The Drop: The 3% Rule (This Is Your Brain On Surfing) - Stab Mag
Albert Einstein animation. What other breakthroughs would Albert have had if given his 97%?

The Drop: The 3% Rule (This Is Your Brain On Surfing)

97% of “surfing” isn’t done on a wave. What do our minds do with that time?

elsewhere // Dec 24, 2022
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 2 minutes

This week, we learned that — according to 750,000 smart-watch tracked surf sessions — we spend a measly 3% of our surf session riding a wave.

Evidently the other 97% of our aquatic sojourn is spent merely bobbing, weaving, and peeing.

When I first read that I started crunching some numbers. Let’s take Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule for easy math and assume we’ve all reached it. That would mean we spent 9,700 of those hours talking to ourselves in our heads. Which I would argue would make surfers disproportionally introspective and would cause us to have richer inner lives than our landlubber peers.

I do my best thinking while driving. I looked up why and this is what the internet spit out (this has to do with surfing):

“When you’re driving down a clear road for a long period of time, you go to an automatic state that turns down the volume on the central executive network. That frees up a lot of your information processing space to just let your mind wander. Ideas that ordinarily would be filtered out collide together and reach what I call the cognitive workspace, or conscious awareness.”

I’d argue that surfing has the same effect. I’d also go as far as saying that the low, constant rumble of waves crashing generates a sort of “brown noise” which has been shown to increase focus and help those who suffer from ADHD. Is surfing making us hyper-reflexive, imaginative, nirvana-seekers? Perhaps the 97% is our superpower. Or not.

Mikey and Buck swan dive right into this topic and all of these others in this week’s episode of The Drop:
– The art of stalling & Andy Irons’ last quiver (6:00)
– Our new SEOTY leader (13:00)
– Which country paddles the most? (We’ve got stats!) (17:30)
– The final boss of grumpy shapers (27:30)
– Buck’s paradise revealed (34:00)
– Surf sin! (41:00)

Find The Drop wherever you get your podcasts (Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple).

Oh, and if anyone listens to the pod in the water with waterproof earbuds, let us know down below in the comments.


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