The Journey Towards Having More FUN Surfing

Surfing means different things to different people, but should always remain at its core

Fun

Lack of progression and fatigue leads to frustration which then leads to an unpleasant lineup.  Nobody wants that.  The first step in thwarting this downward spiral is to improve your entire surfing experience, from the pre-surf ritual, paddling out, deciding on a spot to surf, making adjustments, choosing the wave for you, riding with flow, kicking out, sharing with others, and finally exiting the water to talk story with others afterwards.  At its root, to have more fun means to improve.  It doesn't matter where you start in this journey of progression, from novice to pro, you can always improve and enjoy the experience of surfing just a little ... bit ... more.  

 

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Pre-Trip Surf Ranch Takeoff and Paddling Training Increases Probabilities of Making Waves

I’ve luckily been to the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch ten times now, almost all of them as a coach or analyst.  The first few were as a consultant for WSL/KSWC to analyze why surfers were missing waves.  After studying the problem and providing clear solutions, the performance training plan in which my paddling training was going to be apart of was tabled.  But those experiences sparked an idea.

What if I could provide takeoff and paddling training BEFORE surfers arrived at the Surf Ranch?  Would that increase their chances of making waves? 

Those questions lived in my brain the next few times I had been invited to the Surf Ranch as an assistant coach, an extra resource to the surfers on the trip.  As I provided on-site training, I kept asking myself how effective would a pre-visit training course be and how could I measure it?

My next step was a bit obsessive.  I began compiling data.  When I was brought in by WSL, they had collected all of...

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Spreading Aloha at the Surf Ranch

surf trip Dec 15, 2021

This past month I was fortunate to be asked to coach at the Surf Ranch again, this time with Barry Green, head coach at Centered Surfing in Santa Cruz.  

I am always in awe of the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch experience.  In a place in which a surfer benefits with more waves when someone falls, no one is ever rooting for someone to fall.  In fact, the majority of the behavior I see are surfers spreading aloha to each other. 

When a surfer falls, but the next surfer can't go because of the timing, I don't often see that next surfer complain.  Rather, I see that surfer cheer on the surfer that fell, propping them up rather than putting them down.  I've even heard surfers call the next person down the line to go, and surfers giving away priority waves to other surfers.    

Maybe it's the groups I've had the chance to go with, maybe it's the culture radiating from the surf guides and safety team, or maybe it's just luck, but I've seen very...

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Plan B - A Surf Story

boat surfing surf trip Sep 27, 2021

Sometimes, the best plan is a backup plan.

As surfers we learn to be adaptable. Tide changes, we adapt. Peak shifts, we notice. The goal is always the same - find that wave riding feeling.

This past month a few friends and I had planned a trip and those plans went to hell in a handbasket. So, we had to pivot, and it turned out to be one hell of a ride.

Mike, Andy, Kevin, Travis and myself had planned out a three day boat surfing trip at a location renowned for good water all day. The campsite was booked, the boat prepped, itinerary set. But then the Caldor fire in the Tahoe National Forest smoked us out.


The air quality forecast was unhealthy for the days we had planned to go. What to do then? Chance it, and hope the forecast was bunk? The wind forecast is notoriously inaccurate when there are wildfires.

With two from our group inbound via car and plane, we had to make a decision. Lucky for us, that dead wind that forecasted the poor air quality was perfect for a local surf...

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Not Another Surf Ranch Clip

I hate to say this, but unless you experience the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch yourself, it’s hard to imagine the spectrum of emotions, thoughts and feelings that drive you to share your experience with everyone you meet. I’ve coached there five times now, and have had the opportunity to surf it twice, and can attest that there is something special about the experience.

The night before you get to surf the wave for the first time, your heart pounds faster than a drum roll. You then attempt to calm it through a variety of breathing and meditation techniques. The effect is negligible before you begin again to imagine yourself blowing the wave, or not making the barrel, or not being able to catch it, and your heart rate goes up again. And this is all the night before you arrive.

Upon arrival, with little to no deep sleep, the roller coaster begins again with your heart rate as you try your hardest to understand where you’re supposed to sit in the basin, how to decipher...

