Surfing kind of saved me from being an alcoholic

If I stay up drinking, I can’t paddle out

James: "The wave straight dunked me and tunneled me."
  • James: "The wave straight dunked me and tunneled me."
  • Name: James
  • Age: 39
  • From: La Mesa
  • Location: Ocean Beach

Today, Ocean Beach is particularly crowded due to a surf school. I caught up with James as he was heading to the showers after a morning surf.

“In the summer the crowds bother me a little bit. It can get a little hairy sometimes. I’m more worried about running into tourists with my board because I don’t want to hurt anybody. That’s what I get scared of the most. I haven’t had any head-on collisions here at Ocean Beach, but I have at other beaches.”

James has been surfing for nine years. “I was stationed here in the Marines… Surfing kind of saved me from being an alcoholic. It gets me out there and moving and if I stay up drinking all night the night before, I can’t really paddle out the next morning.”

James’ most embarrassing surf moment: “When I first was learning I didn’t know where to go, so I went down to Blacks with a huge foam board.”

“I paddled out to the line up and these two guys started smiling at me and I was like, ‘What are they smiling at?’  Well I took off to catch one of the waves that was way too above my skill level at the time, and it straight dunked me and tunneled me.” It seemed like eternity until I got back up and I said, ‘Oh, that’s why they were smiling.’ So that was definitely a humbling experience.”

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