378 SURFS

THE PHOTO THAT MARKED SESSION 366.

It was the tail end of December of 2019 as I was chopping it up with my fellow Catch Surf Sales Associates at the Laguna Store. I could be found here one day on the weekend (typically Saturdays) stamping sticks and selling softies. I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, as it always just seemed like another year with a different 4 digit number attached. On top of this, I never thought I didn’t already surf a bunch. Ask most of my friends and they have no problem vouching for my froth: subpar conditions can’t stop me if I want to go surf or have excess time to do so in the day. It’s just been ingrained in me that a surf at some point during the day makes the day a whole lot better. So as I was shooting the shit with one of my coworkers, I had somehow come up with the idea to try to surf everyday as a New Year’s challenge of sorts. Plenty of people surf everyday, believe it or not. I wouldn’t say a lot, but you hear stories of people surfing consecutively for years. Inspiring shit. And me typically surfing when I can didn’t seem like a tall task to try everyday.

I had leaked my resolution to others and a common problem was brought up: I like to do things that might not be close to an ocean. I immediately remembered I would not be surfing Coachella weekend, and other events that could pop up during the year could derail me from this goal. On top of this, I anticipated going back east at some point, and there are not always waves in NJ. So we settled for the next best thing: surfing 365 sessions (it was a leap year, so this became 366 funnily enough).

The stage was set. I had to surf most likely every day and more common than not twice some days to achieve this goal. Now mind you, if the waves were good and I had the time I was no stranger to putting up three sessions in one day. But as I become older and gain more responsibility at work and with life in general, these were less frequent than you would think. But still prevalent, especially in the summer with fun south swells and warm water temps. I would catalog my sessions in a google doc, eager to compile the data at the end of the year. To also up the ante, I decided to track “good” surfs and “bad surfs”. This is the data that has the grayest area. What is a good surf? I definitely know what a bad surf is-everyone does. But what metric would we hold accountable for this. And what counts as a session? Let’s break it down real quick.

A session was pretty simple- 3 waves or 10 minutes. I had a couple of these, but the bulk of my sessions were 30 minutes at least. On top of this, if I had been out of the water for close to a half an hour before going back in, this would count as two. To some this might sound strange. But let me paint a picture: you are surfing Lowers, packed some snacks, maybe two boards, and a lot of water. For me, many times I find myself peaking early or late, having a great start or great ending on my Lowers sessions. I split sessions up because if I did two 1.5-2 hour shifts on the cobbles, one would most likely be better than the other. Often I would be switching boards as well, so that clearly must be another session. I would say the bulk of these split up sessions come from Lowers or an all-day beach day in Newport that involved a couple quick dips.

Now for the “good” vs “bad” surfs. First, we need to consider the conditions (something which I stupidly thought did not need to be logged in my spreadsheet). A good surf in subpar conditions might be below average in really good surf. As a surfer who spends a lot of time in the water, you know what feels good versus what doesn’t. So here’s how I logged it: if the waves were below average, a good wave could be one good turn or a tube or an air. When I say below average, think of gutter surf. Really bad waves. The bar is incredibly low. As waves got better, the same still applied for the most part. As long as it was deemed a tube, a tube gave any session gave it a mark to enter the “good pile”. Not every session you luck into a barrel. For me, airs were the same although I know the difference between a shitty low air and just a low air. For turns, one hammer turn or a two turn combo would suffice, and if I could rattle off 3 decent turns on a wave the deed was done.

Now that the details are ironed out, let’s talk about the end product and what I learned. I ended this crusade on December 15th. I was unsure if I would finish early. At my best, I was 20 surfs ahead of schedule. At my worst, about 15 surfs behind. Digging out of that hole was a grind. But you can essentially match up your session number with the literal number of the date. December 15th was 350. I always knew I would get to 366. Even if I had to do triple sessions over the weekends and sacrifice surfing fun and good waves. I am glad I didn’t have to. While at some moments it was rather tiresome, we got there. Here are the takeaways I got from a year spent in the salt.

