficult for me,  I  have a very expressive face that defies my instructions to behave and often gives away the evil thoughts in my mind.  Finally,  to top it all off  I have a  best surf mate who is doing really well. All the ingredients for a horror show right there.

Surf bloke BFF and I started out together as beginners,  it was all great fun for a while and then it seemed like suddenly I  didn’t  see Surf Bloke all session.  I started to get left on my lonesome in kiddies corner, struggling, trying to encourage myself , trying to enjoy just being in the water and not worry too much about not being very good.  But, I like surfing with people, with friends and having a laugh. I found myself not interacting with any other humans in the water as they were all what felt like two miles out to sea along with Surf Bloke,  having an amazing time surfing with dolphins through sea spray rainbows and riding sea horses.
Surf Bloke, while taking a break from surfing rainbows with dolphins, would  cruise by once in a while headed back to the beach,  effortlessly all like ‘ yeah bro I got so bored with these tiny, shit waves that I decided to teach myself to ride regular ‘ He’d then surf past me about 300 times both regular and goofy . I’d smile and wave  and go wow that’s brilliant but,  my face said ‘ they are not tiny, they are not shit,  fuck off with your stupid switchfoot, give Hulk hammer. AND SHUT UP’  and because I’m a childish idiot, I’d have an overwhelming urge to sabotage his board, turn it up towards the sun when he’s not looking or put a hole in his wetsuit so he gets cold and he really does feel the cold more than your average human .

managing your hulk


Being the Hulk and being in a Surf Sulk is not fun.  Not for me or for the person I surf with. I realised recently that ,   I could have soured an ocean full of milk with my miserable faces at times and I’ve probably ruined a few sessions on our surf trips by being so Hulk-like. I’ve also made surf bloke feel like I hate him at times which is the worst. The thing is, Surf Sulk is not about the other person or what they are doing, it’s really about me. I’m sulking with myself for not being as good as I want to be, I’m sulking because I’m frustrated with myself and in the past the limits my unfit body put upon me. I sulk because I’m missing out on all the fun with the big boys.   So, in order not to kill my friendship with Surf Bloke I had to put an end to the surf sulks once and for all and retire the Hulk.

On our last trip to Wales I was honest and said,  I know you are doing really well and I’m stoked for you  but I’m not , I feel left behind and frustrated, I feel like a right miserable, old,  cow but, it makes me annoyed . Surf Bloke  said he knew I was annoyed at myself (my face told him)  but, didn’t know how to handle it so he’d piss off out back for the whole day an avoid the sulk . He didn’t realise this made it worse and I hadn’t realised my sulk was powerful enough to repell a human that far out to sea. There and then around a campfire over a  rum and ginger beer or two,  like a pair of drunk pirates but, without eye patches, parrots, a pirate ship, or treasure we talked for a few hours and gained an understanding that we hadn’t had before.  We planned to spend more time having a laugh together in the water, try not to get so pissed off if things are not working (me),  paddle out together for the first few waves (him) and hang out a bit more during the session. Easy fixes. The next few days we had some great surfs together despite not having the best waves and there were more smiles in well, maybe ever. We seemed to enjoy each other’s company more too, this all bodes well for our upcoming trip to Morocco next week.

my promise to surf bloke bff

11024755_10155221853540551_8415057799964438574_nSurf bloke, I solemly promise to be a nicer person when we surf, I’m going to cheer and woop for you like it’s the WSL final and I’ll mean it , you’ll be so sick of it. I’m going to carry you up the beach on my shoulders every time you leave the water.  Just come and play in kids corner with me now and then and lets push each other off our boards and take stupid underwater photos.
There is only one person on my passport and that’s me, the Hulk is not getting on that plane with us.  I might still have a few little,  evil thoughts from time to time to make myself chuckle but, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.

5 thoughts on “Do you get a bit sulky when you Surf?

  1. Lea Marsden-Dalii says:

    I love this post Clare! Sums up one of my days in Morocco when I was shouting at myself “why are you not like Christina?!” (first time surfer, stood up every time, on green waves on day 2, beautiful and so lovely to boot) I’m not a natural surfer, I have to try really hard and I’m a pretty slow learner on the board. But as Barack said to me “this is amazing, just enjoy being in the sea!” – easier said than done sometimes.
    Can’t wait to read more of your blog. Love your writing style! I can hear your voice saying it in my head – awesome x


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