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Outdoors

Surf dreams lead to a must read

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003


Growing up on the beaches of Pinellas County, Chris Towery used to dream of the day he would take off and surf exotic lands.

When it came time to choose a college, Towery picked Central Florida over its rivals in Gainesville and Tallahassee because Orlando was closer to Sebastian Inlet, one of the state's top surf spots.

After school, when it came time to make a home, Towery and his wife could have settled anywhere in the Sunshine State, and they chose Melbourne, a city known for its fine surf.

"The only thing that could have made it better was to actually get paid to surf," the 30-year-old Boca Ciega High graduate said. "Writing about surfing was my ultimate goal."

On summer hiatus from his high school teaching job, Towery was looking for something to do besides spend money he didn't have, so he started writing for Eastern Surf Magazine, a publication that caters to "Right Coast" surfers.

"One thing led to another," Towery said. "Then a job came open and I was working for a surfing magazine."

He had realized half his dream. But he still wanted to surf all those exotic destinations.

He got his chance when he received an e-mail from a company in England asking if he would write a book about the world's top surf spots.

Towery jumped at the opportunity, thinking he finally would visit and surf all those places he had dreamed about. But there was one catch. "The book had to be done in three months," he said.

Towery and his writing partner, Matt Pruett, had been to about 25 percent of the surf spots. That left 45 for them to research and write about.

"We couldn't possibly visit all of the spots in such a short time period," Towery said. "So that meant we had to do a lot of research on the Internet."

Towery and Pruett worked every night and every weekend (they both continued to work at Eastern Surf) until they started to go a little crazy.

"You can't imagine what it is like to talk about, read about, write about surfing all day long," he said. "The whole time you are thinking to yourself, 'I wish I was out there surfing.' "

But Towery and Pruett kept with it, and the result is Wavescape: Portraits of the Planet's Best Surf Spots. This coffee table book is divided into five sections (Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and the Americas), each with great stories and stunning photographs, several from acclaimed surf photographer and ESM founder Dick Messeroll.

This 160-page, hardcover book is available from Barron's books for $29.95. It is a must for all wave riders, regardless of vehicle of choice: surfboard, kayak, boogie board or body.

And watersports enthusiasts will be pleased to learn Low Pressure Ltd., another company from England, has come out with another in its Stormrider's series. The Stormrider's Guide to North America joins Low Pressure's Europe and World guides, widely considered to be the bibles of the sport.

To get a copy, go to wildernesspress.com. The Stormrider Guides list for $39.95.

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