Saturday, March 26, 2011

#36 "Just Getting Wet"

Within the colorful world of surf speak lingo, there’s a popular catch phrase that every surfer seems to say at one time or another.  It’s the go-to vernacular to use when rationalizing your decision to paddle out in crappy, less than appealing surf conditions. You’ve probably heard it before mentioned casually in passing when checking the waves or even muttered it yourself before paddling out in gutless slop.  It’s a filler statement that surfers’ can’t help but proclaim in times of surf drought despair.  Common usage often falls in line with the following examples; i.e.- “the waves suck, but I haven’t surfed in weeks so I’m just gonna get wet or “ever since I got this new surfboard it’s been like a lake out there. I’m just gonna get wet and charge it anyways”.  It’s a win-win situation in most cases to say this cliché phrase because you get to go surfing and still save face (a.k.a.- protecting your valuable “one hot shreddah” street cred stylo) (see North Shore).  The downside of failing to utter these magical words puts one at risk of social heckling or Wilbur Kookmeyer finger pointing from the accompanying bro pack. The beauty of the “I’m just gonna get wet” mantra is that surf session expectations are already set so extremely low that any upside is met with heightened appreciation.  It’s a dose of glass half full optimism that maybe, just maybe a rogue wave from somewhere down unda’ will miraculously appear on the horizon and willfully peak up directly in front of you for a perfect 10 point ride (keep dreaming!!). This in turn will enable you to brag about scoring “epic” (ok, let’s be honest - rideable at best) surf to all the naysayers that missed out by not making the decision to “just get wet”.  Some key things to remember when uttering the “I’m just gonna get wet” credo is that it’s best not to be used on a regular basis as this could be a telltale sign that the surfer is either a) in dire need of a surf trip, b) desperately needs to move someplace with actual waves, or c) they have become completely delusional in which case there is no coming back! In summation, when opting for this popular surfer catch phrase, use it sparingly, but when you do decide to “just get wet”, own it with no regrets! Who knows? It might just be better than you thought it would be. A definite reason in our book to "Just Get Wet"!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

#35 Stretching

Every surfer knows that surfing requires countless years of dedication, natural athleticism, and feline-like tight rope balancing ninja skills to ever get good at the sport.  It’s a sport of finesse, subtle timing, going with the flow, and rapid directional changes that often throws many surfers for a loop (a.k.a.- wipeout!!).  Forced to deal with limb twisting wipeouts, oxygen depriving hold downs, never ending recurring injuries, old man maladies, and muscle constricting Charlie horses, the surfer needs a force, a tool if you will to combat all of these body wrenching woes.  Better known as “stretching”, it’s like milk and it does a body good!  It’s the antidote that every surfer needs to incorporate into their surfing regimen to preserve and extend their surfing years injury free. (Note: Stretching also happens to come pre-approved by your Jr. High school gym teacher as an excellent pre-workout ritual (minus the shorter than short “man hammock” gym shorts - check please!!)). 

Stretching as a practice maintains a rather long history in the hallowed halls of mainstream sports.  Every major sports league from peewee division to major league professionals have implemented some form of stretching or calisthenics to get the blood flow flowing and the muscles juiced before hitting the field.  With surfing things are no different but the approach is vastly different, some might even say counterculture to the norm.  As to be expected, surfers are a different breed; a colorful cast of characters that tend to fall into a few basic schools of thought on how stretching should be done prior to paddling out. Drumroll please…..Here they are!!!

The “Free to Be Me” Yogi Stretcher:

This particular breed of hippidy dippity surfers brings the yoga studio to the beach with numerous displays of tantric sun salutations and downward dog poses.  The “Free to Be Me” Yogi Stretcher is the pre-eminent expert on striking a pose and maintaining all things chi, circular, and earth whilst sipping on a gourd of yerba mate.  All jokes aside, this group of surfers is definitely “in tune” with their bodies and especially their inner child (i.e.- child’s pose).  It’s anyone’s guess if they’ll ever make into the lineup sometime this century with their seemingly never ending chi inducing extenda-stretch sessions and meditation routines. One thing’s for certain is that when they finally do, they’ll pull off a killer headstand with ease!

The “Half-Assed” Stretcher:

The “half-assed” stretcher has no shame in the eyes of their surf stretching peers.  This limber group of stretch abstaining surfers are typically younger, devoid of injuries, way “too cool for school”, and often maintain a relatively undeveloped frontal lobe in their cerebellum incapable of considering negative consequences based on their actions or inactions (i.e.-not stretching!!). Either that or they’re entirely too stoked to wait around and stretch while enticing waves await them just a stones throw away. Common half-assed stretches practiced by this group are the 2-3 second half-assed quad stretch shuffle at the waters edge or the ever popular “I kinda bent over and touched my toes but gave up and went surfing instead” routine.  Ahhhh youth!!

