1.) Buy a longboard.
2.) Surf with a buddy who rides a shortboard.
That second one probably won’t help the buddy much, but it will help your own chances. According to the book “Surviving the Shark” by Jonathan Kathrein and his mother, Margaret Kathrein, longboards create the image of larger, less vulnerable prey. So you’re less likely to get attacked, the theory goes, if you’re on a bigger board.
And shark research seems to prove that sharks tend to confuse shortboarders and boogie boarders with sea lions more often, although a documented attack of a paddle boarder in Montana de Oro a few years ago proves that size doesn’t always matter.
I just recently got “Surviving the Shark” in the mail, so I haven’t read it yet. (I’m still working on “The Devil in the White City” — not about sharks, though there is a vicious predator in it.) But it sounds intriguing since it’s written by a surfer who was seriously wounded by a shark. Jonathan Kathrein, who was 16 when a great white attacked him in Northern California, eventually became a shark advocate, calling for protection of sharks.
Of course, when I got the book, I had to sneak a peek at the photos, and, sure enough, there are some pretty graphic ones of Kathrein’s injuries. I don’t recommend them for anyone who gets queasy easily — or anyone who plans to go surfing soon afterward.
Alas, Kathrein himself has returned to the water. So if he can sustain a great white bite and return to the lineup, you can probably endure his photos and story.
I’ll give a more detailed account of the book after I finish reading it. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to invite my friend Jay — a boogie boarder — to surf with me. For the conversations, of course.
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