Thursday, December 29, 2016

it's really kind of odd

I've been surfing for over 50 years.
The other morning as I walked my dog
on the beach and was watching and checking
the surf, a stange thought struck me. Surfers
are really an odd group.  As I watched the
tiny swell coming out of the south being
groomed by the wind it struck me…
We fashion and live our lives around wind
born energy moving through the ocean so
we can use planks to ride the wave.

We has strong feelings about slabs of
wood, foam, or some other manmade
material.  We have intimate feelings for
various shapes and designs…is it long or
short?...  round or pointed?…thick or
thin?... what shape do it's edges have?
it's bottom, what curves and contours does
it use?  All designed to ride a wind born

We have tried to organize our lives in a
manner that provides us with as many
opportunities to ride these energy waves as
we can.Many of our friendships have been
formed with others who share this odd passion,
almost all-consuming pursuit. Many of
our relationships influenced by it.

We have traveled worldwide in efforts to
simply ride the wave energy in that particular
place.  We've dubbed many of these places
as holy places…we've committed to memory
what shape the energy moving through the
ocean takes.

Come on..when you think of surfing in
that manner, it is  really kind of odd.  Wind
born energy moving through the ocean has
been a major influence in my life.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Happiness is an inside job

What makes you happy? Do you need the surf to
head high? overhead? Must the wind be offshore
and the water warm? Would you need to surf alone
or with a select few? Think about it for a bit…
happiness is something we all seek.

I'm sure you know a surfer who seems to be
perpetually stoked…who enjoys being in the
water no matter what the conditions, no matter
what board they are riding.  They seem "high on
life" as they say. Grateful just to be alive, healthy,
able to enjoy the ocean and the friendships surfing
has provided.

We all know the other kind of surfer…the one
who's rarely happy. The conditions are never
what they want, the line-up always too crowded.
They are quick to criticize and make judgements
rarely grateful and always looking for something
or someone to blame for their unhappiness.

Don't look outside yourself at others, things,
or situations to make you happy.  Don't get stuck
in a blaming mode. It's not the size of the surf, the
board, the crowd, or the conditions that are
responsible for your happiness it's all in how you
choose look at things…how you look at others…at life.

Happiness in surfing and in life is an inside job.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ride the waves you get

We've all spent hours dreaming about
great waves.  We've read about some of the
worlds best places to surf, stared at photos and
movies of those epic waves.  You know
the names, Sunset, Pipe, Cloudbreak, J-Bay,
Malibu, Honolua Bay, Uluwatu, etc etc, the list
goes on and on. If you've been lucky enough you
may have even surfed a few of these places,
scored once or twice.  Admit it though, most of
the time you surf your local breaks. Most of the
time we all surf lesser waves.

I'm not putting down your or my own local
break. Each has its day. Each can be pretty damn
good…sometimes…under the ideal conditions…
with the right angle, the right wind…with the right
tide.  But most of the time, most of the waves we
all surf are the waves we get, not exactly the waves
we want. Not the ones we dream of.
It's rarely perfect but we all make the best
of what we've got.  We all figure out how to enjoy
and even become grateful for whatever we get.
How many times have you heard someone say
"at least it's surfable" It was better then it looked.
I had fun anyway…at least I got wet."?

In life we'd all do well to take that attitude more often.
Sure, there are some dealing with jobs they don't
like, in relationships that aren't perfect.  Pleanty of
folks look at the results of the last election and are
unhappy.  We'd all be well served to ride the waves
we get rather then be pissed off that we didn't get
what we dreamed of, that it wasn't perfect.  We all
know that there are only a few things we can do. We
may not be able to control the surf but we can make the best
of it. Learn how to deal with the conditions we have, adapt.
We don't give up being who we are. We don't stop doing
what we can to make things improve,   Learn to ride
slop if that's what you get, try to be a better tube rider if
you are in a place that's barrel filled, deal with the fear of big
waves if that's the norm.  Control what you can, take
action to make things better. That's all you can do.