DO USE THE CAMS-DON’T TRUST THEM

In the digital world we inhabit, there are so many resources at our disposal to make getting a fun surf easy. The most obvious are the Surfline cams. When I wake up, the first thing I do is check surfline. I roll over post-alarm and pull up Surfline and start cam surfing. Where I live, there are 25 surfline cameras within a 5-10 minute drive of my house. Now when I say DO use the cams, this is to see some factors that would help you decide on whether or not you want to surf. Wind and tide are the easiest two. Too high? Wait. Wind up? Sleep in a little and surf when it’s more sunny. We wake up early to catch glassy conditions- if the winds up the session already has a damper on it. Unfortunately, I surfed many onshore mornings and sometimes they are fun, most times they are not. DON’T trust the cams. There have been so many sessions where the cam looked average to below-average and it ended up really fun. There are tons of blind spots for the cameras so if you surfed yesterday and the report is similar, trust your knowledge over the stream. 

A SURF TO START THE DAY JUST FEELS RIGHT

No matter how bad the waves were, how cold the waves were, how crowded the lineup was, it always feels good to get wet. When there is swell on tap and you have been surfing a bit, the allure of a shitty session has a little less power. But if you’ve been out of the water for a while or just are a little stressed, getting a rinse in is essential. If you work all day, wake up early and get on it. Start work early and can’t get the dawnie? Go out for the last hour and watch the sunset from the water. I know most surfers can back me up on this one.

HAVE A DIVERSE QUIVER-SURF DIFFERENT WAVES

Now, I know not everyone has a quiver of boards. But hear me out: there are essentials boards to have to make surfing more frequently way less of a chore. Obviously, when the waves are good, you need a proper shortboard (if that’s your style). But in most cases, the waves are more often poor than pumping. So, you’ll need some boards that inspire you when the waves look pretty shitty. A fish can do wonders for your surfing. I once wrote about how a fish can help your surfing (read here). But as far as getting out when the waves aren’t looking too hot, the fish is the go-to route. Something flatter, with more foam, and less fins typically is the formula for fun when the waves are dribbly. Another good addition to the quiver is a soft top. Riding soft tops is just more fun. I don’t know what it is about it, but it is not hard to go soft. Whether it’s packing walled closeouts or just cruising, softies bring a smile to your face. Surf different waves on different boards. Nothing gets more tiresome than surfing the same kind of wave. Hunt some tubes. Cook some turns. Try to launch some airs. Keep it spicy. You have to if you want to put up numbers. When you get tired of a board, try it at a different wave. When you get tired of a wave, try a different board.

THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A BETTER SURFER IS TO SURF

You can workout, study surf clips, or do whatever you might think will improve your surfing. But when it comes down to it: the only way to get better at surfing is to surf. I think a lot of skill just comes from comfort standing up on the board. And every surf you’ll at least stand up. I’d be gassing you up a little if I said you could progress your surfing by surfing shit waves. You can, but it’s hard to work on open face carves when it’s 2 foot and walled. You can learn a lot just from drawing different lines and different boards and conditions. But surfing when the waves are fair to good is definitely when you get the best return on investment. But like I said- surfing in general will excel your ability on the board.

SURF WITH FRIENDS BUT ALSO SURF ALONE

Surfing with friends is almost always more fun than surfing alone. Having someone to talk to in the lineup, split waves with, and can see your sick ones is what surfing is all about. I am lucky to have a ton of friends that surf and live within very close proximity, so it isn’t that hard to link up with some friends for a surf. It is a little tougher with my early bird schedule and before work surfs, but when it’s warm and the waves are good almost everyone is on board. However, sometimes the solo session is warranted. There is nothing quite like scoring waves by yourself. As this doesn’t happen often in California, there are still pockets of time that you can sneak out for a session of fun wedges with just your lonesome self. Surfing alone gives you a lot of time to think, which can be good and bad. But sometimes I really like just waking up and enjoying a quiet morning of surf. Don’t worry- if I don’t know you I’ll still talk to you in the lineup. But sometimes silence is golden.

That’s it. There’s probably more, but I will spare you the time I have already made you lose. I encouraged anyone who would like to surf as much as they can in 2021 to do it.

Don’t Cling to Something Non-static

Everybody finds their inner peace and joy from certain things. When all has gone wrong, we can depend on this activity or thing to bring us happiness when we need it most. It seemed like in 2020 people needed this more than ever. Like stated in the idea above, there are two different types of these security blankets that we can lean on in a time of need. The first (and what we will not be talking about) is a thing. Things might be one of the broadest terms in the english language, but think of something tangible or I suppose even intangible. That was a bad preface, but these are the things (sorry for using the word again) that don’t require much effort and you can jump in from almost anywhere. This includes talking to friends, listening to that song or album, eating that certain food type or food spot, etcetera. These “things” can brighten up your mood quite easily, and are on one end of the spectrum of things that can bring you up. You might even have these at home or on the go with you, making them ideal for a quick fix or pick me up.

