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This Selfish Pursuit

This Selfish Pursuit
Elizabeth Salaam

(Originally published in the San Diego Reader October 3, 2012)

Caleb Crozier hates school. At ten years old, he’s already been deeply afflicted with the surf-bug, a potentially irreversible illness that destroys tolerance for time spent on fifth-grade fractions or capital cities. As far as Crozier’s concerned, the only activity worth pursuing when not surfing is skateboarding, and that holds a distant second place.

Although he would rather pursue “tasty waves” (as described by Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High) than go to school, Crozier’s no dummy. His head is full of surf-knowledge, which he shares with me on a hot Wednesday morning in early August.

History: “Back in the day, it was all like this,” he says, gesturing at a group of 10 to 12 longboards propped up against a guesthouse behind the Encinitas home he shares with his parents and older brother, Micah. “Like, in the ’60s, there were no shortboards.”

Geography/Spelling: “My three top surf spots that I want to go to around the world are Cloudbreak, which is in Fiji, Teahupoo in Tahiti — that’s spelled T-E-A-H-U-P-O-O — and Ovahimba. That’s in Namibia, in south[ern] Africa, on the Atlantic side.”

Math/Physics: “Every square foot in a wave is 60 pounds of pressure. So a ten-foot wave is 600 pounds of pressure pushing you down, and I’ve had that happen. It’s not fun.”

Dawn Patrol: “You get up at, like, 5:00 [a.m.], pack up, check the surf, drive down, and get in the water before the sun rises. Afterward, a lot of surfers go get a donut at — well, we call it Tom’s Donuts [officially Leucadia Donut Shoppe].”

It’s clear that this ebullient kid whose lopsided mouth bears only one large front tooth (the other hasn’t grown in yet), eats, sleeps, and dreams surf. His big dream is to “become a pro surfer and travel around the world and to buy my parents a house — like Kelly Slater [11-time world champion surfer].”

Crozier can hardly be blamed for caring more about waves than sitting in a classroom all day. He was born to avid surfers who have made the sport a family affair. But as much as his father, Tim Crozier, surfboard-shaper and owner of Blackbird Surfboards, understands the need to surf, he also believes in the importance of education. Dad often uses surfing as leverage for chores and homework.

(To continue reading, click here.)

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