The “Spring Training” Stretcher:

This particular group of surfers are on a level all their own. They were probably voted most likely to win the presidential physical fitness award in elementary school gym class or deemed runner up as the next Lance Armstrong in their high school yearbook. They are unique in the fact that they show up to the beach rearing to go and instead of just surfing like the half-assed stretcher choose to embark upon a series of strenuous workouts and stretching routines prior to actually setting foot in the water.  It is not uncommon to see this group of surfers running wind sprints up and down the beach like a not so magical Baywatch moment followed by overzealous displays of windmill stretches, jumping jacks, and a power set of push ups for extra credit (added bonus points for grunting sound effects).  These are also the kind of surfers that will tell you about how they already scored a 2 hour dawn patrol sesh, ran a half marathon, and snagged an Acai bowl all before you saw the light of day.  Feel the burn!!!

The “Exhibitionist” Stretcher:

The exhibitionist stretcher likes to put on a show when they hit the beach. They’re kind of like a cross between the “spring training” stretcher and the “free to be me” yogi stretcher except way creepier!  This particular breed of stretchers likes to be noticed and will often post up uncomfortably close to a group of sunbathing babes and proceed to stretch like a cheap, oiled up Chippendale looking for a tip.  Focus will be on gyrating hip rotations sans hula hoop and overemphasized glute (butt) stretches straight out of a kama sutra infomercial.  Creepy….very creepy!

The Injury Prone Stretcher:

The injury prone stretcher always seems to have something wrong with their ailing body.  Whether it’s a bad back, torn rotator cuff, broken bones, arthritis; the list goes on and on.  It is for this very reason that The Injury Prone Surfer is an extremely dedicated stretcher – they have to be, they don’t have a choice! Take notes from this breed of stretchers as injuries can happen to the best of us regardless of age, skill level, or body type.  Keep it limber and the surf will deliver!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

#34 The Wedge

Nestled amongst the McMansions and ritzy yacht clubs of Newport Beach, California lies a wave shrouded in back and neck breaking infamy.  Created accidently back in the 1930’s by the Army Corp of Engineer’s extension of the Newport Harbor jetty, The Wedge is a mechanical, freak of nature wave seemingly hell bent on destroying anyone who dares to try and ride it!  Straight out of a science fiction novel, the wave is a monstrous, Frankensteinian version of a wave that not even a bored high school math student could dream up during daily wave doodlings. The wave (if it can even be called that) is truly a sight to behold on its day.  It summons itself to life from the depths of the underworld when certain long interval south swells approach the steep shoreline, refract off the jetty, and backwash into oncoming set waves that end up doubling or tripling the wave size in a matter of seconds (See Wedge swell characteristics).  In fact, the Wedge has been well documented to reach sizes of 20 feet plus on some of the biggest swells with plenty of skull pounding power to boot! On these days, expect to see hoards of photographers and onlookers crowding this stretch of beach opting for a rare glimpse of this thumping wave anomaly at work.  From the beach, the crowd watches in awe (and horror) as a select few (can we say – psychotic!!?) match wits with this mutant of a wave.  The carnage and wipeouts that ensue are just plain ridiculous!  Check out this video and see what we’re talking about!

The Wedge in its purest form is a violent and unpredictable warble of a wave that takes no prisoners!  Its sole objective is to barrel, pit, spit, and ruin all that enter its shore break domain.  Words that best describe it are: thumping, grinding, heaving, kamikaze, punishing, extremely shallow, and yes, unfortunately for some - even paralyzing. It should be noted that the wave is not really geared for stand up surfing (i.e.- surfboard + freak of nature wave = really bad wipeout with chunks of fiberglass stuck in your bloody head).  In all reality, the shape and flow of the wave is best left to the bodysurfers which works out in the end because there’s a blackball ordinance from 10-5 daily May through October (prime south swell season) precluding any wave riding vehicles of any sort at the break. To the surfer, the Wedge is an evil stepchild of a wave; a novelty item with a nearly impossible drop and an even more difficult exit strategy. It’s more akin to the Play-Doh Wipeout Factory for self mutilating wave riding enthusiasts, pumping out a healthy dose of whoop-ass and sand papery enemas for all those crazy enough to challenge it.  It’s a wave that hardly gets surfed unless your name happens to be Strider Wasilewski, Kelly Slater, or the Hobgood brothers and you figured it was about time you mixed things up a bit for the next cover shot of Surfer Mag (“Duuude……3rd reef Pipe was getting played out man”).  In fact, it’s not uncommon to see The Wedge featured in many media sources and surf video blooper reels documenting the never ending destruction as bodies and limbs get tossed like ragdolls into 1 foot of water.  Sound tempting?  Get some premium health insurance, some cojones, and say your prayers.  This wave is one meaty monster!

