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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Surf Camp, Champs and the Surfing Community Keep Catching the Virtual Wave - Shiny Blackheart Reporting...

After years of Virtual Surfing appearing in Second Life, a robust community continues to surprise and inspire in a way that only virtual reality and the limitless creativity of the artists and residents of SL can conjure.



In the spring of 2007, a surf SIM called Chi, owned and created by Sally LaSalle organized the first ever SL surfing competition. The popularity and success led to the culmination of the Second Life Surfing Association formed to facilitate and formalize a growing community of surfers and events.

This past week the 2nd Annual Surf Camp, offered a comprehensive schedule of talks, workshops, and surf lessons that brought veteran wave riders and nervous newcomers alike together to explore surf life in SL.



“This particular event is not affiliated with any organization or team.” says its organizers.  “It is designed to unite the soul surfer, the novice, and the competitor in one mutual love of surfing. It's never too late to get involved! No fee or sign up, just show up to the below beach at the below time.”  The events took place at a few of the over 70 Sims, beaches and breaks SL virtual surfers can choose to explore.



The SL Surf Association’s SIM is a tropical island inspired SIM, with crystal blue waters, beautiful swells, sandy beaches, green palms, and fun shacks and hatched info huts and shops. Along with that casual beach-life-feel is a proud legacy expressed in the exposition and exhibitions at the SL Surfing Hall of Fame where a lineage of SL Surfing greats are honored and remembered as well as a detailed book of history about Second Life and virtual surfing’s co-creation.



 At a Surf Camp talk Mick Lunasea, a long-time RL and SL surfer, and an SL Surfing Hall of Fame inductee began the history talk saying, “In the beginning, God created the earth in 7 days according to the bible. Many god-like earthlings disagree. After attending a burning man festival, godlike Philip Rosendale created Linden Lab’s Second Life. By 2007 surfing arrived big time. It has taken years for all of us to create it.” 


 The surfing community is vibrant, expressive, and savvy. From highly developed tropical surf environments to just a fun wave tacked onto a water holding parcel, the surfing SIMs of SL demonstrate vast collaboration and creativity so every surfer can find different waves and communities to ride with.  The community has general, moderate, and adult locations with varying rules and guidelines. Some very family friendly, non-human/fantasy friendly, and others strictly human, adult, and even—unattired!


Recently spotlighted in SL Enquirer, Surfer's Bay VIP, owned and created by Duncan Blackburn, is an adult exotic beach surfing SIM that its group description says offers “adult fun, DJ’s and parties. Try surfing or explore the tropical island and meet new friends.”  But even with all the other possible activities, Persia Bravin, the SIM’s landscaper seems to have a special fondness for the surfing itself.

Bravin first surfed in Second Life precisely a decade ago in August 2008. Persia has also surfed in RL since childhood and admits she’s somewhat “obsessed with it [surfing]. A surfer and builder by vocation, she naturally sought the virtual surf beaches of SL, and at only four months old as an SL resident Ms Bravin had a full surfing SIM at a surf estate called JJ Lane where some early surf contests were held.


 Bravin can describe many changes from her decade of experience stating, “When I started surfing in SL, the waves and boards were made of prims. This meant extra lag and also less realism than we have now with mesh.”

Despite the tech and programming challenges, the surfing community still thrived, and there were frequent celebrations and events she recalls.  “Like anything in SL, surfing has evolved and many of the great SL surfers from those days are still here – and surfing,” she said.

The foundation created by the generations of surfers, SIMS, and technology swelled the development and continued growth of SL surfing, but it is the activity of surfing itself that is the fascination. Persia describes the attraction stating, “SL surfing offers you freedom and peace; when it is just you, alone, facing a huge wave…it can be very meditative and a great release from real life pressures.”



When asked what is so attractive about surfing Julz and Vally, the creatives and surfers behind the breathtaking, Indonesian inspired surf SIM, Cloudbreak, answer, “Simple. Riding the wave...nothing more...nothing less.”  Julz added,  “I really love the disconnect - you can't IM or email or text when surfing, it's you and the wave, it's the most peaceful part of my SL day.”

The set of waves at Cloudbreak are epic and keep on coming. The expansive pink-kissed sand meeting mirror-like turquoise waters, overshadowed by immersive jungle canopy is a surf location designed with surfers, creative and community in mind, says its creators and a visit fulfils expectations.

The innovation of waves and boards has created a more realistic, dynamic, and emotive surf experience in SL. Waves at SIMS  have much variety both in the type of wave and how they are arranged and randomly appear and oscillate, creating a variety of conditions and lengths of rides. Fluffy waves are small waves about 2-3 ft. high or there are waves like the Maverick, which are big and steep with a ripping, curling, face.


These factors along with a variety of boards with options for speed, manoeuvrability, and tricks give a rider the ability to personalize their ride and be creative with their expression on the wave much like RL surfing. Most SIMS have ‘rez points' where one can choose a board to appear there in the water for them to ride. Grab a C-3 for a good balance between control and dynamics, or select the coveted HP5, long since unavailable for purchase, for a high flying session of airs and dynamic tail sprays and cutbacks, like the LSD or choose the SSI for what surfer resident, Emma says, “is a pretty honest board and an equalizer.”



Most surfers tend to collect boards and many end up with a ‘quiver’, and at Surf Camp Mick set up his array of boards in a beautiful exposition of innovation and history of the board’s development over time. He even showed a board that was given out for free (to the chagrin of many SL surfboard dealers) by Linden during the 2011 Spring Break event. He called it a real ‘turkey’, and after surfing this board, this journalist verified and understood ‘turkey’ to mean ‘a poor performer.’




 The sun has set on this year’s Surf Camp but next years event is already in planning. Despite this, there are many opportunities to take lessons with group or private instructors. Major competitions are upcoming this month, and the many revellers of these SIMS are all practising their ride, partying, dancing and lounging on the miles and miles of sandy beaches.



To explore the world of SL Surfing use the most recent version of the Surf SIM List, available at the TP board at Solace or Bluff Cove or go to the SurfWatch Blog as well as some other places inworld.  A TP board is freely available upon request even!  Copies are automatically sent whenever the main board is updated.  To receive a TP board send an IM with a request to, Kantbe Thursday.


Like a good a set of waves the state of SL Surfing also has its changes, surprises, upsets and disappointments. For this reporter, I’ll be surfing everyday, in my birthday-suit at Surfer’s Cove Playa Parida, or duck-diving under friendly sharks and whales after I hang glide down to the beach at El Diablo, or I’ll be hanging-10 and showing off to the voyeurs at Surfer’s Bay, wherever and whenever, catching waves, in the sea, under the SL sky. Aloha.


URLS:
http://surfslsa.org/main/
http://surfwatch.blogspot.com/
https://secondlife.com/destinations/surfing





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