"Surfing has potential depth as a life long practice."
"Waves are your playing field. They are the goal. They are the object of your deepest desire and adoration. At the same time, they were your adversary, your nemesis, even your moral enemy. The surf is your refuge, your happy hiding place, but it is also a hostile wilderness - a dynamic, indifferent world."
"Here's how ridable waves form. A storm out at sea churns the surface, creating chop - smaller then larger disorganized wavelets, which amalgamate, with enough wind, into heavy seas. What we are waiting for on distant coasts is the energy that escapes from the storm, radiating outward into calmer waters in the form of wave trains - groups of waves, increasingly organized, that travel together. Each wave is a column of orbiting energy, most of it below the surface. All the wave trains produced by a storm constitute what surfers call a swell. [...]
As waves from a swell approach a shoreline, their lower ends begin to feel the sea bottom. Wave trains become sets - groups of waves that are larger and longer-interval than their more locally generated cousins. The approaching waves refract (bend) in response to the shape of the sea bottom. The visible part of the wave grows, its orbiting energy pushed higher above the surface. The resistance offered by the sea bottom increases as the water gets shallower, slowing the progress of the lowest part of the wave. The wave above the surface steepens. Finally, it becomes unstable and prepares to topple forward - to break."
"There is a basic measure to most set-ups. On any day over five or six feet, you normally surf the outside bar, where the waves break first. To get to the outside bar, you normally have to cross the inside bar, which was where waves tended to break the most relentlessly and the hardest. The guys whom one sees wash up in the shorebreak, defeated by the paddle-out, have usually been stopped by the inside bar. Between the two bars is, usually, a trough - deeper water, where you can sometimes cop a breather, let your vision clear, your sinuses drain, your arms come back to life, and plot a course across the outside bar."
"Surfing still felt like something I did basically because I had always done it. Surfing and I had been married, so to speak, for most of my life, but it was one of those marriages in which little is said."
"Even in unchallenging waves, the face of surfers as they ride often become terrible masks of fear, frustration, anger. [...] None of this went with the slap-happy, light-hearted idea of surfing - fun in the sun - that's always seemed widespread among non-surfers, and now that I was planning to write about it I found myself wondering how much of the actual thing I could hope to convey to non-riders. There were guys who didn't grimace while riding waves, of course, whose style seemed to extend to a serene countenance, even a slight inward smile."
"For me, and not only for me, surfing harbours this paradox: a desire to be alone with the waves fused to an equal desire to be watched, to perform."
"Big waves demand a paradoxical combination of ferocity and passivity."