Review: The Secret Surfer

The Secret Surfer The Secret Surfer by Iain Gately
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The image that people have of surfers is twenty-something fit individuals with long, sun-bleached hair. Their campers will have an array of boards in the back and if they are not already out in the surf, then they will be staring out to sea, looking for that perfect wave. But there are others who have had the surfing bug for a long time now and have reached middle age and they are still surfing.

Iain Gately is one of those, but having just had a replacement hip operation, he is not sure if he will ever surf again as he hobbles around on his crutches. If he can, then he wants to ride a tube, a wave where you the surfer, is wrapped in a glistening, deafening barrel of water, before it fires you out of the end or swallows you entirely. He has never ridden one before, but the yearning to do so is deep.

As he slowly recovers after the operation, he starts to get back into shape, trying to get his muscle memory back, practising the techniques that a surfer needs to know and digging out an old skateboard to work on his balance and posture. It has been a while since he surfed, and as his health improves he makes the decision to replace his board and wetsuit and venture once again into the waves. His journey back to the waves will take him from Ireland to Andalucía, Galicia to Ireland and Portugal to Morocco, as well as the waves on the Dorset coast that he can hear from his own front door. Will his hip survive and will he find that surfing nirvana?

He is committed to surfing as anyone else who has this particular addiction, and it is an addiction when you read how some are driven to find that perfect wave. The prose is full of contemplative moments as he considers his health as well as the excitement when he catching a wave for the first time in a very long time. Gately’s descriptions of the places that he travels to are quite evocative, I could smell the salt hanging in the air from the white horses, thankfully he doesn’t fill the book with the language of surfing, but there is a glossary should any of the meanings evade you. I found this a really enjoyable read and a worthy addition to the scarce numbers of books on surfing.

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  1. LyzzyBee

    Oh, this sounds interesting – I like sports and sailing books and this is a good intersection. I'm not sure any of my friends with hip replacements would consider surfing to be essential, so kudos to him for giving that a go!

  2. Paul Cheney

    I have read a fair few surfing books and enjoyed most of them too

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