05 July 2011

Coach of the Waves

In the latest print issue of Surfer magazine,  Steve Hawk (who - small world - surfs in Half Moon Bay) writes about a trip to one of Billabong's Surf with a Pro camps. From the coaching of Dave Rastovich and Shane Dorian, he derives these lessons:
  1. Widen your stance.
  2. Surf lower to the board.
  3. When you move to catch a throaty wave, paddle like you mean it.
  4. Surf higher on the wave.
Good tips, all, and I figured out just last week than I need to work on #4 in particular. But it takes me a while to sort out my surfing deficiencies on my own, which is why intermittently I have been looking for a surf coach. I've been surfing for eight years now, although consistently for only about the last four since I moved to NorCal and recovered (enough) from a back injury inflicted by Linda Mar. I got a late start as a surfer, growing up inland with only twice-a-year trips to the Jersey shore in summer. (My mother hated sand.) Then I wasted a decade living near and even on the beach in SoCal but overly worried about polluted water and ignorant of the bliss of riding waves until I stood up on a waterlogged 10' foamie in Florida. I'd like to recover those lost years with a power assist from a surf coach. I want to be a good surfer before I'm too old to be a good surfer.

Last week, cruising the web in the wee hours when I couldn't sleep, I stumbled upon Santa Cruz's Making the Drop and sent a query to Barry about surf coaching. We'd scheduled an initial assessment for today, but scratched it (wisely) due to a poor surf forecast. The new date is for dawn patrol next Tuesday, on a south groundswell arriving later this week.
I don't often get to see photos or video of myself surfing, but when a buddy happens to capture me, I'm never very happy with the image. Looking at this pic taken by Ephraim at the Jetty last weekend, all I can think is: Why haven't I turned yet for a run down the line? Why do I seem to be Iooking at my feet? And: Does my butt really need to be sticking out that far? I hope a surf coach can help me to identify areas like this where I need to improve, and push me to get better from here in less time than it would take to work it out alone.

Steve Hawk, author of Waves, having just been called into the wave of his life by Shane Dorian, concludes the Surfer article on this note:
...all of this nonsense about widening your stance and sticking post-its on your board and practicing tricks as if on a skate ramp... it's all bullshit. What matters is the miraculous gift of the waves themselves. What matters is hunting down the best ones you can find, until you die, and making sure you stay fit enough to ride them.
I'll never forget what matters, but I'll be a more fulfilled surfer with a little help from my coach.


  1. I don't like images of myself surfing either. And the 'butt' thing - I have noticed that women seem to do this more so than men, even the pros though they do get lower rather than stick their butts out as much as I seem to. Nice pic though, and a nice wave.

  2. Ah, well, if the pros stick out their butts, it's OK for the rest of us surfer girls! ;)

  3. Layne Beachley did it a lot. though I notice the new breed of girls are surfing a lot more like the 'blokes'.

  4. Always harder to turn in to a wave on your backhand. Nice wave too!