Surfers and those who appreciate the culture are invited to attend a conference at Corwin Pavilion on Saturday, and while primo waves are not guaranteed, a lively discussion about current surf culture can be expected.
The Groundswell Society – a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing influence on modern surfing – will host the Fifth Annual Surfing Arts, Science and Issues Conference (SASIC 5) at 9 a.m., with a reception at 4 p.m. Organized in part by co-founder Glenn Hening, the free event features lectures, discussions and film screenings focusing on important innovations – as well as current problems – in the surfing world.
The event will bring surfers together under a unique premise, Hening said, unrelated to name brands or surfing champions.
“This conference is an opportunity to participate in a gathering of the surfing tribe that is not about commerce or competition, and is all about information and a variety of perspectives on modern surfing,” Hening said.
Geography Professor Stuart Sweeney, who teaches the UCSB Geography of Surfing course, will open the conference with his welcoming remarks. SASIC 5 will also feature various guest speakers, such as UCSB Ph.D. Fellow Bob Strurm, whose presentation entitled “Music from the Ocean” examines the harmonies and rhythms of waves.
The conference will also include discussion of new designs and materials for surfboards, as well as a lecture on maintaining a healthy body for surfing or rehabilitating a hurt one.
Among the topics on the SASIC 5 program, Hening, who is also the founder of the Surfrider Foundation, will give a lecture on “Ancient Myths and Modern Surfing,” and will lead a discussion following the film “The Discovery, Exploitation, Destruction, and Resurrection of a Perfect Wave.”
Hening, currently a UC Regents’ Lecturer, said the conference represents a turn away from the excess and environmentally irresponsible choices made by some surf industry corporations, and it also rejects the highly competitive and, as a result, sometimes physically harmful nature, of the sport.
“The idea is that the Groundswell Society is dedicated to educational efforts to broaden surfers’ perspectives on the wide world of riding waves outside commercial and competitive channels,” Hening said. “It is about recognizing people and projects who are making significant contributions under the radar of the surfing media, and that ranges from surfers just learning how to ride waves all the way up to some of the best surfers in the world.”
Sweeney described the Groundswell Society as a group that shares and celebrates a variety of aspects of surfing culture.
“The concern was that the culture of surfing was getting poisoned, and that younger surfers that were coming up through the ranks weren’t learning the best from older surfers,” Sweeney said. “This came from issues of crowding and contests – issues that no longer allowed people to enjoy surfing.”
Sweeney said the SASIC 5 conference would provide insight relevant to UCSB students.
“Whether students are part of the local surf culture or not, surfing is a major aspect that defines our region, and it is certainly a major aspect of life in Isla Vista,” Sweeney said. “This is an opportunity to take a look at some of those issues in depth.”
The Groundswell Society encourages anyone interested to participate the conference. All attendees receive a copy of the proceedings, but the first 50 attendees will also receive a commemorative event T-shirt.