Breaking Your Surfboard & Other Surfers’ Rights of Passage

In order to call yourself a surfer, not just someone who surfs, I believe there are some rights of passage that you should or will go through, once you’re committed enough to have kept up with surfing for a period of time that you’ve had a good amount of experiences out in the ocean.

Breaking Your Surfboard

None of the surfing experiences top breaking your board, as far as a surfer’s right of passage goes. That’s something that most of the pro surfers do on a regular basis, but for us average Joe and Jane surfers, when we do it, well, if breaking it out in the ocean while riding it, it feels like kind of an honorary achievement, something that puts you up there in the ranks with the pros.

I recently broke my longboard surfboard on a super tiny 1-2 foot wave day. Now how do you do that, you ask? Well, I was at Windandsea beach, as I figured on a smaller day like that, the aggro surfer dudes or grumpy old men surfers wouldn’t be out. It was at super high tide and the beach is known for some powerful shore pound, and it didn’t look like there was many waves to catch.

However, I still decided to go out as I told myself I would just sit far outside (in order to avoid the shore pound) and if a wave came, I would take it, but if no waves came, I’d just be content paddling out in the ocean. Well, a wave ended up coming and I caught it further outside. The problem is my pop up is pathetically slow so I didn’t have much time on my board before I got close to the shore and needed to jump off the board.

I jumped off the board, but when I did, the shore pound pushed it straight back up into the sky and then it crashed right down into the shore pound on its nose. Just as I came up out of the ocean I saw my poor board and couldn’t believe it was bent and broken.

I had had this longboard for quite a while now and got a great deal on it around Thanksgiving Day time, so I got my money’s worth out of it. I was kind of thinking in my head I wanted to get a custom longboard made soon anyway, or resurface my current longboard with a new design. Therefore, I wasn’t really too upset that I broke it, and kinda liked the looks people gave me while walking with my broken board back to my car. I was like, yeah, I was riding these gnarly waves and got tubed and then the section just clamped down on me, it was mental, ha.

I wish my broken surfboard story was that cool. Maybe someday though. However, I have gone through several other experiences below that I think puts me in the surfer and not someone who just surfs category. So if you’re someone that surfs out there, if you’ve caught the stoke, brace yourself, as it takes a gritty, determined person to keep on with surfing, as it is a risky sport, but the risks are worth it for some!

Breaking Your Leash

It’s not as next level as breaking your surfboard, but when you break your leash you know you’ve been surfing some seriously powerful waves (or your leash is old and needs replaced). One time I was out surfing on a 4-5 foot winter day at the jetty in Ocean Beach, a bit bigger for me as my sweet spot is usually 2-4 feet. However, it’s not because I’m scared of bigger waves, it’s just that it’s really much harder to paddle out on bigger days, especially where I live in San Diego, nearby more beach breaks where there isn’t an easy channel out the back.

I was out with my feisty fish surfboard (bright orange Finding Nemo on the bottom and other bright orange colors on top). I actually was having no problem getting outside (I think I may have been in a rip) but when paddling over this one wave I thought I’d get over, it had other plans for me and slammed me down and my feisty fish escaped from the leash and I was left treading water and trying to swim back to shore. I consider myself a strong swimmer, but the waves can quickly take your energy out of you.

I think someone on the shore saw my bright orange feisty fish board fly away from me and alerted the lifeguards. I was thankful for my bright board then, as I was really struggling getting back to shore as I was getting tired. The lifeguards came out and gave me a hand which was much appreciated.

Another time something similar happened at Tourmaline, but with my longboard on a colder October day, with smaller waves. I think I expended so much energy initially just trying to swim as fast as I could to catch my surfboard as it was sailing away from me. Thankfully the lifeguards were there for me again. I’ve learned from that experience to just not care about your board and just focus on yourself and being calm and conserving our energy.

I think in either case, if the water were warmer, I would have had much more energy and not even needed the help perhaps, however the cold water does zap more of your energy, as your body has to work extra hard just to keep warm, let alone to function in the turbulent waters.

Bodily Injury

It’s not if, but when you, yourself, will get injured from surfing (beyond your surfboard getting injured and broken)

My first major injury was breaking my ankle. I’m not scared of much but do have a fear of rocks and I was approaching this small pile of rocks one day, and I decided to jump off my surfboard before I got to them, and landed awkwardly on my foot and bam – broken ankle. That set me back 6-8 weeks in my surfing life, and was before the days of Uber or food delivery services, so was quite an interesting time for that kind of injury.

No, those are not the kind of rocks I was scared of colliding with when I broke my ankle (mine were more like pebblestone rocks) – guess which ankle I broke, clue: the bigger foot!
Which foot do you think has the broken ankle? Hint- the bigger foot!

Run ins with other surfers and their surfboards are also common. Someone’s surfboard fin ran into my knee once and I needed to go to the emergency room to get some stitches. Another time, someone’s board rammed right into my arm and I thought it broke, but fortunately it was just a really bad bruise.

I had a super scary run in with a foil board at Doheny State Beach – which was due to the foil boarders lack of control. That one was the scariest, as the foil board was approaching, I literally felt like time was freezing and everything was going in slow motion and all I could see is this huge knife just coming straight at me. Thankfully, just a bit of his surfboard got me and not the foil but that was a close call!

Wildlife Encounter

We share the sea and ocean with the sea life. There’s nothing better than seeing dolphins out in the lineup. One surf session I saw so many of them, it literally took my focus off of the waves and I let a whole set come through without even trying to catch any waves as I was mesmerized by seeing the dolphins out in the wild. It’s a completely different feel than when you see them when they’re in a contained environment.

These aren’t the dolphins I saw out surfing but just a portion of the huge group of them that were swimming along a boat I was in on an overnight fishing trip with some business clients!

I’ve also seen seals super up close before, and right as they were swimming at me and underneath me, it was a bit scary/consuming at first but then I realized what was coming at me.

Hopefully no one has to come into contact with some wildlife, like sharks or stingrays, but it is a possibility. I’ve been stung by a stingray before and it is the worst pain I’ve ever been in, in my life. I was stung while I was surfing but being in saltwater really helps as I kept surfing for a half hour or so, but then pain started when I was walking on the beach back to my car. I think I was screaming all the way on the drive home until I could get home and get my feet into some hot water.

I was Googling all about Stingrays when that happened and got scared as one of the articles said you could get infected and die and should go to the emergency room to make sure the stingray’s stingers weren’t in you. When I got stung it was before the time of Uber’s and the nearby public health center was closed and I couldn’t reach any of my friends so I ended up calling an ambulance.

So that’s all I have and my experiences, are there any rights of passage that I’ve missed that you think someone should go through to call themselves a surfer? Let me know!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Surf Lifestyle, Surfboards

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