You probably don’t want to read this blog. Sometimes denial is best. You especially don’t want your spouse to read it if you’ve managed to convince them of the pervading myth that surfing is a cheap and simple pastime. It may be true if you live on the beach in Bali, but it doesn’t really apply to the inland surfer in the UK.
So have you ever sat down and worked out how much your average surfing day trip actually costs you? I’m not talking about the locals who may have to cross a road, and maybe a short stretch of parking lot to get to the beach. I’ll use myself as an example with a 200 mile round trip to my favorite break. Calling it my ‘local’ would be a bit of a stretch.
Even if I take the family car rather than my diesel-thirsty van, I’m still looking at £30 in petrol. Parking at most of the local beaches is about £5. So that is £35 already; not too bad really, about the same as a game of golf… apparently. I try and lift share when I can, but these days my surfing mates are also in the family way, and it is rare for domestic permission slips to be issued at the same time. It gets worse though.
I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t have any sponsors. I have to pay for my own boards, wetsuits, ear plugs, hell, even wax. I’ll make a very conservative estimate that all that crap costs me about £400 a year. Including holidays I probably surf around 40 times a year, so that is another £10 per surf.
Now for the one we never think about – car depreciation. I just went online and worked out a rough average depreciation for our cheapish estate car – 8p per mile! 200 miles round trip remember, so that is £16 in total, every time I go surfing! This is actually starting to make me feel a bit ill.
Speaking of ill, I’m not going to drive home on an empty stomach after that three hour surf, so let’s say another £5 for a giant pasty and drink.
So if my math is correct, that makes £66 every time I want to get wet.
I always say that a trip down is worth it if I get three decent waves. That makes it £12 per wave, or about £1.50 per second of actual down the line time. I could probably sleep with Bill Gates’ wife for that!
Luckily it isn’t that simple. For most of us surfing isn’t the just act of sliding across a wave; it’s a lifestyle, it’s our motivation for not becoming lard-arsed pub monkeys. It is every trip we plan, the perfect-wave doodles on our pads at work, internet banter with like minded people. If you stop surfing, you stop being a surfer and who the hell would want that? We get to use silly words that no-one else understands. We get to put stickers on our cars. We get to wear flip flops and boardies to the shops on a Saturday morning and not feel a fake – even in Swindon.
All that money that we spend that seems ridiculous on analysis is actually an investment in ourselves, in our long term health, fitness and most of all our happiness. How can you attach a price tag to that?