It’s funny how many threads on here start with someone looking for a short cut or something that will make it easier for them to surf. Where’s the easiest paddle out; what kind of fins will give me sharper turns; if I buy this board, will I catch more waves; where’s there a place to surf without any other surfers ‘cause crowds make me nervous, what is the perfect wet suit combination so that I won’t be cold? I understand that this site attracts surfers of all skill levels which is why there are so many questions like this and this a perfect place to get answers to those questions and they are very good quetions. I also understand that if you make it out infrequently, you might need a leg up. We all need whatever help we can get in this game. That’s all good, there’s nothing wrong with using technology to improve one’s overall experience. However, if there is one maxim in surfing that I have found to be true, whether you paddle out once a year or every day, no matter what break you’re on, surfing ain’t easy.
I started watching that “Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D IMAX” movie on Tehuapo’o on NetFlix the other night, K. Slater’s in it. Here’s a guy who’s regarded as one of the best ever, and you see him take off on an easily makeable, barely overhead left and then he face plants and eats sh!1. That’s before they even get a real swell. I thought it was awesome ‘cause it exposes his humanity and his humility, he was a producer on the film, so I’m guessing he had some say in the footage. What does that tell you? It tells me that no matter how long you do this, it gets easier; but it never gets easy, not for anyone. In fact, at 6:00 in the morning, hanging with the old man’s crew, I can see that way out on the outside, on the horizon, it gets a lot harder. Putting on a wetsuit is a whole different ball game when you are 75 than it is when you were or are 16.
It’s funny, I saw some teenage kid with a nice, snowflake white CI climbing up the cliffs about 2 weeks ago. That new board was cracked in half and hanging on by the double sheets of deck glass, the splinters from the stringer looking like they could stake Dragula. This was on a 1-3’ mush day, where I was headed down with my log. I asked, “Bummer dude, what happened?” He said, “I just wasn’t paying attention.”
This last Saturday, same break, it’s breaking 4-6’ with the occasional 8-10’ set. I’m about 2 hours into a 3 hours sesh on my 6’6” and I see some dude paddle out on a longboard. I’ve seen him out a couple of times before, cause I recognize the board. It’s a SC that had been bent in half, about two feet down from the nose, you can see the repair job. Ol’ boy is not the most solid surfer, wobbly on his feet, no take off, crawls up instead of pops-up, but he’s gung-ho and he’d made it the ¼ mile paddle out to the line-up in between sets. A bigger one starts rollin’ through and he takes off on the first one, looked kind of steep and closed out, I wasn’t goin’ for it and he had better position. He doesn’t take off at an angle and instead points the nose straight down and drives it into the reef with the wave breaking over him. I see him bob up and that ol’ board is busted right where it had been before. It was his first wave of the day. Took him a good 5-10 minutes just to make it back to the beach taking a beating from the swell on that busted board. Didn’t see him the rest of the weekend, might have been his only stick, bummer it’s been a good swell. At least he had the cojones to paddle out, he’ll be back.
The water was cold this weekend, but not as cold as it will be in 4 months. I saw a lot of full suits, a lot more spring suits and a handful of people in trunks or bikinis. The same people I see in trunks and bikinis every day. You can build up a tolerance to cold, but it’s painful. They make them poor bustards goin’ through BUDS on N. Island freeze their butts off for a reason. Makes it easier in the winter and you can chill in a 3/2 in 50 degree water, which means you can paddle more easily. I don’t even own anything thicker, or a hood or booties. With each passing year, I feel the cold a little more, I tell myself, get some more rubber, be warm this year. Maybe, maybe not. I remember when I first started surfing Cali after moving from Corpus, I had to wear a full suit in the summer. Just takes time and effort. Course, I don’t live where it gets really cold either.
Right now, everyone in my department is headed to In-N-Out for lunch. I love me a double-double, but I’m headed to the gym instead; just like I do almost every work day, protein bar, banana, gym, kashi meal. I go there so that I might get some little edge: surf a little better, pop-up quicker, hold my breath longer, lose another .lb so I’m lighter on my feet or just maintain cause o’ the booze; but going there doesn’t make me a better surfer, it just keeps me leaner and meaner. I’m also the only surfer out of all of them. There are others who work out, but they work out to “look god” or “stay in shape”; not because winter is banging down the door or ‘cause a short interval big swell might toss up a couple of ride-able waves.
I said before, that it’s all good, there’s nothing wrong with using technology and modern conveniences to improve one’s overall surfing experience; but nothing is going to make surfing easy. Time and effort and more time and more effort and more time and more effort make it easier. Surfing is fundamentally supposed to be a fun and leisurely activity and it is for many. Nothing wrong with that. Enjoy the ocean, be safe; but don’t expect to be as good as that guy ripping down the line-up and busting tricks. He didn’t get there over a summer or 2.
However, for others, it consumes you, My littlest one, 20 months old. When she wants to go to the beach she says, “board, board, board”. When we get to the beach she says, “board, board, board”. When we go to the grandparents and you ask her if she wants to jump in the pool you get the same answer, “Yesh, board, board, board”. I can’t take her to board shops cause she tries to climb on every board that’s not upright. I guess she’s got the bug. Time will tell, maybe it’s just her age. I’ve got it, her granddad’s got it. A few uncles and Aunts have got it.
Put in the time, surfing gets easier as you get stronger physically and mentally more confident in your abilities. The little cuts and bruises you pick up, you stop even noticing them until someone else sees them and says, “Hey, you’re bleeding” or ,”Honey, where’d you get that bruise”.
Life is short, so is a wave, neither are easy. Live it without being afraid. Drop In the same way.
Paddle out. Wear sunscreen and ear plugs and as little else as you want to and your local law enforcement will let you get away with.
excellent read, so amped to finally get a taste of some good swell here on the good 'ole east coast. For us, we only get a handful of days a year with good waves and conditions, so if your not training and i shape when it comes, from experience I can tell you...it blows! Hope everyone gets some this week! Cheers.