Sitting next to a 52-year-old San Diego surfer with the soul and humor of a teenager is definitely the best way to see a surf movie.

I had the pleasure of this eye-opening experience last night, when my friend and co-worker Shawn Styles scored a bunch of tickets to the opening of "TK8 The Last Ride", which played at the SD Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. It's a surf movie starring some of the biggest (male) names in the sport. But the real unique draw is that the soundtrack is played live by the Tom Curren Band, with lead guitar strummed by the former world champion surfer himself.

The music didn't always match the clips, the technical difficulties hiccupped, but none of that really mattered to me. I scored newbie gold by sitting next to Shawn, who could recognize nearly every single wave in every single shot of the film, no matter how short or fuzzy the clip was. Thirty seconds into the movie and Shawn was already rattling off the names of surf breaks he was spotting in the quick cuts. "That's Sand Spit in Santa Barbara... that's Rincon... that's Mexico... that's Pipeline."

I just sat marvelling at the huge wealth of surf knowledge that is swimming around in Shawn's brain on any given day. It's seriously mind-boggling. He's been surfing for decades and is old enough to be my dad (as he had pointed out earlier), so the amount knowledge he has about waves, breaks, techniques, boards, anything surf-related... seems almost endless.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of complaining about the young Bras out in the line-up that are harsh, aggressive, and seem to have no patience for wahines on the waves. So I think the Old Guys deserve a shout-out and some serious recognition for sharing a fraction of all that they know and being so patient, chatty, and kind about it.

The older and wiser surfer friends of mine are always eager to talk up my latest surf session, no matter how tiny the waves or lame my successes have been. They have a lifetime of knowledge about the ocean and the sport. And they're usually the friendliest and most encouraging guys in the water.

The Old Guys laugh when me and my wahine friends are goofing off trying to stand up in still water, instead of -- like many of their younger counterparts-- rolling their eyes, flexing their tribal band tattoos, and snaking my next wave. The Old Guys in OB helped me hobble back to shore when I was stung by a sting ray, and they've leant me board after board in an attempt to find a good fit to help me get over my latest plateau. And it's usually obvious that they've been surfing for so long out of a genuine and irreplacable love of the ocean.

The Old Guys may be packing up the guns and mellowing out a little bit, but the millions of hours they've spent in the water continue to tell the story of surfing's history to newbies like me. Their collective lifetime experience makes up what is probably surfing's greatest treasure.


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