The second is something a little more complex. This is more of an activity- it typically is an activity that you have done all your life and once had to lean on to get out of a rut or to turn that frown upside down. The things we are really like to do, that have required putting in work overtime to achieve your status or skill level or level of comfortability doing it. It’s almost like breathing: second nature. Or something that even if you are not that skilled at, still brings a smile to your face (this almost falls into the “thing” category a little better). Now that this is getting written out, let’s preface this real quick: technically not everyone will have this. This is speaking to those who have sacrificed to be at the spot they are at today. The activity in which we are speaking of you couldn’t imagine life without it. Unfortunately, however, there is a certain disease that travels along with this activity. 

As you get better and better at something or even do something more and more, the expectations get higher. From both the outside and from the inside. It’s inescapable. Here’s a really base level example. You are a straight A student in school and you bomb a test (let’s just say it wasn’t an important one, as that makes the example even better). For you, you might be bummed out. How did I do so bad? What did I do wrong? Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Oh well, you remember it doesn’t do much in the long run as it really didn’t matter for your overall grade. However, now you may have to catch scrutiny from classmates gawking at the fact that YOU, mister straight A, failed it with flying colors. Then, if your parents find out, you have even more explaining to do. This was an interesting example to pen, but I think it gets the basic point across.

Back to your activity. The scenario above was to paint the picture of expectations. When you reach a certain level of anything in life, you start to set higher and higher goals and aspirations in which you would like to achieve. Which is great, why would you not want to get better and better as time goes on? No one would want to stay the same for years and years, still doing the same thing daily but not seeing any progress. That would surely drive one nuts. But, sometimes a step back needs to be taken. To experience the pure joy this activity gives you, you need to think about it in a static sense. Be thankful you can do X, Y, or Z. Enjoy the moment while you are doing what you love, and don’t worry about the performance. Just enjoy your ability to do what you have done all your life. Think about when you first started, and smile a little that as many years as it is later, you find yourself doing the same thing just as often with the same drive. Or think of those unable to do things that you can do for circumstances they couldn’t control.

Now you may think this breeds stagnant growth in the field. Sure, you don’t need to do this all the time. Sometimes, we want to see how good we can go or how our current skill set stacks up to the ability you have always dreamed of. There are times and places for this. It should be understood that if you are a little down, it might not be the best idea to put a lot of pressure on performance. On the chance you underperform, the two negatives will not make a positive. On the other hand, if you smash it your mood could be uplifted. It is a gamble, a toss up riding all on your shoulders. But back to the point: clinging to your favorite hobby or something you do quite often in a static sense leads to the most happiness. It is good to get used to envisioning it this way, as if you ever have an accident or something that pries you from previous ability or frequency in which you can perform it, you will surely be happy to just be doing it rather than not.

HIMOTHYS DISCOGRAPHY

Shameless self promotion for my budding music career. Well, it’s not really budding, but that’s not going to stop me from having fun with it! If you haven’t figured it out, when quarantine first hit I picked up the new hobby of making chunes. I first thought I also could pick up rapping, but was sadly mistaken. But the beat making definitely stuck. A 90-day trial turned into a 180 day trial (thank you Ableton for randomly extending my trial) turned into a 100 dollar purchase. I am locked in now. It definitely took up the bulk of my idle time early in quarantine when writing was a little bland and it has been so fun to learn and practice. Over time I like to think I’ve learned a decent amount and my most recent beats sound better than the older ones. Some time was spent looking for good sounds, some playing around in Ableton, and lots learning from others. I’ve talked about how fun it is here. It has led to some fun nights with buddies just coming over to vibe and try to lay bars over tracks. Or cook up a beat with himothy himself (Himothy & Friends tape in the works). I’ve actually put out a decent amount of music that I like. By the time I post this, I would have dropped a little EP every Friday of October for my birthday. And then a 7 track album of HITS right after. Give me some dap.

I just want to break down the discography since I’ve been making a bunch and they all have a little unique sound. What’s the point of making them if I ain’t proud of them and not marketing them? It would be pretty cool to somehow luck into a placement of ANY rapper. Or have more than 10 plays per song on soundcloud. This is highly unlikely (for now). So for the time being, just enjoy the sounds and to try to run up those plays because they are way too low. 

(The playlist below features picks from all my projects in a playlist, because posting all projects would make this post require too much scrolling.)

