Above: Andrea Siedsma Partch proclaiming peace or victory. Photo by Chris Ahrens
“The best surfer in the world is the one having the most fun.”
— Phil Edwards
It must seem strange to those who don’t participate that we who are involved in such a joyous activity get grumpy while surfing.
As someone who has exhibited grumpiness in the lineup from time to time, I know what I’m saying.
My lame responses to those who have called me out for my bad attitude have never varied.
I say either “The surf sucks,” or “It’s too crowded.”
Poor me, right?
However, even I at some level realize it is as the bumper sticker states: “The worst day of surfing is better than the best day of work.”
Only John John, Kelly or the few others who are paid to play find these words paradoxical.
However, does it take a surfer to know the feeling?
To my knowledge English novelist Kenneth Graham never rode a wave, and yet he summed up our activity perfectly in his children’s classic, “The Wind In the Willows” with the words “ … he learnt to swim and to row, and entered into the joy of running water.”
Tom Blake, the legendary waterman, credited with first attaching a fin to a surfboard, did surf. He poetically called surfing a “worthy diversion.”
Blake’s words to my knowledge have never been elaborated upon, so we are left to guess as to the entirety of their meaning.
If I gather his meaning correctly, he seems to be saying that surfing is a healthy waste of time keeping us from asking life’s big questions.
Then again, maybe it is as some would say that surfing actually answers the questions.
Regardless, the pithy phrase has had me plumbing its depth since I first heard it over five decades ago.
One friend who regularly enters into the joy of running water while pursuing the aforementioned worthy diversion is named Andrea Siedsma Partch.
I don’t recall precisely when I first met Andrea, but I can honestly say she enriches the surfing experience of nearly everyone near her in the water.
She is a good surfer, but more noteworthy than that is the sheer joy with which she approaches every wave and roughly everyone she shares them with.
I say nearly everyone because, while friendly and outgoing to the extreme, she will likely reprimand anyone causing a disturbance in the force by littering or displaying rude behavior, which, to her, is a form of pollution.
However, don’t worry, her words of harassment are rare as her encouragement is frequent and her voice is more often rings out with stoke, followed by laughter that can lighten up any lineup.
To me she is something of a secular saint, a holy aquatic warrior battling for truth one wave at a time.
While she can be counted among the first to stand up for any good cause, she fights her battles with a serious sense of humor.
You can often find her rallying the troops for a local trash clean up, events like the upcoming, “Hundred Wave Challenge,” or whatever good cause appears on the horizon.
Andrea Siedsma Partch lives in Encinitas with her husband Daniel and her son, Cade.
To learn more about her, please check out her website at: http://www.saltwatermedia.net/about/