I love surfing lowers. Unpopular opinion for some surfers, but for me stroking into a lowers left is a feeling like none other. Sure, it might take a while to get said wave and sometimes you might leave a little disgruntled, but hear me out. For one, it’s a wave that’s so perfect you can go and pick how you want to surf it. Straight up and down, more round and directional, above the lip, or on the rare offshore day inside the tube. The mechanical perfectness is second to none. Two, it suits almost all board styles and is the perfect testing ground for new boards or styles of surfing (repeating myself here). Three, it’s the most condensed pool of talent you’ll find in America, from CT top fivers to up and coming groms, industry heads, and old mates that still got it. So even if you find yourself not catching a wave there’s at least some sideline entertainment.
It all started when I came out to CA to look at schools and surf lowers for the first time with my dad. I’d seen all the clips, especially the ones from one of my favorite surfers Kolohe. The nike wetty’s and graffitied mayhems were just as real as in the clips I’ve seen-considering we almost collided when he faded after I took off deep, and my floater to bottom turn almost connected with him coming down from a snap. Although a moment most would lament, this is seared into my brain as this was “california surfing” and a world collided moment for me.
Kolohe and plenty of other lowers clips usually featured one of my favorite artists growing up: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. What’s more California than RHCP? Nothing. What’s more California than lowers? Probably a couple things, but for me it’s up there. So without further ado-I present cobble hobble! 5 sessions from 5 days on the cobbles. 5 different boards. Initially, I wanted to stack up and have a proper multi-location clip but when I looked on the hard drive it was almost all from the fabled wave in San Clemente, so I decided to package it up and send it out. Watch now! Please.
If you are an avid subscriber to this site or subject yourself to my instagram spamming on @gqgio, you probably know that in February I took my maiden trip to Hawaii. Specifically the North Shore. AKA the epicenter of the surfing world. With many waves to tick off my personal bucket list, there was one that I knew I could potentially have an interesting connection with: Sunset Beach. Now, my pops and I are very different surfers (mostly because we grew up in completely different eras of the sport), but we’ve always had some similar styles when it comes to certain things and even mimic the same movements on occasions. On top of this, we also share the same love for some spots along the California coast, all while being one goofy foot and one regular foot. My dad’s love for Sunset Beach is one that I’ve always known about-as he claims it as his favorite wave in the world.
When there’s a shit ton of swell on the North Shore, there are a lot of spots that get overpowered with swell and don’t really work. Two breaks that can take pretty large amounts of swell are Pipeline and Sunset. Both as different as can be, I’d be lying if I said they were of equal consequence. Pipeline is probably the gnarleist wave on Earth, so it holds a bit more terror to it’s power than Sunset. With that being said, the beach and the point at sunset both know how to deliver a proper flogging.
A massive playing field with a long paddle out, multiple peaks, and sneaky sets that can come from what seems like every angle, a longer board is pretty much demanded, not recommended. Paddling is the name of the game, and for most booking it to the channel when you see mountains of water out the back can be a common occurrence, and you’ll be thankful you are packing the extra inches. With that being said, unless it’s tiny, you can still get smacked around in the channel. In a sense, nowhere’s safe. On Top of this, unless you ride a massive board, you need to sit more inside to catch the wave on the ledge, making you even more prone to copping one on the head. I think of all my sessions, there was only one I was able to dodge every set. It’s a bit of a write of passage to take a set on the head out there.
As an added bonus (and also annoyance), my whole time surfing out there was with the top 32 surfers in the world, as it was on the world tour schedule this year. Paddling battling them for waves? Not fun. Watching them surf smaller boards and be jealous you can? Not fun. But there is one joy I got to experience in this instance. There’s not much of a better feeling than dodging a bomb at sunset and looking over to see a world champion surfer doing the Waimea duck dive seconds before getting exploded (as bullyish as that sounds). I think everyone that’s surfed out there has been in the position, so it’s not bad karma to laugh when you see Italo or Griffin get demoed by a set. Sunset is the great equalizer. No matter your ability or alertness, it’s pretty hard to not get humbled one way or another. Not to mention it is hard as hell to surf.
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).
Travel is one thing I maybe haven’t had the chance to do a crazy amount of in my life. And not for any particular reason, really. The places I’ve been outside the USA are sparse, but there’s plenty to see in America-especially if you’ve hopped around states and seen all the quadrants of the country. Long story short, whenever I get to take in a new zone I get excited and always tend to make sure to capture the beauty and local flavor with both my handy iphone and also my canon film camera (which unfortunately is suffering some light leaks).
Recently, I got the opportunity to hop on over from Orange County to the beautiful island of Oahu in the island chain of Hawaii. I had only been once before-circa 20ish years ago. And as a surfer, the north shore of Oahu is pretty much a hajj any dedicated surfer needs to take (but more on that later). I really didn’t have much recollection of the inaugural trip, so I was excited to get back over there and take in the change of scenery.
The landscape of Oahu is lush and green. You land in the city of Honolulu but as soon as you get on the H highway system, you are often surrounded by green on all sides. The air smells fresh. It had a refreshing breeze so we rolled with the windows down. I feel like after 5 hours on a plane any type of fresh air feels good. But this air felt especially good.
40 minutes later and we got into the stretch of island I would spend most of my time at-the 7 mile miracle aka the north shore. So much green and blue. Seeing 10 foot waves groomed with trade (offshore) winds got the heart beating pretty quickly. What would come in the next 12 days would be tons of surfing, plenty of sightseeing, seeing old friends while making new ones, and just an overall stress-free stretch of time. It’s easy living.
As much as I think I am a good writer and a rather descriptive one, I think some of the pictures would tell a better story. Here are a few selections from my film rolls in Hawaii:
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.
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.