1.) Do your Homework
Thought you could escape class for a surf? Hahahahahahaha–No. If you are a newcomer/beginner/slacker, it’s good to study up on the actual break or else allow the locals to school you.
And hey, we all learn in different ways! Just be sure to get a good understanding of “when the wave breaks here, don’t be there” concept and try to stay out of the impact zone. Often times perfection and hastiness will get the better of us and we charge out to the peak only to discover a side shore current that conveniently drops us off right where we don’t want to be.
Damn, there goes that Clif Bar.
In case it’s not totally obvious, ask yourself: Is it a point break, beach break or a reef? Where do you want to paddle out? Where is the impact zone? What waves are people avoiding and why? If you can stand it, take some time to chill on the sand and watch a few waves roll through before jumping in. Chances are there is a Surfline cam dedicated to that spot, so you’ve probably already watched it online, anyway.
2.) Patience, Young Skywalker
Once you paddle out, this is also a great opportunity to sit back, relax and observe the natural flow of the lineup. Try not to be pushy and paddle straight to the peak. Paddling out there like Billy Badass won’t score you waves unless you’re a pro…but most of the time, these guys are humble and kind when they paddle out any way. The peak is not a place for an undeserved sense of entitlement. Stow the ego.
Do not–I repeat–DO NOT snake, back-paddle or drop in on a local. That’s a great way to leave your wave count at 1 and local respect at 0.
No matter how popular or populated, always show respect for the people who have already put in their time at the break. But remember: much like they taught you in preschool, everyone gets a turn and you will get yours.
If you’re constantly getting snaked and this is your fourth or fifth visit to the spot, forget what I just wrote. (see ‘Tales of a Back paddling Player‘)
3.) An Attitude of Gratitude
Yea, you might not get the same amount of waves as you would from your usual spot at first, but showing appreciation towards the locals goes a looooong way
Remember how awesome it is to be a surfer! Think about the first time you ever paddled out and how excited or nervous you were and then think about the first wave you ever stood up on! Typically that will bring a smile to your face, right??
When the crowd grows to overwhelming proportions and your wave count is in the single digits, forget the small stuff and be thankful you have the capability to be out there in the first place. Didn’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving? ;)
:D :D :D :D :D
4.) Fight for Your Right
Just keep that Beastie Boys song in your head while you scour the lineup for a ride. If you’re a newbie, take what scraps you can get before working your way into the lion’s den. You gotta earn your stripes first, so get out there and take what you can! A little inside runner at Lowers
can sometimes be a better shaped wave than the peak, anyways! Some places are gold mines with elusive perfect peaks that sneak through the outside or swing wide from the peak. Those, to me, are fair game. Just be sure come prepared with a strong paddle game! Do those extra push-ups and keep that cardio in check because in a crowd, cardio is key.
Keep hunting grounds open for any opportunity to legitimately place yourself in a priority position and fight for that right to party…with a smile.
5.) There Will be (more) Waves
It is not the end of the world today…at least I hope not. Good thing for us several million surfers around the planet, the ocean never sleeps or goes on vacation. It will bring more of those luscious rippable lines again…and again and again…every day, somewhere on the planet. Unless you have the time, grapes and/or Benjamins to go on an epic journey in search for your perfect private peak, crowds will always be a reality. So stop whining and put those big girl panties on!
There will always be more waves and you will only be that much more prepared once they roll through again! All the more reason to cherish those epic days when everyone at your break is scoring waves, even your newbie self. Some of my most memorable and special moments were at Lower Trestles with 50 people out during a firing swell. Smiles all around, enough waves for everyone, sunshine and dolphins …it’s magical. But don’t expect this every time. More often than not, waves won’t be perfect and the locals won’t always be in a giving mood. So sack up and practice that cardio! It’s not the end of the world! :)
Until then–absence makes the heart grow fonder.