Where did the waves go? Word on the street is that El Niño has taken all of the wind out of the East Coast's sails and puffed it into the Pacific, which has been active as all get out by the looks of the highlight reels on Instagram and Surfline. My Swell Info app is telling me we may get a few waves next week, but I'm not holding my breath. I check that app about 10 times a day and it is different every time that I do. The truth of the matter is that I hope it's right because if it is we're looking at 3-5 days of fun waves, and we could all really use that about right now. By this time last year we had named swells Bertha and Cristobal, which both produced pumping surf in the well overhead range.
This brings us to the important topic of patience. You have to wait for swell. And then when it comes you have to wait your turn to catch waves. And if you're just a beginner (and by my standards this means a person with less than 3 years experience) that means you're going to have to do a lot of waiting. I have been noticing that people hire me to take them to next level in their surfing -- to start learning to judge and catch more waves -- but then when we get out in the water the reality is that they still belong on the inside, riding whitewater. When we go out the back I can help you judge waves but if you have not developed the paddling ability to go for them (commit to the vertical, as in a previous article), no one, not even me, can do that for you. You have got to want it and you have got to go for it. I am an expert coach but I cannot implant my knowledge in you as if it were a computer chip. And most of all, surfing takes a lot of time and dedication. You cannot only surf once a month, only rent boards, and expect that you're going to improve very quickly. You need to commit all of the way. Buy a board or many boards. Get your wetsuit game down. Go on surf trips. Buy a car for surfing out here or get a Zipcar membership. Go before work. Go after work. Surf all day on the weekends and paddle when it's flat. That's the kind of dedication required to get good at surfing. And when you're out in the lineup remember that as a surfer with little to no experience you're at the bottom of the food chain and not only must you catch scraps, but you must look for those scraps and hunt them down. The better you are at hunting and catching scraps the faster you will improve, hands down.
I realize that I have just used the command 'buy' here many times. If you have already taken lessons with me then you know the power of putting your money into your surfing practice. It is just as with anything else: the more you invest the better your chances of returns. I cannot think of anything more rewarding to invest in than a life dedicated to riding waves (and getting good at it). To me that sounds better than a fat IRA. What are you going to do with all of that money if you don't know how to surf?! I know, lots of things, but still, they aren't going to give back in pure stoke wattage like surfing will. To my mind, it is just not possible. The other side to this is that if you do not invest in surfing then you only have yourself to blame for not getting good at it. And furthermore, once you start investing if you do not have the patience required to let it grow on its own you will also be disappointed and frustrated. For this reason you must revel in the small successes: paddling stronger, popping up more smoothly, watching the sunrise or set, dodging a huge set, or timing a perfect turtle roll.
Speaking of patience, there have just been 4 (or 5?) long lay days at the Hurley Pro/Swatch Women's Pro at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, CA. I've watched a lot of the footage from the first few rounds and there's some exciting quarterfinal match-ups on both sides. My call for the men's champ is Gabe Medina and Carissa Moore for the women's. Action should be back on today. As I have written about before, watching the live events is a testament to the patience required to get good waves. I watched Nat and Owen sit for 16 minutes the other day and not catch a wave! Of course they paddled one another out of position for the first set, but still, even that proves that if you miss just one opportunity, that could be the last one in quite some time.
There are still spots open for Montauk, the first weekend in October. Payment is required in full by next Saturday, Sept 26, to secure a spot. Payment for the CR January camps is due by December 1, and for the March camp by Jan 1.