Hamish Bowles Goes To Surf Camp, Hilarity Ensues


Hamish Bowles is the European editor at large for Vogue magazine and one of the most hilarious writers we’ve ever read. (He is also, incidentally, one of the Vogue VIPs for whom Lauren Conrad is told to secure a last minute fashion show seat during her Teen Vogue internship on the first season of The Hills.)

One of the best features of Vogue’s June issue — besides an envy-inducing spread of Blake Lively modeling beachwear — might be Bowles’ essay on his two-day surf camp experience, in preparation for the aforementioned photoshoot, lensed by Mario Testino, captained by Tonne Goodman and featuring apparent surf god Rob Machado, whose name alone sounds like nothing so much as a delicious Mexican-inspired cocktail.

I encourage you to read the piece in its entirety, but I’ll offer up some choice quotes in the meantime to both whet your appetite and make sure it happens.

On his surf-veteran friends like Simon Doonan and Graydon Carter:

Instead of a Mason’s handshake or the furtive double glance of pre-Stonewall Temperamentals, an evangelical glint in the eye helped me recognize these cultists. Their faces would take on a beatific cast when I raised the subject, and in reverent tones they evoked otherworldly pleasures beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. And now I was about to be abducted into this bitchin’ netherworld of tubes, lips, and barrels.

On his pre-surfing water experience:

I never venture farther into the sea than where I can still touch bottom, and make it a general rule not to get my hair wet in pool or ocean, having developed a genteel stroke all my own to achieve this remarkable feat.

On his wetsuit:

“I think we need to see you in your suit,” Goodman tells me in a firm maternal tone that brooks no argument. I duly repair to the fashion closet and spend a good half hour attempting to prize myself into an O’Neill bodysuit, gloves, footwear with bifurcations for the big toes, and balaclava. (Lively will later compare this routine to “the process it takes to get into couture!”) Goodman appraises the effect with a professional eye. “Of course you have to pee in your wet suit,” she declares with startling matter-of-factness. “It will keep you warm; they all do it.”

And finally, his post-surf camp musings:

It is indeed difficult to describe the exultant rush of catching a wave and feeling its power carry you relentlessly forward, heart bounding, knees trembling as you attempt to stand and hold your balance in one fell movement. Imagine if you will a child’s delight in a nerve-racking, white-knuckle fairground ride combined with a pleasure altogether more adult. Suffice it to say that as the wave crashes prettily into a broderie anglaise froth and hurls me into the icy waters, I understand why landlocked surfer dudes seem to be in a near perpetual state of postcoital lassitude.

A few final spoilers: Lively is gorgeous and generous with her doughnuts, Penn Badgely makes a cameo, and Bowles chips a tooth. Read the whole thing here.

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