ballsofsteelandfury and I are gonna talk about surfing a little bit and hopefully some of the rest of you whom I know to be surfers will join in in the comments.
tWBS: The first time I surfed I was probably about eight years old. Or maybe nine. Maybe even ten. Hell, I don’t know, but it was somewhere in that age range.
I was visiting the beach with the family, as we white people are apt to do in the summer months ’round these parts. A family friend, my father’s best friend from college in fact… he and his family were also there with us that week and, well… he was a surfer. And very quickly, watching him surf became my full time obsession. He looked so free on that board. So happy yet so empty at the same time.
After a few days of this, I suppose he noticed my interest. He asked if I’d like to learn. Even at eight (or nine or ten), I knew the right answer. HELL YES!!!!
Before that day was over I had ridden my first wave. Yes, with a little help. OK, a lot of help. But still….it was enough. I was hooked. It was the first time I’d feel that oneness, though not the last.
But the problem was…
Remember back when you were old enough to know something was way cool, but young enough to not have any say so in your day to day life just yet. That kinda sucked, right?
What I mean by that is that I knew immediately, that very day, that surfing was for me. But being an eight year old (or nine or ten) living in the suburbs didn’t lend itself to pursuing it at that point, as you might imagine. It is what it is. Or rather, what it was. But still, I’d gotten a taste of it. It would become an itch, eventually. One that had to be scratched.
Balls: When I was 8, I was living in Mexico, hundreds of miles from the beach. I did not have any idea what surfing was.
It wasn’t until I was a few years older and we had moved to LA that I discovered the surfing culture. I was still living inland a bit but now trips to the beach were possible and I became fascinated with beach culture. I’m sure this helped:
tWBS: Yes, I can see how that would help. In fact it’s helping me right now. Helping me to….
Balls: OK!!!! Anyway…..I wore Maui and Sons shorts, Ray ban sunglasses, and surf t-shirts. That was my wardrobe. Honestly, it still largely is.
In addition, one of the first things I asked my parents for and got was a boogie board. My mom was paranoid about me drowning, so I couldn’t get a surfboard. Yet.
tWBS: When I was in college, occasional beach trips happened. It was a fairly easy weekend trip being less than a three hour drive one way. One weekend while at the coast, I decided to buy a board. And I did. Same board I still have today, in fact (though admittedly the fins are kinda Frankensteined at this point).
At the time when I bought the board, my friends all kinda laughed about it. My family too, actually. But they all knew I was somewhat eclectic, so it wasn’t a big deal. And truth be told, over the next couple of years, I used that board maybe a half a dozen times at the most. So maybe they were right to laugh? Seemed like a bad investment at that point, just saying. Until…
Balls: I was on my own, my mom was by now sure I wasn’t going to drown, and I had enough money to buy a board. Word of advice: Never buy your first board brand new! I got a used board which was still in pretty good shape. It was a lot cheaper than a brand-new board and, if it turned out I couldn’t stand to save my life, it would be easier to write off.
I never had to. I still have it to this day. That doesn’t mean I was able to stand up right away. OH HELL NO! I even took lessons. Second word of advice: Don’t take lessons! For one thing, they teach you on longboards which is basically teaching someone basketball on 5 foot hoops. If you ever want to look like the guys/girls in the magazines/tv carving through the waves, you’ll be riding short boards. They are a whole different animal. The actual lesson on how to stand up on a board took ten minutes. We will give you that lesson for free later. The only way to really learn is to do. Repeatedly. That applies to a lot of things…
tWBS: Very, very good advice on the used board angle, FWIW. And also the whole do and learn thing. And applying to a lot of things. I’ll shut up about that now. But here’s something for you to make fun of me for…
I’m tWBS, and I’m a GoofyFoot, FWIW. It started when I was a kid on a skateboard, not sure why. But it became habit and then I never could change on the surfboard…which is weird because I’m very very right handed in just about everything else. Usually it’s not a big deal unless I’m trying to catch with a guy (GoofyFoot or not) who isn’t paying attention to traffic. But that’s true anyway. Anyway, these breaks from the storm this week were breaking left, so it was kinda cool not having to go against with eyes in the back.
Balls: I am not surprised that tWBS is a GoofyFoot. That basically means he puts his left foot in the back of the board instead of the front, BTW. Essentially, they’re the lefthanders of the surfing world. They say GoofyFoots are a different breed and I’ve found that to be true. As tWBS says, it requires a little coordination when you’re out in the water because GoofyFoots face the opposite direction everyone else does. But as long as everyone knows what they’re doing, there is no issue.
