Saturday, September 1, 2012

20 Questions: Surf Perspective - Melian Catronis

Submitted by Zelda Zimberman

20 Questions: Surf Perspective is part of a continuing series SurfWatch will be running as participants respond to Zelda's questionaire.


1. Name: 
Melian Catronis

2. Team: 
Tai Chi Zen

3. Surfing Since:
2011

4. Favorite Board and why?: 
Depends on mood, but I currently love HP5, Orca (DW Surf), Shark, and Reaction. I'm always looking for the combination of speed and control.

5. Favorite Wave and why?: 
Joaquina. The wave allows you to do some wonderful things on it based on its shape and size.

6. How did you come across surfing on SL and what was your first initial reaction to it?: 
I found out about surfing in SL in the search engine after seeing there was golf in SL. It was a random search and found all these sims. And the first time I tried it, it was instant, enduring love.

7. Are you involved in the SLSA (second life surfing association) in any way? (competitions, events, etc.): 
I was recently elected a Director for the next six months and I'm responsible for the Communications end of responsibilities for the SLSA. I also participate in competitions, and have done so for the past year.

8. What are your thoughts or opinions on the direction on the SLSA from 2012 and beyond?: 
There's of course a lot of concern about what's been happening lately with the closing of surf sims and the fact the RL economy has hit Second Life, especially since unlike most sims much of the area is not available for rentals or shop space (since it's water). But there are new surf sims popping up and trying to grow new communities, so the sport of surfing in SL is alive and well and the SLSA is still concerned with trying to help it grow and develop. And we have new members who joined because they came by the SL9B exhibit and want to check it out.

9. What do/did you find positive and negative about it?: 
Well, the positives of course are that we still see curiosity about what we do, and there are people who still have that instant reaction that I had last year when I took a wave for the first time. So we are getting new members. And some of them have opened surf sims. Tsunami Beach has been reborn, and major vendors who recently lost their homes at Monkey Cove have found new homes and reopened.
The negatives I see are some things the SLSA has little power to fix on their own, like the loss of some major sims due to policy changes at LL (Bundoran Reef), economic issues, or the fact running a sim requires almost total time commitment and eventually those owners would like to see what's in SL, or even RL again. The other major negative is that I sense a gulf between what the SLSA sees as major issues at times and what the membership sees as major issues sometimes.

How would you like to see it improve more?: 
I think the SLSA and the membership need to do a better job of talking to each other more. It's not like anyone is closed off or not wanting to talk to each other, but I think if we were communicating more with each other, there would be times when what initially causes a stir within the community could be handled before it blows up into something major, or the Directors could hear directly from the community on what it sees as a major issue and we can see if it's something we might have the power to fix before it becomes unfixable.

10. Do you compete in any surfing competitions SLSA or non?: 
I just finished my first full calendar year of competing. My first competition was at Tsunami Beach which wrapped up the first half of the 2011 season, and I just competed at Encintas, which wrapped the first half of the 2012 season.

11. What do/did you find gratifying and dissatisfying about  competions?:
Comps are fun, first and foremost. The spectator stands have a party atmosphere and at times it can get extremely silly; during a recent comp at Tai/Chi, for instance, everyone was transforming themselves into various monsters and we even got a visit from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. All I will say about Priscilla is...*sigh*...there are some things you simply cannot unsee. (laughs)
What I find dissatisfying about them is myself. I am aware it's all for fun, but in reality I am competing against myself. I have to feel like I have improved in some way with each comp, no matter how bit or how small, and if I don't feel like I've accomplished that it really crushes me and can get into a real funk about it. That's something I need to work on for myself.

