Refuel the Stoke…..
As surfers I think many of us come across certain times in our life when we need that extra “umph” to get off the couch and in the water, to actually get out of bed for the dawn patrol session, or do the 1 hour drive to the special spot that you know could be going off.
I know personally in my own life I had to address injury, major life changes, and scheduling conflicts that all affected my eagerness to get in the water. I have found some key ingredients to get me out of those funks and back in the water “refueled with stoke” and the paddling energy of a grom.
Dealing with injury is a tough hurdle. I had ignored knee pain for months and before I realized it was not only effecting my surfing but even the way I walked. The pain I had in my knees was decreasing my eagerness to surf as the pain and soreness was always on my mind. In addition it caused my surfing skills to diminish which was also taking a toll on my surf self esteem. It was the first time in my life when my surfing progression had turned to “regression”. I went from surfing 5 days a week to 1 or 2 thus further diminishing my surf skills and causing an uncomfortable “lack of surf” depression. I knew I was on a losing path so I got my butt to a doctor and the next week I was in physical therapy. I had to trade some surf sessions for some lame exercises straight out of a Jane Fonda workout but 3 months later it was worth it. I was back in the water, armed with some stronger legs, and knowledge to keep them healthy. With the pain removed I was back on the path to surfing progression and my daily stoke.
Personal Change and scheduling is a huge battle and I think the graveyard for most surfers in our era. I hit this obstacle head on as well in multiple facets. First off the lifestyle change from student to corporate lackey. Going to school at UCSD in La Jolla and doing graduate studies at SDSU allowed me to entertain the holy grail of surf schedules. As an undergrad I was walking distance from one of Southern California’s best beach breaks, Blacks, and a short drive from a variety of reef breaks like Wind an Sea and Horseshoes. Lets not mention only an hour drive to Baja….
Graduate School offered a flexible schedule and night classes which provided me the luxury of lengthy morning sessions every day.
The Surf Party ended when I got my Masters Degree; I had hit the wall with my studies in Economics, the voice in my ear (mostly from Dad) “get a job” was getting louder, and I had run out of diversions. I had to face the inevitable…the world of casual Fridays, leather shoes, corporate haircuts, 401 K plans, Health benefits, the list goes on. So off with the golden surf locks and on with the Kenneth Cole’s I was ready to rock and roll. I figured I could get my surfs in via morning sessions and I had embraced the potential weekend warrior status.
Who knew a work schedule would be so demanding. Being in sales it is very much a sink or swim atmosphere. A good work ethic usually keeps you afloat and some smarts and strategy will get you paid. Armed with both I was in a position to conquer but I quickly realized that it did not leave much time to surf. Its hard to get a morning session in when you need to be in the office for by 7:30 am and ready to present. I had also forgotten how bad the weekend crowds at Blacks were! My surfing went from Mach 1 to cruise control over night and I was bummed. I had to deal with responsibility but I managed to sneak some morning sessions in and some extended lunches but overall I was in a losing battle and losing my stoke on surfing. I wanted to overcome the challenge and get back in the water. Based on my schedule I learned my only way to get wet and get waves was to get in early… I became Dr. Dawn Patrol. I charged it pre sun up. I had gotten 12 waves before the first guy showed up. It was awesome…my favorite break with a few other die hards…many in my same situation. The Die Hard Dawn Patrol Crew is an awesome group. These guys value the surf so much they get up at the crack of dawn (running on a full tank of stoke and caffeine) to score some surf before they hit the office. These guys emit everything it means to be a surfer and you cant help but to absorb it through osmosis. These are the guys who hoot you into waves, are stoked when you get a good one, and give you a set wave because they just got the last one. Dawn Patrollers are a worldwide federation that all value the necessity of a good surf and do what is necessary to get in the water. Dawn patrollers exist at every beach break and are probably the most welcoming locals you will come across.
Surf Travel is an awesome way to refuel the stoke tank. Not all of us are privileged to live near a world class break or have a schedule that permits travel to remote surf spots. Personally, living in Los Angeles, I have found that the consistent yet mediocre surf can get mundane. At times, it makes it hard for me to respond to my 5:30 am alarm. That’s why for me surf trips both long and short are critical! It is amazing what one 3 second tube ride in trunks or surfing a remote spot with two of your best friends can do for your stoke level . Surf trips are what you and your crew always remember. They always offer adventure and prove for great filler while waiting in between sets at your local mediocre break.
Some of my stories go something like…
“Remember when Edawg bailed on that head high in an out tube and broke his new board?”
“Sobel’s Back side tube at Baja was sick!”
“Remember when the school of Sharks were swarming at Ollie’s point”
Two other key elements for keeping your stoke at maximum fill is to get yourself a steady flow of Surf Magazines and Surf Videos/DVDs . Mags and Videos are great avenues to help get your butt off the couch and in the water. Videos are great for amping you up for a surf and also showing footage of your favorite surfers in epic conditions. They do a great job making your surfing better and it can also show you how to do very technical moves, airs, turns, etc.
The other key for keeping your surfing drive high is treating yourself to new boards. A surfer can always use a new board. Equipping yourself with a solid quiver will not only improve your surfing but make it far more enjoyable. Plus we all know that your yellowed waterlogged stick is probably not doing your surfing any favors. When I started surfing I just had a 6′2″ shortboard. 20 years later I have more boards than I know what to do with including retro twin fins, a variety of single fins, classic longboards, quad fins, and more…
In my opinion the more boards the better. I have boards for all types of conditions and I am always prepared for what the surf throws at me. I recall multiple sessions at Black’s Beach in La Jolla when it was Double Over Head on the sets and my buddies that had their 6′2″s just could not paddle in. The few of us that had larger boards 6′8″ to 7′0″ were scoring the waves of the season. On the same note I found small surf to be extremely boring and I lacked the skill and drive to surf well in surf that was mushy and waist high. I started surfing on retro twin fins and a variety of single fins that turned those mediocre days into 2 hour super sessions. I was catching waves from the peak to the sand, connecting turns, pulling floaters, going mach-1; all in surf under chest high…To this day I always have a fish with me just in case the conditions call for a small wave slayer.
Surfing is very healthy lifestyle and it is what keeps most us sane. Life often throws you curveballs but it is your job to keep your life healthy, your mind sane, and to be full of stoke. Surfing may not be the solution for everything but a good surf session and a sweet tube definitely helps!