When we inhale certain smells we can be transported back to a time, a place or a memory. There are three fragrances of surfing that invoke happiness and stoke for me, with just a passing whiff. I am sure these smells do the same for every surfer.
The first is neoprene, a combination of synthetic rubbers. You can find it wrapped around cold drinks as a stubby holder, but more commonly as the material used to make a wetsuit. Really, if I take a good scientific whiff of a wetsuit, it probably smells quite rank. But to me, when I smell a clean dry wettie, every sense of surfing takes over my brain and ignites all my senses. In a matter of milliseconds, neural pathways are firing in my brain, helping me relive past experiences of not only surfing, but the ocean itself, the sand, the beaches and the waves. But, there’s more. It invokes the campfires that have burned brightly among tall and true tales spoken by good friends, the cold nights wearing bulky jackets and woollen beanies, enjoying bbqs and beers for dinners and the long road trips in the panelvan listening to Jack Johnson on repeat.
The second quite pleasing smell generally, is surf wax, especially if it is fragranced with honey. You can buy waxes that smell so great that I could almost eat them. Don’t eat them, please. Surf wax is used as sticky stuff on your board so you grip onto it and don’t slide off like a grommet on a slip n slide covered in detergent. It comes in small palm sized amounts that are easy to lose, well for me anyway. The smell conjures up feelings similar as the wettie, however surf wax brings about more senses of actually being in the water. It makes me think about falling off my board and sliding back on it, thankful of the sticky bumps on my board that prevent me from falling right back off. I associate the waxing and combing of my board with the feeling of just about to hit the water. Yep, that’s a good feeling.
Last, but not least, is the smell of the salty water itself. It is magical and completely healing. The spray of salt and waves flying up my nose is heavenly. Sometimes, just closing my eyes, standing on the beach and taking a big deep belly breath in, can instantly calm me. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, the enchanting Odeur de l'océan will captivate me every time.