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Surfing With Your Fellow Humans: Episode 2

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Before surf schools and soft-top beginner boards, surfing had a pretty tough buy-in. To get into it, you really needed the patient support of experienced surfer friends or family.

With the development of foam technologies to allow for safer, easy-to-ride beginner surfboards, along with increasing tourism to coastal regions, surfing is swelling with a population finding solace via a thorough rinse cycle in the surf.

(Photo: Scott Gringich) 

Many are finding that it is a welcome new hobby in their lives, no matter what age they begin. The once cryptic surfing knowledge and technique is now established coaching doctrine, and there is no shortage of surf coaches, online and in person, thanks to the widespread qualifications offered by ISA.

There is now so much “how to” content out there that its hard to discern what is legit. All this to say the secret is out: Surfing is damn fun, anyone can do it, and its health and wellbeing benefits are massive. What I can observe is a population of surfers not only growing but also getting better faster than ever before.

(Photo: Scott Gringich)

This reality is challenging given that surfing is also a deeply peaceful and meditative pursuit: the chaos of crowds can interfere with the zen of surfing. There are a few obvious reasons for this:

1. When surfing uncrowded waves, your “wave economy” is much better.

2. It’s typically safer, as you are not having to dodge other surfers and their surfboards! It’s a fact of surfing that has led to the formation of etiquette to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone in the water.

In 2019, we published a little guide to
Surfing With Your Fellow Humans, which helped you navigate an increasingly busy world of surfing. We talked about things like knowing your surf etiquette and managing expectations. In this episode, I will reveal to you a few strategies and mantras that I use when surfing to have fun, catch loads of waves, and have a good time with friends and strangers in the surf.

Mentality is everything! 

Take responsibility for the outcome of your session and ask yourself: how could I have gotten more waves/ navigated the crowd better? Often, you will reveal to yourself the errors in judgment that caused you to miss good opportunities. Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of complaining about the crowd while being part of the crowd!

(Photo: Cristina Gareau)

Understand Etiquette and all its subtleties

One of the first things that a progressing beginner surfer will notice is that the etiquette that was explained to them during that first 1 hour surf lesson, or what they browsed on the infographics on beach signs or on youtube, works a lot differently in reality.

One major reason for this is that surf “line-ups” are dynamic and diverse in their structure.

Peaks where surfers “line up”  are actually moving and shifting. Waves braking consistently at a certain part of the beach for 20 minutes may soon disappear with changing tides or swell.

The person who is at the “front of the line”, may also be missing perfectly good waves that break further inside. They may also be unable to make the section that they are surfing, for many different reasons, leaving a perfectly good wave open for the taking.

Start by having your etiquette dialed so that you are confident of when it is your turn to go. Time spent in the line up, with an open mind and a willingness to learn will help you navigate a variety of situations, and developing an that awareness will help you to snag a wave at short notice when you see an opportunity arise.

(Photo: Cristina Gareau)

Become aware of body language and ability

Surfers become attuned to many things, including those around us. We want to know who’s up, and if they are going to make the drop; are they in control of their board or are they more novice and maybe need extra space on the wave?

It becomes habitual to size up the line up based on ability. This whill help us make calculations about where to surf and which waves to go for: an experienced surfer will be able to tell just by someone’s body languange, speed and positioning whether they are going to “make” the wave or not. 

Watch the surf for at least 5 - 10 minutes, then pick your ideal spot to paddle out

If you are unsure about where to go, and it's looking busy at the spots that you are checking, take a moment to watch the break.

You will garner loads of key details such as: the overall ability level of the lineup, the frequency of waves and how many are going unridden.

This can be super helpful as often a break can seem busy, but in actual fact, there are lots of opportunities to score a ride. Additionally, you might be able to spot a more secluded peak just close to a crowded zone. Sometimes the best waves are hiding right under peoples noses.

(Photo: Lena Andrian) 

Give someone a wave!

I love this tip from our first blog episode so much that I’ll say it again.

Just call someone into a wave and you will make their day. They will likely come back out similing and thank you, even calling you into a wave later on in the session.

Without any effort you have just created a good vibe in the water and maybe even made a new friend. 

(Photo: Cristina Gareau) 

Blog Written by Adam Tory

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