12. How do you feel about the SLSA using non SSI boards for competions? (ex; HP5, LSD, Action):  I absolutely LOVE it! There's nothing wrong with SSi boards at all, but there are other boards that have been around for awhile that some surfers have used almost exclusively since they started surfing. Opening up the rules to using approved non-SSi boards encourages greater participation and higher membership in the SLSA. I would personally like to see at least one comp per season which allows the use of a non-SSi board, but not at the expense of not using SSi most of the time, and of course you can't mix the two together (SSi vs. non-SSi) because the animals are different. It's sort of like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

13. If you are currently inactively involved in competitons (surfing, judging, etc.) what was the reason for leaving? Would you want to come back and participate? Please explain your answer: 
N/A

14. What are your thoughts on the team dynamics? Is there a team you particularly like? Why?: 
The teams and the team mentality in the community are wonderful, simply because the teams really aren't full of themselves at all. During comps of course they will root for their teammates very hard, but they root just as hard for surfers not on their team. And let's be clear--it is not required for any surfer to be a member of a team in order to compete, only that you're a member of the SLSA if you want to participate in an SLSA sanctioned comp. Some surfers prefer to remain independent and this is perfectly fine.
Well of course my favorite team is the team I'm with now, Tai Chi Zen. And the main reason is that this is a team full of people who simply love to surf and see surfing in terms of personal growth and improvement, or simply believe the best moments in surfing come with you feel at one with everything--the wave and the board. We don't have mandatory meetings or mandatory practice sessions. And while we certainly wouldn't turn down a Best Team award at the end of a season, scoring points is not the reason we're out there surfing.

15. Is there anyone on here that particularly had an impact when it came to surfing, mentoring, and overall being a role model for you? Who and why? Please explain your answer: 
I have had so many people in the past year who have taken that role in one way or the other, it's hard to pick any one of them out. If I had to pick one person, though, it would be Robbin Ember. She makes it a point to encourage surfers, to help them out, sometimes to simply tell them they are good at what they do, and her only price is that you pay it forward in some way. It's one of the reasons I finally chose to put my name in as a Director, as a way of pay it forward via service.

16. What was your favorite moment or memory on surfing here?: 
It has to be the first time I surfed. I didn't even have a real surfboard--it was one of those boards you get as a newbie in some freebie box. And the love was instantaneous.

17. Is there anyone you know or knew that isn't active as much in surfing and would like to see come back? Who and why?: 
I'd love to see Luscious Starship come back. She is the creator of the LSD boards and is a complete mad scientist where it comes to wave creation. My SECOND favorite wave, behind the Joaquina, has been her monstrous Waimea wave. It's a rush to climb that wall, I tell you. The funny thing is, when I started figuring out how to surf, I was going to Tsunami Beach all the time and learning on the big waves, and Luscious let me in on a little secret--that the bigger the wave is, the easier it is. The big waves are only scary when you look at them.

18. Many people have strong opinions when it comes to SL surfing and RL surfing. What is your take on the comparison?: 
I don't think RL surfers have the market cornered on what it means to have the soul of a surfer. Surfers by and large are 'live and let live' people. They are generous, helpful to newcomers, would probably lend you a board to use. They feel the best moments come when you feel connected to everything and you're perfectly calm. Now, am I talking about RL surfers or am I talking about SL surfers? Surfing is not in the board or the wave, or any ability to do tricks. It's in you. And I have encountered everything I just described in SL with both professional-level RL surfers and those who are landlocked in RL and who have never been on a board before, much less RL people who, through illness or disability, have no physical ability to surf in RL and for whom this is the ONLY outlet available to them.

19. Do you have any advice for new SL surfers on here?: 
Yeah--ASK QUESTIONS. We'll be more than happy to answer them. And never, ever, ever, buy a board on looks alone--surfers are more than happy to let you use a board and let you try it out before you buy one, so you can see if it's what you're looking for in a board. You can waste a lot of lindens on a board that you find out later you can't stand or can't work for you.

20. Any other thoughts?:
I think in general, the surfers in SL are the core of what SL really is. When we start as newbies we're surrounded by people who will welcome you and answer questions and are very friendly and highly creative. And as we get going into SL and grow up a bit we get away from those people and we find it hard to find them again. They're here, the core of friendly, wildly creative people willing to help and answer what you even think are the dumbest questions ever.

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