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You Don't Need to Go to the "Best" Surf Spots...

You Don't Need to Go to the

This is a Surf Tip I've been think about a lot recently... you truly do not need to go to the best surf spots to get the best waves.

We all know the most well-known and well-trafficked surf spots in our hometowns.  Many of these spots are famous the world-round. And for good reason! 

But if you show up there at 8:00 on Saturday morning when the sun is blazing and the surf report is calling for "2-4, fair to good" you don't need me to tell you what the lineup is going to look like. Crowded. 

I posted this scribble on instagram last week and was amazed by the level of response and engagement that it garnered. 

It was inspired by the classic "pick two: good, fast, cheap" sign that I've seen floating around over the years. 

Of course, in an ideal world, we always want all 3.  And periodically the stars align and that does happen! Those days are worth surfing until your arms fall off and then remembering warmly for years to come. 

But what about the rest of the time?

I had a realization years ago while surfing with Nathan Adams at San Onofre. We would paddle out and I would instinctively paddle out to where I thought the waves would come—the middle of the pack.  I've known Nate for something like 15 years, and I have never once seen him sit in the middle of the pack.  He is always either sitting way outside, waiting to glide effortlessly into the set wave that no one else is in position for, or he's sitting wayyyy on the inside, catching a ton of little waves that pass everyone else by. 

Like a dope, I just continued to sit loosely where everyone else was sitting, fighting the crowd for my share at the waves coming through and hoping that someone else would fall so that I could pick one off. 

After watching Nate get both the best waves—and the most waves—something finally clicked. "Ahhh, I see what he's doing!"

The same methods employed by Nate can be put to use when you decide when and where to surf.  

Good, rideable waves are a finite resource, but if 80% of the surfers all flock to 20% of the same surf spots, where do you want to be?

As it turns out, there are lots of good waves breaking right now, going entirely unridden. 

So, buckle up for the twist where this becomes a marketing message... with the right board and the right mindset, you can find good waves with small crowds.  Maybe not world-class waves, but most of us aren't world-class surfers.  Choose equipment that helps to unlock new spots, off the beaten path spots, or even the-spot-next-to-the-famous-spot. 

How far down the beach would you need to hoof it in order to get a bunch of waves all to yourself? Or even better... to split a peak with a good friend?

Waves breaking on the shore are not the true finite resource of surfing, your time is.  So make the most of the time you have available to be in the water.  Zig when the crowd zags, and don't get caught in the same merry-go-round of paddling out at the spot, and then complaining about the crowds. 

Surf the really good spot at first light during the work-week, or during an extended lunch break when a meeting gets cancelled. Or on your next vacation when you can pick a spot far away from the urban centers and dense crowds.  For all the "everyday" opportunities to surf, look for the untapped resource, the less-known spots, and the empty peaks.  You may just find good waves, small crowds, and be ready with your favorite surfboard. 

What's Next?