Riptide’s newest contributor Sophie Leathers pens her thoughts on how her passion for bodyboarding has given her a new outlook on life.

Words by Sophie Leathers

Not long ago I was sitting in a classroom with zombies.

Their eyes were glued to their computers. I swear they weren’t even blinking. You could’ve sworn they were watching Lewy Finnegan’s Glewten Free, or even 18 seconds of Nick Naim-Smith’s tackle of Shipsterns… but they weren’t – that was just me.  We chose an accelerated subject and our HSC exam was fast approaching. Don’t ask me to recall any specifics of the exam – I wouldn’t even remember.

69,346 students have recently completed their HSC and I’m left to wonder how many of them were affected by the pressures of this task. Many of these students were eager to pursue their dreams of 90+ ATARs. If that’s what makes them happy, then by all means throttle to the floor and full speed ahead. However, for the bodyboarding youth in this day and age who feel they need a ‘heavy load’ sign on their forehead, and break down under the pressure and disappointment of the HSC, this one’s for you.

However, for the bodyboarding youth in this day and age who feel they need a ‘heavy load’ sign on their forehead, and break down under the pressure and disappointment of the HSC, this one’s for you.

18 seconds. That’s all it took for Nick Naim-Smith to change his life, and tackle the “fear cave” he’s always wanted. Is it so wrong to suggest that he would value those memories more than his final school rank? The mundane repetitive nature of school really can’t compare to the exhilaration of the ocean.

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Bodyboarding supports the emotional and mental health for many people, ultimately relieving their stress. Let’s be honest, why not enjoy yourself and the life that has been given to you? There’s always bumpy roads but you adjust to that and you learn to make progress. I can’t be the only one who put their flippers on the wrong way the very first time; surely? But if you are passionate about bodyboarding, then get in your gear and get out there! Make progress and bring yourself to life. A single wave can be such a memorable moment for any individual, no matter how big or small it is, no matter how long it lasts.

“A single wave can be such a memorable moment for any individual, no matter how big or small it is, no matter how long it lasts.”

In reference to the Youtube clip, Why I Hate School But Love Education: “Education is the key and school is the lock, because it rarely develops your mind to the point where it can perceive red as green and continue to go when some else said stop. Because as long as you follow the rules and pass exams you’re cool, but are you aware the examiners have a checklist? And if your answer is something outside the box then the automatic response is a cross. And then they claim that school expands your horizons and your visions”. It’s important to recognise your priorities, and if you choose to merge with the traffic you mightn’t get the chance to travel in the fast lane.

Bodyboarding can’t be defined just as a sport. It’s a lifestyle for some, yet an escape and a saviour for others. Personally it’s the biggest influence on the way I perceive the world and ultimately unlocks my vision of the future. There are multiple opportunities to develop your future yet the HSC is only one road. We’re all individuals. We cannot be expected to desire the same things. When you get stressed, bodyboarding can be your detour. Unnoticed, it establishes many connections over the world, bonding through similar interest.

“Bodyboarding can’t be defined just as a sport. It’s a lifestyle for some, yet an escape and a saviour for others.”

Joining the Reeflex team, (Ryan) Hardy asked me to describe the feeling that bodyboarding gives me and I found that to be the hardest question. Why? Because I can’t describe it. I can’t describe something that seems so simple, yet it has the ability to impact on my entire outlook on the world. Why is it that I concentrate whilst watching a full-length bodyboarding movie, analysing each wave and the individual techniques of the riders, yet I fall asleep within five minutes of a lesson on plant cells? That shit just doesn’t fuel my drive. I love education, but I focus solely on my quality of life. If you aren’t enjoying something, aren’t you wasting your time? Don’t spend your whole life in reverse. I’m not suggesting to become a quitter, I’m just simply proposing a new perspective. Keep in mind the things you are passionate about and use them to make a difference. Knowledge is power, but passion is the spark for the ignition. Let it take control and lead you on a new road, to reach your desired destination. Keeping reality in mind – you get out what you put in.

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Always remember, you are in the driver’s seat. Steer yourself into the direction you wish to take. Of course, you can make pit stops on the way to unload some luggage. Especially when you are running on empty or when the surf’s pumping. There will be red lights, flat tyres and plenty of traffic. But when the light shines green, don’t allow the rear-view mirror to distract you from all the incredible opportunities ahead. Take the hand break off and fuel your drive. After all, why not continue when someone else says stop?

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