Like Strawberry Ice Cream Cones, All Surf Rules Dissolve In Summer
The many moods of surfing.
Ed note: the following is the third installment of our new weekly email chain called the Stab Fwd. If you’re into it, subscribe here.
Where I live, strange things happen in the summer.
Every rule, every nuance, everything I thought I understood about surf etiquette disappears. I’m not saying things loosen up. I’m saying that reason vanishes entirely. The lineup devolves into a state of anarchy, but probably not the type Proudhon had in mind. Madness.
When the waves are decent sized, this doesn’t matter much. The beginner-beginners hang on the inside and attempt to commandeer whitewash, often being commandeered by whitewash instead. Those who are skilled and/or lucky enough to make it out the back transform into buoys for a short period of time — and then one of the strange things happens.
They only go on sets. I’m not exaggerating. It’s as if they don’t realize more manageable waves exist. The result is more entertaining than it is inconvenient, so long as you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Guns don’t kill people. People with 9’0” shitboards do.
However, the real strangeness comes when the waves get small, when everyone can make it out the back. This is when the rules truly disappear. It is common to see 10 or maybe 15 people go on the same wave, with varying degrees of success. I’d estimate one out of every three people nosedives. Bodies and boards fly everywhere and are eventually regathered, then the process repeats.
The strange thing is that it feels almost frowned upon to be a decent surfer, as in one who can navigate a surfboard down the line. I swear, I have been given dirty looks — like, look at this guy, taking the whole wave. What a dick.
Fascinating, but nothing to cry about. If you don’t like it you can retreat to the beach, where neither nudity or open containers are frowned upon. Plus, with a little bit of work or a willingness to sacrifice wave quality, you can dodge it all.
And, overall, summer is great.
But my mind occasionally wanders to winter. Cold, dark, empty, rugged winter. When getting out of bed feels like a challenge, let alone throwing on a wet 4/3 in a rainy car park. The big days, the tiresome sessions, the hot Basque meals waiting for you on the other side.
It might as well be a different sport, if it even is a sport after all.
Surfing has many moods and it’s a pleasure to experience each one. No matter which side of the equator you inhabit, I hope you enjoy whatever’s happening while it lasts.
Now, let’s recap the past week.
Sometimes, I’m surprised by the fact that surf industry stories do so well on Stab. These adjustments have no impact on the way you or I experience surfing. But then again, the fact that individuals get paid large sums of money to apply certain stickers to their board and experience surfing will never not be fascinating. Click above to learn about COVID-related bumps and shakes.
This just sucks. But if the purpose of this newsletter is to share happenings in surf, then it bears mention. By all accounts, Alex or “Chumpy” was a wonderful person. Send love to his family and friends.
As predicted in last week’s Fwd, Michel Bourez’s hydrofoil shark fiasco became our most-clicked story by a mile. This one was not one of our most-clicked stories of the week and it will not become one. However, I thought it was really cool so I’m putting it here. A young, extraordinarily talented surfer/shaper who focuses on high-performance boards instead of resin tints has become unfortunately rare in this age.
Each year, on July 4, major surf brands declare independence from their dignity by quietly selling red, white, and star-spangled merchandise to anyone who’ll bite. This process generates hundreds of thousands of dollars and is entirely insignificant to the fact that many surfers disobeyed government orders by surfing pumping Malibu last weekend. And, of course, the comment section is in a frenzy about it.
Want to see something reckless?
Thought you might. We already slid into your inbox with Kael Walsh’s ‘Soft Serve’ edit, but it’s still worth addressing here. I once saw Kael break three boards in a single session and it wasn’t even tubing. This edit will leave you with no questions in regards to how that might occur.
If you happened to have missed every iteration of Stab In The Dark, Joyride, The Electric Acid Surfboard Test and so on, I’ll have you know that surfboards are a big part of what Stab does. Here, DHD and Mick Fanning share stories about the board that led Mr. Lightning to his first World Title. Plus, you get to hear Mick talk about being too drunk to go left in the final of the Brazil comp — which, if we’re tactful about it, is an excuse we can all employ in order to avoid going backside ever again.
Want to vent?
A few weeks ago, I asked for your irrational surfing pet peeves and the answers were marvelous. Thanks for that. Let’s do it again sometime now.
What is the strangest thing you have witnessed in the ocean?
Once, at Desert Point, I saw a pair of helmeted men collide on a wave. It was a smaller day and they were the only two people wearing this form of protection. One was goofy, one was regular, and there may have been helmet to helmet contact. It felt like every single person in the water began to laugh and I’ve never seen a crowded lineup feel so unified, if only for a moment.
OK, you go.
One last thing:
While it might seem fun at first, it is not altogether a great idea to try to learn front shuv-its at the age of thirty (I am bleeding). Also, don’t let a little bit of blood discourage you from trying to learn front shuv-its ate the age of 30.
Subscribe here to the Stab FWD.
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