Times Are A-Changin – Plugs are in!
There was a time about 15 years ago when I began surfing on the wave abundant coast of eastern Australia, where seeing a good surfer wearing a set of ears plugs was rarer than spotting Big Foot in the Sahara. However now when I go for a surf down at the local, it is uncommon to not spot at least a couple of local lads wearing plugs. It is a familiar trend when I venture away from my beloved local waves, in the pursuit of new and adored waves both globally and internationally. The most significant change, however, is the fact that it is not only your average surfer wearing plugs, but those surfers who stand out, throw down the best turns and command the most respect and awe in the line-up. How did this change occur? And why is it accepted now? Could it be said that plugs are in fashion now?
Growing up and surfing in my local area, there was always a negative stigma around excess surf equipment in the line-up. It was not fashionable to have a nose protector on your board, wear booties or gloves, a helmet or ear plugs. The reason being that is simply wasn’t cool, or that you were soft and that core surfers only need their board, leg-rope and a wetsuit when the water is cold. More often than not if you ventured into the line-up with some new surf equipment to assist or protect yourself, you would be laughed at by your mates or older guys to a point where that surf equipment would be buried amongst a box of old fins and melted wax and never worn again. It was usually the average to below average guys who would keep wearing the “uncool” surf equipment, because if you wanted to surf like the best guys, you couldn’t be wearing a helmet or surf plugs because they weren’t.
But “the times they are a-changin’!” In recent years, there has been an influx of new technology and equipment in the surf market and now more then ever it is accepted, helpful and fashionable to wear protective and helpful surf equipment. Ear plugs have exploded in recent years and where I would have previously been almost embarrassed to wear ear plugs in the water, now I cry in agony when I reach the waters edge ready for a surf to realise I forgot my SurfEars. Now people are interested in my plugs, asking how they go and explaining that they need to get a pair because their ears are screwed. Even groms are starting the wear plugs, because they see the best older surfers wearing them and protecting their ears. And let’s be honest, wearing plugs is a lot cooler than surfers’ ear and time out of the water. So, come gather round people wherever you roam and wear your plugs and surf longer and happier.
Words by Sam Shearer, Photos by Jens Scheibe.