Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How To Get To Be a (Technically) Better Surfer

How To Get To Be a (Technically) Better Surfer

We all make a few New Years resolution. On this post, I would like to share what were useful for my surfing skills improvements. You can write to me at Master(at)StokeMaster.COM for suggestions and I will share with our loyal WavLOG fans.

Surf with Better Surfers Once in a While

For the morale support getting out with people with similar level is important and that's my standard mode of operations in most sessions, but every once in a while a chance arises that someone better than you might ask you to come along. I'd ask to make sure that the condition and place is OK for you (and they can usually tell.) What this does is to add a bit of exposure for you to surf in a bit more difficult situations, for example, more powerful breaks or uncharted (in your map) locations. After successfully coming back (you do almost all the time) from these sessions, it boosts a level of confidence in your surfing abilities. I've "leaned" to go to OBs, Montara, and "outside peaks" in SC this way. And ask lots of questions how to surf in these areas.

Go To Surf Camp for a Week

There are instructor-lead adult surf camps all over the places. I would recommend actual tent-camping (not hotel kind) surf camps that would go to somewhat remote locations like Baja, let your cell phones die and be a 100% surfer for a week. I would not do one with your friends since getting instructions every day and meeting other better surfers is one of the most important thing.

Stick with One Board

Sure it is tempting to buy that quad, this fish and keep blaming on tools for our inability to surf well. We are taught from early on that we solve our life problems by consuming. I understand that we need to support our economy this way but for the art and surfing (and the art of surfing) exploring all possibilities within the limitation or confine of a medium is of key importance, I've realized.

So stick with one surf board for a while and really get familiar with it, explore everything about surfing that darn board. I am talking about doing this for one or two seasons. So pick one board this year and surf until you feel you have graduated from it.

Next time you see our friend Elizabeth or Jocelyn, ask for their stories on this.

Enter in A Contest or Two

One of my very close friend strongly disagree with me on this on the ground that any competing activity is bad, but depending on your personality, having a drop-dead goal date is a very strong motivator for getting things done. I fall into that category of people. Surf contests have a fixed date to go for, and of course we need to perform on the waves. I do often have to rely on something like this to set a goal. If you are more determined person, no, you can set a goal without such a thing, I agree.

So I enter the contest early and practice for it. Locally in this area there are "all levels" contest two or three times in Pacifica later in the summer and fall. They are really for the enjoyment of surfing by the community and your fees will support local beach cleanup programs too. I will guarantee you that you won't be on Surfer Magazine's cover for appearing or even coming to the first place on any of these contests. But I know I will be competing with my own limitations year to year.

Surf Regularly

This may be difficult for you but I'd set aside a block of time, declare that as "your time" with your family and friends and so long as it is safe to go, then go. If the condition is not safe I'd still do supplemental exercise like balance board, yoga, or even flick up practice on the floor. But as for the condition, I won't knit pick, don't be greedy and think only about riding, if anything build the paddling strength. I've realized that a good part of successful take-off is in paddling strength.

See you out there!


Anonymous said...

That's a good list, one thing I would add is:

Master your home break. Get it totally wired and dialed, whether you "rip" or are just an average surfer, really tune in how your home break works and be one of those people who is always in the right place for the best waves of the sets, etc. Your time in the water is going to return a lot more when you have the break wired and you should get the most out of the place you surf most often. This can mean surfing it when it is sub-par, over-crowded, or on fire and extremely challenging. You gotta paddle out anyway and deal. As a result you will wind up at the top of your local pecking order too, which will prepare you better for paddling out elsewhere and cracking lineups, competing with others who have their spot dialed, etc.

Okay well maybe two things -- one more:

Keep a (private!!!! please!!!) log of tidal conditions relative to surf quality at your home break and how well you found it / surfed it every time you paddled out. Being able to compare forecasts / current reports to conditions you've surfed before and logged helps. A lot.

Unknown said...

Yeah! Free! Thank you so much for great comments. I completely am with you on what you've said!