Left at four, in the water at 6:15, first one again, had the whole place to myself for a while. Irregular waves, some really really long rides head high to head and a half with light offshore breeze out of the northwest that picked up and swung around to NE turning our playground into a choppy waste of time. Around 10:30 I decided to get up and go (as soon as I did, almost everyone else got out also).
Way out on the point there were these huge breakers that sometimes turned into waves that ran the length of the break. Most of the other waves that broke there just flopped over and turned into nothing.
In the middle I sat and went left over and over again, something not many people want to do right there. The problem with going left there is that you get pounded by the incoming foam ball from the point break, not fun and really tiring.
Thats the price one pays for being goofy-footed.
Its obviously going to be another 4am departure to get the biggest of this swell, to be first in the water and have the whole place to myself, to enjoy the quiet solitude of big wave violence before the sun comes up. I have new warm boots to try on for the first time, and the likelyhood that there will not be many people out because its Christmas eve...
Im a much better surfer today than ever before. This should give hope to young and old alike. I am almost sixty but I get lots of waves, no problem competing for them. I want to share how this is possible when most people think surfing is for the young- it aint. Or, it is if you are old and have given up already. No matter how old you are there are a few things to keep in mind...
I talk to people about mittens vs. gloves and almost everyone cries: " its too hard to paddle with mittens!" I know why (from swimming). Mittens are like swimming hand paddles, they are big paddles that take muscles to push through the water. No muscles? Its gonna hurt. But each and every time you use mittens in winter surf, they build muscles ( triceps, deltoids, pecs). So eventually you will be able to paddle with strength- doesn't happen overnight. Find exercise at home that mimics the paddle stroke and you will be upper body strong enough to compete for waves eventually.
I see lots of surfers with lame strokes- short hand placement and early removal. In swimming, we stretch forward as far as possible, tuck the hand under the chest about a foot away, and push all the way to the hips. The last 18" is where you get the most power. I've wanted to mention this to people but I never do, dont want to be one of those dudes, you know what I mean. I also see some double arming the water to catch waves initially but I believe that is a poor strategy because inbetween strokes you slow down way too much (plus it makes you look like a beginner).
Getting sore and hurt while surfing is what I crave. I am not getting out until I can't paddle any more. The more I hurt, the happier I am, bring it on. This is what I mean about getting "wrecked" and "hurt." I'm wrecked and hurt from yesterday- it was only four hours but I got worked, and I put out my all the whole time. It's ok because as those muscles heal, they add new stronger muscles on top of what was already there- all good. If you get out and you feel nice and strong, you are not working hard enough in the water, that's all there is to it.
Your board makes all the difference in the world. If you go into the surf shop and buy a board and you don't know much about design, you might not be doing yourself justice (unless you bought a longboard).
Longboards are small boats, you cant go wrong on them but if a short board is wrong for you for some reason, you're going to be frustrated and you won't know why- you will think it's something you did. Older and heavier people need a little more thickness in the front as well as a little more width in the front. Those two things help a lot for catching waves. The board that was just made for me is now a little thinner in the front, just a little to accommodate the skills that I have gained in the ten years since I bought that last board. We will see how that works.
I heard a lot of people complain yesterday about not catching any waves yet but I didn't have any issues. If I were having problems catching waves, I would go to a board place online or in person and order one custom made just for you. The cost is the same as store bought boards but it can be customized to suit your height/weight/abilities/goals as well as the kind of waves you surf on the most.
My greatest fear is dropping down big steep waves, especially on late takeoffs. Here is my usual thought process.
I paddle for the big wave and catch it and start to slide down the steep drop:
"Oh shit, I'm going to fall!" (not realizing that I am NOT about to fall)
"I better fall this way!" (and intentionally start to fall in that direction on purpose)
Just like in advanced skiing and in life in general, when you are afraid of something, you want to shy away from it and with those two sports, that means leaning backwards. When you do that in skiing, all control is lost, and when you do that in surfing, you fall immediately. Your fear of failure actually turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If this is true with fear then I am of the belief that the reverse can be true of confidence. Think about that.