I, on the other hand, am a regular foot. I’m not sure if that means I have more power in my right buttcheek, but it works for me. Oh, you didn’t know you needed your glutes for surfing? You do. Plus a bunch of other muscles you don’t regularly use. After a good surfing session, you will be tired. Happy, but tired.
tWBS: And sore too, especially if you haven’t surfed in a while. My ass still hurts like a bitch from Irma pounding it into the sand all day Monday.
Balls: Are you sure that’s from surfing? What color was it, Mrs. Bundy?
tWBS: The summer between me graduating college and starting Vet School, my folks bought a place at the beach. Beginning that summer, and for the next eight years, any break from school (regardless of the time of year), or later, any time off from work (again regardless of the time of year) was spent at the coast surfing. Among other things.
Then I got married and things kinda got fucked up for a while. Meh, truth hurts. But there’s always time. Until you’re dead.
Balls: I, due to luck or circumstance, am not married and never have been. Therefore, most of my free time has been my own and I try to get on the water as much as I can. Work gets in the way, though. Also, it’s more fun to go with someone. It’s the same reason tWBS and I are co-writing this post. Sharing the experience makes it better.
BTW, yes I have taken girls surfing and yes, it’s a great lead-in to sexy time. But more on that later…
tWBS: I’m at the beach this week. In case you, dear reader, hadn’t figured that out. “Among other things” this week, I’ll be surfing. In fact I already have. I surfed on Monday and again today (Wednesday). Today I met “Dwight” (not his real name, though I don’t know why I changed it…after all you don’t know Tim…DAMMIT).
DwightTim was a cool dude, but he didn’t strike me as a conscientious waxer. Then again, with a long board it’s more of a pain. Or can be. Anyway, look here….see all the greyish/greenish stuff on DwightTim’s board here that looks vaguely like algae?
Yeah, that’s old nasty basecoat wax. Probably more skin and sand than wax at this point. Thus when DwightTim applies his topcoat wax, as even the most lazy surfers will do, mostly because it looks cool….
There really is no basecoat there anymore for the topcoat to stick to. Thus when DwightTim tries to stick to his board, his prayers won’t be answered more than likely….
Yes, DwightTim was an interesting guy, no doubt. But he is not a conscientious waxer. DwightTim really needs to scrape that nasty shit off and start over. And we’re gonna teach him how.
Soooo, Being The Dick I Am
I had to ask DwightTim what was up with his wax…or lack thereof. Turns out he bought his board secondhand a few years ago when he retired. Didn’t even know he was supposed to clean and re-wax periodically. And again, on a longboard on the Atlantic, it’s not as big of a deal.
I offered to re-wax his board for him, teach him how, and use it for this’n here post. Not surprisingly, he declined. But that’s OK. Now I get to teach you’ns instead. So here we go…
That’s a closeup of my surfboard taken on Wednesday morning. That’s a basecoat of wax. It’s looks cleaner than DwightTim’s because it’s only been on there since early Monday morning. Truth be told, it’s too soon to scrape and start a new basecoat, but if I don’t do it then I can’t illustrate this, so goodbye two day old basecoat I worked so hard to get right at 5am on Monday.
Any sympathy? Yeah, I thought not.
Removing Old Wax
Old wax is easiest to remove if it warms up a little bit. The easiest way to do this is to lay the board out in the sun deck (top) up. Even on a fairly chilly day, the ambient radiant heat of the sun will soften the wax enough. If it’s cloudy, a hair dryer on low setting for a couple of minutes also will suffice.
Now, let me first say that removing old wax is fairly messy. Deck wax is formulated to be sticky. That’s the whole point. So don’t come crying to me when you’re not smart enough to realize that taking wax off of a board inside is going to cause problems. Did I mention it’s sticky? It will stick to your carpet, your tile…. your garage floor. In other words, don’t take old wax off indoors without putting down a tarp. Or at least newspapers.
But it’s way easier and more pleasant outside anyway because this is the scene outside…
And also…..Sunshine!!!! It has now softened our previous basecoat and what little topcoat might still remain from Monday and Wednesday sessions. Anyway, this is a wider shot of my board warming in the sun, and you can still see the clumps of wax even from this distance. But it’s already softening so we have to be quick.
Fairly quickly the wax softens. Cold water wax will sometimes even liquefy and just drip off more or less. But this basecoat won’t do that. So we have to scrape it…
Now the comb part is to even out your wax without having to reapply it constantly. As mentioned, this basecoat didn’t need to be removed just yet. The comb is helpful to re-spread it before/after sessions without having to constantly reapply it. But what we’re using today is the edge. Full Scrape.
