Going Switch Is The Antidote To Apathy
It’s hard to escape the habits we surf ourselves into...
Ed note: the following is the 634th installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you're into it, subscribe here.
For over a year, I’ve been considering writing a piece titled something along the lines of Your Surfing Is Holding Your Surfing Back.
The premise: It’s hard to escape the habits we surf ourselves into, but we stand to gain a lot if we put the effort in to do so.
The backstory: For a handful of years, I was paid (marginally) to ride a surfboard. Ever since I got a “real job” my informal goal shifted from improving my level of surfing to maintaining it. Maintenance translated to trying the same shit every session. Sure, every day is different, every wave is different, every section is different, we’re all unique like snowflakes and fingerprints etc — but after years of chasing the same sensations, I can’t help but think about what else I could have explored with all that time in the ocean. Most people, I’d imagine, can relate.
And finally, the reason I haven’t written it: I haven’t changed anything. Saying I have would be a lie, cheap, contrived, no different from feigning excitement to a lens in the name of a vlog.
What would I change?
Most weird boards seem like depressants, not stimulants. I think surfboards evolved the way they have for a reason, and we should all be grateful for the Swiss Army 5’11”s we have access to instead of hacking away at their noses and taking a dartboard approach to fin placement.
Some are fun, though — fun because you can mimic what you would do on a 5’11” in a vaguely different way.
I still don’t have the answer to that question.
Lately, though, I have been falling in love with something that has potential: Going switch. It started as a joke. A lot of good things do. Then, one wave hooked me. It was only waist high, but it gave me ample wall to fumble through an array of shit turns.
I’ve been mildly addicted ever since.
I want to do, like, a proper turn. Or an air. Something, anything good. It’s strange to deeply know what something should feel like — even being able to feel what something should feel like — but not being able to make it happen. That might be the source of the addiction.
Long term, will it make my normal surfing better? Worse? Who knows. But taking a few waves every session to try has made me feel things I haven’t felt for a loooong time in surfing.
I thought I’d share that and encourage you to switch it up, whatever that might mean to you.
OK now scroll down for the irreverence.
Clothing. Now wetsuits. What if Dane keeps building all of his own brands one by one and just becomes the entire surf industry? Like, you can either go to the surf shop and buy Dane or buy WaveStorms, cheap wetsuits and a couple of hot dogs from Costco. Idk or maybe he should start a cult.
Before there was the WSL, Hollywood was the one thing that unified us all as a tribe by providing us with a stream of bastardized versions of surfing to make fun of. Simpler times. Anyway, it’s oddly satisfying to watch Kolohe Andino break down a few scenes from Hollywood surf films.
Is this journalism? I am not sure. But I am sure that on the great island of Puerto Rico you can grow a long rat tail and drink pouches filled with a highly alcoholic liquid (ironically called gasolina) and therefore the entire Caribbean deserves to be protected at all costs.
Wow. Mark Matthews is a legend. Or a lord? I forget which one you’re supposed to say now (I never really got behind saying legend though). We labeled this hour-long film on him a must-watch for a reason. Give it a watch when you have time. For now, you can read this piece about him — which includes his method for getting bombs.
I did. So, a few weeks ago, I rented a van and drove the coast of Spain and (some of) Portugal. It ended up being one of the best surf trips of my life. I’d recommend it to anyone — including you. Here’s my advice on how to pull it off, someday.
Do you want to ask a pro surfer a question?
Let’s try something here. Send me a name. Send me a question for them. Let’s see if we can get some good stuff to publish here.
One last thing:
Every year, as the first big swell of the season approaches, I do one set of breath holds on some buggy free-diving app then tell myself I’m ripping (I did so while finishing this piece).