Summer surfing, crowds and not being ‘that guy’

Surfing in summer can be a dream and a nightmare.

Surfing in summer can be a dream and a nightmare.

SURFING in summer can be both a dream and a nightmare.

The days are hot, water is invitingly warm, and the sun lingers long enough for some heavenly sunset sessions.

And if those conditions combine with a pulsing cyclone swell then, well, there is no place a surfer would rather be than out at Wainui.

Yet those precise conditions, bar the overhead waves, are exactly what lure the crowds; the beginner surfers, the travellers, the “I’m only surfing because the sun is out” types, all flocking to our treasured spots.

Crowds, accidental drop-ins, snakes, and — if you’re really unlucky — several dings in your brand new stick are almost guaranteed in summer.

It is easy to let it get to you, especially after a flat spell.

I grew up surfing in Christchurch and the best days at Taylors Mistake always coincided with a hot and blustery northwesterly.

Hundreds of people would flock into the micro bay and create absolute chaos — anything but the relaxed vibes many of us surfers were after. I lost many a fin surfing through Christchurch summers.

I like to think of myself as a (relatively) chilled-out surfer, although I must admit I have said a few words every now and then to groups of learner surfers intent on dropping into every set wave without a care in the world.

But when I ever get a little wound up I think back to a time I was surfing a pumping river bar in Mexico.

It was four-foot and clean, sunny and with a relaxed crowd of 20 from all around the world. Except one.

A past-it Australian guy called Paul — who I’ll admit, could surf — was hissing and roaring as he paddled up the inside and snaked each and every set wave. Paul was a dick.

Eventually the inevitable happened and a learner surfer dropped-in on him. Paul raged and splashed and swore his head off. I could hear him from several hundred metres away.

The learner went in and Paul paddled back to snake even more set waves for himself.

Paul’s rant changed the vibe of the entire line-up.

Yes, there was a bit of a crowd, and yes the learner shouldn’t have dropped in on Paul, but a friendly piece of advice would have sufficed.

Put simply: don’t be like Paul this summer.

Gisborne Boardriders Club has wrapped up its competitions for the year but all competitive surfers should now have their eyes cast to the nationals coming up at Piha, from January 8 to 14. Register online at www.surfingnz.co.nz

Further congratulations to Kelly Ryan on his appointment as surfing development manager. The level of surfing in New Zealand’s “surfing capital” will only get better.

On the local swell front, it looks small, but there is a good chance Father Christmas might deliver a little present on Sunday morning in the form of overhead waves from the southeast, and light winds.

Either way, here are some tips to get you through the crowded summer surf:

— Explore a little. Even if it is just down the beach, that spot over the hill you always wondered about, or a mission up the coast. In New Zealand there are no excuses for surfing in crowds — go explore.

— We were all beginners once. It is very likely the person that has just dropped-in on you, on the set wave you have been waiting all day for, has absolutely no idea that what they just did is surfing’s biggest no-no. They were probably just stoked to have caught a wave. Maybe move down the beach or, if you have to surf there, just give them some friendly advice.

— Chill out. Simple. Surfing is one of the purest forms of fun on the planet. You are surfing, in nature, outside, in the ocean. It is an awesome experience without even catching a wave. If you ever start getting wound up about a six-year-old getting pushed into a bomb set, or a tourist flapping about in your way, you are doing it all wrong. We are all out there to have fun so why be like Paul the Australian? Besides, there is always another wave.

— It is never really that bad. At the end of the day, surfing Gizzy’s beaches is nothing like the Gold Coast, popular spots in Bali or even Raglan. We are far enough from Jafa-land to still have relatively uncrowded waves. And just remember, it is only a couple of months before the temperatures drop, the swells start to roll in and winter scares all the newbies out of the water for another six months. So until then, just lie back, relax, and have an awesome Christmas and New Year.

See you out the back.

SURFING in summer can be both a dream and a nightmare.

