Surfer, Coach, Writer

It happens to the best of us. Photo: @kook_of_the_day

The Inertia

Surfing absolutely sucks. It’s the most painfully-frustrating, annoying and exacerbating activity a person can choose to include in their life. It just sucks.

It was always better yesterday, it’ll always be better tomorrow. Yet somehow, there’s zero hesitation to tell someone you scored better waves than them. There are no second thoughts about telling someone about the waves that you knew they couldn’t surf, or telling someone it’s pumping when you know they have to work. Your buddy is putting in time at his nine-to-five while you surf on your lunch break. Well then, you have a moral and societal obligation to send him a picture of the best set wave you saw whilst providing an immaculate description of the conditions, mostly to confirm your prediction about how the swell direction, period, tide and wind all came together like you’d told them earlier but they said they had to work.

Your buddy was having a perfectly good day, going about business with no worries until you told him how many great waves you just scored. And uncrowded. Now he’s totally stressed, scheming how he can sneak out of work. Calculating how many minutes he’ll be able to surf before dark. Visualizing how many waves are breaking without him. Already mind-surfing imaginary faces. Ironically, while it sucks hearing about waves you didn’t surf, it’s unthinkable to play the ignorance is bliss card. If there were waves, you want to know, even if you couldn’t go.

Let’s imagine you are at the office, sneaking looks at the cam all day long, anticipating that by some miracle the waves will stay that good, or miraculously improve once you wrap up your shift. You watch people surfing on cam, thinking to yourself, “That guy blew it! I would’ve tucked under the first section, got spat out, done a roundhouse cutback then given that lip a proper beating at least six to seven times!”


Except you would do none of those things because surfing sucks.

The only thing worse than watching the cam in agony is flipping through pictures of people surfing. Those are the absolute worst. No one is ever sharing backlit photos of flat days with onshore winds. On the days when those pictures are taken in absolutely pumping waves, surfing really sucks. Those are the days you and your friends talk about. From the beach. You’re all screaming at every wave, frantically waxing your board all the way to the nose before charging into the water (because it’s pumping and who knows if today is the day you attempt, and stick, your first air reverse). But big days always look smaller from the beach than they feel in the water. Because surfing sucks.

These are the days most of us’ll end up just hoping to snag one without getting destroyed. Realistically, you’re going to get drilled by an outside set more than once, dragged so far back in that looking back out would only convince you to give up and stay safe on dry land. Once you make it back out to the lineup, though, after draining the salt water from your nose, you’re completely on edge. That set that bombed you a few minutes earlier still lingers in your mind. Now you’re frantically peering over each passing wave, looking like someone trying to score drugs in the wrong part of town. You’re also trying to do that while playing it cool and of course yelling at your buddy who didn’t take off on that last bomb.


“What an idiot! If I were in position, I would’ve pulled into that first section, got spat out, ripped a huge roundhouse cutback and smacked the lip at least six to seven times.”

But you didn’t because surfing sucks.

What you did do though, is get the one wave that had a perfect section for the massive snap you’ve been working on for years. You timed and angled your bottom turn perfectly. You ripped your shoulders around and absolutely bashed the lip as you’ve always dreamt of. It felt incredible. It felt right. It felt smooth. It was timed perfectly. All you can think about from that point on is doing that snap over and over and over again. You finally did it once, so it’s sitting in your holster now.

Hopefully, you savored that one moment because surfing sucks.

See, you thought that completing the turn of your dreams once meant all other turns would follow in their quality and style. Yeah, right. You won’t complete another turn that feels as proper for months if you’re lucky. See, that’s the thing with surfing. It sucks. It’s not like other sports where you can do the same thing over and over again. You’ll never get that wave again. You won’t be gifted that once-a-year section your next ride. You’ll be chasing that feeling the rest of your life and you’ll be chasing a wave to do it on, too.

You have zero say in when that opportunity will come again. You’re at nature’s mercy; shifting tides, fickle winds, stampedes of Wave Storms, and gypsy sandbars. It’s a maze with no end and no way out. It’s a maze you’ll run through forever.


Your significant other won’t understand. Neither will your boss. Your spouse has probably spent the equivalent of seven years sitting on the beach when it’s not beach weather. It’s the equivalent of you being dragged around a mall all day, but at least malls have pretzels.

But nobody gets pretzels at the beach because surfing sucks.

Actually, maybe it’s not the worst thing to do in the world. Maybe.

There are some moments that don’t suck. When you get that session where it all lines up, the crowd is thin, the waves are on and you’re surfing up to your potential, there’s nothing else like it. No other thing can suck as much as surfing and keep you coming back. Nothing can replicate the pure sense of euphoria when things go right. Nothing feels like coming out of the water after six straight hours with cramps all over your body, every inch of exposed skin sunburnt, and stoke levels maxed out. There’s nothing else you can do as fun as calling every person in your contacts to describe every wave you caught that session. Every. Single. Wave.

On the longest, roughest days of your life, you’re only a session away from being in a good place. Surfing removes you from the technology, thrusts you into nature and forces you to live in the moment whether you’re getting drilled by a set or pulling into the section.

Surfing opens up your world, figuratively and literally. You’re pushed to travel the globe even if that means your spouse will never go on a vacation to any place without waves (and probably food poisoning).


There’s nothing you’ll ever want to do more than surf. But man, surfing sucks.


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