Excuse Me, Do You Speak Surf? - Stab Mag
Art by Noah Emberson/ @Joystain

Excuse Me, Do You Speak Surf?

The Misc: Translating surf sayings.

news // Aug 1, 2021
Words by Brendan Buckley
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Surfing has its own language. 

Last week, we went into how that language forms sentences that are abruptly abandoned due to the sudden appearance of a sometimes good, sometimes average wave. Now, let’s go through some of the ideas that we do eventually communicate to completion. 

When you meet someone who surfs, you get a feel for their knowledge base through clues revealed in the concepts they choose to share and the lexicon they employ. Ex: The difference between suggesting you surf Racetrack on low and suggesting you’re careful to only surf Uluwatu at high tide, and between the terms hold-down and undertow. 

It gets much more complicated. 

There are some things we say which we don’t really mean. A sick wave, for example, is usually rich in vigor. And that’s the iceberg’s tip. 

Here are some of my favorite things we say, and what they actually mean. 

It was a little bit walled = Every single wave stretched across the entire fucking beach like China’s great wall and collapsed anti-climatically. 

I don’t know, it looks pretty walled out there = These conditions are beyond my comfort zone. 

I woke up early and checked the cams, but it didn’t look like it was doing it so I went back to sleep = I just woke up. 

I might just wait for the tide to fill in = I have no intention of surfing today. 

It was pretty fun (when the waves are small) = That was surprisingly enjoyable. 

It was pretty fun (when the waves are big) = I sat in the channel. 

There a couple out there? = Could you please provide me with an intricately detailed surf report? 

It was seven-to-nine foot = I should immediately be detained and investigated by the highest and most capable authorities. 

My board has, like, a liter too much volume = I will never know satisfaction in life.  

The foam ball almost got me = I lost my balance and was fortunate to regain it. 

That turn? Ah thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I kinda felt like I bogged = That was legitimately the best thing I have ever done on a surfboard. 

Nah, you go on this one = I am confident that a significantly better wave will arrive in the near future. 

I don’t even really watch the WSL anymore = I watch the WSL. 

The swell angle today is 301 degrees = I am sexually frustrated to a maddening degree. 

Any you’d like to share? 

Photo by ISA

What Did We Learn From The Olympics?

Ethan Davis is a 23-year-old from Sydney, Australia. He has a degree in neuroscience and you may remember a piece he wrote for us here. Last Tuesday was his first day as a full-time Stab staffer — so we chucked him into the deep end and tasked him with covering the Olympics. Ethan did great. He watched every single heat and, once it finished, accumulated what he’d learned in this piece. 

Photo by ISA

The Flamboyantly-Dressed Man Who Got Surfing Into The Olympics Details His Experience

Fernando Aguerre, the ISA president, is the man who did almost all of the grunt work when it came to getting surfing into the Olympics. I spoke with him the day before gold medal matches to see how he feels, and learn more about what the process was like. His biggest takeaway? Perseverance. 

Photo by Juan Medina

Where Are We At With Sustainable Surfboards?

It is with great sadness that I must report the fact that buying an eco-board does not equate to you putting the entire planet on your back and singlehandedly directing us away from the perils of climate change. Soz. But, the general consensus seems to suggest we need to get eventually get away from PU — and that’s not gonna happen without innovation. So, we talked to a handful of characters who are experimenting with sustainable materials and manufacturing in the surfboard building space. 

Sylvain Cazenave

What A Tragic Waste, Or Those Were The Fucken Days?

Biarritz Surf Gang aired on Stab Premium for 48 hours last weekend. Did you miss it? Well, you can now buy the film here. But before you do, consider reading Paul Evans’ review. As you’ll see, the details of the film may have been unique, but it touched on a common theme as surfing has transitioned from a degenerate magnet to an Olympic sport. 

Photo by Cestari/WSL


Would you prefer to get the jab or spend 100 days in hotel quarantine while competing on the World Tour? This is a question that some professional surfers are asking themselves. And so, we disrobed, hit the discotheque, and dove in. 

Comment of the week 

When you reference a porn star, which is a commenter cliche, you gotta make sure you’re hitting a home run. Nice work. Here’s the piece he was referencing, btw—shoutout to the IOC for getting our video removed. 

One last thing: 

A cherished pastime of mine is watching people take surfboards into the ocean at times when conditions such as high tide or a severe lack of swell have eliminated any realistic shot at a rideable wave. They typically sit out there, hunched over, gripping the rails, motionless… 

Truly fascinating. 


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