What to do when the surf goes flat


It happens to all of us. The ocean flatlines, leaving us high and dry and searching for anything to replace the vacuum in our lives that is surfing.

Here are some ideas for your next flat spell.

  1. Go and do a yoga class. For $20 you can get all bendy, usually in the company of some lovely young ladies unless you do yoga for surfers, which is full of men. The choice is yours but the results are mental clarity and physical flexibility.
  2. Go for a run on the sand. Good for building stamina but you may get depressed by the sight of a flat ocean – or more depressed if a random two foot set breaks while you’re stuck, boardless and sweating on the shore.
  3. Snorkel around your local. Get down there and have a look at the banks, the rocks, the wildlife. It’s another world and you’ll develop an even more intimate understanding of how the setup works.
  4. Read a book. You could read about surfing but I suggest trying fiction for you may get even more pent up and anxious whilst reading something like The Pilgrimage.
  5. Lavish attention upon those closest to you. Take your girlfriend for a romantic picnic or host a barbeque for your mates. They’ll appreciate the effort which doubles as great leverage during future days and weeks of surfing pleasure.
  6. Go inland. I know how being away from the ocean makes us feel jittery but go check out the nearest mountain range, explore a farm or drive to the hills. A two hour journey inland may reveal treasures that we amphibians can hardly conceive. Have you ever sat in a field of cows at sunset? Um, I haven’t.
  7. Volunteer for a cleanup day somewhere. The feeling of burning energy borne of nature (i.e. last night’s dinner) whilst doing something for our planet can be immensely satisfying.
  8. Revisit a long-lost hobby. You used to play the guitar, paint, build model aeroplanes, take photos, collect Thundercats or break into cars. Get out your bits and pieces and spend a nostalgic hour rekindling the passion. Stay away from my car, though.
  9. You’re trying to take your mind off surfing, right? You have too much energy in your body, right? Organise a competition with friends. There’s nothing like an opportunity to flex your prowess: so go kayak racing, play a game of touch footy, try your hand at rock-climbing. It’s all good, clean, healthy fun but try not to sustain an injury which will landlock you when the next swell arrives (it will arrive, really).
  10. Learn a new skill. If you have some spare cash why not book into a survival course, go and train in CPR or learn something that could come in handy on your next surfing boat trip (like sailing)? You could even take a casual photography class or learn to dance. Life drawing classes are a great place to go and meet interesting people whilst acting nonchalant about full-frontal nudity.



While I, like you, prefer our surfing lifestyle which is so inextricably intertwined with the earth’s heartbeat of winds and tides it’s a shame to neglect the wider world out there. Sometimes flatness can be a gift, for the sweetest sojourn can be one where we immerse ourselves in something other than brine. And then, when familiar sound of crashing water draws us back to the ocean we may rediscover ourselves as energised, well-rounded, appreciative, frothing humans.

Sometimes flatness can be a gift, for the sweetest sojourn can be one where we immerse ourselves in something other than brine.