Sunday, August 16, 2015
crowd surfing for the senior set
I'm 60 years old, and I regularly surf the crowded surf spots of north L.A. county, and Ventura. I have learned that there are a few things that work for me, to keep the experience enjoyable.
First and foremost is attitude. We are there to have fun. There is no wave worth fighting over, or injuring someone, or ruining their day. I try to keep the safety and stoke of myself and others in the forefront of my mind at all times. When someone gets a wave I wanted, I remind myself, that person paid their dues to be out the same as me, they deserve a good ride as much as I do.
But neither can you give in to the intimidation or bully techniques sometimes seen in the lineup. Paddle for each wave like you mean business. If you're not sure that someone else has it, go for it. Then, once you're up, if you see there is someone behind you, kick out. Let the guy with priority have his wave. That's good surf etiquette, and I believe in practicing it, even if no one else is. If someone snakes me, I try to let them know I'm behind them, without getting hostile or spoiling the vibe. OK, maybe a little stinkeye, but nothing more severe than that :-)
Keep your expectations reasonable. Some days the crowds are so thick, I just tell myself I'm gonna paddle around the lineup for practice and exercise, any waves will just be a bonus. And I almost always get a few, but I don't stress out over the ones I miss because of the crowd. I like to do dawn patrol, get a few waves, and then go on with my day. Except in rare instances, I let the 'kids' have the mid-day.
Equipment: ride a board that's an easy paddler. People think old guys ride longboards because they're easier to surf. I ride them because they're easier to paddle, and catch waves with! If I didn't surf aggro crowds, or if a little respect and leeway was offered to the older surfers. I'd ride shorter boards. In fact, I still sometimes do ride shorter boards, but the thicker the crowd, the longer board I prefer.
I always try to share a smile and a little stoke, maybe hoot for someone else's wave, loan out some surf wax, compliment a good wave, ask someone how their session went and really listen, whether it was good or bad. Surfing is all about fun and a good time, never lose sight of that, even in the midst of a crowd that seems to have.