Forget Brexit, the real debate is on body art! Tattoos, love ‘em, hate ‘em or ‘not bovvered’ either way, there’s no denying they are a ‘thing’ right now in windsurfing and in the ‘gun shows’ on display at PWA competitions there’s plenty of ink on forearms. Over 30% of the UK population between 16 and 44 have them and their appeal seems to rise by the day for the ‘selfie’ generation. It’s a fact of life though that as the popularity of tattoos grows, so too does the market for tattoo removal. So tattoos, rad or fad? We questioned a selection of sailors on their views of needles and ink, sending our very un-trendy reporter, John Carter, on a mission to discover who is in and who is out amongst the trend for tattoos in the windsurfing fraternity. Tatty journalism at its finest, this is the results of our first and last ‘Tatt Report’.
Words Taty Frans, Ross Williams, Kenneth Danielsen, Gollito Estredo, Amado Vreiswijk, Dario Ojeda, Omar Sanchez, Keith Teboul, Robby Naish, Robby Swift, Sarah-Quita Offringa, Graham Ezzy, Lena Erdil, John Skye, Finn Mullen, Justyna Sniady, John Carter, Miriam Rasmussen Photos John Carter
This feature originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Windsurf Magazine
All my tattoos are important to me. I have the name of my mother and some other ones like a turtle from Hawaii. My first one was in 2012, which has a wave, clouds and the words ‘good vibes’! I like tattoos but I don’t want to overdo it. I think I will have them just on one arm only. Some of them hurt quite a bit when I had them done. Two hours of that needle stabbing you gets quite painful. I think next year in Hawaii I will get another one, all of my tattoos I have had done there. When they are done you have to stay out of the water for a week so I have to check the forecast first! Salt water is not good for the tattoo!
“ All my tattoos are important to me.”
I have always kind of liked the look of tattoos, I guess they fit on some people. I don’t think I’m cool enough to pull one off myself personally though ha-ha. They are also pretty permanent, so I imagine myself changing my mind over time and wishing I hadn’t done it. My dad had lots of tattoos on his arms and legs and had most of them painfully removed, but you can still see the scars and I guess that has stayed in my mind since I was little.
I don’t think I’m cool enough to pull one off.
I think tattoos are a way of life for me. My first one was in 2011 in Bonaire. After spending time in Bangkok I was influenced a lot by Buddha, so that was my first tattoo. Then I had a coy fish, an eye, a nemo, a manta ray, seashells, a sea horse, so a lot to do with the ocean or things in Thailand. My left arm has cost me about $2000 and my right about $1000 so far. My plan is to finish the right arm and then move onto my chest. I think in all it will cost me $6000 and then I am done. It doesn’t really hurt, it is like an itchy feeling. It is a bit annoying, but I like the feeling actually.
I won’t put any sponsors on my arm, you never know what will happen with them. It is hard to not go in the water when you have one done. They cost a lot of money, but I still like them. I know they are for life, so I think pretty hard about what tattoos I will have. Some people like my tattoos and some think I have too many. I know a lot of people with tattoos are fighters, but when I smile it gives the game away with me.
Tattoos are a way of life for me.
I am one of those boring guys without any tattoos. I tell myself that since tattoos are now so popular, the counter-culture choice is sans tats. Or go facial. I like the idea of only having one tattoo and having it on my cheek. Maybe just a single teardrop from my eye? My girlfriend keeps telling me that when I win a world cup she is going to design a tattoo for me to commemorate the win. She knows that I don’t want a tattoo, but her theory is that it should balance out my nerves if winning means that I have to get a tattoo that I don’t want. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I’ve not yet won one.
Tattoos are cool, but I cannot think of anything I want to have on my body forever. My favourite tats in windsurfing are on Lalo Goya, Ross Williams, Alex Mussolini and Julien Taboulet. My measure there is that I have a hard time imagining their characters without the tattoos.
I am one of those boring guys without any tattoos.
Most of my tattoos help me remember a certain situation or time in my life. They mark important things that have occurred or important people that have been around me. My first tattoo was actually a pretty awful Celtic one that I kind of regret now! At the time it marked my first trip around the world. I had it done in Bali on New Year’s Day in 2001 and I was definitely recovering from a night out! I still look at that tattoo and remember that trip for all the cool things that happened. The other ones all have a meaning as well. I think all my tattoos on my arm cost about a thousand pounds. Right now I am done with tattoos, but maybe if I have a kid or something like that I might have something simple. I like seeing good artwork on people. For me it is a personal thing, I don’t do it for anyone else, they are for me. Whatever other people think is irrelevant. This is me, they are a part of me and these things mean that much to me that I put them on my body. If you look back, tattoos were ways to show you were part of a tribe or a warrior, so they kind of had a tough identity about them. Nowadays a lot of people have them just as fashion accessories or for a different identity, so times have changed. They all tell some sort of story I guess. I explain to the artists what I want, but at the end of the day they are just to remind me of something or a time in my life!
Tattoos help me remember a certain situation or time in my life.
