It seemed so simple when I started; three levels to glory – beginner, intermediate, advanced. Within a matter of weeks, with several bolt-upright whitewater rides to the beach and even a couple of green faces under my belt, l cast my novice badge aside and proudly reclassified myself as intermediate. In less than a month I was halfway to becoming the highest level of surfer, and that transition to being ‘advanced’ could not come soon enough. That was 22 years ago. I am still intermediate… on the good days.
Keep that hunger to progress, and that same feeling of stoke will stay with you forever,
However, I am not dismayed, because having discovered I had slipped down to another ‘hidden’ level, ‘intermediate’ has been a recent promotion for me. A few years ago, after experiencing boredom in the line-up from my inability to do anything fun, I ﬁnally admitted to myself that my surfing was no longer intermediate, it was inter-mediocre. What saved my surﬁng and made me want to improve again was a mixture of getting the right boards, surfing some new spots and watching good surfers — that, and having fun again. Now, every time I go surﬁng, I want to ride waves better, whether I am on my shortboard or my Iongboard. I realise, now, that I’ll never reach ‘advanced’, but that’s ok, because I also know that I could be a much better intermediate surfer than I am.
It’s simple; just like when I started. For the majority of us surfers, progression has become a concept that keeps drifting further and further away from us, whilst we flounder in the rip. Think progressive surfing and you might think John John Florence or Gabriel Medina. Think progressive surfing and you might think Pipeline or Trestles. Think progressive surfing and you might think 5’8 with a square tail and four fins. But chances are when you think progressive surfing, you won’t think yourself, surfing your big boy thruster at Putsborough. Progression can be as simple as standing up on a wave for the first time. We all know how good that felt. Keep that hunger to progress, and that same feeling of stoke will stay with you forever, no matter how good you are.
This issue we ask experts to divulge their secrets to better surﬁng; seven simple tips that you can apply to your surﬁng and feel the benefits from regardless of your ability (p.56). We also get the lowdown on surfing a wave that is the Mecca for surfers worldwide who want to push their surfing to the limits — Pipeline (p50). Back in the UK, two of our most progressive surfers tell us about a January session at Cornwall‘s humble answer to Pipe (p44). And you might be surprised to discover the level of surfing in Guernsey right now (p38).
No doubt you will have seen some of the insane waves ridden in Ireland when a huge swell hit at the end of January. We have unseen gold from that day — a day when surfers like Ireland’s Peter Conroy (pictured above) took wave-riding on our doorstep to yet another level. And if all of that makes your surfing feel inadequate, spare a thought for Kat Conway, who finds hers taking a step backwards this issue (p26). Beginner, intermediate or advanced — whatever level your surfing is at, improving can often feel frustratingly difficult. But if you recall the old adage that the best surfer is the one having the most fun, then all of a sudden ‘getting better’ doesn’t seem quite so difficult after all.
Editor(and still learning)