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Redwood Bark

Surfers take the sea by storm


For over a decade, senior Zack Cohen has been perfecting a reaction.

“The best part is that you’re really not thinking,” Cohen said. “It’s like everything is happening so fast, you don’t really have time to think. I’ve been surfing for 12 years, and I don’t think I can tell you one single thought that’s gone through my mind while I’ve actually been surfing. It’s just a reaction.”

Senior Holt Hanley and junior Chris Tulin are also very familiar with this feeling. Tulin has been surfing for three years, and Hanley first surfed when he was eight but only recently began doing it seriously.

“It seems like every other sport you’re in control of how fast you are going. But with surfing, the wave is in complete control,” Tulin said. “When you’re on a wave, you’re always reacting to what the wave does. That decides what your next maneuver is.”

For those who have never surfed before, Tulin said the sensation of riding a wave – particularly the ultimate goal of being barreled – is difficult to describe, and Cohen said that nothing can simulate the experience.

“Surfers spend so much time searching for that specific feeling, that specific moment. And when it happens, it happens so quick that your mind doesn’t have time to process it,” Cohen said. “You hear people say that time stands still, and you think that there’s no way that can happen, but it’s so true… Everything’s just so crisp and your body is functioning on such a high level.”

Hanley said that his first time being barreled occurred at Black’s Beach in San Diego, and it has been one of his most memorable surfing experiences to date.

“The lip just went right over me and I was inside this room of water,” Hanley said. “It’s like every instinct in your body is not to go there, but then when you do it totally pays off because it’s just insane. And the craziest part was the sound – it was just like thunder everywhere, it was the coolest thing ever.”

Cohen said that since his first surfing experience in Mexico when he was five, he has become addicted to the feeling he gets while surfing – both the adrenaline rush, and the relaxing sensation that follows.

“I just remember that first feeling – I felt like I was moving so fast, and the water was just rushing by so quick,” Cohen said. “All I knew was that I wanted to do it again. And for the last 12 years all I’ve wanted to do is just do it again.”

Tulin said that while surfing is very intense, he also enjoys the calming feeling that comes with it.

“I’ve been out when it’s just about to be nighttime and it’s sunset out on the water and the ocean goes flat and you’re sitting out on your surfboard,” Tulin said. “It’s a pretty meditative experience.”

Hanley, Tulin, and Cohen agreed that surfing has given them a new appreciation for the ocean. Hanley said that his newfound respect for nature has inspired him to study Earth Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next year, where he hopes to make the surf team.

Similarly, Tulin said that despite not wanting to be on a team, he will only be applying to colleges on the coast so he can continue surfing. Tulin also said that surfing has given him a new perspective on nature.

“Being in the ocean, you realize how big and strong a force it is,” Tulin said. “When you’re sitting out there and you see the ocean and it doesn’t end, you feel pretty small.”

Cohen said that his passion for the sport has shaped his life and will continue to shape his future.

“Surfing is such a big part of who I am, and it always will be,” he said. “Going from that simple feeling of going fast, moving across the water, has really dictated where my life has gone. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t discovered surfing.”

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About the Contributor
Diana Tarrazo, Author