HHV1

The first pack of hits. This has my earliest beats that I thought were pretty good and wanted to put out there. Typically artists don’t start with a greatest hits album, but I did.

SPACE N SYNTH

The first experiment. This one just has a crazy ass sound like we are speaking to robots. If we lived in a simulation, this might be the soundtrack.Typically, you wait until you are solidified before you make your first experimental album. I did not. 

PERC 4 PACK

No melodies, just drums. This one hits pretty hard with big kicks and loud 808s. It was one of the easiest to make, a sometimes the simpler the better. 

HHV2

The second pack of hits. You can hear a little bit of improvement in comparison to HHV1. I try to use a ton of different loop styles to keep it fresh and diverse. 

CORONA COMPILATION

Some of my best work from locking in during a weekend. It has some of my all time favorites(for now). I actually cooked up more than 10, but these 10 were the cream of the crop. Others will trickle into different projects with some revisits. 

WEST COAST SOUND 

My best take at some west coast hip hop. The best track couldn’t make it because of copyright, which is a bummer. But it’s rap beats from the state I currently live in.

SENEGAL SOUNDS

An EP revolved around a splice exclusive pack. It features unique instruments and a unique sound native to the African country Senegal. It was one that I just ended up with 4 without noticing they were all from the same pack and added 2.

HEADS WILL ROLL

This is some early 2000s shit. The pack I used most was by Breathe Carolina, which you may be familiar with. This is so far the most off-beat music I’ve made (in terms of being away from hip-hop).

FLAVA

Warm vinyl sounds and the 90s. This is some boom bap Himothy style. My friend asked me to make one and I ended up liking the construction of the beats, so I made 5 more. 3 were unable to post due to copyright, so this was a small pack. 

SATIN SHEETS

My birthday wish was to have an R&B tape. It contained my first feature by my pal Jacob. R&B and hip hop are close in relation to beats, but the vibe is completely different. It also turned out a little bit more reggae. 

HHV3 

And now back to the hits. Like I’ve drilled into your head: different sounding beats and styles but the cream of the crop. The most recent himothy hits are always my best work. 

I SURF BECAUSE…

Parallels with one of my favorite surfers.

Now I am aware the title is rather cheesy, but let me explain. I surf quite a bit. Almost every day if I am lucky. And if you follow me on Instagram, you watch me surf quite a bit via the Surfline cams (sorry). But it’s not easy. Well, sometimes it’s easy. When the waves are pumping, I am sold on the idea the night before. Sometimes even days before. I check Surfline so much that I am always tapped in to what the next couple days will bring. If it really looks good, I go to bed excited. When I was younger, I often had trouble going to sleep in anticipation of swell (a feeling pretty similar to christmas, as waves on the east coast are far less abundant than that of the west coast). When the forecast looks good, it’s not hard to go surfing.

But back to when it is hard to get in the water. When the waves are small. When it’s windy outside. When your boards are dinged. When the waters cold. When the air is cold. Blah blah blah. There are so many more reasons as to why I shouldn’t surf than why I should. But for me, I never had a problem overlooking all of these negative factors. I just loved to surf. Day in and day out. I think it stems back to being wave starved on the east coast. But even when I am home, I am chomping at the bit to get wet. It’s just ingrained in my brain at this point. Surfing = fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun?

But, contrary to popular belief, surfing is far from fun sometimes. Bad waves, eggy crowds, or just not surfing up to your usual standard can bog down any session. Sure, all it takes is one wave to turn that frown upside down, but I’ve had sessions where even an immaculately surfed wave couldn’t make me forget the 30 waves I surfed horribly. 

I am sure people from the outside looking in wonder why I (and everyone else who surfs before their work, surfs instead of other obligations, or just is surf obsessed) surf so much. Especially those who hear me say “yeah the waves were shit” upon exiting the water or getting home. There’s just much more to it than the actual act of surfing. Let’s let one of my (late) favorite surfers explain:

I never knew AI and I would have so much in common. First off, we’ve both lost to girls in a surf contest. While he has a little bit more pride in his stride considering he is a 3x world champ, it’s a commonality nonetheless. Speaking of girls, we hear Andy mention one of the reasons he started surfing was that it would get him chicks. Take it from me, it doesn’t. I mean, maybe the odd few, but no one cares if you surf. It’s sometime seen as cool, but who care? I too had all these illustrious ideas in my head of what surfing would get me. Girls, social status, “being cool”. But the thing surfing gives me is something that isn’t really tangible. And is by far the most important thing I get out of hopping in the water.

