Who doesn't want to get better, like, now…
(Photo of DH at J-Bay by Steve Sherman)
You know it, oh god, yes you do. When you flick off a wave and you think… man… I just did the same turns and covered the same tracks as I did a year ago.
You can call it a rut or you can call it getting comfortable.
Whatever, it’s the fast track to boredom. It’s the first step in the decline of your surfing.
So how do we get back that feeling we used to have when every single wave presented a new and interesting canvas, when you’d go to bed at night dreaming of sections, dreaming of turns you’d never made but you knew you were close to nailing?
Here are five tips to turn your lazy ass around.
1. Get desperate
Remember Bells in 2014 when Jordy Smith needed a 9.97 to beat Julian Wilson in round five? The scores are 17 to 12. It’s a massacre. He’s gotta surf the wave of his life to win the heat. No chance.
Forty seconds on the clock and he strokes into a three-footer. No chance in hell is it a wave that offers a perfect score. But Jordy being Jordy, pumps down the line, finds a section and lays down a cutback that he sprinkles with the sugar of a rail held longer than usual.
Immediately he swings back up into the lip and throws the dial 180 degrees, foam climb, pump, four cutbacks into the shore break and a slightly-boned air reverse that he rides out of almost up into the Winkipop rocks. Three judges score it a 10, two don’t. Final result: 9.93.
He doesn’t win but it’s the perfect example of desperation’s enlivening effect. How do you artificially create desperation? Limit your surfs to one hour, max. 10 waves. Even if it’s pumping. Those 10 waves are all you’ve got. Make ’em count. Add a bonus extra wave if you try a move you’d never attempted before; two extras if you ride out of your new turn.
2. Surf around pro’s
After a while most of us are good enough to call ourselves one of the better surfers at our beach. We occupy the main pack, we get the sets, we feel confident. But what happens when a pro paddles out? He takes off later and deeper. He surfs faster and more critical than you thought was ever possible. And it pushes you to try harder. Whenever you can, maybe it’s around a contest, maybe there’s a pro who lives at another beach, surf around their times. You want to grow? Follow the best. Kolohe Andino still remembers Clay Marzo going ham at the 2005 NSAA’s. “I just remember thinking to myself, I really want to do that,” says Kolohe.
3. Find a new shaper
So you’ve ridden the same boards for the last five years. That’s great! Now find someone else. Unfamiliarity is a great stimulant. Ask anyone who’s fooled around a little on the side.
4. Focus on one move and nothing else
One day you’ll swing into your beach and you’ll find conditions perfect for, say, alley-oops. Problem is, you’ve never done ’em. Steep little sections, a puffy breeze sticking your board to your feet. No cutbacks no reverses. Alley oops. Alley oops. Everything you do has to revolve around setting up the Turn You’ve Never Nailed.
5. Look stupid
During the filming of Bending Colours on Reunion Island, Jordy got one hellvua shock. All that ultra-HD footage showed just how contorted a surfer has to get to make turns. Dignity? Forget about it. “I looked like a monkey,” Jordy said after. It’s a lesson to savour. The best surfers in the world? They’ll do whatever it takes to get rad. Leave your self-consciousness in the car park.