Oftentimes I find myself daydreaming of the saltwater breeze that accompanies the rolling bass of the heavy waves in the ocean — and I imagine those perfect waves… blue, crisp, clean and glassy, and the hollowest of tubes; peeling along the coastline in an epic demonstration of nature’s power. This is a common dream for those who understand the absolutely humbling experience of surfing; it is a burning desire and need to envelope one’s self in the soothing serenity of the water.
I fancy myself a child of the ocean, even though I spent the majority of my life in Upstate New York; I am not religious by any means and I have never practiced in prayer, however, blessed is the only way I would describe the opportunities that were given to me by my father when he brought my sister and I to spend a year in Oahu, Hawai’i. It was a sabbatical year for him, a year for himself and his research granted by Cornell University, and in 2001 he chose to spend that year in Oahu, maybe pursuing work, maybe pursuing pleasure.
I didn’t realize how spoiled I had been, being handed world class surf at such a young age, but I still covet the memory of that year and I still retain the skills I acquired in the ocean then as well. I cannot possibly convey the value of that experience over a blog, however, I can say that in the years to follow, my dad, Steve Sangren, gave me even more opportunities to pursue this passion in Costa Rica, California, and once again in Hawai’i briefly. There is a certain draw to the ocean that only a surfer understands. Once one has taken to a wave and claimed it, and once one has floated down the face of churning water, it’s entirely possible to become obsessed with wanting more.
Since my year in Oahu, I have had the pleasure of scattered surfing sessions coupled with traveling experiences — Recent ventures saw my position as President of the Cornell Surf Club (my dad as advisor of course) organize extremely successful trips up and down the East Coast of the United States. My good friend, partner-in-crime, and evil scheming genius, Christian Shaw, was vital in instrumenting these plans to fruition (he had recently returned from a semester in Australia and time in Indonesia). The thirst for waves was strong, and they were satiated until our sun-seared skin peeled from our raw tender faces.
The hurt and pain that came from physical exhaustion and exertion in our pursuits was negligible as the endorphins released as we surfed purged all negative effects. Water cleanses, as some might say, but it cleanses the mental state-of-mind, it truly takes over and heals you as nothing else can compare. People pursue many avenues for this type of cleansing: yoga, meditation, exercise, various methods of whatever they hope eases tension or releases stress. But you haven’t experienced true peace until you have sat swaying just beyond the line-up, with a friend or two, floating and silent, listening in the windless water, watching as the sun slides slowly across the sky, and waiting for the next set to arrive.
Quantitative data or a peer-reviewed published paper aren’t needed to attest to the legitimacy of this phenomenon. It truly just is.
Here in India, the appreciation and value of surfing and the ocean is rising, albeit slowly. There are thousands of kilometers of untouched coastline hugged by the Arabian Sea begging to be explored. So surely adventurous and keen surfing entrepreneurs will trickle in slowly and realize the potential of beautiful India. As surfing culture progresses, hybridizations of lifestyles come forth and now there is a tight and relatable bond between the sport of surfing (can you get much closer to nature?), and the benefits of practicing yoga, meditation, and living healthy lifestyles.
The Indian pioneers of this lifestyle are found in Mangalore, where the Mantra Surf Club resides. Founded by ex-floridian surfer Jack Hebner, the retreat is a self-described Surfing Ashram, where it is home to the followers of Krishna, and an acetic but rewarding lifestyle dictates their flow of life. Yoga, meditation and chant are all a part of their daily routine, yet this merely supplements the investment that the club devotes to surfing — and thus, a venture into combining the culture of India, surfing, and positive environmental tourism has taken root.
Pursue the chance to enjoy the connection surfing gives you with nature. Promoting the positive experience of surfing is a bonus as we also reinforce and educate people to the reasons why the ocean is worth preserving. Hopefully India will see more forward-thinking surfers with this mindset and see a rise in the sport of surfing as well as a rise in conservation efforts.
Preserving the ocean is vital in preserving our playground. In India, there is quality surfing and one of the most eager communities in the world that would love to experience the joys of surfing.
For more information about the Mantra Surf Club in Mangalore visit http://surfingindia.net