Yesterday, there were some rather large waves that I caught and as I slid down the face I realized that each time I slide into the weightless abyss my mind determines that I am going to crash long before the physics has determined that I am indeed going to crash. I realized that it was all in my mind!!! I simply reversed this thought process to tell my mind this simple mantra:
"I AM GOING TO MAKE IT!!!" Sure enough, all day yesterday I dropped down many large waves and succeeded in going all the way even though as I was dropping it sure seemed to me that things were going to end up poorly for me. I think this mind game goes on in every single surfers head, and this simple trick might help people out there, sure worked for me.
If it works, this trick will also help you overcome the fear of late takeoffs and taking off on bigger and bigger and bigger waves.
So, to recap:
Get your ass in shape, and WORK when you are surfing, get wrecked
Get a board that reflects you and your current abilities
BELIEVE in yourself, think positively and be confident
.and its not really winter yet!!!
I had these on. 7 mil, but not good enough. My feet were numb from the ankles down and looked like a dead mans feet in the morgue. I drove to the surf shop to buy XCEL boots since their mittens are so warm ( today my hands were sweating and really hot)
These are the great mittens
these are the boots
Funny- I had no idea that they had little cardboard inserts inside so I sat there for half an hour trying these on then figured out the problem. While I struggled, I talked two other people into buying these boots... I shoulda gotten a discount on mine!
Storm stretches from Cuba to Maine and when that happens, the wave period is usually hurricane-like groundswell over ten seconds.
It's going to be another four am departure- dangerous with late night drunk drivers weeving/speeding/ puking and making life miserable for others as well as the black ice.
Pic taken just now with heavy snow weighing down the branches of one of our beautiful hemlocks. It seems totally absurd to walk through the parking lot with a wetsuit on and a surfboard under your arm when the ground is covered in snow, but tomorrow is going to be really really good.
Hey, your old boards are like old dogs, you gotta still love them. They ain't pretty but when fixed they will still surf like when they were new.
This is the best board I ever had. I surfed on it when it had dings so now I need a forklift to carry it around because it soaked up so much water that also turned it yellow. You can see all the bits of wax on the bottom, teaching me that bad things happen when you stack boards on the car without towels inbetween, or what happens when a board bag is left in the heat in summer.
These areas let water in. Dave told me to cut off the coating and let the board dry out for months in a warm room. Be really careful doing this- the fibers can jump into your eyes and box cutters are really dangerous- duhhh!!!
You might as well get all of them. Im planning on getting rid of all the wax before I bring it to the shop
In Feb., I am going to take this cut up board to
Dave Levy (401-942-0002) and he will patch it up for another ten years of surfing!!! It will be like new- wont be pretty though.
Mittens, no gloves! You are getting out after an hour if you wear gloves whilst I surf for six hours wearing these. Sometimes my hands only get wet from accumulated sweat and sea water never gets in. Whatever you gotta pay for them, get them, you will cherish them like a dog loves a tennis ball.
Treat wetsuit fabric with respect. It pulls n stretches. Water will get in. Take your time and get (un)dressed slowly or YOU WILL BE SORRY!
I passionately HATE tRUMP, but I love this wetsuit. If you see this orangeish inner fabric with a 5-4 suit and it fits, BUY IT!
Older technology required 7/6 mil but this great suit is flexible, warm, cheaper, and comfy. The old 7mil were really hard on the arms. Stiff. Bulky. Horrible.
I left for surf at four am this morning.
The surf gods conspired against me this morning and offered up to the humans crappy sectiony waves but I got to be in my element for four hours, surfed with seals and peter, felt sorry for the Palestinians BECAUSE OF tRUMPS ASSHOLE MOVE about Jerusalem. Thought about that for a long time. Funny what you think about when you are surfing. LIKE: when is our country going to be normal and honorable again?
Lynn Shell, master board crafter from OBBC on the outer banks NC, just told me my board is done. My fourth one from his shop, cant wait to use it. He listens to you talk about how/where you surf- height weight and kind of surfing you like and then designs and makes your board. Give 'em a try guys, you wont regret it.
Speaking of surf, here comes more.
Hi, my name is
David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.