Surfing 20 Years In… And Finally Trying to Improve

With nearly 300 posts on this blog, and can you believe it, I’ve barely ever talked about on of my first real passions in the outdoors. Long before I ever hiked a mountain, as a kid from New Jersey, I cut my teeth surfing on the inconsistent summer waves on the South Jersey beaches. Throughout my life, so far, I’ve never lived closer than 1.5hrs from the beach whether that was New Jersey or Connecticut. The two chances I now get to surf every year, I cherish, and realize it is something I will always love.

In 2021, I’ve gone surfing the most I have in the past 4 years, with a whopping 3 different trips. But it wasn’t until this last trip to San Diego when something finally clicked. That “something”, is that I could be better at surfing. I know, it seems pretty obvious, but for whatever reason, I had some mental block that I was done progressing on my board. Somehow, I was comfortable thinking that my current skill level is just something I’d carry with me for the rest of my life, and I was okay with that. Well, okay with it, until this past trip.

I’d consider myself an intermediate surfer by most standards, nothing crazy. But I’m comfortable dropping into most waves and able to ride them out if conditions align. My crowning achievement in surfing was on a surf trip to Costa Rica, where we surfed a break at Playa Negra that pulled water off coral reef that was only a foot or two below the water. The waves were consistently head high with a right handed break, which would be front-side for me, and I only fell once the entire trip and didn’t get torn up by the reef. With that being said, I’m no Kelly Slater out there and was very content just being able to ride the wave out with little carving. But I would love to be able to take off on every single wave, in any condition, and actually be in control when on the wave. Enough control to make bottom turns and other maneuvers.

For a guy who’s addicted to buying gear and trying to gain any performance out of it that I can, I never really applied that to surfing. I bought my first ever new surf board in 2015 after starting my first real job out of college. It’s a 6’1″ (32L) Channel Island Shortboard. It was my dream board ever since I was a kid riding oversized epoxy boards and undersized used shorties from the 80s. But countless times I’d show up to the parking lot and get strange looks showing up with my one-quiver board for any and all conditions in the water. Once, a guy exclaimed, “If your board fits inside your car, it is the wrong board for the waves today.” I didn’t care, I still went out there and caught waves.

And that’s when it clicked, after getting caught on the inside between breakers, and too exhausted to paddle back out. I could make my life easier by having the right board for the way of surfing I want to do.

Well, I’m almost 30 years old, have been surfing since I was in the 5th grade, and I’m finally going to try to improve. This will be pretty damn hard, as I mentioned how infrequently I get out in the water. But I’m excited. Excited to surf on a board that is the correct size for me and trying to improve. With that being said, looking to surf on a bigger board so that I can catch waves earlier and further out, so that I can have more of an opportunity to ride out the wave and feel more “at home” and comfortable. Who knows, this could turn into a new obsession 20 years after first learning how. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

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