In surf, decisions like what board to bring, what wetsuit to pack, and where to surf can make or break the rest of your day. Photo: Mark Harpur

The Inertia

Surfing, much like life, is a game of split-second choices. Let me explain.

Last week at my local, winds were forecast to be offshore, waves were in the 2-to-3 foot range, and the tide was set to be crazy high.

I woke up in the early morning anticipating barreling waves, didn’t check the cameras, threw a new board I couldn’t wait to try in the back of my car and sped down to the beach.

In the parking lot, excitement quickly turned to mild disappointment – the wind was indeed offshore, but not exactly kegging barrels. Still, I threw on my suit and paddled out with the new board.

The first wave felt weird. I’ve just got to get used to it, I thought. The second wave was weirder. I pumped to get speed down the line, and the thing felt like a soggy plank. Not exactly what I was hoping for. I looked around as people all around me were scoring decent waves, and here I was stuck with a craft that wasn’t doing what I wanted it to when I wanted it to. My mind quickly drifted to how much fun I could be having if only I had grabbed a different board. Bad choice.


A few days prior, conditions were set to be firing up and down the coast. I drove past my local, saw a set roll through that looked fun if not a little soft, but I convinced myself in my mind that it looked too crowded and conditions would be ideal for a spot further south I don’t often surf. I paddled out and ended up having a lot of fun, but it wasn’t as perfect as I thought it’d be. Still, I was convinced it was better than what I passed up at my local. That is until my friend texted me a screenshot of a photo he saw on Instagram. A perfect head-high A-frame at my local with a guy stalling to get absolutely slotted. “You get some of this today?” he asked, anticipating a play-by-play of my waves. “Kinda, man. But it didn’t look like that,” I bemoaned via text. “I think I blew it.” Bad choice.


One Saturday morning, I was drooling on my pillow, in the deep sort of sleep your body knows you need after a night drinking, when my alarm buzzed imploring me to wake up. My wife kicked me telling me to turn it off. “It’s too early,” she said, pulling the covers over here eyes.

The night before, I’d told my friend we’d surf early. With my face down on the pillow now, one eye out, I checked the cam at my local on my phone. Hmm.. Nothing special, I thought. Just then my friend texted me. “Want to postpone?” he said. “It’s too early. Haha.” I replied with a, “Yep. Definitely,” and snoozed well past 10 am.


Throughout the day, I felt confident in our collective decision. It wasn’t good anyway. Until I received a text from my friend with a photo someone else had taken and the words, “We blew it (sad face emoji).” Damn. Bad choice.


That’s surfing isn’t it? Split-second decisions made in the wee hours of the morning are the difference between feeling under-gunned or confident on your craft. They’re the difference between sleeping through an amazing session or sleeping through a shitty one. They’re the difference between surfing perfect waves at a place all alone or surfing mediocre waves with a hundred of your best friends. And if there’s a single silver lining it’s this. Much like life, after making a bad decision, maybe and hopefully tomorrow we’ll make a better one.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.


Weekly. Free.
Just like a set wave.

Everything that matters in surf + outdoors
directly to you inbox.

We take your privacy very seriously.
Unsubscribe at any time.
Subject to Terms and Conditions.

No thanks