Surfer/Writer/Burrito Enthusiast
A Look at My Personal Surfing Hell

Even if the waves are firing, this just isn’t much fun for some people. Photo: Brian Yurasits//Unsplash

The Inertia

What do you picture when you imagine your own surf hell? Infinite wave hold-downs? Surfing next to one hundred middle-aged dudes named Chet? Getting surrounded by foam-board-wielding beginners that will burn you literally and figuratively for all eternity? The wave-rich state of Nebraska? Or maybe you are living it right now – and, if you are, welcome to hell, fellow sinner! It’s great down here – way better than those pious bunch of suckers up in heaven strumming lutes and frolicking through fields. We’ve got booze, heavy metal, the two best Beatles, and plenty of surfing. We’ve even got a Sbarro now! Can I get you a warm Zima?

Eternal surf damnation is all about nuance. You can’t just throw a pile of souls into a lake of fire, add some swell, and expect everyone to be terrified. That’s just another summer Saturday at Lowers. The Devil is in the details, they always say. And that’s why my personal surf hell starts in an unlikely place – Maine.

At first glance, my underworld pit seems like paradise – it’s an empty beach break churning out perfect A-frames. The wave itself is an easy drop, has racey sections for maneuvers, and ends with a head-high barrel that would bring KSWaveCo to its knees. It would be the most brilliant wave anyone had ever laid eyes on.

Except there’s one problem: It’s the middle of winter. In Maine. Even Hell is struggling with climate change.


But fear not! I’m a resourceful lad that plans ahead and brought a wetsuit. And not just any wetsuit – the finest wetsuit money can buy: The HEAT HOARDER 9000 – designed by a team of NASA engineers using space-age material, it contours to my body for a perfect fit, maximum warmth, and increased aerodynamics.

But herein lies our second problem. It’s a 3/2.

There are penguins waddling around. Some of them are drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. It’s cold, man.

That’s okay! A 3/2 suit is still kind of warm. The HEAT HOARDER 9000 should keep me toasty enough to tough out at least one perfect wave before I paddle back into the comfort of whatever car I am assigned in hell (fingers crossed for a Pontiac Aztek).

But – oh. Oh no. The 3/2 is soaking wet. So now, in order to surf this glorious wave in front of me, I need to struggle into sopping wet neoprene when it’s roughly eight degrees outside to avoid freezing to death. And there’s of course a catch here – I will freeze, but never actually die. You can’t die once you’re dead. That’s science.

Because I’m a brain-dead caveman surfer that sees a perfect wave and thinks “mmmm – me surf wave. Wave good,” I will still pull, yank, and stretch this now literally wet suit onto my body, finagling it in frigid temperatures until it finally fits, and attempt the paddle out despite the staggeringly atrocious conditions I’ve been presented with. I will immediately become a block of ice.

Because I’m a soft Southern Californian, cold weather causes my body to stop functioning and turns me into a lousy statue. Any hope I might have had to shiver my way into a wave or two will be immediately crushed once my knees refuse to bend, I lose all feeling in my feet, and my pop-up turns into more of a slow roll towards failure. Should I overcome these arctic conditions and make it to my feet, I would be nothing more than morning wood on a surfboard – standing straight up with absolutely no idea what I’m doing here.

And this would be my surfing hell – shivering and suffering for all eternity. Too frozen to enjoy a perfect wave, too proud to call it quits, and too stupid to ask if this region of hell has a surf shop to buy warmer gear.

And they do of course – but it’s a PacSun.


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