It’s hot, flat, and crowded, and you know what that means: summer. Every non-surfer’s favorite time of year to go to the beach can be a nightmare for those of us looking to bag a few waves. Hordes of beachgoers turn beaches into sand-encrusted anthills. Waves often resemble bathtub ripples. June gloom can keep the coast fogged in for days at a time, and when the sun finally does come out, it’ll burn so bright even SPF 100 won’t help you.
But no need to write off summer just yet – there are plenty of ways you can stay stoked during nature’s hot flash. Put down the golf clubs and get ready to enjoy a little fun in the sun. Heck, you might even get a couple waves while you’re at it.
The Mental Game
Let’s be honest. Summer is not the time of year you’re going to get the wave of your life, unless you’re on a boat trip in Indo or you started surfing last week. For the rest us, even as the opposite hemisphere dishes out plenty of swell, we wait patiently for a few pulses to find their way to our coast line. When they finally arrive, in all likelihood, they’re smaller, weaker versions of their formal selves.
As a surfer trying to keep his sanity intact through the summer months, the first mistake you can make is setting the expectation bar too high. Don’t think of the waist-high waves hitting your local beach break as some kind of complimentary consolation prize. This isn’t Vegas. Instead, adjust your attitude and realize that those waist-high waves are about three feet bigger than last week’s flat spell. Small waves also make great practice ramps for perfecting maneuvers that are much more difficult to pull in larger surf. Just ask native Floridian Kelly Slater -- his local surf scene helped him develop as an all around surfer.
Besides the small and often inconsistent waves that we’re dealt during summer, there’s really not a lot to complain about. Think about it; there’s a reason the beach is so crowded: it’s 85 degrees and sunny, and all your friends want to hang out, work on their tans, and sip cool beverages. Indulge in the fruits of the season – you’ll find they’re quite sweet.
One easy way to enjoy the small summer surf is to adjust your board selection. Try longboarding. Surf a fish. These boards are ridden for a reason: they work great in small waves.
In fact, for longboarders, small waves are the preferred canvas upon which one can apply the tricks of the trade. Walking the nose, hanging ten, and sticking a fins-first takeoff are all maneuvers that require less than gargantuan waves. Put away your high-performance shortboard and bring out something more conducive to your daily grovel.
Beat the Blackball
On ultra-crowded days, lifeguards will often blackball beaches to keep surfers out of the water. Yeah, it's a cruel world. But you can beat the blackball in a couple ways. The first is to purchase a short, soft surfboard. There are several surfboards on the market that are designed specifically for blackballed beaches, meaning their length and material makes them, like, totally legal dude. If that doesn't work, go body-boarding or bodysurf. Seriously.
Take a Trip
Nothing beats a flat spell better than a surf trip to some exotic location bursting at the seams with swell activity. Simply bypass your hemisphere’s annoyingly quiet hibernation by flying to another one. North American surfers can enjoy Indonesia, South America, and Australia during the summer, while Australians, well, they go to Hawaii.
Summer Isn’t Endless
It’s easy to complain about summer. The heat, the waves, the crowds, the mosquitoes – the list goes on.
But think about those freezing cold dawn patrols in the dead of winter, or the beatings you took during last season’s giant swell. You’ll realize that while summer isn’t ideal, it comes with quite a few perks. And the best part? Fall is right around the corner.