Monday, October 25, 2010

#33 The End of Tourist Season

Every year the ebb and flow of seasons come and go like the sequential tick tock of the grandfather’s clock.  To the surfer, seasons are everything!  They dictate when and where they need to be to score the best surf.  Take for example the annual pilgrimage to the North Shore of Oahu like Rick Kane did to meet the North Pacific’s Winter swells or the annual trip down south of the border come summertime to get barreled at the “Mexican Pipeline” – Puerto Escondido. Timing is everything and the surfer is there to score!  But just as certain as there are ironclad seasons to mark a surfers’ calendar by, there are other more obscure but equally joyous seasons that surfers can count on to enliven their surfing year.  Better known as “The End of Tourist Season”, this period marks a special time of year where overrun, overly touristified surf towns can finally breathe a sigh of relief as their favorite beaches and surf breaks are once again their own!  Perhaps most noticeable and indicative of the season is the marked drop in head count at local surf breaks as uncrowded surf becomes the norm rather than the exception. Gone are the stifling masses of inland invaders (a.k.a. – “tourists”) clogging up the roadways and bobbing like buoys throughout the local surf lineups like “deer in headlights” conspiring to ruin your wave! (note - this makes surfing more akin to a game of whack-a-mole or slalom skiing than actual surfing!).  No longer are the silly partitioned sections of beaches donning blackball flags and restrictive “No Surfing Allowed” sections enforced. As an added bonus, like a flick of the light switch, the rabid armies of Wilbur Kookmeyer BZ board toting surf camp enlistees seemingly disappear overnight.  It’s a grand time of the year indeed! Just when one might think things couldn’t possibly get any better, they do!  “The End of Tourist Season” also happens to coincide with the annual “back to school” routine which means all the kiddos, surf groms, and soccer mom tourists are back in their respective towns or school and therefore not at your beach!  While this might be a major buzz kill for Alice Cooper and his epic “Schools Out For Summer” montage, rest assured there will be a surfer (many surfers in fact!) that will be grinning from ear to ear at the thought of this special occurrence.  Just check out how happy this particular surfer seems to be!

SSL Disclosure: Here at SSL, we love summer. Don’t get us wrong - summertime is great! With all the beach blanket bingo going on, scantily clad bodies (see Reef Brazil Ads), extended late night surf sessions (thank you daylight savings time!), and warmer temps both in and out of the water what’s not to like? But sometimes like a guest that overstays his welcome, the party is over, the circus leaves town, enough is enough!  And for that we as surfers are grateful for the time when “The End of Tourist Season” finally rolls around.  Read on below for more reasons why “The End of Tourist Season” rocks and you’ll see what we mean…..

  • No longer are the 5 tourist shops per square block lamely peddling their “made in china” blow up rafts, cheesy postcards of David Hasselhoff wannabee dudes posing as lifeguards, saltwater taffy kits, and “I Love (Insert Surf Town Name)” t-shirts and bumper stickers.
  • Incidents of surf town sticker decals posted proudly on tourist vehicles that are blatantly not from the town that they are now claiming to represent (pseudo local status) slows to a trickle.  The flipside to this is that these same tourist vehicles are now marketing your surf town to other would be tourists in inland towns, burroughs, and municipalities far and wide!  This in turn will undoubtedly have someone, somewhere utter the words; “gee hun, that (“Insert Surf Town”) place seems great! Let’s bring our entire extended family, dogs, cats, and hellion children down there next summer!!! That would be super!!”
  • Less trash on the beach – Simple!
  • Parking spaces abound!! There’s so much space I think I hear an echo.
  • That guy everyone jokingly calls the “knee high shreddah” seemingly disappears at the first sign of a juicy swell. 
  • Fewer tourists can be overheard referring to waves as “curl” and “breakers”. 

We’re sure you have more! Feel free to comment…….


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#32 Combo Swells

Any surfer who has faced a walled up beach break lineup will attest to its saving grace, it’s luscious A-frame morsels of peaky goodness, it’s welcome respite from the everyday let down of continuous closeouts.  Yes, in certain times of the year (think Spring & Fall) when both swell generating hemispheres of the globe are working together in perfect symbiotic harmony, crossed up combo swells will arrive as the surfers’ answer to super fun, spread out, uncrowded surf.   As the swells from different sources approach the coastline, their energies combine to create amazingly wedgy, peaky, A-frame barrels that will make you think found a secret spot in your own backyard or just mindsurfed your way into another all expenses paid surf trip (keep dreamin’ bud!).  By all accounts, the combo swell scenario doesn’t happen all that often and doesn’t even need to be all that big to produce surprisingly fun surf.  It’s a a rare but welcome anomaly of stoke perpetuating bliss.  The combo swell casts a wide net on surf sesh possibilities that helps to spread out the crowds on the usually overburdened pointbreaks, reef breaks, and marquee surf spots that would normally be inundated with the “oops, I accidently dropped in on youWilbur Kookmeyer crew and the ever present, card carrying ambassadors of the local stink eye movement (see Localism).  Combo swells are there to greet the surfer in times of need when yet another “2 pump chump” to closeout combo just won’t cut it.  Next time one shows up at your local break – get on it!!  You’ll be stoked you did!

