Some time ago an acquaintance revealed to me what he believed to be a revolutionary idea. He saw other guys doing it at Lowers, he told me, so he tried it and it really worked! Unbeknownst to me, locals had been in the know for some time, apparently. Waxing the tops of your feet, said my acquaintance, is the way to keep your paws from slipping off your board after walking out on the slick cobblestones at Trestles. Just rub your feet together once you begin paddling, and presto! No more slick soles.
The cat’s outta the bag among pros who’ll do anything to get an edge. Astute viewers will likely see more than one hobbit-footed competitor during the Swatch and Hurley Pro with wax balled up in the hairs of their feet. Unless of course, they shave their feet. Anything to get an edge, remember?
Truth be told, I have yet to try the technique, and expect those that wax their feet devoutly to come at me in the comments. Still, here’s why I believe this so-called hack might just be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
The prevailing logic of waxing the top of one’s feet is that the soles get slippery as one dances away from the shoreline on the cobblestones before reaching an appropriate paddle depth. And shit, you got me there. I’ve definitely looked like a flightless dodo bird flapping my wings for balance to avoid falling after a slip – nothing tragic yet, luckily.
But, riddle me this: if the bottom of your feet are occasionally too slippery to grip into the wax on the deck of your board as you go to pop up for your first wave, why in God’s name would the wax on top of your feet have the magical properties necessary to somehow stick to the bottom of your slippery little tootsies? Would it not just rub the wax deeper into the hairs of your feet?
“It really does work, though,” you say. “I wasn’t a believer until I tried it to prove a friend wrong and now I’m a ritual foot waxer,” you say. “Can’t surf without it.” Far be it from me to call you a liar, friend. But let me suggest an alternate explanation – rubbing your feet together at all (wax or no) is probably getting rid of the slippery grimy gunk you track out to the lineup. It’s what folks in the medical field call the placebo effect in action. If you didn’t rub your feet together at all, of course you’d slip. But rub your feet against a non-slick surface – the tops of your feet sans wax, the sleeve of your wetsuit, the back of your hand, anything you don’t mind passing slippery properties off to – before paddling for your first wave, and I’ll bet the tacky properties will be comparable. Better still, the tops of your feet won’t have wax permanently stuck in those hairs.
Tell you what. Because we live in the scientific age these days I’ll put this theory to the test for you and report back. How’s that sound? Until then, maybe nix the foot wax. You look like a hobbit.