“One time I was with my uncle out on a point break, and he reckons he saw two rather large sized shadows swim underneath us. I still remember that moment as one of the most frightening in my life.” A time-stopping moment every surfer dreads. But to be phased by this, is to be fearful of the ocean, something unacceptable in the world of a surfer. Although this was a frightening moment for Reed Cahalan, he never let this incident dull his one true passion, surfing.
Surfing, in Australia, is more of a lifestyle, than a hobby, priorities are essential, and life has to be worked around surfing, rather than vice versa. For Reed Cahalan, it is no different, having learnt to surf from a young age, and consistently from the age of 13, this passion forms a large part of his life. “Cliché as it sounds, surfing is a religion in itself, its not just a sport, its not just for wellbeing, its part of my identity.”
As a child, surfing was already influencing Reed, living on the coast, and spending time with his Dad, and Uncles. “I got into surfing from my Dad and Uncles. When we were young my brothers and I used to surf all the time.” Although, finding stability living on the coast was hard for Cahalan, who frequently moved around, attending 13 schools in 4 different countries due to his parent’s career commitments. It wasn’t till he was in his early teens when they finally settled down on the coast “But around the age of 13 I moved back to the coast, and that’s when started properly surfing again.”
Reed has had a very multicultural life, having lived in many fascinating countries all over the world. “I’ve lived in Costa Rica, Canada, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. As well as travelling to many other countries as well” says Reed nonchalantly. Being in some of these coastal countries has enabled him to also surf in some beautiful places. “I’ve been to a few places… I’ve surfed Sydney, all along the coast of NSW, Tasmania, America, Malaysia, Costa Rica, a bit of surfing in Sri Lanka.” These places are much different surfing environments to that of Australia, and when I asked Reed about the difference in surf conditions, he replied, “I was just in Sri Lanka in January, and it’s a reef break which is maybe 300m off the beach. It’s a lot different to Australia, you’re surfing off rocks and coral, so it’s a lot more dangerous as well.”
Due to frequently moving in his younger years, Reed was denied the chance to consistently surf. This feeling of regret enables to cherish and appreciate every moment he gets in the water. Getting the chance to surf in many beautiful places around the world has not only given him joy and happiness, but an experience that he will never forget. If surfing really is a religion, and the waves are treated as Gods, than in this instance Reed Cahalan is surely a disciple of this spiritual niche we call surfing.