How To Surf Chest High Waves (Flawlessly)

This is a post from my alternative website Welcome Progress. Before I turned off the site, I grabbed a couple pieces I liked to be redistributed here. I’ve been looking for some added inspo to grind small, cold waves back home in California. It’s been a pretty rough winter, but clips like these tend to help. 

 Surfing gutless waves is no easy task. Everywhere in the world has their off days, and more times than not you might be taking a plunge into the ocean to surf waves much smaller than you would like. Obviously, it’s all subjective to where you live. A small day on the East Coast vs West Coast vs Hawaii are all very different. But for those on the mainland, there are a ton of opportunities every year to grind less than desirable surf.

There are a couple key factors to beat the conditions and make lemons out of lemonade. First, is picking the right equipment. In recent years there really have been a lot of different small wave crafts you can hop on. From a stubbier, wide shortboard, epoxies, fishes, or whatever you fancy. Less rocker and more foam are key ways to stay afloat (literally while riding the wave). There is a sweet spot in the board design for small waves: a little more foam than a shortboard, the right size so it fits into the smaller wave face, and the rocker helping in both creating speed and catching waves. Another big factor is practicing being light on your feet. Getting up and immediately shifting weight around on your board definitely helps build that first bit of speed and get moving. Depending on the shape of the wave, you might want to surf more out of the pocket or keep it tight if it’s a reform/mushy wave in comparison to a racey beachbreak.

So when you put it all together, you get this new clip from Brother surfing his fabled T-street. One of those waves in SoCal that always has a little bump, the T is a grindy wave. Most of SC’s top talent surfs here when need be. In the above clip, it looks pretty damn fun. Chalk it up to the sight of peaky little teepees or the fact that Kolohe puts in an impressive session for the dribbly surf. But this isn’t his first rodeo- Kolohe and the T have been a winning combo for years now (see below).

THINKING THROUGH ALTERNATIVE SHAPES

This is a post from my alternative website Welcome Progress. Before I turned off the site, I grabbed a couple pieces I liked to be redistributed here. The timing on this one seems right on the button, as I have been surfing exclusively a twin fin since the start of 2021.

Said twin fin.

To keep something fresh, sometimes changes need to be made. Mindset, environment, etc. The list goes on and on. Some people might fear change. This is definitely a problem, considering no man or woman has achieved greatness by staying stagnant or true to their routine for too long. Sure, having something dialed feels good and if they are good habits and routines keep them going. But the old saying goes “variety is the spice of life”, so incorporating things outside of your comfort zone is essential for development. 

Change breeds a different mindset. No matter how comfortably you are sitting or how zenned out you might feel, mindset is one thing that can always evolve and will just make you a better person. Mindset is something you can reference when making a decision or thinking about a choice, and doesn’t necessarily sway you one way or the other. Having an expandable and broad mindset lets you see the whole painting rather than the corner or image that just catches your eye. In order to expand and have our mindset grow, we either need more experience or experience from others. This pretty much boils down to trying new things or reading material from those who have pushed boundaries or embraced change with open arms. 

So where are we taking this? The underlying theme is mindset and opening up your brain to things that you might never have considered previously.

So let’s talk about alternative surfboards. Not to shift the focus from the main idea, but rather provide an example that will be relevant to almost anything you apply it to. Let’s begin. 

Most people are hard in their ways about the boards they ride. If this were on a graph, it would go as follows: those who have surfed longer and are more proficient tend to get more finicky about boards. Surfing for the most part is a constant learning curve. Most who pick it up dream of ability well beyond the realm of reality. But, if you practice enough you can get there (aside from the 5% of surfers who are really F1 drivers in a realm of speed junkies). Not to get sidetracked, the point is people are stuck in their routine of surfboard shapes. Most lineups are filled with performance surfboards or a beefier, more “domestic” version of the performance shortboard. 