Once the wax has softened in the sun for a few minutes, it’s actually quite easy…
The old wax comes up easy enough. It doesn’t take much muscle. Yet.
Once all of the clumpable wax is scraped and removed, then it’s time to shine/buff. Now there are cleaners made for this, but they are a pain and they require paper towels or some other such drying tool be brought along. But Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Pickle…
This little beauty is my new favorite thing, FWIW. Anyway, you take your Pickle in your hand, and you stroke lovingly…
And after the Pickle does its job, that board shines don’t it?????
Like a baby’s butt.
Now We Gotta Put The Wax Back On??
Unless you want to break your neck….yes.
The whole reason surfers wax their boards is for friction. The more you stick to your board, the more control you have, the less you kill yourself, the more fun you have. Also….the less medical bills you have. That’s basic algebra.
But here’s where we get into the muscle part. Waxing a board is hard work. If you’re not at least breathing fast at some point, then you’re not doing it right.
As I already alluded to, surfers generally use two types of wax…a basecoat, which adheres to the board; and a topcoat which adheres to the basecoat and your feet. The top coat is also variable depending upon water temperatures.
The basecoat is pretty basic. As previously mentioned, it isn’t generally replaced after every session, so the more the better. Wax is cheap. This is Sticky Bumps. It’s a fairly popular basecoat wax, though there are others.
After it softens in the sun a few minutes, then you start working. It’s good cardio, no shit.
There are a lot of different opinions on the best patterns for waxing one’s board. Frankly they’re all wrong. And also they’re all right. Truth is, it’s your ass out there. You wax it how you feel good about it. That’s all that matters.
Because of the pattern in my board, I very quickly got into the habit of starting in the middle working in a clockwise rotation working my way out (shown below). Then cross-hatching side to side the rest of the way down. Now that’s become a routine for me, pre-surf.
Then, once the basecoat is on, it’s best to let it sit for a bit. In fact ideally, the board should now be taken into the shade for 5-10 minutes before applying the topcoat. There are a lot of choices when it comes to topcoat wax, but Mr. Zog has never let me down…
That’s the warm water variety, btw. It smells good, too. Anyway, no big secret for applying the topcoat. Generally, one doesn’t need to work as hard for the topcoat either. Mild to moderate pressure I’d say. Whatever pattern feels good. I stick with my clockwise followed by cross-hatching.
Old habits are hard to break.
But in truth it really doesn’t matter. There are as many methods as there are idiot surfers.
Truthfully, it’s however you feel. If you like your method, then you’re doing it right.
Balls: See, this is where I come in and tell you you’re doing it wrong. Well, not really wrong, but not the best way. As you said, the purpose of the wax is to provide friction. This is great for staying on top of the board and maneuvering it, but not so good for going fast in the water.
Therefore, my approach to waxing is to cover only the essential portions of the board and let the rest of the board be as smooth and slippery as a girlfriend’s vulva.
tWBS: But what if my girlfriend’s vulva isn’t…
Balls: And it should go without saying that you never apply wax to the bottom of the board. Don’t know why I felt the need to say that, but there it is.
tWBS: You felt the need to say it because a lot of people do it for some reason. I watched DwightTim put topcoat on the bottom of his board just this morning.
Balls: WTF?!? Is he on meth or something? That’s just…. Ok moving on. On the CORRECT side, I only put wax on a foot-wide section at the front of the board where your front foot will go and then about the same amount of wax on the back of the board.
I’ve found it does make my board run faster through the water. It also makes it easier for me to get up and get in the proper position as I know exactly where my feet should be.
Balls: Now your board is waxed and you’re ready to go in the water. How the fuck do you get up?!? Well, like this:
That’s a lot easier to do on dry land than on wet moving water.
tWBS: But she looks good doing it.
Balls: Indeed. But, you should note how many muscles are involved in the process:
Arms for paddling
Legs for kicking
Abs for keeping your head up
Chest for pushing off the board
Glutes and hamstrings for lifting your body off the board
Core for maintaining balance
And you will be using all of them furiously for the three to five seconds you have to catch the wave just right before it crashes over you or you float harmlessly over it. Let’s take another look and see what it’s like on the water:
tWBS: Wow, she really is using her glutes, huh? Speaking of using her glutes…
Balls: But in all honesty, knowing when to start the motion of popping up is one of the trickiest things to master when you’re first starting out. Pop up too soon or too late and you’re not going anywhere. It’s very difficult to describe accurately.
The most common way to describe the exact moment to do it is when you feel the board propelling you towards shore. That, however, makes no sense as you are constantly moving and you won’t know the correct exact moment.
