The first time I caught a ride inside the "tube" of a wave, it was in Costa Rica and due in large part from a much better surfer's nudging me along and encouraging me.

He was from Australia and occasionally drifted on and off the pro-circuit and his girlfriend was an LA Country lifeguard on vacation. She even had a water camera that caught a rough shot of that ride I will never forget.

But the bliss didn't last long that day because some obnoxious and aggressive surfers showed up and began harrasing the three of us. They were better than I, but paled in comparison to my professional pal. At first, we were competitive. But eventually, we gave way at the break as there were so many more to enjoy in Costa Rica without the nuance.

Back on the boat that had brought us out, I told my new friend that I wished I were as good as "those punks" so I could "school them" (I believe those were my words, although there might have been some profanity in there too!)

"Why?" my friend said. "You were the best surfer out there today!"

Confused, I reminded him that I was the LEAST talented surfer in the water and pointed at my pale white office tan as evidence.

"No, you were the best surfer out there because you were having FUN. That's what surfing is all about. It's why we do it... and its a shame some people don't understand it," he said.

It was then and there that I truly understood my relationship with surfing and why it continues to play a such a large role in influencing my own life and the way in which I choose to live it.


BUT then I read this in the NYT today: "Pro Surfer's Death Exposes Beach Town's Violent Side."

I am deeply saddened to read this story. And while I am not naive to what happens in parking lots near breaks all the time - this one is different.

This was allegedly premeditated by a group of immature and thoughtless young men in their twenties that haven't the slightest idea how devastating the consequences of their actions could be on a sport loved by so many around the world. I can't imagine the grief that this poor surfer's family and friends must be suffering for a pointless fantasy shared by an ignorant few.

Surf Gangs? That is pathetic, abhorrent, repulsive and utterly unacceptable.

I'm literally sitting at a computer on a rainy Monday morning in NYC... and I can't get past my first inclination. Why?

(The photo above is Emery Kauanui Jr from the LA Times today - and article that simply asks that same bewildering question.)