The 2020 Surfing Boom

This spring has been one of shifts. From fear to relieve. From being locked down, to feeling free. This pandemic isn’t done yet, but with so many people enjoying great summer weather and summer waves, it’s easy to forget the dark cloud that still hangs above our head.

In March and April we went trough a series of events. Here in Europe, one by one, countries entered in lockdowns. While some countries urged their citizens to literally stay inside their homes, others posed relatively mild restrictions on some parts of public life, such as bars and restaurants.

In California, as wel as Italy, France and many other countries, beaches were closed. Surfing was banned. In my country, the Netherlands, the beaches stayed open. But we didn’t take this for granted. Every week the prime minister held a press release. Every week we were afraid that our dunes and beaches would become prohibited space. And even though our thoughts were with the sick and those who nursed them, we vigorously hoped that our number one getaway, the beach, would stay accessible.

It did.

I’m so glad it did. We were allowed to surf through the pandemic.

What seemed to be a horror period for sports, actually wasn’t so bad. In May, people came out of their homes and started cycling again. They started going to the forests, the beaches and the playgrounds. Never before were nature reserves visited as much, by as many people, as during Covid.

What started as a time of restrictions, now turned into many more people picking up a new pastime. At Decathlon, skeelers and skateboards are sold out. While indoor sports halls remained closed, people, with their trainers, flocked to the ‘safe’ outdoors.

I have never seen more surf novices than this summer.

For the first time, I notice horded of German vanlifers visiting our surf spots. Is the Netherlands a surf destination now? I guess! As travel restrictions continue to be looming over the Schengen areas, neighboring countries now seem like a viable option to catch some summer swells. Not only tourists: locals are spending more time in the line-up too. Working from home simply gives you more flexibility. On Tuesday mornings, before Covid you could be the only one out, or maybe have two others in the water.

On those days we would always joke about how lucky we were, us, the unemployed or the freelancers. How all those with fixed jobs were missing out on great sessions.

Those times are gone now. WFH isn’t for solely for the digital nomads or bloggers anymore. Now you can be an engineer at Siemens and do a sesh at 9:00 on a Tuesday morning, without your team even noticing.

All outdoor sports stores report above average profits. Boards are out of stock. We’re in the middle of a local surfing boom.

I’m happy that people are experiencing the power of the outdoors. I’m happy that tourists find their way to the surf schools and shapers. I love an empty line up, but it would be utterly selfish to deny novices the joy of the sea that I get to experience myself.

It’s easy to complain about the crowds. But guys: if you really wanna surf by yourself… dawn patrol still works!

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