Average Surfer's Guide author Si Short sits down for a chat with Fitzroy Surfboards
The Average Surfers Guide to Travel, Waves and Progression out November 19th. We had a quick chat with author and Fitzroy family member Si Short.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name's Simon Short, I'm a 33 year old, British surfer and writer living in Huntington Beach, California. I grew up surfing in Southwest England and moved to California about 10 years ago. I write travel articles from an average, everyday surfer's perspective. A few years ago, I decided to take a different approach to life, I wanted to live my best life by travelling the world, writing and surfing. The fact that I am just a regular guy who works five days a week like everyone else would not stop me. In the end I wrote so much that it became a book.
What started the adventures of an average surfer?
I think it started after I went through a really hard and rough period of my life. At one point I found myself living in a budget motel with all my worldly possessions in the boot of a rented Ford Focus. It was a pretty dark time to be honest. At the time, I'd lost pretty much everything I had worked so hard for, including my home and my career in law enforcement. I felt very alone and confused, I'd done all the things that were expected of me as a 28 year old man, but I was the most unhappy I had ever been and probably had been for some time. After I had gone through the depression and everything that came with it, I decided to try living a different way. It wasn't like a light came on instantly or anything, it was a slow process of learning and making pro active changes, learning about who I am and being a better, more positive person. I identified the negative and the positive, including what made me truly happy and I went after it. I learned to rebuild my life and keep a healthy balance between the responsibilities and demands of modern life and my passions and hobbies . It's an ongoing challenge as it is so easy to get distracted by work, bills, consumption and all of life's constant demands.
That's when the adventures and travel started. I figured why not? Why can't I travel the world, surf as much as I can and enjoy my life while working 9-5 etc. So I did, I saved my money and took trips. I wanted to be a better surfer and enjoy life as much as I could. It's pretty easy really, just buy a plane ticket in advance, then you have to go! Then I started to write about it as a creative outlet. After The Inertia published an article I wrote called 'A Story about Surfing, Identity and Depression' I received a lot of positive back which was encouraging. The article hit home with a lot of people and was shared over 5000 times, so I just continued on from there surfing and writing. It was a part of my life that made me happy. I figure, if I am truly happy then I can be a better friend, partner, mentor and all round member of a community.
Who inspires you?
A few people inspire me from various realms. Without wanting to sound cheesy, my Mum inspires me. She raised 3 kids pretty much by herself and instilled in me a mindset of positivity, perseverance and a view to doing that makes you and others happy. There was never any parental pressure in my life to be successful in the mainstream sense. Success to my Mum is her kids being truly happy, having a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. We didn't need to be doctors or lawyers unless we wanted to. I see a lot of people chasing their parents dreams for them and that can't be very fulfilling. I am very lucky to have been raised the way I was, it might not be for everyone, but it worked for me. I have a very low bar for what success and happiness is in relation to what modern society might think, this makes me a pretty happy person most of the time.
To continue the cheese theme, my girlfriend Steph inspires me also. She is the most adventurous person I've ever met and she had a huge influence on me. She works really hard working two challenging jobs that most people probably couldn't do. When the weekend arrives after working two jobs all week long, most people would collapse on the couch in front of Netflix for two days. Not Steph, she understands life balance better than most. She will make sure to go and do things she enjoys, whether it's yoga, kick boxing, surfing or hiking. She makes me work harder and play harder. Oh and she rides for Fitzroy too so that's awesome!
In terms of surfing I have always been inspired by the nomad style free surfers. Guys like Rob Machado and Dave Rastavich are my favorite surfers. Not only do the tread their own paths, they surf in a way the is so visually appealing. Style is key and I love watching them surf. I enjoy watching the world tour guys and gals too, but I find Rob and Rasta's surfing not only more appealing but more relatable. They are doing similar moves to what I can do but they do it way, way better and with more style, it gives me something to strive for in my surfing.
What do you look for when planning one of your adventures?
That's a good question. Obviously budget comes into play, but to be honest, these days the whole world is somewhat affordable if you know where to look to book flights and are not too high maintenance when it comes to traveling. There is a big difference between a tourist and a traveler. Tourists demand luxury and attractions, a traveler settles for shelter and culture. I try to do a little of both. I would quite happily visit anywhere in the world bar a few places for political reasons. A trip can be anything from a road trip to a long haul flight, it's just all about adventure, a good travel partner and opening your eyes. Last year I took two day trips to Baja which is literally a two hour drive from my doorstep but is an extreme culture shock. I also flew to mainland Mexico, England, Costa Rica and Hawaii. This coming year I am planning trips to Iceland, England, Sri Lanka, and Bali or Japan. Anywhere that has some decent surf and welcoming faces, then I am happy to explore.
