Monday, 25 June 2012

Watermen, the Next Generation

I recently visited my friend Carl in Newport Beach. He and I both grew up there, in the same neighborhood where he now lives. He had newly returned after years living in the Midwest with his wife and four kids pursuing a career that at first was too good to pass up. After some time it became his goal to move back, before his kids were too old to have a chance to “grow up” at the beach. The opportunity finally came and he jumped on it.

And so we sat on Igloo ice chests in his new and still empty house. The furniture wasn’t due to arrive for another two days, along with the rest of the family. His early arrival was to take care of paperwork, but any excuse to get closer to the ocean was welcome. As soon he came into town the first stop after the bank to sign some documents was to pick up a surfboard—a custom job by another childhood friend who never left the neighborhood. As Carl and I sat in the house, it felt like we were back in the 80s. We hopped in my car and stopped at one of the same haunts for wax and then hit the beach. The south swell that day was an invitation to check out the Wedge. The place turned out to be packed. Mostly kids. Today seemed to be one day in particular that was a proving ground for future watermen. It was surprising how many were out there subjecting them to the threshing machine that was the Wedge on this particular day. Watermen of all kinds take a shot at this unpredictable break and find themselves unpleasantly surprised, but today a big group of groms were daring each other to push themselves. There were all kinds of would-be watermen there. Some with surfboards, some with bodyboards, others wearing fins. One kid even paddled out on a skimboard. I hadn’t seen that before and I almost yelled to him to come back. But then I remembered that when I was a kid, I pushed the envelope the same way. I learned from getting pounded a few times what my limits were. I was sure this kid would soon figure it out as well.

Both Carl and I stopped and watched these kids. It was hysterical. Some of them were getting blown 30 feet into the air from their body boards by the crazy backflow from the Wedge. Fins flopped in the wind as they somersaulted back into the churning wash. I sometimes felt a bit of alarm at the risk these kids were taking. Carl and I both admitted that our first thought would have been to scold our own kids for doing something like this, but we realized that we both terrified our parents the same way—well, on the rare occasion that our parents actually knew what we were up to.

We understood that becoming watermen was not about caution; it was about testing one’s limits. We knew that we’d eventually have to let go of the hands our kids the same as our parents let go of ours. We had to learn to walk on our own. We had to learn to stand on our own two feet both on land and on a surfboard.

Carl turned to me with a grin and said, “I can’t wait until the kids get here.”

Captain Splash

I once saw a guy jump off of a 40-foot-high platform into a kiddie pool of water. My first thought was “this guy is crazy.” But then it occurred to me that this guy did know what he was doing. In his own way he was, in fact, a waterman. He had to know the medium he was jumping into. Sure, it wasn’t what some might consider a waterman to be, but he did have a certain amount of style and grace as he leapt from the top of the platform and floated out evenly as he dropped. The splash into the water was every bit as calculated and skillful and experience-derived as the smoothest and most confident bottom turn or aerial move by a surfer at Pipe or anywhere else. Without water, this waterman would be nothing but a bunch of broken pieces. He had to learn how water behaved, how much it gave and how much it took. The water saved his life every time he jumped.

Okay, maybe this is a one-trick waterman. Yes, the graceful leap becomes a belly flop about a second and a half later, but it’s still a man and it’s still water. And it’s pretty damned impressive when you consider the feat. And when the Guinness Book of world records is a phrase bandied about you have to figure that few people have the stones even to attempt this. And it’s not just a matter of attempting it; it’s about learning how water works to support you. It is a matter of life and death. What may seem like a throwaway stunt is for this waterman daredevil a process that requires thoughtful consideration and experience. Nothing can be taken for granted. It’s no different from any other endeavor in the water by any waterman. The water needs respect. In this case, the respect is in the life-sustaining support the water gives to keep the waterman in one piece.

Come to Original Waterman for apparel suitable for watermen of every stripe. We’ve got you covered whether surfing, free diving, kitesurfing, paddling, or leaping into shallow plastic pools with colorful cartoon ducks on the side. Check out our full line of waterman apparel and other gear at or call us at 760.492.4

Original Watermen pays tribute to the brave souls

At Original Watermen, we strive to represent and acknowledge all people who live for singular excellence in any and all challenges they face. With our watermen-inspired boardshorts, trunks, tees, hats, hoodies, jackets and other apparel, we pay tribute to all the brave souls who stare down fear and facing it head on, without hesitation.

True watermen know it takes more than throwing yourself in the ocean once a week to feel the salt water. Watermen live and breathe a passion that is unlike anything else they’ve ever experienced. Watermen venture to uncharted waters, seeking new depths and new adventures. The fear that stems from the unknown is what keeps them going, moving further in to the ocean, taking on bigger or deeper waters to surf or dive. At Original Watermen, people often ask us, what does ‘Earn Your Salt’ mean? Well, earning your salt may have a different meaning to all watermen, but the basis remains the same – coming from deep within the self, the overwhelming passion to be in, near and one with the ocean and water. And coming from that, watermen respect and are humbled by this passion, and continue to seek the next possibility.

Some people go an entire lifetime without knowing what this passion is. Watermen can’t even always describe it, but when it’s there, you know. Original Watermen pays tribute to the brave souls who conquer their fears head – and board – on. Only true watermen know and strive for the connection between bravery and fear, but take on the challenge anyway, rising to the occasion. 

Original Watermen base their line of apparel and accessories around knowing that it will be put to the test by all the swimmers and surfers putting their equipment to the test each time they are out in the water. Watermen strive for the fear that comes with braving the unknown, and we make sure our apparel and equipment will be up to the task. For all things watermen need to engage in this passion, visit Our large selection of waterman based tees, boardshorts, swimsuits, accessories and apparel is sure to be just as resilient the watermen who wear them.