Clean swell

Why do we chase swells? – part 1

The quest

Chasing swells. The quest that makes us spinning around the globe. And the reason may vary from simple ideological motivations to much more metaphysical answers such as “I like to ride this form of cosmic energy during his last journey to the beach”. Anyway, I am here to make things easy and I’ll be quick. So “why do we chase swells?” becomes a simpler: “why do I chase swells?” Well… to me it’s a matter of attraction. Since I was a child I loved to watch big waves breaking on the North West Sardinia. I could literally spend hours observing these big blue masses rolling over themselves, creating dark caves that were exploding the next second.

Capo Falcone waves

Fornelli Strait beaten by strong Mistral – photo credits: Centro Nautico Isola d’Ercole

Those shapes looked like marine monsters swirling from the abyss and I started dreaming how possibly could challenge them. I started sailing when I was 5 but was thanks to windsurfing, 7 years later, that I began to play with waves. It wasn’t really a challenge in the end. Yes, I loved to feel the wind in my hands and use it to fly on the sea. The game was to see how strong wind I could hold, how high I could jump. Plus, there was an heroic meaning in going to the sea when most of the people prefer to stay away and watch from distance. And then…I realized that my true joy consisted in knowing how to dance with the elements rather than fighting them. Therefore it comes…

The answer

The answer then spontaneously came out : we keep chasing swells because we want to be part of it. We do not want to be excluded by the most astonishing show that nature can display. It was and it is still the same. I am sure you guys have tried at least once in life the bitter feeling to have missed good waves. It’s an awful one, isn’t it? It sounds like you were not invited to the party, and only the next session will heal the wound.

That’s why when we were kids we used to skip classes, didn’t hang out late with friends the day before the swell. And later on how many times we pretend to be sick at work to go surfing? How many times we arrived at the working place with 30 min delay, wet hair and seawater dropping from the nose? How many “one more” became two hours more?

Little memory

I used to be restaurant owner on the south east coast of Taiwan. The reason why I opened in such remote place with unstable customers flow was surfing. One day morning the condition were so good that after the morning session I wanted more. So I pass by at the restaurant and I wrote outside “Restaurant today is closed due to unforeseen circumstances”. And I went surfing. When I reached the beach my phone rang. “Who the hell is now?” I thought, then picked up:

Customer: “Hello, hallo, yes Sir, I am in front of your restaurant. Are you closed today?”

Myself: “Yes sorry, I got things to do” then backwash noise as background..

Customer: “You going to surf now, right?”

Myself: “well….eehmm… (laughing) YES, I am going to paddle out in a minute, sorry about that!”

Customer: “Ah ah ah, we are fine, may I book for four tonight at 7 pm?”

Myself: “Of course man, I love you, see you at 7pm”

Best customer ever. And a great session

chasing swells

Memories of a session in Taitung, Taiwan – photo credits: Wagaligong Dulan Surf Camp and Julian Ripoll


It’s funny. If I look back I can remember any single swell I got. Crazy eh? And I am sure you can easily too. Humans are keen to remember those rare moments in life when we were able to freeze the time. Sliding on the waves is one of these amazing moments when time stops.

Are we chasing swells to stay alive? Maybe not, but they make our living worthier. I would say that they remind me how much that little kid loves to stare at the sea. A sort of way to keep track of where we come from and don’t get lost. Yes, this is it! We chase swells to keep our identity while we move forward. Personally cannot find something that better expresses my emotion.

Feel free to leave your thoughts below. Wish you a great swell, see you next week.

Title’s photo credits: Wagaligong Dulan Surf Camp and Julian Ripoll


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