Whats the plans for you, are you settled in California? Well, you never know whats around the corner but I am very happy in California. I love England and it will always be "home" but I also love California. The optimism and opportunity here are on another level. Not to mention the weather and 300 or more days of surfable waves.
What are your top 5 must have items for a surf adventure?
That's a hard question, I am pretty bad at packing and preparing for trips, Steph is the expert. She just did six weeks across Europe with just 1 backpack. Regardless, here are my top five. 1) At least 2 surfboards. I usually take a mid-length and a shorter board. I am super excited to receive my new twinny from Fitzroy, I'm pretty sure that it's going to be my go to board. 2) Music and decent headphones especially for long plane rides and down time. 3) A couple of good books. I am a bit of a hobby historian so I have lots of books about the Great Wars which would probably bore most people. May I recommend a more interesting book that's coming out on November 19th called The Average Surfer's Guide to Travel, Waves and Progression lol! 4) Reusable water bottle! No more single use plastic!! 5) Don't forget your toothbrush... Bamboo or biodegradable would be best.
How do you make time for all the travel and surfing?
Balance! It's all about life balance. We cant live for just one thing. As much as I'd like to live in a van and surf all day, I don't think I'd be fulfilled in the long run. We all need community and we all need to serve a purpose to ourselves and others. So that means working hard and rewarding yourself and others. I work hard all week but it's pointless if I don't enjoy my life. Everyone has a choice at how the want to live their life. I am lucky enough to have a regular job I enjoy that gives me the opportunity to equally prioritize surf and travel. It wasn't always that way, I had to set and achieve goals to get to this point. I also had to fail and go through struggles. My life is not perfect by any means but I try to make the best of what I have. Life is constantly changing, I am grateful for where I am today and while I have the opportunity to do it I will make the most of it.
Whats it like being part of the Fitzroy team from the other side of the world?
I love being part of the Fitzroy team. From the beginning it was an instant match when it came to our general outlooks on surfing. I write from an average surfer's perspective and try to be as real as possible. I want to tell the stories of the real, everyday, average surfers, the guys and gals who get up and 5am before work for a 2ft swell and onshore winds. It doesn't get any more real than the Fitzroy surfboards company. Simon and Dave are 2 of the nicest people I have ever met, doing it for the love of the game. They are true core surfers making quality surfboards and clothing, not to mention they are based in the North East of England. There are only real surfers up there, people who paddle out in to the freezing North Sea and chase the infrequent swells, that's dedication. Being in California and supporting the brand is awesome, I get to spread awareness of the brand and ride their boards in different waves. As we head down the road, hopefully we can spread the brand out here and share the boards and clothing with more people.
In your writing, you sometimes share parts your life that others might shut away, what would you like people to take from these big life experiences?
For me writing is a creative outlet. It's just like photography, painting or dancing. None of those I am good at by the way. I write because I need to, after I get my ideas on paper I feel better. The writing started after I went through a couple of years of severe depression. I started writing about it and I felt better. A lot of people who suffer mental health issues see it as an embarrassing weakness and I did too at the time. They see going to therapy as some kind of life failure or that talking about it means other people will think less of them. For me, coming out the other side was empowering, I took control of my life like never before and that was because of everything I learned from therapy, and researching philosophies and other life outlooks. I read so many books and listened to all kinds of theories. I learned that depression is like a call to action a call to change. That part of my life had a huge role in shaping who I am as a person, it is part of my story and I am not going to hide it. The more people that talk about it openly the more people might realize there are a million ways to live your life and not all of them are for everyone. It is something I talk about in the book, I hope some people will relate to it. It all kind of fell together with surfing for me. Surfing was and is one of my biggest passions in life. When I started to rebuild my life, one became a metaphor for the other, I rebuilt my approach to my passions, I began to prioritize it as it made me really happy. For me, Surfing is fifty percent physical and fifty percent psychological. If either side is neglected it can equal a bad session. I tried to explore what it all means and the outcome was the book.
When and where can we get our hands on the book and whats next?
The book will be available online on November 19th. It will be available across many outlets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble etc. It'll also be available in a few surf shops around Southern California. The easiest way to get the book, watch the videos and read the articles is through the website www.surfers.guide or follow the Instagram and social media sites. Next up is a really exciting trip to Iceland to try and find a wave or two, after that is a trip to Sri Lanka, there will be accompanying articles and vlogs for all the trips on the website.