I have never been a big fan of tattoos and don’t have any. I think I am not badass enough for them really. To make a tattoo work I think you also need big guns, so if I did get some tattoos I would also need to hit the gym more and bulk up!! The whole idea of it though I find a bit strange and having something for life is a big commitment. Maybe right now it would look OK, but in 10-20 years time maybe it is not so wanted. If I did get one I think it would probably be some kind of band on the arm, certainly not a big drawing of a naked chick or anything like that. I don’t think that would go down too well with my wife Nayra!
I have never been a big fan of tattoos.
I’m not really sure why I have them, I guess they look cool. I had my first one six years ago which was the whole top of my left arm, I think it is of Mother Teresa, then I had my mother’s name on the inside of my arm. Once you get started with tattoos it is kind of addictive and you just want to keep going. I have a sailing ship on my arm as my grandfather was a fisherman, and he had a similar ship on his arm. But basically I had tattoos because I like the look of them! I have one whole arm done plus part of my other arm, I plan to get my chest done next but you have to stay out of the water when they are done so I will have to time it.
Once you get started with tattoos it is kind of addictive.
I don’t have any tattoos and that’s probably because I wouldn’t be able to commit to a single one. I would probably have one and then before I’d know it I’d be full of tattoos because I couldn’t just stick to one ha-ha. I draw on my arms a lot! Removable tattoos work best for me I guess! I’m quite used to seeing the guys with tattoos. So to me it’s just part of them. It doesn’t make you any cooler I think. I do like finding out what the stories are behind the artwork. The stories make them cool. I still find it unusual sometimes when I see big tattoos on women, but at the same time they often seem to carry it well and then I think they’re total ‘badasses’!
I wouldn’t be able to commit to a single one.
I always liked tattoos when I was small but my parents never allowed me to have them. My first one was one of the sea, a turtle and a lighthouse. Basically all the ones I have on my arm are related to Bonaire. What I think is beautiful from my island, that is what I have on my arm. So far I just have one arm tattooed. That is just the beginning, I am not finished yet. I am not sure if I will do the other arm or I will go to the chest next. It is not a fashion thing for me, I just like them. These tattoos I have are my own style. A lot of people have anything on there just to have a tattoo. They don’t have any meanings, they just find a picture and have it tattooed. My ones I have designed and thought a lot about myself. I have a map of Bonaire, a Manta Ray, starfish, shells and windsurfing. They don’t really hurt when you have them done, you get used to it. It takes ten days off the water when you have one done. You have to really plan them!
It is not a fashion thing for me.
I love tattoos. I had my first one in 2015 after my grandfather died, so I had the year he died done. My tattoos are becoming a map of my life. I have a few quotes like ‘Never give up’ and ‘Think positive’ and each step in my life is being recorded now with the tattoos. I also have ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’ and my sail number on me. I also have a map of the Canary Islands and a tiki from when I went to Maui.
My tattoos are becoming a map of my life.
Tattoos suit cool people, therefore I don’t have any! I am not against them, but when I was growing up they were not so common. Guys like Taty and Amado are both badass muscle men, so nobody is going to laugh at them when they rock up on any beach covered in tats. If I were to show up with thorns round my arms and a cobweb on my shoulder I think I would just cop a load of grief from the sailors. On top of that I imagine they hurt and they cost a lot of money. I guess for the slightly older generation tattoos were more for guys in the army and part of the Polynesian culture. These days a decent percentage of men and women of all shapes and sizes have them, largely inspired by the likes of Beckham, other sports and music stars as well as many celebrities. Some people have huge tattoos round their neck or on their face which I find a bit odd, but each to their own. Maybe one day I’ll go crazy and get windsurf tattooed across my knuckles, my kids name on my forearms and my wife’s name across my back. But for now I’ll stay away from tattoos, and piercings for that matter!
Tattoos suit cool people, therefore I don’t have any!
Tattoos are part of me, every tattoo has a meaning for me. The first one was in honour of my father who died when I was sixteen. My tattoos mark different memories from stages of my life. The second one I had when I almost lost my life when I was in a fight and I was stabbed. It says, ‘Only god can judge me’. I was really lucky to live, so he decides who goes and he decides who stays no? I have another one with Neptune, the ‘god of the sea’. They all mean something different – waves, nature and things to do with the Canary Islands. They are all about my lifestyle, a lot to do with warriors. I am a warrior of life! I don’t plan them, if something happens to me then maybe I will mark that event with a tattoo. I love the sea, I am a waterman and I like fighting, so all these things mean a lot to me. I am a fighter with my martial arts but also a life fighter! I had to fight to survive and these tattoos tell the story!
I had to fight to survive and these tattoos tell the story!
I have always wondered how people with tattoos consider their permanence. I have always lived by the water, a medium that changes every day and it’s precisely that change of look that I find so appealing. There’s so many ways to windsurf and I enjoy the variety of not knowing week to week whether I’ll be windSUP’ing, wavesailing or blasting, so the thought of the permanence of a tattoo just doesn’t fit with my personality. If I want to express something outward I’ll just put a different t-shirt on. In that respect I admire the commitment that people with tattoos make, I just prefer to use that degree of commitment in other areas of my life. I do like hearing the stories behind the designs and decisions of tattoos and their tribal and cultural significance in some parts of the world is especially interesting. I’m probably too square though to have one in truth, and too frugal, I’d rather spend the money on a new board! I have lots of scars from various adventures, that’s cheaper body marking! I worked at sea for many years and saw a lot of wrinkled designs on elder mariners, so that probably colours my judgement against having tattoos myself also! It’s good though we all have different outlooks and appearances, as the song says, ‘If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired looking at each other.’