But as time has gone on, you are starting to see a retro revolution of old school shapes and “alternative” boards. These boards are breathing a breath of fresh air into the lineup, and you see people of all skill levels gliding atop these pre-2000s shapes. These people have the right idea. People are all built differently, and believe it or not some people definitely fare better on a fish than the hypersensitive shortboard that your favorite surfer is riding in a heat. You could hop on a fish and just be blown away with the ride this shape has gifted you. And fishes are just the tip of the iceberg: mid lengths, asymmetricals, bars of soap. Thrusters, quads, twins, singles, finless. The possibilities are endless. 

Riding boards outside the comfort zone stirs in your brain new ways of wave riding. How you once thought you had to surf two foot waves has been turned upside down. Having this broader mindset of what to ride, when to ride it, and how to ride it can add a large amount of milk froth into your brains surfing coffee cup. Seeing a dribbly two foot reform can stoke you out if you have the right board to tackle it. Every surfer knows how fun getting wet is, even if the results are more sub par than you expected. Most become better people after they’ve had a surf in their day, and these boards will help you tack up more sessions than ever before. Many have jumped on the alternative shape bandwagon, but tons are still stuck in their ways.

To circle back, not apply this short tale of the evolution of surf craft  to whatever you want. You only listen to two genres of music: expand your taste and you could find a whole new world of tunes that you really like. All of this is about programming your brain to not fear change and embrace trying new things. Yes, this is much easier said than done. And there are much scarier choices and experiences that require trying something new than picking what surfboard you ride or what music you listen to while you work. Between home life, professional life, and just life in general, oftentimes we are thrown a curveball whether we like it or not. Having a flexible mindset can help you hit it out of the park, or at least anticipate what pitch is coming next.

Here’s some inspiration: someone with a high-performance background welcoming alternative shapes with open arms.

A GREAT WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY: BREAKING ROUTINE

In the normal 9-5 world, the weekend is the holy grail. Sundays turn into Mondays, and after Monday we are already wondering where the weekend is. Saturday and Sunday’s offer most an open slate for whatever they wish to do. Whether that be have some fun, better yourself, socialize, or have some me time, there is an infinite amount of choices you can make to spend your weekend. At least for me, they are pretty predictable in a sense: there will most likely be surfing each morning, potentially a workout and a run, and the nights of recent have been hanging out with my roommates and other acquaintances. Soon enough, the nights will be occupied with debauchery and suds. I can’t tell you how long this has been my routine. Sure, throughout my career work has been on the weekends in my retail days. But this really didn’t alter my schedule. It was everything I said above, all for the most part in my local neighborhood, and any open space was consumed with some of my activities I liked- reading, writing, making beats, watching videos, sunbathing etc. 

Sometimes we need to switch it up though. It might seem hard to believe, but sometimes I don’t want to surf. I do it every morning so you could see how some days I just want to do something different (obviously this is when the waves are small or look less desirable, because my fomo for waves is still strong as ever). Take some time off and start the day a different way. You see, I think everyone needs to practice this. We often get stuck in such a rut of monotony that we don’t even notice. And a lot of times it’s not really a bad thing to be stuck in a routine. Sometimes it feels good to have that familiarity. But oftentimes I believe you gotta switch it up sooner or later. Somethings gotta go different, even if you are seriously invested in whatever you are doing. Everyone needs a break.

First thing you can do is change the activity list. It’s always nice to try something new or do something you don’t do as often as before. Whether this activity is taxing or not is up to you. Don’t read a ton? Take a morning to eat some words before breakfast. Haven’t worked out in a while? Get the body moving and see if you get hooked again. Always eat out? Try and cook every meal for fun. Just try and shock your body and mind with something you don’t do often. This is really easy and doesn’t require much effort. You can also change the setting of where you are. Spend some time with yourself and keep it low for a weekend. It’s a pretty good way to reset and feel fresh if you have been taxed. I feel like I have spoken to this subject before, but just breaking routine is a great way to spend a day off. It might be not as comfortable or regular as your normal routine, but that’s the best part. The shock. Kind of like the first dip of an ice bath. 

Whatever, wherever, or however you plan to spend that weekend: don’t’ fret. There are plenty more in the year, and it’s not like they really go away. If you spend the weekend how you usually do that’s just fine. But at least acknowledge the idea of something new.