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Golden Water Time Rule

surf trip surfing Feb 16, 2021

My friends and I developed a Golden Water Time Rule when we first started surfing.  It wasn’t formally discussed, or written down, but this simple golden rule of ours kept us happy and would guarantee we would get in the water each and every time we went to the beach

I grew up about 35 minutes away from the closest beach, an hour away from the closest beginner break, and when I started surfing, I was too young to drive.  At one point, I created a foamboard presentation (that’s what we used before computers) attempting to convince my mother why it was in her best interest to drive me and my friends to the beach.  “You’d get a lot of reading time in, without interruption.” “Sun and relaxing!” (That one was a bit of a stretch in Northern California as the coastline is notoriously cold and overcast).  “We’ll even pay for gas.” (another stretch – I’m not entirely sure we had enough money to...

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From Bog To Barrel

The science behind repetitive practice is sound.  We all understand this.  But few of us implement it effectively

It’s not just that practice makes perfect.  It’s really more that perfect practice makes perfect

A wonderful case study supporting this is my client, and (I’m honored to now say) friend, Tim.  Tim was dedicated to improving his surfing at the end of last year.  The progress he felt after his first boat session last August was enough for him to go “all in” by getting the Sunset 8-session Pass for the following season (2020).  His plan was to commit to learning small technical changes that paid huge dividends in the ocean.  And it worked.  Big time. 

This is Tim’s story, from his own mouth (picture timeline of his progression below)

“Man, where to start?  First off, boat surfing every few weeks over the summer during COVID was a lifesaver.  50-minute drive...

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Surf Stories - My First Trip to Asu July 2010

surf trip Jul 22, 2020

The side image of the set I saw pulling up to Asu for the first time in July 2010 still lives in my dreams.  Six to eight foot solid walls of crystal blue water wrapping and peeling from the top of the reef in front of me.  

Earl pulled us right up to the channel.  I watched as Earl, Samantha and JP jumped off and paddled to the takeoff zone.  Pulling out my camera, I decided it may be prudent to watch a few roll in before extracting my board.  

A lull in the action.  Seven or so surfers were already in the lineup.  "Crowded" by Asu standards.  JP, Samantha and Earl added to that but it gave me good insight into which waves to paddle for and where to sit.  But I couldn't quite see where to lineup from my vantage point to the side. 

A set reared it's head on the horizon beyond.  It began reeling down the reef, fast as a freight train, then slowed when it neared Earl.  He was positioned about fifty meters...

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Adventures in the Desert - Baja Coaching Trip

surf trip Nov 01, 2019

Baja. 

I don’t speak too much Spanish, but I know what “Baja” should translate to.  “Adventure“.  Because it’s always an adventure when I venture south of the border down that skinny, jagged peninsula.  Or should I say that we get to really test Murphy’s Law (I know, Murphy is an Irish name, but c’mon, when does anything go wrong in Ireland in comparison to Baja?).

When things go wrong, that is where the adventure truly begins.  And boy was it fun.

             

For weeks we had been tracking Hurricane Lorena running up the coast of Mainland Mexico.  Is it going to hit our camp?  Is it going to send extra swell and perfect conditions?  The anticipation was killing me as I woke up each day leading up to the trip and checked the new path five different forecasts were reporting.  In the end, Lorena wasn’t the problem.  Mario was (I...

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Surfing Paddling Academy Surf Trip Indonesia 2019

surf trip Apr 22, 2019
“I caught the best wave of my life and I have no doubt it was because of your paddling coaching.” – Garry H
The crystal blue water rose closer and closer to the sky in front of me.  The sun’s light seemed to get darker with each moment.  “In 2, hold 2, out 2, 3, 4, 5…” I focused on my breathe and making sure to conserve energy.  This was going to be a romping.  Stay calm.  Don’t fight it.  The wave detonated in front of me, sending whitewater twice the height of the wave I saw moments before.  After traveling thousands of miles along the roaring forties and raging fifties, then up into the Indian Ocean, the wave unleashed all of its energy at me and boy, did I feel it.  We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. 
Garry, setting up (photo by Earl)
And Thomas setting up (among the coconut trees)

Every time I run a Surf Trip I get nervous.  I get nervous not because...

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