Rincon. Get ready for some backside action, you goofy-footers. Photo: <a href="">Dan LeMaitre</a>

Rincon. Get ready for some backside action, you goofy-footers. Photo: Dan LeMaitre

The Inertia

Don’t be a screw-foot in California, they said. Put your left foot forward, they said. Every good point in the state is a right, they said. You’ll spend the rest of your life going backside, they said. You’ll have to decamp to Indo or Pipeline or Raglan, they said. Women prefer regular-foots, they said.

I didn’t listen. So now I’m stuck butt-wiggling down the line at most of California’s premier breaks. But there are more lefts in California than is generally acknowledged. True, most of these lefts aren’t “points” or “epic” or “very good,” but there are some nuggets. Of course, during summer south swells, lefts appear as if by magic throughout the state, approaching parity with the dreaded rights.

When thirsting to go frontside during the winter, there’s also another option for the California screw-foot: go left where none exists. Just simply go left. I do it all the time. Often you can get a decent wall and crank a few turns before it closes out. It’s better than nothing. At a local spot, a pure right, my buddy Gene even has a name for my propensity: Tom’s Left. I’m apparently the only person who has ever gone left at the spot because the practice is completely illogical. In addition to a short and lumpy ride compared to the long, clean right, going left gives you the added bonus of being dumped right in the impact zone for a pounding when you paddle back out.

But it’s not all bad. Numerous studies have shown that screw-foots have significant advantages over regular-foots in life. They have higher average IQ’s (Smith et al. 2012), more empathy (Johnson et al. 2014), and make better lovers (Chu 2015).


Alright, I just made those studies up. But being a screw-foot in California does build character, as they say, and the summers are pretty sweet. So, knowing what I know today, would I have put my left foot forward three decades ago when I started surfing? Not a chance.

Well, maybe.



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