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.

EAST MEETS WEST: LOCAL SUMMER

I tried to keep some little columns consistent on this site, as it was fine to write to the stipulations each one held. East Meets West is a fun one, as I’ve lived in both sides of the United States for a decent chunk of time now. Here is me revisiting it since the last post on MARCH 3RD, 2020.

LOCAL SUMMER

Local summer is a phenomenon I really came to appreciate as I grew older and became more washed up. As a grom all throughout highschool and during my early years of college, I longed to be home for the summer. Lavallette (my hometown) is a special place in the summer. A town with the population of 2000 jumps to I don’t even know. I’d like to say it triples, and that might even be an understatement. This mile long town and the bordering small towns jam in as many people they can on the weekends, and even during the week it is still filled to the brim. The amount of traffic my small beach town would gain in the summer was one of the most exciting things to me as a kid. Memorial Day weekend was when the gates would open, the 4th of July marked a somewhat halfway point, and Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah.  Going from a school year with all my same classmates and the routine of school then to 3 months of more friends coming down from out of town, more to do, and more people to see. Working in Ocean Hut during the summer was always a ball. It’s always fun to see the same customers supporting the local business and chopping it up with pops and later me as I grew older right in front of them. I started working there in 8th grade, and stayed all the way until I was going into my senior year of college, so many regular customers saw me change quite a bit. Long story short, Lavallette summers were what I longed for every year.

It felt like my whole life I wanted to be 21 and truly enjoy summertime outside of the normal operations. But funnily enough, by the time I hit this life milestone my allure of summer had started to wear off. Don’t get me wrong, Summer at home is still probably the most fun time for me, as I have a ton of friends who don’t live in Lavallette so in the off season it’s quiet. But simple tasks like getting a coffee or driving to work take twice as long during the summer. Even parking is tough. It’s funny: little did I know it, but the place I now live in faces the same summertime influx. Newport is way more populated in the offseason than Lavallette, but in the summer we face the same overcrowding as home. This is where we make an ode to the local summer. 

AT HOME: A TRUE LOCAL SUMMER

Lavallette is a place that truly faces the pure definition of a local summer. When labor day weekend passes by and everyone goes back to schooling/work, the beaches become desolate. Days where there were once hundreds of people sprawled across the sane turn into days where you might see one or two people. Most local businesses are still open, but the lines and crowds are at a minimum. It is almost the best of both worlds, as weekends see the influx of people return, but still not as much as a summer day. The most crowded it gets is when there is surf during the local summer. Lavallette is an untouched beach town in this month or two span for the most part, as I have had so many surfs and beach days with absolutely no one around. The temperatures are still warm both on land and in the water. I haven’t got to experience September in a while back in Lavallette, as I come home roughly twice a year- once during the holidays and then usually once in the summer. But I think that needs to change. Hurricanes swells, warmth, and nonexistent crowds is what we are looking for, and fall typically delivers all the above. As far as really warm temperatures, September is where it is at, and October could be really nice or start to dip down.

CALIFORNIA: STILL CROWDED

California’s local summer is a little different, but not all that different. They typically coin local summer to include September and (potentially) October as the local summer season, and in California these might as well be extended summer months. This year in particular, we experienced extremely warm weather and water temperatures in both September and October, so I think the local summer has a little extension cord on the west coast by a month. Just last Sunday, I spent a day at the beach sunbathing on the first day of November. By that time at home, the temperatures have dipped. As far as crammed crowds and difficulty doing things, Newport gets just as bad as home in the summer months. People driving from inland to escape the heat and hit the beach make it hard to drive anywhere (especially to the beach) and navigate around town. In peak summer months, we typically bike to the beach to avoid the 30 minute extravaganza that is finding a stall. Businesses are booming, the same 3 holidays (MDW, The 4th, and LDW) are jam packed, and it isn’t much different than home. One stark contrast is that in Newport, summer can bring some solid swell and September and October I’ve had some of my favorite surfs (similar to how home is pretty good during (September/October). With the extended local summer, the crowds stick around till mid September, but by October you are in the clear.