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23 December, 2011

Christmas Crowds

Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy a happy and blessed Christmas … and that Santa stuffs you into a few nice little barrels over the holiday period.

Unfortunately it’s also a time for crowded surf that can test your patience. Seriously … sometimes I think that the main thing I can gain out of these conditions is to see if I can be a better person. I mean when I see the behaviour of some idiots out there, it tempts me to yell, drop in and flick my board just like them. But I try not to. Because when I reflect on those tense situations, I reckon it’s those moments of truth that can define you. Am I going to be one of those people? Or can I maintain my dignity and integrity, turn the other cheek, give somebody else a wave or a hoot and walk away with my head held high. As hard as it can be, I always try the latter. I see it is a test of my character. And sometimes that’s about all I can take out of the surf.

Here are a couple of simple crowd-coping strategies. Choose the ones that suit according to your level of ability and patience:-

-Find a hole – if there’s 15 people on one peak and 2 on the other, it’s probably because there are better waves where the 15 are. But unless you’re good, you may be better off sitting where the 2 are.

-Understand inside position – the true rule of etiquette is this: the deepest surfer waiting at the point of take-off has right of way. It’s not first to your feet. And it’s not the guy who paddled up the point, spun around at the last second while you were riding.

-Meet and greet – Paddle towards the approaching set and close the gap. Don’t sit and wait for it to come to you.

-Show assertive body language – when your wave comes, paddle hard, kick your feet, get that glean in your eye and make it look like you mean business. Others will back off and let you have it … but if they sense hesitation, you’re toast.

-Back Up – paddle for waves in case people don’t make them. Don’t break the section or drop in, but be ready. In crowded surf, if you don’t back people up, you’re not going to be ready to capitalize when the error comes.

-Come to terms with less waves – At the end of the day, your mood is often mirrored by your expectation. If it’s crowded, and I am amped up expecting twenty waves, I will get frustrated if I only catch ten. However if I go out with low expectations and end up catching five waves, I go home happy.

Like I said, I hope it’s a happy Christmas for you.

Ross

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