On Surfing

Anna Ehrgott

Illustration by Matt Titone

As a Californian, raised in the hills that meander along the coast before spilling into the Pacific, Anna Ehrgott has become an ambassador for all things outdoors or more simply—for surfing writ large.

Can you describe one of the most challenging aspects of surfing to you?

Definitely the crowds. That’s usually the biggest deterrent to me. After finding other activities where you can be active, in flow, and alone in nature, surfing has lost some of its charm, but still nothing compares to a noodle-armed surf session when you can escape the crowd. It’s such a good feeling to just share a lineup with a handful of friends ––getting riled up seeing others on waves and all getting more than you can count until your lips start shriveling with dehydration and your upper arms ache after hours of paddling. 

What’s one of the most redemptive or rewarding parts of surfing?

It’s like a washing machine for your heart and soul. I feel so lucky as a surfer to still know the joy of “play” at this stage of life. So many people chase various things in life, but chasing something fun seems like a wholesome waste of time to me. 

Has surfing afforded you anything in life? If so, what?

Well, I run a brand making surf products, am paid to surf, save money for surf trips and owe most of my friendships to the water. I have surfing to thank for just about every aspect of my life. Surfing is like the sun of my galaxy and despite there being other planets, they, too, revolve around the sun. It’s an inescapable theme in my life, and one that I’m grateful for every day.  

How long can you go without surfing?

If I have my mountain bike, I can last a couple weeks, but otherwise I get antsy and short-tempered. I also have this weird phobia that I get sick everytime I’m out of the salt water for more than a handful of days. Most of the time I don’t go more than a couple days without surfing. 

How and when did you fall in love with surfing?

I learned to surf at the age of 9 and just loved doing something active outdoors, but I think I really fell in love with it once I needed it as an escape and as a refuge where a painfully shy person isn’t forced to speak. I loved the anonymity of it throughout my school years, and after as a retreat.

What’s one of your pre/post-surf rituals you hold dear?

Nothing tastes better to me after a long summertime-surf than an oversized acai bowl.

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On Surfing is generously supported by our friends at McTavish

Michael Adno

Michael is a writer and photographer born in Florida as a first-generation American to Austrian and South African parents. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Bitter Southerner, and The Surfer’s Journal among other magazines.

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