Before he married 14 years ago, Pat Julian’s sister warned his fiancée: “You know, you’re marrying a surfer.” He simply laughs.
At issue: a surfer’s congenital inability to sit out a day of good waves. The pull is stronger than a storm surge on a full moon high tide, the dance between man and force of nature irresistible. Given that good swells don’t arrive as often as any surfer would like, the hard core drop everything when they do.
“There’s some truth to the saying that only a surfer knows the feeling,” Julian says. “But that’s what happens.”
Yet as the years and responsibilities of work and family accumulate, dropping everything gets difficult, which makes good days out in the surf even more precious. “It’s a fine line to walk,” Julian says.
He surfs as much as he can. Sometimes that’s three times a month. Sometimes that’s once every four or five weeks. But it is an essential part of his existence. “It balances out every day life. It eliminates the stress. I just love it. I’ll do it till I’m 80. I’ll be out there on a big ol’ noserider, but I’ll be out there.”
Julian started skimming and bodyboarding in Rehoboth Beach as a child. When his older brothers left a surfboard lying around, he and his younger brother gave it a try. At Deauville Beach, at the tender age of 11, he caught his first wave.
“It was phenomenal, the adrenaline and the excitement I got from that first wave,” Julian says. “Though it only lasted five seconds, it was just really exciting.”
He continued through high school at Mount Pleasant and college at UD. After graduation in 1994, he lost touch with surfing for awhile, then landed a sales job that gave him some flexibility. He has since surfed up and down the East Coast, as well as Mexico and Costa Rica.
“Thank God I have an understanding wife,” he says. “And my two girls (7 and 11) love the ocean. I’m teaching them to surf. They’re getting it.”
He laughs again. “My little one started dragging my longboard across the beach one day. I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ She just said, ‘I’m going out with those guys.’”