Here comes a set. “Which way should I go? Left? No, its closed out and not hollow. Right? No, its even less hollow…GOIN’ STRAIGHT!” Kick, kick…take off, arms spread wide, head up, chest glide. Down the sloping wave face, racing white water. Feels fast, feels good. Huge smile. Hit a bump, go airborne, stick the landing, ride out of the wash, proned out.
We all want the best wave on the best day of the best swell. We all wish there was solid, fun swell in the water all the time. We all hope the conditions are perfect all day every day: offshore or glassy, proper tide, minimal crowds etc. But in reality, sometimes the surf sucks. Sometimes it is small and weak, sometimes it’s onshore and sloppy. Sometimes the waves all spill instead of plunge. Should we hang up our fins and try to forget about it? Or should we enjoy the Ocean to the fullest extent of our coastal fortune?
After a few months of consistently fun surf, it is easy to become impatient, ungrateful and jaded. But even in poor conditions, fun is out there. When the waves are weak or the conditions poor, go straight. Instead of being frustrated because there is no pocket to ride or visions to view, ride every bump to the sand. Swim back out and do it again.Riding a wave straight is far better than not riding a wave at all.
In solid surf, going straight can add a special level of exhilaration. Go straight over with the lip and really feel the groundswell’s power! It is in our wave-riding DNA to go straight. Dolphins do it, early wave-riders did it, Duke Kahanamoku did it. Millions and millions of landlocked people visit the beach each day just to swim out, jump into white water and ride it back to the sand. Watch the smiles on their faces and listen to them laugh. Riding straight is fun. I’ve had the great pleasure of swimming with Mark Cunningham and watching him gracefully and skillfully ride straight wave after wave.
There are even fun variations: arms out wide feels like flight, arms to the side like a cannonball, head down-arms stretched out front feels like a torpedo. If you’re the jaded-ungrateful type, swim out in spilling, burger waves, ride waves straight all the way to the beach then sprint swim back outside over and over again. It is an excellent workout to stay sharp for the next glorious time clean pockets and beautiful visions are on offer.