Hello Jacksonville Beach! – Some big life changes…

My whole world is different since my last post.

On April 4th, after 6 months of my wife having strange symptoms, many trips to the states and specialists, I took her for a brain MRI in San Jose. All the doctors we’d seen said that wasn’t necessary, but a feeling I couldn’t shake made me say, “why not, it’s only 4 hours, we’ll be back at midnight, and I’ll be coaching in the morning.”

That MRI showed a large tumor.  We flew back to the states with the clothes on our backs 14 hours later, and 24 hours after that she had her first of three surgeries. These past 5 weeks have been the most difficult and most beautiful of our lives. Sarah is doing great, and the outpouring of love and support from family and friends has been amazing.

She is pushing me to write about the experience, and I might do that in the future, but I’m not sure how to do that yet.  We’ve learned a lifetime of lessons, I know they would be more beneficial than anything I’ve shared about surfing, but it’s still too fresh.

Our need to be close to exceptional neuro care and desire to be close to family has forced a move back to the states.  We decided on Jacksonville Beach and just bought a beautiful little house right next to a new skatepark.  Damo is frothing on it.

I wasn’t sure if I’d continue to coach paddle surfing, but it turns out my love of coaching is almost as deep as my love of surfing.  I’ve found myself training family in the gym, helping a good friend navigate a career change with perspective on quality life and family, and now, in Jax working on stroke technique with new friends in the neighborhood.  I guess coaching has become a part of me in these past few years.

And actually, after surfing here for a few days, small surf is much better for fundamental learning.  Growth edge can only be pushed in one direction, and these small conditions are perfect for stroke, footwork, and opening turn game – and that’s where 80% of my coaching has been focused.

I’m not sure of the format yet, but I’ll probably take on a few clients in the area.  I’ve had some offers over the past year to coach in amazing locations and I’ll be thinking about that when the dust settles for our family, so maybe Fall/Winter trips.  If you’re interested, reach out.

Much love from Florida!  Erik

Session Breakdown – April 1st

This week was focused on understanding bottom turns.  I was frustrated with the new Rawson (7.9×26) on the bottom of the wave.

Some notes on the board –  At 7.9 it’s a bit bigger than what I’ve been riding.  It has an extreme tail rocker with fins a bit farther forward than my other boards.   The board trims forward of center, so doesn’t carry speed off the tail.

All that said, I know it surfs amazing because I have a ton of Mo footage riding it better than anyone rides any board.  So the problem is with the rider at this point.

I got frustrated on Tuesday, and decided to figure it out.  This is my normal process for learning/refining a skill.

  1.  Go to the source.  In this case Mo.  I broke down Mo videos for an hour or so.  I found the Cali video most helpful (below).  After watching a few times I started to realize how much rail he’s putting in the water.  Also, back foot, which on a thruster is normally right on top of the back inside rail fin, seems to be a touch farther forward.  It made sense to me, with a looser tail, you’d need more rail, but I didn’t realize how much Mo is burying the rail until now.  His bottom turn looks a lot like that of Julian Wilson, very compact and low.
  2. Go drill.  I rode the Rawson for the next 2 sessions and still couldn’t get it.  I had some great moments, off the lip game is strong with the tail rocker and quad, but bottom game was still lacking.
  3. Try other equipment.  At this point I rode 3 different boards for the next 3 sessions.  The small 7.7×24 Hobie, the L41 6.10×26 and the bigger Hobie at 7.6×26.5.  Bottom turns felt better and focusing on the bottom turn with the three different boards really allowed me to dial in the feel and foot placement.  But, I still didn’t have the a-ha moment.
  4. Back to the video…  This time I took the last few days of me surfing and broke it down with the below video.  That’s when I saw it.  Directly preceding Mo’s bottom turn he’ll do a stroke into the flats.  I always thought it was stylish, but never gave it much thought outside of speed.  But, it has massive implications for the bottom turn.
  5. Boards turn on rail better when the wave face has the greatest opposed angle.  So, bottom turns are easier in the flats and cutbacks are easier when the wave is bending at you.  Have you ever tried to lay down a huge carve on a wave bending away?  It’s almost impossible.  So, that extra stroke isn’t as much about speed as it is about clearing distance into the flats which allows more rail penetration and a tighter bottom turn.  Which, if your riding a loose quad, is needed to maintain speed to the lip.
  6. The video above on instagram is after 2 days of practicing the paddle into the flats.  Bottom turns are grabbing and redirecting like I’ve never felt before.

Session Breakdown – March 29th

It’s been tough to keep up with the progression journal this year with the amount of time I’m spending coaching.  Since I miss you guys, I thought it might be fun to start doing session breakdowns, post coaching.  Let me know if you like it or what you want to hear in the comments below.