The 3 minute piece ends with “I surf because I am always a better person when I come in.” Let me preface this real quick: this is not how it used to be or how it always was for me. If you knew me in my younger years and even on a (now extremely) rare occasion at the age of 25, if I had a bad surf you can tell. Before I went away for college, I really would act like a girl. After I landed at school in California, I knew I had to grow up. These temper tantrums would look foolish. But it still was really easy to tell how pissed off I was after a shit surf. A bad surf put me in a terrible mood twice as potent than when a good surf put me in a happy mood. But as I grew older, I soon realized how to just kick this embarrassing habit and enjoy surfing for what it is.

Long story short (kudos to you if you’ve made it this far) surfing makes me a better person. I don’t particularly know how or why, and I feel like many others would agree with this strange phenomenon. I mean hell, even Andy felt the same way. I just look back to times where surfing wasn’t as prevalent in my life or I couldn’t get a session as easily and correlate it to that being the source of my problems (or the reason my problems felt little relief). Sure, my demons aren’t anywhere near the magnitude of the late Andy Irons or others in this world, but everyone has their own problems and down days. It’s not always sunny. But for me, the ocean is the only way to rinse them off and part the clouds. And I am fortunate to now live in a wave rich environment where it isn’t that hard to get wet. Having a good session at this point is just the icing on the cake.

It’s Already August…

Vector calendar for 2020 year on black background. EPS10.

Wow, time flies. 

We constantly are spending hours out of the 16 hour machine, assuming you get a recommended 8 hours of sleep. I feel like 6-8 hours of sleep is pretty solid for someone who is trying to function properly and keep their body healthy. Let’s not get distracted though. We are almost in a time machine right now (not the hot tub kind). Days come and go. Weeks come and go. Seasons come and go. Blink twice and it’s a new month. What have you guys been up to? Staying productive? Keeping it G? I want to know. Just a heads up, there isn’t much substance behind this post. I am just giving you fair warning before you continue to move forward. But nonetheless, I felt like checking in. The year is past the halfway mark. We are almost out of 2020. 

Can you believe it is already August? How fast time flies. The saying goes “time flies when you are having fun.” Are we having fun? The easy answer is no. How could we be having fun right now? The world is in a shitstorm (cite this as my tenth time referencing the state of mother earth). So why is time flying? We surely aren’t enjoying every minute to the fullest. Or are we? I look at it this way: there isn’t a lot we can’t do in this situation. We can definitely voice our opinions and fight for causes we believe in, but as far as COVID-19 and certain situations regarding work, we are just making due with what we’ve got. The playing field is leveled to a certain extent. We either take advantage of what we can or wait patiently for things to get back to normal. But how long will it take?

Hopefully not long (this is wishful thinking). It seems like certain states and zones are doing a lot better than others. But this thing is so big and prevalent that I don’t see it ending in the near future. Some places are doing quite the opposite of the better performing zones, instead taking steps backward instead of forward. As someone living in Southern California, specifically Orange County, I don’t see an immediate remedy for us. There has been a second outbreak that shut most things back down while they were only open for less than a month. It’s still quite weird, since it is summer and places are bursting with people all over on the weekends and even during the week. The lineups are crowded and it’s as congested as if there wasn’t a virus. Like I said earlier, it seems like a lot of people are just rolling with the punches and trying to have some fun. We are trying to make the time grow wings and fly. And if the indication of how fast this year has gone by means anything, it seems to be working.

It’s crazy to think 2021 is around the corner. It feels like we just started 2020. Soon enough fall will be easing in, and the heatwave (for some places) of summer will be long gone. The crowds will dwindle and we will be back to the start of this crazy year. The year starts in winter, and is going to end in winter, cold weather and holidays included. How will our fates be decided in these next couple months? Will there be a halloween? Will Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations be dwindled down because of this state of the world? Are these even important things to care about? There are huge problems in the world right now. And while these things that are directly in our orbit seem important, there are definitely other things to focus on currently and direct our attention to. It seems like every couple weeks something truly catastrophic happens, and the memes about canceling 2020 start popping back up again. No matter how bad we want this year not to count or be a joke, it’s very real. All we can do is take what we’ve got and run with it. It’s already August, soon it’ll be September, and don’t blink: or it’ll be December. Keep it going. Keep moving forward.