“Like if Nathan is a sun cooked duck,” writes a supportive John John Florence on an Instagram clip of his brother Nathan preparing to paddle out at Pipe.
The two-time world champ is right. His brother does indeed look like a bit of poultry left hanging in a window in China town. However, the explanation for Nathan’s rouge complexion is impressive.
He’s just finished what he describes as a three-day Hawaiian swell bender. He surfed giant Pipe, then flew to Jaws for a crazy tow session, then straight back to the North Shore that night to surf the Banzai again in the morning.
“My body is beat,” he says in a vlog documenting the swell. “My lats are super sore, my biceps are super sore, my strain from the Jaws comp is still super sore, but Pipeline is firing so we’re going to go and gets some barrels…”
He pulls his suit on and raises a pipette of CBD oil to his dry cracked lips, releasing a few drops under his tongue.
“Two droppers full,” he says, “should hopefully, bring down that inflammation from travelling and surfing Jaws and going too hard all the time.”
Over the last few years, Nathan and many of his big wave contemporaries have come to rely on CBD as a vital supplement to their gruelling surfing routines. But what of surfers who aren’t regularly throwing themselves over the ledge at Jaws? Can a few daily drops of the non-psychoactive cannabis extract work similar wonders for those of us who prefer a casual glide along a glassy four-footer?
The supplement’s popularity at the other end of the surfing spectrum, in the world of traditional longboarding, suggests there must indeed be benefits beyond repairing muscles ripped apart by the might of the world’s biggest waves.
In fact, one of the logging’s most influential figures is just as enthusiastic about it as Florence and his ilk. Kassia Meador first discovered CBD when searching for ways to treat her mum, who was suffering from MS.
It was the early days of CBD, so Kassia decided to try some too, to prove to her mum it wasn’t psychoactive, “And I felt good!” she told the Inertia.
“The elixir helps me sleep,” she continues, “combats jet lag if I have it, helps my body recover from training and surfing, and is also good in helping neurological function and in stripping the plaque from my brain as I’ve had many severe concussions in recent years.”
As well as wide-spread use among top-level athletes from the full range of sporting disciplines, CBD’s popularity is growing among everyday sports enthusiasts too. In light of this, we sought out a few workaday surfers, to find out how the supplement helps them.
After winning some CBD oil at a charity auction, 25-year-old Sam Bowden from Devon started experimenting with it to treat the residual pain from breaks in his ankle and hand, however, he found it to have a more powerful effect on his general sense wellbeing.
“I suffer with seasonal affective disorder in the dark months, which leads to other things,” he told us. “But this has had a hugely positive effect and turned my mental health around massively.”
Veteran Newquay based longboarder Adam Zervas first started using CBD after his wife found success with it treating the pain from her frozen shoulder.
“As I’ve got older, my surfing has been massively affected by injuries,” he told us, “from prolapsed disks in my neck to torn muscles. When you’re young you’re surfing all the time and you’re fitter, but as you get older you’re priorities shift towards family and work, so your fitness levels drop.”
“It’s like anything,” he continues, “If you take the outside of a golf ball off it’s full of elastic, and if that elastic starts to go, you notice. It’s like your body and muscles are holding everything together and once you start losing your fitness, you start getting injured and suffering from niggles and pains.”
“I think CBD is amazing because it’s one of the most impressive natural anti-inflammatory substances,” Adam continues. “Whenever you exercise, the muscles work and you tear fibres, and that creates inflammation, and so in order to recover you need to reduce that inflammation. It’s a great asset for that.”
Adam is also father to one of Britain’s most exciting up and coming longboarding talents, Jordan, who he says also uses CBD to calm his nerves.
“It’s something that helps, you know,” says Adam, “like eating the right food helps, stretching and resting helps. I can’t surf like Jordan surfs anymore though, he’s 18 years old, I’m 53, it’s a bit different!”
While there are several solid scientific studies that back up the claims CBD can reduce pain, help with social anxiety, and improve sleep, throughout its history, the real gateway to understanding the full gamut of benefits has been listening to the first-hand accounts of those who use it.
It’s true that like anything in the health and wellness world, CBD won’t work for every person, on every ailment and should always be taken alongside whatever the doctor prescribes.
However, as surfers, we’re always looking for ways to maximise our water time, ease the shoulder burn on surf-intensive trips, or after a long run at home and of course, improve our chances of surfing long into old age.
Based on the science and accounts from both pro surfers and workaday shredders, CBD could be a valuable part of the toolkit that helps us achieve just that.
The most important thing, if you’re looking to try some, is making sure you go with a reputable brand. A 2018 study found 70% of CBD products tested were mislabeled when it came to the amount of active ingredients present.
That’s one of the many reasons we recommend Fourfive CBD, started by two professional rugby players. Each of their products comes with its own independent lab report, so you know exactly what’s in them.