The best surfer is the one having the most fun, right? What if the waves suck or you suck or some punk keeps dropping in on you–still having fun?
Here are seven Jedi mind tricks that can help you have a great time, even when you have all the reason not to:
We’ve all heard that surfer in the line-up screaming profanities at themselves when they blow it on a wave. They are not having a good time. Don’t be in a one-man contest. No matter what the conditions are, if your only goal is to strengthen your paddle and catch a mediocre wave, then you are more likely to have fun. The pressure is off at that point. I usually do this if the conditions are terrible. Once I make my session only about ‘paddling and exercise,’ any wave I get is a bonus.
Don’t fight back. If your goal is to have a pleasant session, any altercation is going to bring you down. People are going to be assholes. And for some reason, it’s double-time in the water. Even if they are wrong, you are better off paddling away. I’m speaking from experience of doing the opposite. I have tried talking about it calmly and defending myself. It never works. Let the assholes be assholes while you keep your stoke.
When I do have an altercation in the water, I try to put my fragile ego aside and think ‘what can I learn from this?’ As cliché as it sounds, it can be powerful.
For example: while longboarding I saw a set wave and started to paddle for it. There wasn’t a person near the peak and I was closer than anyone else. As I paddled towards it, I noticed a guy paddle-battling me from behind for the same wave. I was closer to begin with and in position for priority, so I stayed my course, got to it first, as expected, and caught the wave.
As I took off, he screamed at me. I paddled back to him and asked him why he yelled at me. He told me to “Fuck Off” and then paddled away. The next wave I caught, he screamed at me as I got up, again. I kicked out of the wave and I asked him again what the hell his problem was. He said I was “catching too many waves.”
Before this, I was having a mellow session. It was not crowded, the surf was 2-3 feet and fun. I was catching a lot of waves, but I wasn’t burning anyone. I tried staying calm while attempting to talk to him about it, but all he wanted to do was fight. I paddled away and tried to ignore him, but the damage was done. I was no longer having fun.
So, I asked myself “Could I give more waves away?” Maybe I could let some go by every now and then. At that point, I decided during every session, I would give away waves, for no reason other than ‘just because.’ It has been incredible. People are so thankful and approach me in the parking lot to give thanks. It has raised the quality of my sessions like I never thought it would.
So, to the assholes out there – I will turn your shit into gold and have an even better time. :)
It’s okay to talk to strangers. Compliment someone on a nice wave, ask a question about their board or introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised how many surfers are open to conversation.
Drop “yews” on anyone getting an exceptional wave, or express your ‘stoke’ for the beginner you just saw make a break through. Remember what it felt like to catch your first wave? Pour some gasoline on that fire and pass the positivity around. It’s a great way to ensure that no one looks at you with aggro vibes and you will be less likely to get them back.
“Once you take out a foamie, the only real goal is to try to have the most fun out of anyone in the lineup; it’s like being a kid again,” said Professional Longboarder Christian Stutzman. Christian has placed in longboard contests up and down the California coast, including winning the National Surfing Scholastic Association State College Longboard title in 2016. He also placed third in the noseride divisions of the Guy Takayama Pro. He is no beginner.
So, when I saw him driving around town with his foam board I had to ask.
“I love surfing foamies because they give me the freedom to just surf without any pressure, and it lets me have fun on any wave–big or small.” If you see Christian on his yellow foam board with a giant neon pink plastic fin, you can pretty much guess he is having the most fun. And he just might invite you in on a party wave.
In direct contrast to my foamie advice, another way to have fun is to get better. Pick one skill to work on and make it a practice session. Since surfing has one of the longest learning curves of any sport, you should expect to get only slightly better at said skill with each session, if you’re lucky. Upgrade your shuffle to a cross step or work on ditching the bottom turn during your takeoff and set a line. It feels good to be working at something out of your normal bag of tricks and even better when you master it.
Shawna Baruh grew up in Western Massachusetts and in her early twenties moved to Cape Cod. There she learned to surf in the Northeast’s frigid waters and the joys of a 5mm wetsuit. She split her time between Cape Cod and Boston and earned a BFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston. Her new love for surfing brought her to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Mexico in search of adventures and new waves. After graduating college, she decided it was time to move herself to warmer waters. She and her dog trekked across the country and landed in San Diego where she still lives today. She appreciates the warm weather and water like a true New Englander and firmly believes that sunny days are meant to be enjoyed outdoors. She is currently a marketing consultant, photographer and a proud Mother of a toddler and two teenage step-children.