Review: High Surf by Tim Baker
Words by Bradley Hook
Featuring an eclectic selection of individuals all of whom share a passion for surfing, High Surf takes the reader on a ride that delves into the meaning of surfing and, indeed, very often the meaning of life. Interspersed with inspirational quotes and lessons from Tim Baker’s personal experience, the book flows effortlessly, managing to capture and eloquently define many of the emotions, sensations and the overwhelming satisfaction that we, as surfers, all feel and (hopefully!) cherish. It is a masterpiece of modern surf literature and Tim’s vast experience of and reverence for the surfing lifestyle shines through every page.
Beautifully documented tales of existence from watermen like the great Duke Kahanamoku and Brian Keaulana are juxtaposed by the biographies of selfless givers like Dr Dave Jenkins and Captain Paul Watson. Then, encompassing surfing’s broad spectrum there are the surf pros (Slater, Fanning) who reveal their perspectives alongside a colourful cast of prominent achievers, all of whom site surfing as a common theme and major influence in their path to success, fulfilment – and sometimes enlightenment.
For some readers the book may have too many references to the ‘cosmic’, ‘trippy’ and zen aspects of surfing but I personally love this stuff and think that the unique oneness with nature that surfing provides does evoke feelings of this type and intensity. One of my favourite characters is scientist Vezen Wu who theorises that the negative ions produced by the action of breaking waves provokes a chemical response that provides us with the stoke of surfing. Bring on those barrels!
This book provides an opportunity to enhance your understanding of the spirit of surfing, how it influences us and the interconnectedness of everything we do. Waves are all around us in countless forms and in life we are always reaching peaks and descending into troughs. Nothing is static and the travels on which we embark, the choices we make and the lines we weave on the waves of our lives all seem so beautiful and meaningful when you see how these characters, all revered in their own right, speak so humbly and profoundly about their own literal and metaphorical wave riding.
“All will be,” as Brian Keaulana is simply quoted. I wish that in our corporate world brimming with greed, aggression and superficial desire we could stand as brothers and sisters, knowing that our realm, the watery one beyond the shorebreak is a sacred place that should be protected and revered. We have been bestowed a gift from nature in being fortuitous enough to have discovered the nirvana that is surfing, so let’s give something back by spreading good vibes not only amongst ourselves but into the world at large.
That’s what I take out of this, a great, thought-provoking read, which is respectfully given our Editors Choice award.
Publication Date: 01/10/2007
Format: Trade Paperback
Published by HarperCollins Australia
Cost: $32.99 and available in all good bookshops.