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Editor's Letter: July 16-29, 2014

“Jumping the shark.” I love that expression. 

Me on my way to Road G in Southampton to surf (Photo by Carlos Ruiz)

I also loved the (admittedly ridiculous) episode of Happy Days it came from, in which a leather jacket-clad Fonzie (Henry Winkler) waterskied over a roped-off ocean shark pen and somehow evaded tragedy. Of course, the show itself eventually died, but the expression stuck around, and still today is used to describe something that’s simply no longer cool.

Take “fitness,” for example. Going on fad diets and needing fancy gym equipment have now jumped the shark. Old-school is new again. The hottest concept is “wellness.” We’ve returned to the basics, like eating clean, organic and local. Another sign of this trend is the explosion of workout systems like CrossFit and Tracy Anderson, where good old-fashioned no-frills resistance work is key.

But the highest form of retro cool these days is seen in the explosion of interest in raw, real open-water sports. It actually began way back before Happy Days, in the 1960s, when a miniature surfing movement—both cultural and equipment-based—really began to find its footing.

And not until now has the sport experienced such an exciting revival. Now, longboarders, shortboarders and paddleboarders are all seen simultaneously riding Ditch Plains’ tricky 3-foot swells. Hanging 10 on a longboard is as popular as tucking into “the tube” (aka being inside “the green room,” when the top of a wave pitches over a surfer so that he or she is enclosed behind a curtain of falling water). The ’60s movement refashioned the world of surfing, turning a counterculture into a high-octane industry. Today, with its world-tour competitions, big-money sponsorships and frenzied media attention—not to mention its unique rituals and language—board sports are bigger than ever.

In this issue, we celebrate the category’s phenoms—including up-and-coming champ and hometown girl Quincy Davis, our cover model; and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, whom I interviewed three years ago just before the pro tour hit Long Beach—as well as the brilliant photographers who capture their adventures, like Justin Jay, Justin Burkle and pro surfer Mikey DeTemple.

By the way, I’m a big surfing fan myself, so that’s partly the impetus behind this issue. The blows to my head, the fin-induced flesh wounds—they’re all worth it to get that “feeling of flying,” as my 8-year-old son Mario once described it.

Yes, in my family we’re all addicted.

As Ernest Hemingway put it, “You’ll ache. And you’re going to love it. It will crush you. And you’re still going to love all of it.”

Surf on.

—Cristina Cuomo

P.S.: Follow me on Instagram and Twitter, @cristinacuomo