Roger Cox: If you're seeking the perfect wave, then take it very easy – old school surfing is where it's at
The Endless Summer. In a bid to escape the California crowds, Brown takes two of the best surfers of the era - Mike Hynson and Robert August - on the original, round-the-world surfin' safari, stopping off in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, sometimes scoring great waves, sometimes not, but never looking for a moment as if they're in a hurry to be anywhere else.
I must have watched this film at least 20 times over the years, but I never get bored of it, partly, I think, because there's a wide-eyed innocence about the whole enterprise that you just couldn't replicate today. Hynson and August wear immaculate business suits whenever they get on a plane; when they hit the beach in Australia they seem genuinely amazed (not to say excited) by the skimpy bikinis worn by some of the local surfer girls; and in Ghana, Brown's commentary contains some observations about the inhabitants of a village in "a very primitive area" that are gloriously, hilariously un-PC, yet delivered in such a nave style you don't think for a second that there could be anything mean-spirited about them.
The highlight of the film comes in South Africa, when Mike, Robert and a guy called Terrence of Africa (not his real name) discover perfect, empty, never-surfed-before waves peeling along the tip of Cape St Francis, a few miles to the west of Port Elizabeth.
"You can't tell how good a wave is until you actually ride it," Brown intones on the voiceover. "On Mike's first ride - the first five seconds - he knew that he'd finally found that perfect wave."
So what does Hynson do on this perfect wave? Well, not a lot really. Not by today's standards, anyway. To begin with, he takes a couple of nimble steps towards the nose of his classic longboard, then squats down with his arms outstretched, driving through a fast, hollow section. After that, though, he pretty much just stands there, coasting along, enjoying the ride. Sure, he arches his back a couple of times and at one point he appears to clear some water from his nose, but that's about it. One of the best surfers of his generation surfing his dream wave, and he more or less stands still from start to finish. Unbelievable. Put one of today's top pros on the same wave, equip them with a state-of-the-art shortboard and you'd see a string of aggressive, explosive turns followed - probably - by a big air or two on the inside. There's no doubt that contemporary surfing looks more dramatic; I'm not convinced, though, that today's pros are enjoying themselves as much as the original Endless Summer crew.
With this in mind, I've made a deal with myself: as of now, I'm going to spend less time flapping around pathetically on the pointy little surfboards of today (boards which, after ten years as a professional desk jockey, I'm no longer in a fit state to ride anyway) and more time standing still on the big fat longboards of yesteryear. I see the guys at Coast to Coast surf school are holding a longboarding contest at Belhaven Bay near Dunbar on 20 August - "a celebration of the longer wave craft in perfect small peelers". I'll be there to watch and learn. In the meantime, there's that impending summer swell I was talking about earlier. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to borrow an 11ft tanker from a man who looks like a walrus.
Before I go, though, I should mention that after my recent paean to the
recorded safety announcement on CalMac ferries, in particular the announcer's delectable pronunciation of the word "whistle", I was contacted by Mr Danny Lapsley, who was the policeman on Tiree from 1993 to 2008. According to Mr Lapsley, the announcer in question is none other than Roddy MacKay, pier master at the Tiree ferry terminal. On behalf of CalMac passengers past and present, I'd like to thank Mr MacKay for bringing a little bit of magic to what could otherwise have been a rather unremarkable recorded message, and I'd like to respectfully ask CalMac to offer assurances that they'll keep using the same recording as long as they still have ships in the water. Radio talent scouts looking to track down Mr Mackay's dulcet tones, meanwhile, should hop on the next boat to Tiree and make enquiries at the pier.