Stab Magazine | Stab’s Guide To Surfing Alone In 2018

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Stab’s Guide To Surfing Alone In 2018

How to find peace, quiet and ramps in today’s too-busy world.

style // Mar 6, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you have any idea how many people in the world surf?

The number is said to be somewhere between 3 million and 10 million, depending on your sales position at the WSL and which beer company you’re pitching to. But whether it’s Corona or Modelo or even Michelob for fuck’s sake, the figure is reliably staggering.

There are surf cams everywhere. Forecasting sites actually work (75% of the time, all the time). Social media keeps no secrets. The rise of surfing in the age of information has left the modern lineup thick. And it’s only getting thicker, folks.

It’s hard to get uncrowded waves. It’s even harder to surf alone — but it’s not impossible.

When it comes to surfing alone, I am elite.

Nobody surfs as alone as me.

I currently reside in France, where the grumpy Northern Atlantic makes it easy to find a wave to yourself, but in the past year, I’ve surfed alone on the North Shore, the Gold Coast, in Southern California and on Bali. Seek and you shall find.

And, yes, it is always worth it.

Maybe it’s the solitude, and the clarity that comes along with it. Maybe it’s feeling a deeper connection when there’s nobody else around. Maybe it’s the fact that you can catch every single wave you want and not have to worry about anybody else…yeah, probably that.

While those first two things are valuable, sure, nothing compares to having an entire lineup to yourself. It’s just you, your impulse and the ocean. It’s surfing.

Now here are some hot tips on how to do it.  

Look down the beach

The world is filled with clusterfucks. When it comes to surfing, most people blindly flock to specific peaks because their brains are small and fragile, like a lamb’s. Sometimes, there’s a logical reason like a superb bank or a nearby beach access. Other times, it defies logic entirely. Whatever the case, you’ll be surprised by what you find when you start sniffing around.

Love the wind

Wind is your best friend — and not good wind. Not even dainty Modern Collective wind. I’m talking real wind. Shake your shutters wind. Tear the ocean up wind. While a little bit of breeze typically deters a crowd, real wind destroys it. The secret? Wind-whipped waves are almost always bowlier than they look from the beach. Especially at a decent point or reef.

Don’t be a pussy

The average surfer hates waves bigger than like four-foot. Guess what? An eight-foot wave probably won’t kill you. You don’t need to go full Dave, order a 10’2” and start trying to talk to your friends about weird shit like fetch. But, if you get comfortable in decent sized-surf, you’ll find plenty more time to yourself.

Hate the sun

When most people think of surfing, they think of sunshine and tan skin and beach umbrellas. But not you. You think of clouds and 5/4/3s. Because the thicker the wetsuit, the thinner the crowd. And the worse the weather, the better your chances are at surfing alone.

Go somewhere weird

There are still places. That’s all I’ll say.

Do it wrong

Know a tide-dependent spot? Check it when you’re not supposed to. You might not end up surfing the wave, but could be a sneaky peak 75 feet down the way if you know what I’m saying. This same logic can be applied to waves that require a specific swell direction. The concept is to show up at a known good wave at times when nobody else is looking at it — doesn’t work everywhere, but it’s worth a shot.

Time it right

Meaning don’t sleep in. For most people, surfing is a matter of convenience. But you, my friend, can inconvenience yourself into an empty lineup if you wake up early on a less-than-stellar day.

The odds of finding an empty lineup exponentially increase when you combine these things. You might have to settle for less quality if you want to find peace and quiet. Not all of the time, only some of the time.

But, still, there’s just nothing like surfing alone.


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