#31 The "Shaka"

Within the realm of surfer sign language, nothing says aloha more than the infamous shaka!  Born and bred out of the islands, the shaka is all about perpetuating good vibes, mutual respect, and being stoked.  Consisting of nothing more than an outstretched thumb and pinky with the three middle fingers folded into the palm (try look), the shaka is an indelible fixture within the indigenous Hawaiian culture.  Used regularly by Hawaiian locals as a warm greeting or whenever a driver is allowed to pass another (unlike the Mainlander Haole), the shaka is chock full of “hang loose” island stylie living.  Its origins are sketchy at best but like many far-fetched fish stories the shaka has its very own fanciful fairy tale (see history).

Back on “Da Mainland”, the shaka loses a bit of it’s aloha spirit.  While it is well known and used by surfers it generally maintains a different context than is found in the Islands.  Much like the hokey nature of puka shells and $1 touristy postcards, the shaka is more a novelty item reserved for cornball hand gestures in late night photo opps (in addition to Westside & other assorted gang references) or on surf trips to add spice to yet another picture of you in front of a palm tree.  It can also be seen being used in loose reference to Turtle’s epic “shaka-kadda-fadda-braddah” montage in the final scene of the classic Rick Kane surf saga – North Shore.  Unfortunately for haole surfers, to take the shaka seriously is setting oneself up to look like a major Wilbur.  It’s one of those subtle cultural nuances that cannot easily be bridged (much like white people trying to rap).  Nonetheless, whether you’re the “The Kanaka Maoli” (indigenous Hawaiian) or just some haole to the max surfer, the shaka is a solid addition to any surfers’ sign language repertoire.  Use it sparingly amongst your daily “fist bumping” and secret club handshake greetings.  Shaka Brah!!


#30 The Car Key Stash Pocket

It’s a promising day of surf as the surfer rolls up to their favorite spot in their trusty surf vehicle.  After a brief wave check it’s affirmative that the waves are going off!!  Nothing left to do now but quickly change in public, wax up the board, and paddle out for yet another epic surf session.  Just one lingering detail to figure out, a BIG one in fact – Where to put the car keys?  It’s a question that has perplexed the surfing community for decades now as we continually look for better ways to safeguard our personal possessions and surf vehicles from would be thieves.  It’s a fact that cannot be denied – Surfers are notorious targets for surf vehicle robbery.  While we bob and float far out to sea oblivious to what may be happening back on shore to our ride, opportunistic and predatory crooks have full reign to take advantage of the easy pickings like a flock of rabid seagulls on an all out feeding frenzy. The simplest solution to all of this lies in a subtle, yet highly effective add-on component commonly fabricated into the back or leg panel of wetsuits, board shorts (more secure with a zippered pocket), and leashes.

Better known as the “Car Key Stash Pocket”, this little gem devised by the surf industry provides us surfers with the reassuring piece of mind that our keys are safe and secure with us and not in the hands of some credit card stealing, identity theft perpetrating, vehicle joyriding kook (see this story).  It’s a lifesaver that takes the guessing game out of the equation unlike other surfers whom would rather roll the dice with their peek a boo, I see you Hide-a-Key under the bumper routine, car keys stowed in the captain obvious gas cap gig, or the always popular “let’s bring all of our worldly possessions down to the beach” in an unattended grab bag “free for all” special.  It must be mentioned that in addition to the Car Key Stash Pocket, a healthy dose of common sense goes a long way in protecting assets (i.e.- don’t leave valuables in the vehicle or expensive items showcased on the dashboard of the vehicle like a voluptuous window display at Victoria Secrets screaming “take me Big Boy!”)  For other surfers who have not adopted the genius of the Car Key Stash Pocket or are wary to do so (microchip in key & salt water = bad) there are other options available on the market (albeit pricier & perhaps a bit flaunting = “come try & break into me”) such as the Hitch Safe Key Vault if you have a truck or the Australian Surf Lock product which can be attached to any vehicle.  Just don’t go forgetting the key code or you might be left out in the cold shivering in yer booties!  Don’t be “Dat Guy!” When in doubt, keep things simple.  If your wetsuit comes equipped, stash it in the car key stash pocket and surf well into the evening glass off session with confidence!!