SURFERS’ PERSONAL STORIES
An inspiration for this interview is Alejandro – a surfer, professional sport pedagogic, owner and surf professor at the O’Neill Surf School in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. Friends call him Blade, and students like me – Grand Master Surfero :-). He’s proud Chilean whose Araucanos ancestor’s features can be read on his visage. Not just that he’s one of the best surfers here but he’s as well talented rapper whose sounds and words send you to the biggest challenge in the water – yourself. Alejandro, with his dog Mercenario who’s the character as himself, makes much richer the experience on the island.
Apart from all epithets I can say for him, and it could be that I am subjective; he’s the best surf teacher on the island. Confirmed by locals and undoubtedly confirmed by myself. His ways are strong but gentle, encouraging but in the same time exposing the risks of this sport, limitless and with limits, understanding and understandable. He taught me to fight my fear like a warrior fights he’s enemy, but not with force, with persistence and practice. I have still a lot to learn….about myself and the ocean, but let’s read what he has to say about his passion and profession- surfing.
Alejandro or Blade:-), could you please share with me and the readers, what do you think when you’re in water? Or more precisely, what you don’t think, especially when you are riding big or dangerous waves?
Whenever I am with students the first thing I consider is the safety of every one of them. On the other hand, when I am alone in the water and the waves are big I ask myself why I’m not on the beach…(laughing). I feel free in the water! I don’t have the society’s rules over me. When the waves are big I always think that I want to catch one of them. The bigger the waves the level of adrenalin is higher. Sometimes I surf smaller waves and then I have more fun. I enjoy both sensations. The waves depend on every person individually, both on the physical and mental preparedness and how one feels in the water. If you feel comfortable you need of course always to push your limits. Push the limits but not crush them and yourself.
Surfing definitely is way of life and state of mind, since a lot happens in the water. However, the stereotyping of surfers as stoners is widespread and in the same time more than wrong. Can you please share with us what surfing represents for you?
Personally my approach to surfing is similar to one of martial arts. Of course, the movements and technique is different but what is similar is the philosophy behind. In surfing you have to practice and understand the philosophy same as in martial arts. Black and white belt signify the preparedness level, and ability to face the challenge either that be imagined or real. It is same with surfing or riding waves. It is very important to pass through special training that gives you an insight into both technique and philosophy behind. In the water you see people surfing and you say: “oh I want to surf that wave” – but if you are not prepared and don’t follow the rules you can be easily injured. Same if you go to a martial arts competition and you are not enough trained you can get crushed.
You often ride at the spot “Suicide”, the name by itself suggests a lot, but could you please explain us more, on the spot on the wave and your feeling during this extreme ride?
It is called suicide because is very close to the rocks, so if you fail you can easily be crashed into the rocks. The wave is perfect and it’s my favorite spot. I ride it just couple time a year, since it needs special conditions and preparedness. I enjoy surfing there because is usually empty, and I am on my own. Riding waves at this spot, requires a lot of physical and especially mental preparedness. First of all you need to wake up with an intention that you will surf in this spot, let’s say – today. The other thing is the confidence about your decision, and actual preparedness. However, above all you have to be and stay focused, particularly in a case you endure a wipe out. Thus, being physically and mentally trained is necessity, since one single mistake could cost you a life.
Beginners like me always pose the same question, so I ask you now, because definitely people would be interested to hear: which is the biggest wave that you rode?
Depends, there are waves that are not big but heavy and thus very dangerous and vice versa. The biggest wave I rode was 6/7m. In any case to catch and ride big wave you need to be prepared and your mind has to be clear. On the other hand, a 3m wave with a barrel could be more dangerous than 6/7m wave without barrel because barrels normally brake in shallow water. I like big waves due to the big drops, because then I feel too small on this planet.
You are the owner of O’Neill Surf School here in Corralejo, Fuerteventura and you carefully follow the progress and work individually with your students. You have personal rapport with every one of them. How do you feel on the other side of surfing, when you have to convey your longstanding experience of surfing to newcomers in this sport?
I have been giving surf lessons over 13 years now. More than 3000 students in every level beginner intermediate and experienced from different nationalities, ages and occupations have so far passed the surf courses we offer. Apart from the fact that I love teaching and transmitting my experience, for me is very special to see the first ride of every one of them. The smile on student’s faces when actually they have the first ride makes me immensely happy, since initially they thought could never make it.
Your music is also related to surfing. Which is the link or the connection of the music you create and you passion surfing?
I make rap music. My life experiences I transmit into the music I create. I don’t live in the corner or in the ghetto, I live in the water and on the beach, so I translate this into my music.
Surfers’ Personal Stories