The days are hot, water is invitingly warm, and the sun lingers long enough for some heavenly sunset sessions.

And if those conditions combine with a pulsing cyclone swell then, well, there is no place a surfer would rather be than out at Wainui.

Yet those precise conditions, bar the overhead waves, are exactly what lure the crowds; the beginner surfers, the travellers, the “I’m only surfing because the sun is out” types, all flocking to our treasured spots.

Crowds, accidental drop-ins, snakes, and — if you’re really unlucky — several dings in your brand new stick are almost guaranteed in summer.

It is easy to let it get to you, especially after a flat spell.

I grew up surfing in Christchurch and the best days at Taylors Mistake always coincided with a hot and blustery northwesterly.

Hundreds of people would flock into the micro bay and create absolute chaos — anything but the relaxed vibes many of us surfers were after. I lost many a fin surfing through Christchurch summers.

I like to think of myself as a (relatively) chilled-out surfer, although I must admit I have said a few words every now and then to groups of learner surfers intent on dropping into every set wave without a care in the world.

But when I ever get a little wound up I think back to a time I was surfing a pumping river bar in Mexico.

It was four-foot and clean, sunny and with a relaxed crowd of 20 from all around the world. Except one.

A past-it Australian guy called Paul — who I’ll admit, could surf — was hissing and roaring as he paddled up the inside and snaked each and every set wave. Paul was a dick.

Eventually the inevitable happened and a learner surfer dropped-in on him. Paul raged and splashed and swore his head off. I could hear him from several hundred metres away.

The learner went in and Paul paddled back to snake even more set waves for himself.

Paul’s rant changed the vibe of the entire line-up.

Yes, there was a bit of a crowd, and yes the learner shouldn’t have dropped in on Paul, but a friendly piece of advice would have sufficed.

Put simply: don’t be like Paul this summer.

Gisborne Boardriders Club has wrapped up its competitions for the year but all competitive surfers should now have their eyes cast to the nationals coming up at Piha, from January 8 to 14. Register online at www.surfingnz.co.nz

Further congratulations to Kelly Ryan on his appointment as surfing development manager. The level of surfing in New Zealand’s “surfing capital” will only get better.

On the local swell front, it looks small, but there is a good chance Father Christmas might deliver a little present on Sunday morning in the form of overhead waves from the southeast, and light winds.

Either way, here are some tips to get you through the crowded summer surf:

— Explore a little. Even if it is just down the beach, that spot over the hill you always wondered about, or a mission up the coast. In New Zealand there are no excuses for surfing in crowds — go explore.

— We were all beginners once. It is very likely the person that has just dropped-in on you, on the set wave you have been waiting all day for, has absolutely no idea that what they just did is surfing’s biggest no-no. They were probably just stoked to have caught a wave. Maybe move down the beach or, if you have to surf there, just give them some friendly advice.

— Chill out. Simple. Surfing is one of the purest forms of fun on the planet. You are surfing, in nature, outside, in the ocean. It is an awesome experience without even catching a wave. If you ever start getting wound up about a six-year-old getting pushed into a bomb set, or a tourist flapping about in your way, you are doing it all wrong. We are all out there to have fun so why be like Paul the Australian? Besides, there is always another wave.

— It is never really that bad. At the end of the day, surfing Gizzy’s beaches is nothing like the Gold Coast, popular spots in Bali or even Raglan. We are far enough from Jafa-land to still have relatively uncrowded waves. And just remember, it is only a couple of months before the temperatures drop, the swells start to roll in and winter scares all the newbies out of the water for another six months. So until then, just lie back, relax, and have an awesome Christmas and New Year.

See you out the back.

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Ric - 2 months ago
Good advice!

Chris - 2 months ago
Oh the joys of the summer crowd! There were at least 200 people in the water last week at the Pass when the sun was out and the waves were pumping.
Bit of a nightmare and there were certainly a few Pauls in the water!
Looking forward to sharing some waves with you somewhere this year bro!
Keep the chilled vibes!

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