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The Journey of an Aspiring Surfer

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It’s not a cult. We might have gotten a bit carried away in our last blog. As the sugar rush of Halloween fades, we again find ourselves donning wetsuits in pouring rain and diving into single-digit water temps. November for Canadian surfers is a moment to reflect on just how the frig we got here in the first place.

(Photo: Lukene Sotomayor)

When does it start?

After that first session, your gut, your heart, or some combo of the two tells you that you should get more of this in your life. Or maybe you knew that before you even tried it.

If you’ve never surfed, you’ll take a surf lesson, look at a YouTube video, rent a board, or buy one outright; the pathways are numerous. Maybe you grew up surfing, and this is intrinsic knowledge by now. Even then, there was a moment as a child when a tractor beam pulled you towards the ocean.

(Photo: Rob Fiorella) 

The Progression

It's the sauce that we strive for. We’d quickly tire of the same wave and same maneuver each time. That’s why we learn new lines on a wave, new maneuvers, and push our comfort levels in bigger surf. How we progress is personal. Some will hone in on one area, such as shortboarding, while others will explore various watercraft and styles. 

Plateaus are real, and with it can come frustration. Notice those moments when you feel a pattern forming: the same mistake, the same wipeout. We do a lot of improving at surfing on our own, but coming back to a coach for a second opinion will illuminate things. It can be good to do this periodically and give yourself time to figure things out independently. The frequency with which you work with a coach will depend on the goals and timeframes you have set for yourself. 

We have created the Pacific Surf Co. Tutorials to help you along this journey. 

Start with our “Know Before You Go series”

Before learning the pop-up, once you've gotten the hang of this in the whitewash zone, you might want to start applying this to the coveted “green wave”, where you hurtle across the wave sideways in the curling pocket. This is a great place to start turning your surfboard.

(Photo: Lukene Sotomayor)

Second Nature

 It's been five years since that first epiphany, and you are riding with poise and control. The roles have reversed as you trim across an emerald spinner, dazzling a wide-eyed beginner who stands in the wash, mouth agape.

Fundamental movements are now ingrained, and you might be working on more nuanced techniques, like cross-stepping or refining your bottom turn.  You have a few go-to spots and a long wish list of wave-rich destinations to visit. Cue the yearning for the warm water trip as you feel the north wind cut through your wetsuit.

(Photo: Kait Rogers) 

Beginner’s Mind

We tap into the source of stoke by finding that same state as we were in during the first session—its sheer uncontrollability and unknownness. 

As we gain experience, we risk losing this crucial state. A great example is how our perception of wave sizes changes as we progress: a 3-foot wave that once blew our minds and felt terrifyingly powerful can start to feel underwhelming after we get used to riding 5-foot waves. 

The surfers who stay stoked and continue to progress are the ones who remember that during that first session, they paid no attention to what the conditions were doing. They stayed focused on the task at hand: catching and riding waves.

(Photo: Kait Rogers) 

But we can reignite that joy by finding giddy laughter in each session. Laughing at friends and yourself, surfing switch stance, riding a soft top, and surfing finless are all ways to break the repetition. Stay loose and let the mind be plasticine. Don’t get too attached to concepts of how you should be surfing. 

There can be time for planning and preparing those things out of the water. That’s why we teach a thorough lesson on the beach before going in the water. Because, once immersed, it's all about play.


Blog written by Adam Tory

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