You should have been here yesterday. Is the infamous phrase Schadenfreude, or an innocent comment from a (usually smirking) surfer describing the amazing waves that you missed?
That phrase has been as active this fall as the waves, brought to us by our official sponsor, the hurricane season rolling through the east coast since the middle of the summer. The official season starts in June through November in the Atlantic Ocean and commences a little earlier in the Pacific. This fall the swells are classic east coast waves that deliver, and to surf them you must be prepared. We asked a few surfers what to do before paddling out into this oceanic energy-fueled playground.
Stay Fit: Make sure you are physically up for it. Have you been surfing all summer? Strength training? Doing yoga and stretching (in private, not on the edge of the water just before you paddle out)? The energy generated by the wind and waves from a hurricane swell are not your average conditions. Make sure you have the stamina for long paddle outs, sweeping currents, rips, heavier breaking waves, shore break and shorter wave periods. Sometimes making it past the white water and into the line-up does not guarantee and easy exit back to the beach. If it were a party, a rip current is the guest of honor. Being strong allows you to fight the chop that may come up quickly when the wind changes direction and the energy of the storm strengthens.
Get Information: Some of us live by apps and surf cams, others just show up at the beach and decide about paddling out. While many surfers become amateur meteorologists, actual professionals are there to monitor and assess the storms and their path. Pay attention to where storms are tracking. While you have honed your intuition, surfing skills, and watching waves is both a religion and a sport, know exactly what you are paddling into before you go. And do not paddle out alone.
Stay Humble: Are you psychologically up for it? Know your limits, no matter how fun the waves appear to be. This isn’t a surf movie, or the opportunity to practice. The best of all during a hurricane out east is to check out breaks that normally do not break that may have some action. Hopping on a plane to the west coast, an island in the Pacific or a Caribbean hot spot on a whim is more challenging these days so get creative out east. Finding waves in a spot that breaks only a few times a year if at all adds more depth to your surfing. The novelty is energizing and the memory delightful when you surf a non-surf break. As always, remember to respect the power of the sea, and expect the unexpected.