Surfing is great, obviously. But sometimes it really sucks.
Like when you drive 45-minutes in traffic only for the wind to go onshore. Or when a kid half your age drops in on you, does a straight air, then tells you to ‘fuck off back to Sydney’*. Or when you watch Droid’s new clip, get really psyched to shred, head down to the beach and realise you’re not a professional, nor even a good surfer.
All of the above can get you down, but I’ve got a solution to that. It isn’t the unbridled optimism offered by some, but rather a handful of contrarian tips on how to enjoy surfing more.
Always Check The Forecast
When contemplating the adage, ‘you never regret a swim’, it might seem like swim can easily be swapped for surf. This, however, is bullshit. Surfing 1-foot slop isn’t fun, nor is surfing closeouts, or anywhere near a city for that matter. Lowering your expectations for a surf is good, but lowering them to the point you don’t even check it’s like is hedonic suicide. When the surf is good, you surf better. When you surf better, you enjoy surfing more. It’s as simple as that. So, in order to minimise the number of surfs where you drive home even eggier than when you left, only surf when the forecast or report looks good. No 2-foot cross-shore days, no 15- storm swells, and no heading down because your overly optimistic mate said it’s good.
Prioritise offshore winds, beaches away from suburbia, and always head down sooner rather than later—it isn’t often the waves get better as the day goes on.
Avoid Crowds At All Costs
Now, this might seem a little contradictory to the first point, but you should be willing to sacrifice some quality for minimal crowds. I’m not suggesting sacrificing a firing A-frame for some ankle-biting peelers, but you should be wary of absolutely pumping surf with 100-plus punters out. To make this easy, here’s a very serious plot depicting the crowd-to-quality relationship. What you’re aiming to do it get as high above that little red line as possible. And occasionally you’ll need to sacrifice quality in order to do so. Imagine the following scenario, you’ve got a firing point break you’d score about an 80/100, but it’s also at about 80% of absolute capacity (100% being The Pass every day of the week). Your other option is surfing a beachie around the bend that’s about a 50/100, but the crowded there is minimal (say a 25). Well, if you’re aiming to stay above that red line, you’d choose the latter.
In real terms, the waves you do get will be a little worse, but you’ll be getting more of them and I’m convinced will emerge from the water happier than when you went in. Always remember point one though, and never paddle out in absolute trash regardless of how empty it is.
Surf With A Friend
Alright, now you’re thinking ‘will this fuckwit stop contradicting himself. First, he tells me to maximise quality, then to sacrifice it for a lesser crowd, and now he wants me to surf with others!’ but hear me out. I’m not suggesting you corral all your high school cronies down to surf the local, but you should try and surf with someone. A friend who you can drop-in when you’re sick of waiting your turn, and someone who isn’t so good they instil a sense of despondence deep in your soul. A friend can lighten up a lacklustre session, reduce your embarrassment when you fall on the wave of the day, and also might be willing to drive so that you can save your own fuel! In all seriousness though, surfing with a friend always makes a surf better, even if you’ve broken rules one and two. Just make sure you suppress the urge to film it and upload your day-date to YouTube. It might feel like a Chapter 11 TV entry, but trust us, it’ll be much closer to a Koa Rothman clusterfuck.
Maybe Give The Thruster A Rest
This is advice for myself more than anything, but your highest-performance board isn’t always your pal. Yeah, there’s no hope of finally landing that full-rotor without it, but there was no hope of that when you opted for 10 tins the night before anyway. Sometimes it’s best to choose your dad’s old twin fin, dust off the longboard, or throw self-respect to the southerly and lay down on your guts riding a finless. You might not look the part, but if bogging turns frustrates you, maybe it’s time to stop trying to do them all together.
In summary, if you follow all these points exactly, I promise** you will never regret a surf again.
*This happened at Bombo late last year. It still haunts me.
**My promises are worthless, just ask Crombie when I tell him I’ll have a story to him by close of biz.