7 best excuses not to surf big waves

Shane Dorian in the type of situation you really want to avoid. Photo by Laurent Pujol/Billabong
Shane Dorian in the type of situation you really want to avoid. Photo: Pujol/Billabong

Let’s be honest: Big waves are scary. They are big, for starters. They can hold you underwater for long periods of time and deprive you of valuable oxygen. They can make you panic and fear for your life. For some surfers, that’s a good thing. For most normal surfers, however, big waves provide another outlet for more stress in their lives. Surfing is supposed to provide a means of alleviating stress, not compound it, though. That’s why it’s handy to have a few foolproof excuses in your locker whenever the waves get big.

1. “I don’t have a big-enough board.”

LifestyleSancho
Benjamin Sanchis makes a crucial mistake by owning a big board designed for big waves. Photo: Pintos

Big waves often require big surfboards. So if your quiver doesn’t happen to include a big-wave board, known as a gun, you are effectively off the hook. To ride a normal small-wave board in huge waves is just plain foolhardy—something you plainly aren’t, right?

2. “Don’t want to aggravate that college-football knee injury…”

An oldie, but a goodie. And if that knee flare-up can get you out of helping your mate move across town, or prevent you from performing much-needed house chores, surely it can be pushed into service to wait for the next (much smaller) swell.

3. “My new inflatable jacket is in the mail.”

<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”4″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://instagram.com/p/yqCaBhksXY/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_top”>Indulge in the triumph of stepping outside the box. #peahi #jaws #hawaii @fred_pompermayer outside the box angle of jaws</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by Mark Mathews (@markmathewssurf) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2015-02-03T23:05:52+00:00″>Feb 3, 2015 at 3:05pm PST</time></p></div></blockquote>
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One of the big advances in riding big waves has come with the use of inflatable life vests. “At most sessions at Waimea this winter, for the first time, every surfer was wearing a life vest,” big-wave rider Mark Mathews (pictured above) told GrindTV. However, the vests are specialized equipment, and unlike cakes of wax, they’re not available in most surf shops. You need to order them. Thus, when those big waves do arrive, by simply saying your ordered vest hasn’t arrived as planned, you can swerve that big-wave session.

4. “My Jet Ski is acting up.”

While paddle surfing has overtaken Jet Ski–assisted tow-in surfing at the elite level, said machines are still an essential accessory for transport and safety. As Jet Skis are notoriously mechanically unpredictable, no one will question you when you say yours is broken and has, unfortunately, thwarted your big-wave heroics.

5. “I couldn’t find a partner.”

Collins looking for his mate in the channel. Photo by Ken Collins
Ken “Skindog” Collins looking for his mate in the channel. Photo: Collins

In the modern era, it’s usually important to have a big-wave partner—someone who is at the same standard and who can operate as an extra pair of eyes and a safety outlet. “Every time I surf Mavericks, I have a personal lifeguard, Chris Killen, on a ski, watching every wave,” says Santa Cruz, California-based big-wave surfer Ken “Skindog” Collins (pictured above). Of course, if you can’t find anyone willing to match your big-wave needs (ask your non-surfing partner or even your kids to make it legit), it’s simply irresponsible to go out solo.

6. “It was better in the old days.”

If you are old enough—that is, above 18—you will remember a time when the waves were bigger, better, faster, and less crowded. That’s why you can’t be bothered to surf the big waves of today. It’s much better to sit and watch and tell anyone who will listen that the current crop of big-wave surfers wouldn’t have made it in your day.

7. “I’m plain scared.”

Honesty can save you from wearing one of these as a necktie. Photo by Laurent Pujol
Honesty can save you from wearing one of these as a necktie. Photo by Laurent Pujol

A novel approach where you admit that a combination of fear and ineptitude means you lack the necessary bravery and skill to ride the current big-wave swell. This honesty is, of course, a last resort and should be used only if the above six excuses have fallen on deaf ears.

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