This week I’m working with Dean and Alex.  For the past 6 months I’ve been experimenting with group size and the learning curve, experimenting with large groups, up to 12 surfers in full retreats, and private 1:1 or 1:2 weeks.  The result is that private coaching and small groups up to 4 surfers have the best learning curves.  Larger groups are fun, and the group dynamic is a different experience, but learning happens in small, intense settings.

Last night we surfed a reef that we took a panga out to, and surfed some chest high waves before the sun set.

My son Damien straight off the boat on his 7.0 that doubles as his reef shortboard and paddle board.


Alex on the drop.  Notice the paddle position and weighting.  On the drop he should have moved back to his tail…. Reference No, You’re Still Not on Your Tail post for more info.


I’ve been going back and forth between the new Rawson 7.9 x 26 at 88L and the Popdart by L41 at 6.10 x 26.5 at 84L.  This is the L41.  It took a while to learn how to surf it, but now it’s been my favorite board for the last 3 months.  This turn is difficult as you’re not trying to throw the tail, just trying to redirect back down the face and maintain speed.  Notice that the board is still fully on rail, with no release.  I’m playing with the slingshot paddle position on this top turn, and love the first 75% of the turn, actually think it’s a better turn, but then you get pinned to your paddle and I haven’t found a clean exit unless you throw the tail.


Better line here by Alex.  We’ve been working on picking the right line for the wave, and the speed consequences of the right decision on the takeoff.  Then matching that the line to footwork.  If I’m being critical, the line should be about a foot higher for that section.


Dean’s been working on backside cutbacks.  Specifically paddle position and using the rail to start the turn, not the tail.  That comes together with the right weight on the front foot (with correct foot position for the turn), setting the rail, and then rolling through the turn.  We analyze where spray come off the board for correct weighting and transition.  If done correctly the rebound is easy.


Through the wisdom of Colin McPhillips, and watching his kids grow into incredible surfers, we’ve adopted his path of bigger boards for little guys.  There are a ton of advantages.  More waves being one… It smoothes out style and makes you learn the correct lines instead of being able to cheat or force your way on the wave.  And, if you can turn a big board, you’ll be able to gouge a little one.


One of my favorite moments in surfing.


Dean doing it 85% correct here.  Notice the high line, eyes/head on the path, weight redirecting down the face.  Being critical, we should have more rail engagement at this point.  With more rail the turn will conserve speed and set you up better for the upcoming bottom turn and next section.


Good positioning on a big one for Damo.  Eyes up, looking down the line, weight forward, lots of rail engaged.  Good hand position for the bottom turn.  If you were to draw a paddle in his hands the positioning would be correct.  Paddle Enhanced Surfing folks!  We’re not reinventing anything, just ripping on bigger boards with the use of a tool.


All anticipation…


It took me a long time to learn the trick to doing airs on a SUP.  I’m still not good at it, but I did have the A-ha moment a couple months back.  The secret is in the paddle release.  Study Mo’s frontside wrap, the knuckles down release.  Same thing with an air, you plant to accelerate through the pop, then knuckles down to release.  I like this photo as this is the moment of release.  I didn’t land this, wind took the board away, but did get good height.



These last two are why we do this, right?  Hope you learned something.  Let me know if you like the session recap and I’ll keep them coming.  Pura vida!  E

Norm Hann – Following Passion to Paddling and Protecting a Coastline

The process of coaching gives you a window into how people operate.  How they respond to feedback, handle fatigue, disappointment and success.  When you combine that process with a 7 day retreat of 16 hour days, you learn more about someone in that week than you normally do in years of friendship.

I met Norm Hann during one of those weeks.

What I learned made me want to share his story.  Please do yourself a favor and listen to Norm’s journey.  I promise it’s a story worth hearing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Norm Hann is an adventure SUP guide located in Squamish, BC.  He has a deep love of the land and people of his area and that love is infectious.  Hanging with Norm and hearing his stories has put a Great Bear adventure at the top of my families list for the fall.

Learn more about Norm Hann and his adventures in Squamish, BC on his website https://www.normhann.com/

Norm was featured in the Stand Film.  Watch the film at http://standfilm.com/


G Love on Creative Inspiration, Practice and Cultivation of Flow



Garrett Dutton, best known as G Love, is a blues and hip-hop musician.  I met G about 10 years ago in Nosara, Costa Rica, where I live and he surfs regularly.  Over the years of driving up the coast to surf Garrett would inspire and entertain with incredible stories of his music career.  It was on one of those trips that I thought it would be amazing to record these conversations. Continue reading “G Love on Creative Inspiration, Practice and Cultivation of Flow”