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 YEAR IN CLOSURE

It’s 8PM on a Friday. It’s actually NYE, to be precise. I take another sip of wine out of a stemless glass (they just look better). Mixtape Lil’ Wayne plays out of my Macbook speakers. I have a pretty decent speaker setup in my bedroom, but something about the old music with the rawness of kinda shit speakers strikes a cord. Now about the wine. One of my new things to try in 2022 is wine. Sure, I’ve slapped the bag and drank wine before. There have been many deadly hangovers in my day from a classic Wine Wednesday. But I’d like to get an appreciation for it-similar to my love for coffee. It’s funny though, I make a resolution to drink more alcohol even though I am trying to kick liquor of all kinds to the curb in 2022. Not for any reason other than it just makes you feel so shit the next day. Don’t worry-I’m still going out tonight. I can’t just sit at home on Fridays and Saturdays. But it’ll be light in comparison to previous years. 

The idea of resolutions I think are great. I saw somewhere on social media someone say a statement along the lines of “I don’t make resolutions because I don’t wait”. Sick man. I’m not saying I wait until the new year to actively try something either or achieve a certain goal. But I find a new year let’s you account for all happenings of the last year and focus on things you might not have gotten to put attention towards or you missed out on trying. Sometimes, it’s a challenge to do something within the year (like surf 365 surf sessions, or my new number based challenge, train 1000 rounds of boxing drills). I also feel like it’s a time at the end of the year where people are more comfortable sharing what they improve on (even though that should constantly be in conversation).

If anyone thought I was doubling down on 365 surfs as a resolution-you are wrong. It wasn’t terrible in the moment, but it was grindy. There just wasn’t enough swell this year (not that I was trying). And I knew with how I was approaching it that it probably wasn’t going to happen. The number? A little over 300. Not bad but a decent bit off. I just always try to surf when I can.

This wine is OK. In my newfound trials I have for sure found better. But I still don’t know much about it. “Banned” by Lil Wayne just came on. It’s Weezy sliding over the old N.O.R.E. beat from Banned From TV. A classic. But back to the year coming to a close. I’ve been lagging on writing, which is unfortunate because when I get in a groove with it I write my best and it just feels good to vomit on the word doc. That’s kind of what this one’s about. Just a quick journal-esque rambling before I decide to shower and head out. What else can I jam in here before it seems like some quickly written blabber (in pure honesty it is)? Upon taking one last sip and looking up, this has some decent substance to it. Self reflection, new ideas for 2022, surfing, music, and some witty sentences (self proclaimed). Check ’em all off. That’ll do. Onto 2022.

REST IN PEACE WELCOME PROGRESS

It’s time to pour some out for a failed endeavor. Early in the quarantine of 2020, I found myself with tons of time outside of work. Mainly on Friday and Saturday nights-times where me and my friends would normally go socialize on the streets of Newport or Costa Mesa. Without these longer nights, I found myself unoccupied from around 8PM-11PM (if I didn’t go to bed at my normal 10PM time) and then I was also waking up spry and ready to go at 6:30AM, sans hangover. So what to do with all this time? 

Surf a bunch, that’s a given. I wrote quite a bit. I picked up producing music-which lasted a little longer than expected but has certainty waned off. Not for lack of enjoyment. Cooking beats is so fun and enjoyable, but I will say when I was really deep in it I was trying to at least touch the program almost once a day. With more and more time off, it seems harder and harder to replicate previous works I was proud of. Maybe one day. [Sidebar: there’s plenty of music to listen to from Himothys discog (here)]. I feel the same about writing-if I am not doing it often, it’s harder to be inspired and also harder to string together words in a pleasant manner. 

But I found myself wanting to try to build something bigger than my own personal site. A site that had a little more depth and a bit more of a refined scope than my often written ramblings you can find all over this site. So I took my very ameutuer website design skills and took a crack at it. I decided on the name and went to work. I often would spend an hour or two a night when I had the time tinkering with the design. Don’t get me wrong-I love the design of my personal sight. It gets the job done, but is very basic. In comparison, it took me quite some time to figure out how to build my second site in comparison to my first (shouldn’t it be the other way around?).

Welcomeprogress.com lived approximately from the middle of  2020 to early 2021. Upon looking back on the pieces embedded on the site, there are for sure some writings I thought were better than average and differed from the first person storytelling perspective found on this site. I think before I pull the plug on the site I am going to transfer some of the works to this site-so they may live forever and potentially be read. I even built out an IG profile that was embedded to the homepage, acting as a moodboard and easy way to share that new posts were on the site. 

For full transparency, I didn’t push Welcome Progress super hard. I knew it was sub-par as far as the effort I was truly putting into some of the writing, and by the time it stopped getting posted on I was knee deep in work that nothing was getting written for both sites. I could see myself swinging the bat again, but I think it needs a little more fine focus and ideas behind it before the next launch.

Back to sharpening the blade

Hey-it’s been a little while. Personally, it feels like it’s been a really long time. But if you scroll down to the next chronological post after this one, you’ll see it’s only been a handful of months. Nonetheless, the frequency in which my writing passages were being created started dwindling exponentially since my last post (damn that sentence sounds exquisite). Prior to writing this one on July twentieth, they had actually been non-existent. 

It’s not because I stopped writing in my career-I still definitely did that rather often. And it hasn’t stopped. I probably write close to everyday, but for a paycheck rather than personal growth or enjoyment. It was a pretty rigid routine-work Monday through Friday and then be as far away from the laptop (and especially writing) for the duration of the weekend. This sounds a little concerning, but it’s not like I gave up on knowledge gaining pursuits as a whole. They say to be a good writer you have to read, and I had been reading a shit ton. My bookshelf is within arm’s distance of my desk, so let’s see if I can get a rough estimate of books read…turns out my memory isn’t that sharp and with the amount of books on the shelf I got confused as to the time I read some. Upon referencing my amazon purchase history, it looks like the number is fifteen. So around 2 books a month. Some long, some short. But you get the picture.

So it’s a Tuesday morning (now Thursday) before I plug into work-I chose not to surf as we have been on a swell bender and the waves looked average at best (there probably were a couple fun ones). But nonetheless, here we are. Back to tapping the keys for enjoyment. And it’s not that I do not enjoy writing for work-it’s awesome. But for me, it is much harder. Right now I am literally just taking the shotgun blast of ideas in my head about this post and putting them into the google doc. Much less thought goes into these posts, and I write them in my character and tone, which isn’t too hard to create as it’s me. 

Alright time to wrap this up (as I could ramble on for paragraphs)-I’m back. Keep your eyes peeled for new word spewings from me, all in due time. 

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.