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.

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.

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. 

A NEW OUTLET

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a month now. For some reason I haven’t hit publish. And the reason is unknown to me.

Even with all the free time I’ve had on my hands, I still find myself having to choose what to do. You’d surely think I’d have time to do everything I wanted to with this new quarantine lifestyle. But maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? See here’s the thing: they say splitting your focus into too many different lanes is counterproductive. But I would disagree. I think things that are new and fresh are going to require more focus until you hone them to the level of expertise similar to other activities. So since trying new things, I’ve devoted more time to these activities I am far less familiar with. As usual, every morning consists of a surf. Just to get it out of the way. Not that it is a chore, but getting up early and striking before winds and crowds has definitely been my wavelength as of late. Even though it might be one of the things I am most an expert in (don’t take that the wrong way), I still love to give it the time and attention it deserves. Sure, I’ve woken up at 6 for the past xxx mornings, but I’ve fully gotten used to it and even when I don’t surf I still rise fairly early. If it’s a work day, I am preoccupied until around 5 or 6. Those days are a little more boring. I can pick 1 of the things I like to do after work. I have that 2 hour window to do whatever. Then it’s eat around 8 and watch a TV show with my roommates. In bed at 10. The TV show might be looked at as wasted time, but it’s time all of us sit on the couch and shoot the shit. Sometimes we pass on it but most of the time it’s our bonding (aside from our daily sunset bike cruise). So maybe I’ll fish. Or maybe I’ll read.  Maybe I’ll cook up a beat. Maybe I’ll go on a run. Maybe I’ll work out. Maybe I’ll surf. Maybe I’ll write. Do you see where I am going with this?

It seems like I keep writing these posts saying the same thing: writing has taken the backseat. But no longer! I had mentioned in an earlier piece about a side project I have quietly been working on, and I think it’s about time to let it rip. They say you have to fail a ton of times to succeed. And this might be a shot in the dark that amounts to nothing. But the cool aspect of it is that things are cemented on the internet, and I’ll always be able to look back on it and smile. And maybe learn from the mistakes. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know what the outcome could be. So here’s a quick synopsis on my new site.

Yes, it’s another website. Why? Because why not! I love this site, and it seems like (very few) others do too! Love is a strong word, but just work with me. It’s a snapshot of my professional career and me flexing my writing chops (if I even have any to flex). If you know me, you know I really don’t like things to be about me. If it doesn’t pertain to any but me, I usually don’t talk about it. I try not to gloat or boast. I (typically) am humble and quiet. As it should be. So it only made sense to make something that wasn’t all about me. Enter: Welcome Progress. I grew up glued to some surf media outlets. What Youth, Stab, SURFING (RIP), etc. Things have surely changed as far as paper magazines and how these sites are ran, but I loved reading interviews and pieces penned about things in the surf world I was enamored by. I still read articles off sites like GQ, Pitchfork, Stab, Inherent Bummer, etc. The shift from pure surf media started happening as I grew older and also more found of writing and styles. I am definitely a surf turkey by nature, but at this point in life I like to think I am a lot more. I think just being labeled a surfer got so stale. So let’s spin from that into what Welcome Progress will be about. It’s going to have some elements of surf. That’d go under the realm of “Activity”. There is also Mindset and Everyday. It’ll just be cheeky little pieces that fit into each one of those bins (or the trash bin if it sucks). Opinionated or fabricated pieces, made easily digestible. 

But it’ll be more than just my writing. I will reach out to others and post their shit. I want to talk to some of my friends and get their opinion, because I like to think I have a pretty diverse group of friends. With varying degrees of notoriety, hustle, and intellect. Some I talk to way more than others. Some tell me a lot more than others. But that’s not the point. I only know so much. Other people know a lot more. It would be strange to let other people in on a website that was named after me, so peer work will live here. Just a whole bunch of random shit! I also tried decently hard to make it look good. I think the layout is cool and a more complete site in comparison to my current site. The homepage is a mood board, linked to @welcomeprogress. It will be embedded with art, design, surf, and anything I think is cool or fits the brand. It’s still me at the helm, so you could probably guess the vibe (if you know me). Well, that’s it. Let’s see what happens!! If you are keen to give it a look, click HERE. If you want in on it, text me or reach out on the contact page. Come one come all! There’s not much currently, but if you want give the Instagram a follow and check out the little pieces I wrote under each category.