10 life lessons learned from surfing – Episode 5 – Flow


SamSwaggah copy


Don’t just go with the flow… use it

Carrying my board in El Tunco

Last week we learned about paying attention to our surroundings so an not to go against the grain like the buffoon that I am…. but why stop there. Don’t just go with the flow, use it!

At the beginning of the month I spent in El Tunco, I was using a very heavy long board. I was staying fifty yards or so from the beach, and to get to the break I had to walk down the beach another hundred yards, usually against the morning wind.

My longboard had been broken in half and repaired a few times, so it was extra heavy.

At first the walk seemed like a bit of a chore–I’m not really into carrying heavy things while walking in sand at the crack of dawn–but at the time my outlook on life was rather positive, so getting up before sunrise and carrying a board down the beach wasn’t going to stop me from watching the sunrise from the line-up.

At first I didn’t even really know how to hold a board and so it was a rather clumsy affair: switching a board taller than me awkwardly from left to right,  real rookie-like. I laugh at the image of myself doing this.

Working against the elements tires you out.

A longboard catches the wind like a kite, despite its weight, and when you don’t know how to carry one, it’s an exhausting dance of trying to hold the darn thing up so it doesn’t drag on the ground, until the wind catches it like an umbrella in a thunderstorm and you end up twisting around like a top and facing where you just came from.

Then you drop it.

Then you pick it up again, this time with the opposite arm, hoping you can make it a few more steps this time before the next gust of wind.

Working with the elements conserve energy.

Bit by bit I started realizing that there are ways to hold the board that allow it to cut the wind.

Much the same way there are ways to dive while creating a smaller splash, I started learning more efficient board-holding techniques that allowed me to avoid it catching all the gusts and forcing my tired arms to rest.

I started being able to walk the length of the beach without putting the board down, but it was still a workout.

Using the elements makes you weightless.

Once i’d mastered carrying the board without having to put it down, I started realizing that actually, just like a bird uses the wind under its wings to lift itself, I could use my board, if at the right angle, to just carry itself.


Wind isn’t constant so you have to move the board around a lot, but it’s a game a little bit like sticking your hand outside the car window while driving and letting it go up and down by changing the angle.

Once I figured that out, not only was carrying my board down the beach a joke, it was a game, and a productive one at that!

At the time I wasn’t really sure how a board moves in the water either, so aligning it to the wind currents helped my understand how it moved in the water currents.

In fact, this allowed me to later use a similar concept while paddling out the the break.

Everyday the ocean is a little bit different and the chop has a different rate, but if everyday you figure out the period of the chop, you can paddle at the same rate and, instead of digging the nose of your board into the bumps and losing momentum, use the bumps to propel yourself, kind of like a mogul skier does.

This makes paddling infinitely more enjoyable.

In Conclusion:

By having to carry my board down the beach, I learned that there is no point in facing the elements like an idiot and fighting against them, like they show you in those movies where the heroic main character is fighting against a full-fledged snow storm head-on.

Work smart, not hard.

When you know to go with the flow, life gets easier, but when you use the forces against you to your advantage, like they teach in Aikido, you’re invincible.

This applies to all aspects of surfing, I’m only just now starting to get in the flow while riding the waves, but Samuel, pictured above, is so in the flow he makes surf swaggah look as easy as walking :)

When life throws you lemons, make lemonade right? it’s all about energy flow and how to use it, in fact in next week’s episode of 10 life lessons I learned from surfing, I’m going to argue that you are not only–as they say–what you eat, but that you are how you use your energy.



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