I have lots of scars from various adventures, that’s cheaper body marking!
I like the concept of tattoos, but I just haven’t had the urge so far to let someone paint or write something on my body with needles permanently! But yeah, I think more than the needles, I really can’t think of anything that I would like to have tattooed on me forever. Tattoos are a bit too permanent for my liking. In general I have not thought too much on tattoos, but if I ever did get one it would have to be really meaningful. With the guys, if they have nice arms I think it can look really good. But it always depends on the tattoos! Having a lot of Disney characters or ex-girlfriends names is definitely not cool. However I have seen some nice tattoos about on tour! I actually really like the ones Ross Williams has for example!
I like the concept of tattoos, but I just haven’t had the urge so far.
Tattoos represent different changes and things that have happened to me in my life, ways of thinking and experiences. My first tattoo was probably somewhere in the early 90s. Each one represents a change in the way I was thinking, an experience I had that changed me or the way I think about something. I think my right arm piece is my favourite because it has many different elements. It has my birth sign Pisces, it has the ocean and it has flowers and foliage for all the different places I’ve lived in my life. It has a hula girl on a lotus flower for Hawaii, which is the place that has had the most influence on me and the lotus represents the mystical. I would say half were traded for surfboards and the other half I paid for. Hard to say how much I have invested into them, but thousands for sure. I’m sure at some point I will get more but I have a few that are unfinished. They do really hurt but I have no regrets.
Tattoos represent different changes and things that have happened to me.
I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t really need them, I have so many scars and they already mark many significant moments in my life, like surviving a head-on car crash (scar on my nose) or destroying my foot into pieces in Pozo (scars on my foot from 3 surgeries) and many many more. There’s hardly any place left for tattoos and I’ve put myself through enough pain already I reckon!!
My beloved Grandma once told me that a tattoo for her is like a ‘permanent fashion statement’, which is an oxymoron, but she put me off for life lol. But she was a Granny and from another era and she really liked to joke around! Some of her favourite people had tattoos as she was in the special forces.
My Granny’s jokes aside though, no I don’t want a tattoo, at least I was never tempted as of yet. I guess I always looked at tattoos as something so permanent and for life, that personally for me to get one it would have to represent something super important to me. I see so much variety in the world, so many things grab my attention and my interests constantly change and evolve, as does my perspective and opinions on things. So I think I would find it very difficult and limiting to have a certain tattoo with a distinct look and feel about one particular thing on me forever. I make my feelings about people and things who are important to me so obvious that I don’t need a tattoo to remind anyone either.
There are some amazing tattoos I’ve seen and they do definitely look good on some people.
As I grow older though I really do not debate these things in my head anymore, tattoos yes or no, what should people wear, what should people look like etc. I debate people’s behaviour towards each other instead. So regarding the question of tattoos, personally I think you can’t really make a douchebag look any better with any stylisation, nor can you make a great person less lovable with the worst haircut or tattoo. I don’t think it adds to a person or makes them rad, but nor does it take away from a person to have a tattoo. I do like people doing what they love though, and if tattoos are what they like, they should definitely go for it.
I don’t think it adds to a person or makes them rad, but nor does it take away from a person to have a tattoo.
I think tattoos are beautiful. I was fascinated with them when I was younger and eventually decided to have one for myself. I found the perfect tattoo artist to do it for me and it is just a design that I like. When you grow older you change, so if I had something with a meaning maybe that would change and the tattoo would be annoy me then. It’s like when people get a tattoo of their boyfriend’s name, that is quite stupid I think. The idea for my tattoo comes from ancient Norwegian mythology. It cost quite a lot, it was very expensive. I am not finished with this one yet so there is still some more to do. Then I think I am done. I don’t want to look like a freak show!
I think tattoos are beautiful.
Trends come and go. If you look back at old photos of yourself, you often laugh at your haircut, the pants and shirts you wore, the colours that were trendy etc. You can change your shirt. You can throw away your skinny jeans. You can cut your hair. But a tattoo is pretty darn permanent! You can remove them, but it is expensive, takes forever, and hurts like hell. My daughter Nani has been slowly having one removed. It’s a small one… one of her smallest! But the process is gnarly.
I have nothing against tattoos, especially when they really mean something to you. But you see a lot of people covering themselves as quickly as possible with seemingly random tattoos to achieve a “certain look” because they think it’s cool. That I don’t really get. But I don’t really understand a lot of things. At least tats are harmless. A couple of decades ago, long before it was trendy, I was considering getting my skull and sail number under my arm. I opted not to. To each their own, but I’m pretty stoked that I don’t have any today!
A tattoo is pretty darn permanent!