After school I went to Art College in London and I remember seeing my fellow students split cleanly into two categories. There were those who spent their time hungrily learning every new skill they could and there were those who spent a lot of time arguing that art was a subjective experience and not about acquiring a set of skills. The latter group may well have been right but 10 years later, it was those who spent time mastering every medium, that still thoroughly enjoyed making art.
Getting stuck into some mid session video feedback on the beach.
I’ve witnessed exactly the same phenomenon in the world of surfing. I’ve heard many people dismiss the maneuvers performed by highly skilled surfers, saying that they “don’t like all that flashy stuff, it’s too aggressive,” or “it’s not about how good you are, it’s about how much fun you’re having.” Ten years later, those same people are invariably still surfing at the same level and usually their enthusiasm for the sport has noticeably dwindled. By contrast the people who worked to master every new maneuver they saw, kept improving and remained in love with the sport.
Putting my body where my mouth is – laying back into a mid face hack is harder than it looks and consequently this was attempt number 3.
So what’s the art of learning to surf? Never dismiss anything you see being done until you can do it yourself because even if you decide that 360s, airs or headstands are not what you want to do on a wave, you need to be able to do them to know. Also, each new skill you learn will help you do something else better: chop hops will help you do airs, paddling a short board will help you catch more wave on your long board, carving a long board will help you do more powerful carves on your short board, noseriding will help your tube riding. No surf skill is isolated from everything else.