Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, December 22, 1998


Bystrom captures
soul of surfing

By Greg Ambrose
Special to the Star Bulletin


The Glide: Longboarding and the Renaissance of Modern Surfing Chris Bystrom; Duranbah Press; 128 pages; $24.95 softcover, $49.95 hardcover

Available at local surf shops or through World Ocean Trading at (805) 684-9591

Southern California refugee Chris Bystrom has found a new life Down Under in Australia, both culturally and artistically.

He brought to his new adopted country a distinguished career in surf filmmaking. During the ensuing 15 years, Bystrom expanded his creative horizons by becoming a magazine publisher, and now book author and publisher.

Bystrom has hit a home run with his first swing of the literary bat. Not since Hawaii author Leonard Lueras created "Surfing -- The Ultimate Pleasure" in 1984 has there been a book that uses such a pleasing combination of beautiful packaging and verbal aloha to capture the soul of surfing.

Bystrom's thesis is simple: the revival of riding waves on longboards has restored surfing to its wholesome roots before the great schism with shortboards, and has made the ocean a place where whole families can have fun in the waves, just as in surfing's Polynesian past.

As proof, "The Glide: Long-boarding and the Renaissance of Modern Surfing" offers persuasive writing, as well as poetry, and hundreds of frequently stunning historical and contemporary images by the sport's top photographers.

Detailed chapters on three of surfing's more intriguing characters, Bob Cooper, Peter Troy and Pat Curren, provide historical anecdotes and an insight into the stoke that makes surfers wave hunters for life.

Other segments profile 20 of longboarding's most incendiary rising young stars and still-incandescent longtime heroes. "The Glide" also makes the eloquent assertion that riding bands of solar energy in a liquid medium is art, with chapters that show how surfing has inspired visual and musical artists for decades.

This is a book surfers can hand to a nonsurfing loved one and say, "This is why I do what I do; this is why I am who I am" confident that after that person has read "The Glide" they will finally understand.

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