The best way I’ve found is to stand up when you first start to feel the water rushing back underneath you going up the wave. But you’ve got to be quick.
tWBS: Wow, thanks. You’ve made it so clear.
Balls: Oh gimme a break, you know what I mean. It’s all about the timing, and to get the feel for that timing, you have to just do it. And fail a lot while learning. We’ve covered this.
tWBS: Yes, we have. My apologies.
Balls: Here’s one folks can relate to…. It’s a lot like getting that look from a girl. You need to make your move right then and there else you will miss your opportunity.
tWBS: So one needs to learn to recognize “the look”, in this case “the look” being the momentum and attitude of the board when the wave is caught, and act without hesitation?
Balls: Something like that, yes.
tWBS giggles just a little bit.
Balls: What now?
tWBS: Nothing really. It’s just when you were talking about “the look”, it reminded me of something. Something which also leads back to your point earlier about surfing sometimes leading into “sexy time”.
Balls: Shit. Imma regret this, aren’t I?
tWBS: Only if I tell the story correctly. Hehehehe.
Balls: Fine. Let’s hear it.
tWBS: Well, after graduating Vet School and actually tricking folks into thinking I was an adult… beginning in the summer of ’92 and extending thru the fall of ’93, I was both heading to the coast every chance I got; while also in a very serious relationship with a girl who liked the beach. So it worked out nicely.
One day she’s sitting on the beach with my dog (not a euphemism), sunning herself, as I’m coming back in from surfing. It was warm, but early fall, so we were the only ones around. She asks me “What is it about that thing?”
I tell her that I can’t really explain it. She needs to try it. Now this isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation. But it is the first time we’ve had it on an otherwise deserted beach. No risk of embarrassment.
She finally bites.
Balls: We’re talking about anal, right?
Balls: Ok, fine.
tWBS: Anyway….. We get the dog put in the house (also not a euphemism, and he was happy for the A/C probably anyway) and we get her out there, lying prone on the board, me holding onto said board, as waves pass by/over. And she’s nervous as hell. LOL.
Now this girl, she was about 4′ 11″ and 95lbs of solid attitude. Equal parts tough athlete, tough princess, tough scholar. Rarely had I ever seen her nervous about taking anything on. But on this board, even with me holding it as if she were a kid taking off the training wheels for the first time? She was out of her element. For maybe the first time in her life, she was stepping out of her comfort zone.
And I was soooo proud of her.
Anyway, without going into the painful (literally for her at times) details, it took her only a coupla dozen falls before she got the balance down. Then, after turning her loose to let her get the timing on her own, there were a few more attempts at popping which didn’t go well. But honestly, only a few. She picked up quickly on that too.
In little more than an hour, she was up for the first time all on her own. No lie.
And that’s when I saw the look. She was happy. She was both empty and full. She was both victorious and humbled. She felt truly free, even if only for a moment. And I gave her that.
Later that night, again without any detail, her exhilaration from it rubbed off in very beneficial ways for tWBS. That was a fun night. So I got that going for me.
Balls: Wait, seriously, no details?
Balls: Was there anal?
We ended up buying her her own board that very weekend. Which was funny because most surf shops around here don’t stock a lot of short boards for girls 4′ 11″ and 95lbs. Or at least they didn’t back then. But we eventually found one which had an appropriate sized board with a pattern she could tolerate (remember, tough princess was part of the deal…she didn’t want a boy’s board, and good for her I say). Anyway, I’ve lost touch with her over the years, but last I knew she was still surfing. So that’s kinda cool.
Balls: Funny. I’ve got a very similar story except my girl got hit by the board and started bleeding from her forehead.
We went to our spot on the beach and patched her up. She told me to go in the water while she rested a bit. So, I go in and, sure enough, catch the first wave perfectly and ride it all the way to the beach.
As I turn around to check on her, I see her running towards me. She HAD to try again. I will always love that about her.
She got on the board and was finally able to catch a wave so that it took her all the way in. She rode it boogie board style, but that was enough. She GOT IT.
She hasn’t stopped surfing since.
tWBS: No sex?
Balls: Oh, the sex was amazing. This may be the part where we lose some people, but the feeling you get while you are on the board/wave is incomparable. You get a sense of happiness and peacefulness that makes you forget… everything. The beauty part is that it lasts the rest of the day.
Suffice to say, the sex was greatly enhanced by that.
tWBS: Right?? In fact I remember this one time, same girl. And we had just…
Balls: Are we gonna keep doing this?
tWBS: Yeah, you’re probably right. We’ve made our point. Or we haven’t. I do wish everyone could feel that feeling though, even just once.
Balls: Me too. Me too.