Welcome to our first monthly installment of “Stuff We Like.” Every month we are going to ask our writers, contributors, and friends what surfing related thing they have been stoked about in the past month. It could be a piece of equipment, a book, a movie, an organization, or even just something like getting up for the dawn patrol.
Want to throw your two cents in? Send a paragraph about something you like to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add the best one each month from our readers.
So without further ado, here’s some stuff we like:
Well. I’ve become a “Tide Nerd”. It starts with those little free tide schedules that they give away at the surf shops. Then last year I bought a California tide calendar from Hawaiian Resources. That thing was cool. I could track the Sun, Moon & tides. I wore that calendar out. I don’t know why we stare at those tide charts thinking somethings going to change. If it says minus tide then it’s minus tide. However, I must say that the pictures leave something to be desired. First they hit you with a huge Great White Shark. Surfers don’t need to see that. I will give them credit for including a picture of the Wedge in Newport Beach. How a bout a calendar with pictures of surfers and surfable waves? No more sharks, thanks. Anyway, this year I moved into the wonderful world of tide watches. I treated myself to a Nixon Lodown tide watch on sale for $70 at the Hobie surf shop in Laguna Beach after Christmas sale. It’s stylish and very well made. Now I have 200 beaches at my disposal until the year 2020. If only I could read the tiny little graph. It doesn’t matter. I can tell what’s going on by just looking at the tide chart. This thing is so cool that I actually started wearing a watch again. And you younger surfers can probably read the tiny numbers, so that’s a plus.
For Christmas, my parents gave me The History of Surfingby Matt Warshaw. It is an incredible book, as it covers the entire history of the sport from its origins in Peru (yes, I said Peru) to the exploits of Duke Khanamoku, the first wave ridden by Greg Noll at Waimea, the birth of the shortboard, all the way up to the current events of today. Rather remarkably, Warshaw is able to condense nearly 2,000 years of history down to 500 very well written pages—which is a pretty impressive feat. As the former editor-in-chief of Surfer, he understands surf culture as a whole, so he is able to utilize the history of the sport in such a way as to allow the reader to comprehend the development of the character and demeanor of the modern surfer. Overall, the book is a wonderful read. I just finished the section on Malibu point in the 1940’s, and I’m infatuated with the idea of paddling out at First Point on a vintage 50-pound redwood board. Not so keen on the butt-hugging trunks they wore back then though. Doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination… if you know what I mean.
I’ve been incredibly stoked on my Takayama Model T (http://hawaiianprodesigns.com/). I got this board off of Craigslist about two months ago. I didn’t bring a longboard with me on my move from California to New York two years ago, and it’s high time I got a log for the great longboard waves we have here in San Diego. This particular Model T is 9′, custom made for a team rider who got rid of it in favor of a board with slightly more rocker. It made its way into my hands for 600 bones, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s single fin magic, makes elevator drops on surprise sets, and noserides amazingly well. Not only that, but it’s nimble enough to turn easily. I never had what you could call a “magic” board until this one came along. It’s that good! If you’re looking for a great and versatile noserider, check out a Model T. You won’t be disappointed.
This is a photograph of Gooza. Gooza is a an old surf dog who was the prime figure for encouraging my surfing in early grommet-hood. He took me to Quarry Beach Surfboard Shop to get my first board, matching red leg rope, Nose Guard (for safety) and a fresh block of Mr. Zoggs – Cold Water.
Seeing this photo for the first time last week (now fully bearded like the figure in the photograph) I was reminded how capturing images are so treasured. This photograph holds personal memorabilia “..taking a slide break on the way to the Frank Zappa concert” and is also a window back in time to surf life in 1971 New Zealand portraying a timeless surf culture. This is what surf rats do. Using any camera; Digital, Disposable, 120 film, GoPro, HD video or Super8 we are all surf rats living probably the coolest lifestyle and it is cool to have images of that coolness.
Looking for a good read? Interested in fiction with a surfing-related theme? I recently finished Tom Mahony’s well-crafted novel, Imperfect Solitude. It tells the story of Evan Nellis, a neophyte biologist who works for a private environmental consulting firm in San Francisco. With idealistic dreams of “saving the environment” and “making a difference,” Nellis soon learns that an entry-level biologist is just another cog in the machine – a position of little pay and even less responsibility. His only solace is surfing the nearby Bay Area breaks. However, when a wealthy developer offers him the opportunity to assess some coastal land for a proposed development, it’s an offer he can’t refuse. Little does he realize the series of events such a job will set in motion. Not only does it test his ideals, it nearly costs him everything he loves. A surfer and consulting biologist who grew up in San Diego but has lived in the Bay Area for many years, Mahony has composed an engaging novel with numerous twists and turns. Mahony is adept at vividly describing a frigid “dawn patrol,” and then shifting gears to explore the often byzantine machinations that all-too-frequently underlie contemporary environmental consulting. The book is a definite page turner!
Night surfing promotes the use of all your senses: you see the wave, feel the energy, hear the lip chasing the tail of your board, taste the rush of the Ocean in a wipeout, and smell the salty humid air. All of these senses combined give the feeling of an all-body movement that has a direct path to the mind and soul of the surfer. But take away the most dependent sense: sight. One of the most exhilarating experiences is surfing at night, becoming completely blind to all that is around you. I love the feeling of not being able to see the wave you are riding. It causes me to rely heavily upon the other senses, most importantly the feeling of the wave’s energy on your feel pulsing through your body. Your feet are your eyes, because it is the muscle memory of the experienced surfer’s body that knows where to be on the wave by how the board is being propelled. Try it out; you will leave the Ocean with a feeling like never before! But just like every other surfing feat worth attempting, safety is paramount and there are a few keys to making it a successful and fun surf session. Remember, surfing is already a risky lifestyle, and surfing at night absolutely adds another element of danger.
- Don’t go in alone! You will get disoriented after a long ride or a bad wipeout, but it will be the location and voices of your fellow surfmates that will get you back to the right spot. Do NOT go night surfing with any fewer than two of your closes friends. Recommended to have three, making a total of four in the group. Also, agree with your friends that you will take turns catching waves. Otherwise, if you all take the same wave you will have to reconfigure your positioning.
- Don’t go in with outrageous surf conditions! I would never consider going night surfing in anything over a foot overhead. First off, the paddle out will freak you out if you are getting relatively large waves just randomly crashing on you. Also, a heavy wave pitching over will make for a tumultuous wipeout. The most enjoyment to be had is out of the knee to chest waves that allow you to absorb the moment, without be tossed like a ragdoll. Other conditions to stay away from at night are heavy winds (even if they are offshore!), and strong currents. The longer the wave interval, the better!
- Watch out for your friends. This is a no-brainer. Talk a lot during the session to naturally keep verbal track of everybody you are with.
If you are an experienced surfer and you follow the above guidelines, then you will have a surf session that’ll last a lifetime. Safety and fun walk hand-in-hand, though. Embrace the night stoke and enjoy a beautiful surf.