Surfing and the art of picking the right spot
Finding time to go surfing can be challenging - like most I have a job that demands a lot of my time. In addition, I have 3 small children who I like to spend as much time with as I can (hopefully soon I will get them surfing too).
As a result of the tremendous time pressure, I thought I would share my thoughts about finding the right surf spot as it can lead to a frustrating experience - like the famous quote from Mark Twain that Golf is a good walk ruined - a trip to the beach can lead to the same result. But its all a matter of perspective.
First - analytics. We all have our 3 or 4 go to spots where we tend to go most of the time. There will always be the road trip or the "lets try it this time" or the triple overhead forecast that drives me at least to sheltered breaks but most of the time its going to the same spots. Try hard to remember (ideally write it down but I don't) tides and swell direction. Its obvious but amazing how predicable you can make it when you know your spots. Swell direction has a large impact here in Northern California because the angles tend to be generally from the North. A slight rotation to the West and breaks can have very different profiles. In addition to tide and swell, wind is critical and not only for the day of but also the previous days as it will impact quality of the local swell.
Second, if in doubt, go to the waves and look for yourself. My definition of poor conditions is much worse than most surf forecasters for the simple reason that my time to get out is very limited and I generally dont get the luxury of waiting for ideal conditions. Its relative. Forecasts also are often wrong -especially when it comes to variables like wind.
Third, maintain perspective. The reason I am posting today is I got up a 5.30am and headed to the beach and it was flat. Its about 35min from my house to the closest break. I spent over an hour this morning crusing looking for a place to get wet before calling it a morning. It was a minus tide today and the swell was weak. I knew I was taking a risk but thought I would try anyway. If there was a bit more energy in the water, maybe a little better swell angle things would have been different. I figure you have to get out if you hope to get in... sometimes there are rewards (few others in the water, relatively good conditions etc.) and sometimes its a drive home via Starbucks. But a visit to the ocean is a good way to start a day just about any way you look at it.
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