The Value of Bad Conditions

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
June 2, 2016

Bad surf doesn’t exist– there’s just different conditions.  And today, especially for the paddle board, the conditions were less than ideal.  A short period S swell coupled with storms offshore made for choppy surf with tons of current.  Bad for expressing yourself on the waves– perfect for training.

I love challenging conditions to train as it is an honest barometer of real stability.

You get a couple of ideal days, zero wind, no current, long period ground swell, and you feel like Mo Freitas paddling around.  You start thinking you’ve got it and then start dreaming about dropping another few liters on the next board.  Maybe shaving an inch off the width.

Enter some terrible conditions and you’re feeling a more like Rick Cane (North Shore movie reference) when he first arrived in Hawaii.

I knew it was going to be tough today and that surfing, no matter what board I decided to ride, couldn’t be the focus of the session.  That would be a recipe for frustration.  So, I decided to go the other way.  Ride the small board and use the session to work on stability.  To change the frame of the session.

Today’s game:

  • Spend as little time as possible sitting or laying down.
  • Try to focus on heel side paddling, and paddling into waves heel side
  • Catch every wave that was possible to catch – possible today as there was almost no crowd
  • Draw clean lines in bad surf
  • Work at capacity

I had a blast.  And actually ended up getting a few good waves.  I find that when it’s bad it’s much harder to pick out the good ones.  So the practice of catching everything that comes to you ends up being a better strategy because you get some good ones that you’d never have picked if you were being selective.

It ended up being a beautiful morning.

Switching gears, and back to the ongoing thought of how to name maneauvers, specifically paddle variations.  It struck me, as I was thinking about the Spanish language, that for paddle variation there are 2 options.  Heel side or toe side.  You can use the paddle differently on both sides, but it’s just heel or toe.  That made me think about masculine/feminine in spanish.  In English there isn’t a distinction between the two, in spanish there’s El or La.  El gato, La tabla.

Maybe there’s a simple prefix we can use to create the distinction in paddle surfing.  Like Frontside Toe-Roundhouse.  I’m not suggesting we use the word toe, maybe Boehne can think of something cool, but the idea works.  A simple way to define maneauvers so we can begin to define our sport.






Progression Journal

One Comment

  • Mark Jones

    Hi Eric,

    Here’s my view on naming moves, the term slingshot is perfect & represents engaging the paddle on your heel side.
    Now in surfing let’s say front side for now, when doing a cutback or snap & your trailing arm/shoulder stays behind you, the term is layback, ie your post on John John is a layback snap.
    I had trouble doing man hacks until a mate told me to just think of doing a layback snap, this clicked with me strait way.
    In paddle surfing & doing a front side turn with the paddle on our toe side, our trailing arm/shoulder stays behind so is technically a layback which we can call in paddle surfing we can call a “Bladeback”.
    So the Coiln McPhillips cutback can be called a “Bladeback” cutback & a Manhack can be “Bladeback snap” and so on.
    Therefore we should only need 3 main names, “Slingshot” (paddle on heel side) “Bladeback” (paddle on toe side) & “Transfer” (paddle crosses the board)
    This can work on backside too; think about a Slingshot bottom turn to Transfer Bladeback snap….

    Love your work
    Mark Jones
    (New Zealand)

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