Learn to ride the waves you've been given because
we often don't get the waves we want. Not getting
what you want is no reason to give up surfing, to
loose your stoke, to stop checking, to be filled
with negative energy.  Who wants to be around the
surfer who checks it daily only to say "it sucks" and
who never gets wet?  Not me for sure.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Accepting change and adapting over time

I spent some time the other day talking with
a guy who has surfed with me at my "home
break" for decades.  He hasn't surfed in a few
years now and is really sad about it. "You
know how much I loved surfing that old
longboard" he said.  Loved (past tense) being
the key word. What had changed for him I

He'd stopped surfing a few years ago.  A knee
injury impacted his ability to surf the way he'd
like. He's now in his 50's a bit older and has
slowed a bit with age.  More importantly, he said,
the crowds that had populated his beloved
line-up had taken the fun away. changed the vibe.
"You know when I started surfing there I could be one
of the only people out…you remember" he said.
"Now the place is mobbed…you have to fight for a
wave… people are yelling at each other, angry, dropping
in, hasseling each other. I can't take it" he said. "It's not as
much fun anymore! Someone yelled at me for not wearing
a leash. I hate wearing a leash" he angrily said.

Surfing has grown in popularity over the past decades.
Every line-up in the world is more crowded then it was.
Surf schools are everywhere. Novices and
kooks who grew up with a sense of entitlement have
invaded popular breaks worldwide. My buddy is right.
But is there a way you can retain your stoke and continue
to have fun?

He was reluctant to seek out another spot or even move to
a different peak.  He refused to do the right and safe
thing and wear a leash.  He refused to accept and adapt.

Accepting and adapting…key ingredients to happiness
not just in surfing but in our lives.  How do you do accepting
the things you cannot change? How well do you adapt?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Different Perspectives

The wife of a friend of mine recently decided to
get a stand up paddle board and try it out. This couple
lives in a place where, during the summer, the ocean
is flat and waveless.  It's a place where the crystal clear
water offers wonderful opportunities for paddling over a
vibrant living reef. I like to call it stand up snorkeling.
That same reef, during the winter surf season, enables
massive waves to break in an inspiring fashion.  My
friends wife has watched those waves in awe often
wondering what it must be like to be "out there".

Being "out there" is something we, as surfers, take for
granted. You can't catch a wave unless you are 'out there".
Ah, but once you are "out there"it's special. Seeing the
world from the line-up is quite different from seeing the
line-up from the land.

My friend's wife brought home to me what we as surfer's
often take for granted.  We see the land from "out there",
that's a perspective we're used to.  She was quite taken
by being able to attain our perspective, seeing the land
from "out there".

Seeing things from a different perspective can be eye
openning. All too often we get locked in to seeing things
from one point of view and not understanding that there
is another way to look at things. What problems or challanges
in your life could benefit from seeing them from a
different perspective? Adopting a different point of view?

Monday, May 23, 2016


We've all made them... mistakes I mean. Come on
admit it, there have been sessions when you really
screwed up.  Some screw ups are relatively minor
like picking the wrong wave in a set, grabbing the
wrong board from your quiver, waiting for the wind
to shift or tide to change. We've all dropped in on
someone without having looked or thought about
what we were doing.

Some mistakes have more serious consequences.
Ask anyone who has surfed over a shallow reef,
fallen ackwardly and suffered cuts and scrapes
that might have ruined a session or trip for that
matter.  Have you ever found youself washed into
a rock jetty or groin? I'm sure you've broken a
board! Remember seeing the jet ski barely miss
landing on a surfer's head in Tahiti?

There are some mistakes that have larger and
seemingly more catastrophic consequences.  We
all have heard about someone drowning or becoming
paralyzed. We've seen photos of surfer's being carried
off the beach. We might even know someone who
has become too enamored with drugs or alcohol and
destroyed their lives and the lives of loved ones.

In life we all make mistakes. Sometimes, like
in surfing, the mistakes are minor, the result of not
thinking, other times they might be caused by
making bad decisions.  All we can hope for is
to learn from the minor ones, think long and
hard before acting without listening, and pray that
no real catastrophe happens.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Retire, retool, restart

Kelly Slater is off to a terrible competitive start this season.
There is little doubt that he is perhaps the greatest surfer in
history, however, this year something is out of sync.
His performance and luck have been inconcistent to
say the least. Who knows what the rest of the season will

Recently Kelly posted more video from his wave pool.
CarissaMoore, Wingnut, and Kanoa Igarashi were having
the time of their lives riding perfect manmade waves.
Long barrel sections, not a drop of water out of place.
Kelly, the proud papa (so to speak) was smiling and taking
video. Enjoying watching his friends have

The Kelly Slater surfboard label is now being marketed as are
Purps and Outerknown.  Lots going on in the life of a 44 year
old professional surfer Interesting new endeavors.
What does this mean? Is Kelly retired from competition?
Are his interests expanding and is he spending
more time on projects he enjoys other then competing? Perhaps
it's simply the next stage of life, all part of aging and development.

