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.

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. 

Living in the Paddle Battle Capital

ABOVE: AN EXAMPLE OF PADDLE BATTLING AT IT’S APEX (AT LEAST IT IS FOR A LICK OF WORLD CLASS WAVES).

Southern California is a tropical paradise. Ok, tropical paradise might be a little bit of a stretch. But in my short life and sheltered viewpoints as far as travel and locations, California really has it all. Nice weather most of the time, fun surf, nice beaches, cute girls. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I have longed to live in California since I was a child. Sure, I might like the beaches back home in NJ more. And the pizza is not as good out here. Back home, Summer time was crowded and congested. Where I live, it is even worse. Southern California definitely has a crowd problem, both in and out of the water. Nothing grinds my gears more than trying to navigate an uber-crowded lineup or waiting 45 minutes to get into a bar just to order 2 drinks before it’s time to go home. Fun stuff. All this bitching and moaning aside, California for now has my heart, and it’s not too hard to see why. 

But let’s hone in real quick. If I had to have ONE major qualm with the golden state, it involves surfing. California single handedly has to be the paddle battle capital of America. I’m sure you make the argument that peak season on the north shore might give it a run for its money, but California 365 days out of the year has to have the most wave hungry surfers. In some instances I get it. I know that if I am going to surf a battlefield like Lowers or pumping 56th street, it would be cute to think I wouldn’t have to get in peoples space and take waves. I think that’s maybe where it starts: having to actually take waves in order to catch them when it’s crowded. I like to think I give people a decent amount of waves. And I don’t get many given back to me. On a rare occasion someone that isn’t my friend will chest pass me a wave. I always make it a point to thank that person afterwards, much like if someone gave you a free coffee or something like that. It’s just basic etiquette. When I am not catching waves and no one is giving any waves away, this is when it gets eggy. I think this sometimes brings out the absolute worst surfer in me and others. While I always am respectful and never burn or heavy back paddle people, sometimes I give out absolutely zero handouts and sweep up every wave that comes where I am the deepest (unless a friend is on the shoulder). 

Now I can recognize this and slow it down, but for the most part if I am being respectful I don’t see too much trouble in it. No one bitches at other people when they are catching a ton of waves, but for some reason I tend to cop it on the head pretty often. Certain places require this cutthroat mindset, as much as you dislike having to throw it on. The problem arises when people resort to shit etiquette to catch waves. Getting super close to someone while paddling for a wave, telling them to fuck off, or just blatantly burning someone is when it tends to cross the line. The best part: the people who resort to this definitely are in the bottom of the talent pool when it comes to ability. They can only catch waves by doing these strange actions. Or their uber-macho localism shines through and they just feel they have the right to deliver fades left and right. Luckily, it is not like every session we have to deal with this. But if the waves are good, the chances of a lineup altercation or getting torched increase exponentially. 

Even on the smallest and most dismal of surfs, I can find myself getting paddle battled to catch a two foot closeout. In these instances, we just need to lighten up and laugh a little. Nothing is better than really wanting to catch a wave (a shit one at that), making sure the person trying to shoulder hop sees you, and then that person lets out a sarcastic statement or still decides to go because maybe you’ve been getting a bunch of waves or they haven’t gotten one in 20 minutes. Often people like to say shit just for no reason or fade you just because fuck it. There are a lot of bad eggs in the California lineups. No matter how shit of a session I am having or how crowded it may be, I can proudly say I rarely fade people. 

Lowers is in a whole different universe in itself, like we touched upon earlier. People will do anything to get a wave out there. And I have been on the receiving end of a lot of these strange exchanges. In my mind, if I can’t get a wave the right way, without back paddling anyone or doing anything that would label me as cheap, then I might as well just not catch that wave. I have caught plenty of sets there without any foul play. It’s not the hardest thing to do. Unfortunately, a lot of other people do not feel this way. There are so many tactics and ways to appear like you are in the right, but at this point I just kick out. People really can get offended if you call them on their bullshit, even if they are blatantly in the wrong. Some people really just don’t get it. Or really think their ability or some other defining factor about them makes it ok to act up in the lineup. 

However, I think this passage might be painting the wrong picture. As my years of living in California lengthen, I tend to know the nooks and crannies to enjoy a peaceful, quiet session as long as it’s under head high. And there are plenty of times everyone is smiling and sharing waves. We just came off a pretty fun run of swell, and it seems like everyone has had their fair share of waves. With a long flat swell incoming and summer crowds still looming their ugly head, I am positive the next solid swell we will have plenty of  people that are going to be going mad to subdue the wave-stricken appetite of not surfing a head high wave for a while. If you find yourself tangled up in one of these strange altercations next time you are in the water, just shrug it off and keep surfing. Like I said in my last post, surfing is so fun. Don’t make it not so fun for the others around you.