08 November 2007

Is It Wrong?

Is it wrong to be a slave to the shoulder? Is there nothing to be gained from having discriminating surfing tastes? At some point in my surfing life, I realized that surfers often break into two camps when it comes to waves: those who pine for quantity and those who wait for quality. I fall in the latter group. It's not uncommon for me to utter, out loud, while sitting in the line-up, "Can a sister just get one shoulder?" I don't say it to be funny. Nor do I say it for the benefit of those around me. I always think the ocean might deliver if it can hear my plea. For me, surfing is not about keeping score. One good wave with a good, long shoulder and ridden alone (without five of my "closest friends") is all I need to make me truly happy. There are others who revel in the wave count. CYT, for instance, likes battling the crowds and getting wave after wave. In her mind, I think, that makes her the victor as compared to everyone else. And maybe it does.

I, for one, find no enjoyment in riding a wave just because it's there, especially when a break is crowded. For people like me, surfing is a mode of expression. You can't freely express yourself if the wave has no shape, if there are are people on either side of you while you're riding, and if you're avoiding all of the heads popping up on the inside. I'm not saying I'm some bodacious surfer who's a joy to watch. Don't look for me in any upcoming videos. Still, I do feel something indescribable when I'm on a wave alone working the shoulder as it presents itself to me. I also find that you can work on your style, work on your walking, work on whatever needs improving when you're riding a decent wave by yourself.

My last few sessions brought this quantity versus quality issue up for me again. There's almost no point in paddling out at a crowded break if you fall into the quality camp. You sit there waiting and waiting. Then when you go to paddle for a quality wave, you find that 500 other people are also paddling for it. Yeah, you can go ahead and pop-up. But where's the enjoyment in that? It's not like you can push all of these other people off the wave. One or two, yes. There are probably four people behind them. I've had other surfers tell me they reserve beater longboards for crowded days. Why? Well, if you're not worried about the safety of your board, you can take any wave you want with impunity. And, truthfully, I'd give serious thought to that kind of attitude if it weren't for a couple of things. First, it's actually not in my nature to be that kind of person . . . but I can be pushed into that role if need be. Second, I'm easily recognizable. It's not like such actions wouldn't come back to haunt me later. I'm not big, bad or scary enough to back up that kind of shit.

Where does this leave me? Well, I've given up on this swell. It's not all that and it's much too crowded in the water. I'm going for a bike ride today. I'll let the quantity folks have their fun.


At 11/8/07, 1:53 PM, Anonymous venicesurfergirl said...

I feel your pain on this one. I am so sick of the hyped-swells that close down the beach breaks which means that every L.A. surfer is amassed at three point breaks within an hour's driving distance...ugh.

At 11/8/07, 5:24 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Im with ya on that one Sis,
which is why I sometimes favor the victory @ sea conditions, it thins everything out. I like to have my waves to myself and will sacrifice count for quality of ride.This is why I chose to surf the spots that werent quite thumping this swell.
I also seek solitude and often find it believe it or not.

surf on...

At 11/8/07, 7:20 PM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

I bypassed this whole swell because of what Venicesurfergirl just said - 3 points and some nook and crannies were the only thing working up here. 37 people at Zeros, 50 something at Topanga and probably upwards of 75+ at Malibu. No thanks.

I'll check the beachies tomorrow, but, I don't expect much.

At 11/9/07, 9:34 AM, Blogger BeanCountingSurfer said...

I used to be the quantity guy.. but that was when I was a newbie.. but now it's definitely quality over quantity.

I'm starting to get to the beach earlier and earlier.


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