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The Payoff Of Watching The Waves

Updated: May 20, 2023



South swell was up, and I was very excited to go surfing with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. She was meeting me in the water with her longboard. I knew if I wanted to connect with her, I would also need to go out on my longboard since the short-boarders sit in a different spot. I had three boards in my Ola Chica minivan, just in case. I tend to do this because I like to have the perfect board for the conditions. It’s hard for me to leave home with just one board!



When I arrived, it was apparent that short boarding was a better call. The waves were perfect, fast, and pumping, but the crowd was dense, and the take-off zone looked tight. I suited up and grabbed my longboard so I could surf with my friend. Only a few of us were in the spot, and it was getting better as the tide dropped and the south swell continued to fill in. We took turns catching waves and cheering each other on. It was better than I was expecting. We got tons of waves and had so much fun.


All the while, I was watching the short-boarders at the other spot just a little further out.

I was surprised to see so many wipeouts, but as I watched, I realized most of the pack was sitting too deep for the swell direction and dropping tide. It was excellent viewing as I waited for waves, and the more I watched, the more I wanted to go out there.

My friend had to work, but I still had some time. I caught a wave in and swapped my longboard for my high-performance shortboard. I waxed up, drank some water, and ate half a banana. I was ready for my next session.


I jumped off the cliff and proceeded to paddle a little wide of the line-up. Respectfully, I always start out sitting wide when arriving at a spot. Even though I’d been out for the last hour, I was at a different take-off zone. I also knew from watching that most people were sitting too deep. I waited my turn, and sure enough, a set came, and the pack was too deep. I was the only one wide and in the perfect take-off spot. It was a beautiful wave and almost effortless. I felt calm and totally in sync. I continued with the strategy for the rest of my session. I sat wide, waited, watched, and totally scored.


After all these years of surfing, I am still amazed at how much it helps to take the time to watch the surf and the surfers before going out.


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