A list for managing the unpredictability of surf and life
I went out in shitty surf conditions this morning at my local beach break. A few things I learned about shitty conditions:
If you hope for perfect conditions, you’re always going to be disappointed.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, watch what other people are doing and emulate them until you know what you are doing.
If you’re good enough, you can make shitty conditions look good (I am not that good).
As measured in energy and time, surfing is 90% paddling, sitting, waiting and diving. It’s max 10% riding waves. The internet portrays it as an inversion of this ratio.
Stretch. Just do it.
Take breaks. Let the whitewater pass (it eventually always does), then paddle.
Paddle like hell when you have an opening to do so. You don’t know when you’ll get another opportunity.
If you feel frustrated at the surf, look at the clouds, feel the water, smell the salty ocean and realize that being out there in nature is more of the point than anything else.
Find a way to work with conditions vs. fight with them. Things are more fun when you let go a little and adapt.
You always have to paddle a little more than you want to get out of the whitewater, but it’s always worth it.
Try to laugh when you take a wave to the face.
If you feel overwhelmed in the water, take a deep breath (not under water), focus on your next move and the fear will usually subside. Concentration can burn anxiety as fuel.
Waves can be surprising. Don’t underestimate them. A seemingly innocuous one will steal your soul if you’re not careful.
Other surfers are often the most dangerous thing out there. Pay attention to your surroundings.
Planning ahead can set you up for more success than raw talent. Had I checked the surf report this morning, I might’ve gone out at a different time and place with better conditions. I didn’t, and I got shitty conditions.
That’s all I have for now. I may revisit this list in the future. I’ll definitely revisit this list when I’m having a rough day–in the ocean or otherwise. Shitty conditions can be frustrating, or they can be intriguing and challenging. The interesting part is you get to decide. That choice is important.