"Box packers, the guys whose pro career never worked out and ended up packing boxes in the warehouse of some surf company."
That's how it was put to me by an Australian friend. We'd been talking about what life after pro surfing means, and "box packer" was his term for those who had obtained some kind of noteworthiness while in their prime, but whose fate eventuated in less than glorious fashion.
Pro surfing's a tricky game. At its best it can put somebody in front of a global audience, hoisting trophies, being sprayed with champagne in that most Spicollian of dreams. But at its worst it's a destructive force, capable of leaving wrecked youth in its wake. And today, as surf companies look to locked-down bright, marketable talent at ever younger ages, that line is razor thin.