We all will reach a time when we must consider retiring, retooling,
and making a change.  We all age, we all experience some decline.
We all reach a piont where our motivation to engage in certain activities
wanes a bit. That's not a bad thing it's natural. Perhaps Kelly is showing
us how our own futures can be. Embrace change, follow passion,
dive in to something new. He's still an amzing surfer. I'm sure he
will win a few this year but it just doesn't seem that important to him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Just keep paddling

We've all been there…watching the surf pump,
searching for a channel or easy way to get to
out.  We watch and wait only to realize
that there will be no easy path to pleasure today.
If we want to get the sheer joy of those perfect
overhead waves there is little we can do but to
jump in paddle.

Sometime the paddle out is easy, we get a break.
Other times it's unrelenting, almost a strange torture.
Wave after wave march towards us as we make our
way. If you are on a short board it's duck dive after
duck dive. Those on longboards seem to have an even
harder time. The paddle seems endless. It feels like
the ocean doesn't want to let you get there. Will you
ever make it out to the lineup?

A break  is coming...

You paddle and paddle, mustering every ounce of
strength and energy you've got. This time you'll
make it out. Your  determination builds as you watch
those who have been lucky enough to
make it beyond the never ending line of white water
feel the joy of riding waves. You imagine the feeling.

Sometimes life feels like a long difficult paddle. The
struggle seems almost too hard but you persevere and
just keep paddling.  You know exactly
the sheer joy of the wave… the sheer joy of the ride,
the joy of life.

Sometimes it's not easy, we just have to hang in there
and keep paddling.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Surfing and Mood

It's been a few days of record breaking cold in NJ.
There is still snow on the ground and, in fact, it's
snowing right now.  I haven't been in the water, thanks
to limited daylight, my work schedule, and uncooperative
tides in a few weeks.  I'm finding myself getting a bit
antsy and moody, agitated, and in a funk. Seems I'm
more motivated to eat things I shouldn't, sleep, and fritter
away my time.  Sound familiar?

Every surfer I know seems to get down when he or she
can't get in the water enough.  Add in a dose of low
temperatures, (making outside activity difficult - hey who
wants to jog, walk or bike ride when the weatherman is
warning about frostbite), and a diet of facebook photos
from friends who have fled for the tropics and you get
the recepie for Surfer's Seasonal Depressive Disorder.

We are better able to endure flat spells when the weather
is nice enough to be outside. Hey, you can paddle, run,
bike, or walk. In the summer you can swim, snorkel, fish,
row, or take out the SUP for a flat water downwinder.
But when it's cold, grey, and snow covered the options are

I know it sounds like I'm whining. I know, I'm really spoiled
and lucky - hey I'm outta here again in less then 2 weeks!
But, I've binge watched a bunch of stuff on Netflix, watched
my favorite surf related dvd's, finished reading a bunch of
books, gone through the current Surfer's Journal in record
time, and spent entirely too much time on facebook. I'd better
get back to eating right, exercising, being mindful and grateful
for all I have.  That for sure will help my mood.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

rekindling relationships

I've had lots of house guests and friends in town this
past few weeks.  Being that I have a pretty big and
diverse quiver visiting friends often ask to borrow a board.
In to the board closet they go sorting and looking for a board
that tickles their fancy.  When the board locker is a bit more
cleared out then usual I get to see the boards in the back,
the boards tht I've not ridden in a while.

My normal quiver was easy to find but I also found a board
I haven't ridden in quite a long time. The board is Paul Baymore's
(the Fly) take on a Dave Parmenter Stubb Vector. There is a
long and wonderful tale about getting the dimensions for that
board, but I'll save that for another time.

I pulled out the board, put in some new fins, waxed it up
and decided to ride it.  Hey, what can be bad about a first
light session with offshore winds and waves in the chest
high range?  On the first wave I easily glided in, made a
nice bottom turn and the board flew down the line. Ah, I
remember this board I happily thought. Wonder why I
stopped riding it? Guess everything old is bew again. It's
been my go to board for a week or so now, can't seem
to let it go back into the locker.

Finding an old love, an old board, or old friend can create
many emotions.  Sometimes it's really good to go back, to
rekindle relationships.  You never know what you'll get.