Stoicism for Surfers

Stoke = Expectations – Reality

I never thought sandbagging myself could be so much fun.

Sandbagging. Lowering the bar. Limiting expectations. It’s a tried and true method readily found in one form or another in most philosophies that address how to manage the human experience: the discomfort, suffering, and anxiety of life that seems to keep the world turning.

Despite the best science and latest tech, we can’t seem to evade these feelings for more than a few fleeting moments at a time.

However, like many others in human history, I’ve found a moderate level of success in a few branches of this philosophical tree. Stoic and Buddhist practices have helped me reduce the amount time I spend on the hedonic treadmill and increase the amount of gratitude for what I already have.

Despite appreciating the benefits of these practices more as I’ve aged – like most rules and lessons of life – I thought this one didn’t apply to surfing. Why?

Reason 1: Surfing is untouchable. Surfing transcends all philosophies, religions, and sometimes (seemingly) even physics. 

Reason 2: Surfing doesn’t conform. Let’s not forget about our roots. The seeds of the surfing culture (really not that long ago) were grown in a bed of counterculture; explicitly ignoring or intentionally defying the norm. Like an angsty teenager knowing your parents are right but defying them anyways just cuz, surfers have it in their DNA to blaze their own path and figure it out for themselves.

I’ve Changed My Mind

I know the threads of this old school surf mindset are part of me. I’ve somewhat successfully avoided the 9-5 ‘trap’, lived outside my home country more than inside for the last 10 years, and I still believe ‘if everyone is doing it, it must be wrong’.

But this all changed in the span of just one special surf session, an unexpected score.

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The Unexpected Score

New High Score: How my expectations got blown out of the water and my stoke reached an all-time high.

I planned to just catch a few. 3.5hrs later I was completely gassed and stoked out of my mind. Here’s how it happened:

Looking at the forecast last night, I knew the swell was backing off and today would be slow. Since the next two days would be even smaller, I figured I should get out for at least a quick session just to get wet and keep myself in surf shape. There was a big swell coming in later in the week and I didn’t want to find myself rusty when the real surf arrived.

This morning nothing had changed. As expected, the swell had dropped. Cams were showing some swell still in the water, but it was clear that it wasn’t going to be the same as yesterday (which was mid-sized and really fun).

So I decided to take my time before leaving the house. I typically like to get out at first light to beat the crowd and enjoy the sunrise from the water’s level. But today’s mission wasn’t to beat the crowds or watch the sunrise. It was to catch a few waves and stay in tune for the upcoming swell.

That’s not quite what happened…

I checked my first go-to spot (which is where the cat incident happened). No one was out, but for good reason; it was quite small. I considered taking out my fish and waiting for the sets, which looked rideable, but then thought “let’s check up the coast a bit”.

Just a few miles north the coastline is more exposed allowing it to catch more swell. The waves can be a few feet bigger just around the corner. Today it was easily 3x. Must be the swell direction?

From my vantage point on the side of the road I could see only two guys in the water. The waves looked a little soft, but the tide was still dropping for the next hour and the sets were lining up nicely. The choice waves of each set looked like they were 7-10 turn waves. Giddy up!

At this point I had to re-adjust my mindset a bit. I started going through the checklist.

  • I don’t have any meetings this morning right?
  • So I should be able to surf for a little longer than I intended right?
  • I brought my shortboard right?

All YES down the line!

The next moment I was in the lineup with a few other guys who shared looks of amazement. Clearly none of them had expected such gems to be rolling in this morning but all of us were grateful to be there.

I got lucky on my first take and nabbed a set wave that lined up all the way to the inside. It was the type of wave that had just enough force to get a nice big bottom turn in but gave me plenty of time to make a nice cutback and line up for the next section.

I love waves that give you the power to get a rush off the takeoff and plenty of pushback off the top turn, but also break at a pace that allow you to be patient. No rushing down the line to make the next section. No clamping lip to scramble around. Just the linking-together of clean turns, all the way from the top of the wave to the bottom and back up again! And today closeout sections were rare.

By the 10th top turn I was literally laughing out loud and talking to my self, “oh my god”. (A few hours later I heard another surfer mutter the same words while he was on a wave, which really tickled me tinder. )

I pulled out of the wave and let myself fall off my board like a jumping fish falls back into the liquid where it belongs. I was 10 minutes into the session and  already fully stoked. The pressure was off. No need to worry if the effort of my search would pay off. The effort of my entire trip out here had paid itself off in one wave. 

The fact that there was no hype to live up to, no expectations about the number or quality of waves I would get, made it that much better. What a wonderful surprise.

I went on to catch many more waves. A few even topped that first one.

Now I’m stoked, sapped, and shuffling around the house in pure wonder; how can surfing bring such unexpected pleasure? 

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Tiers of Freedom

John and Luke from Australia are living in a van, parked in the dirt lot atop the small cliff. They’ve driven the coast of France, Spain, Portugal, and into Morocco.

Dave from California rented a place, is working from home, and will be here all season.

Ciera and Jim from London came here for two weeks of sunshine, surf, and no work. (They got the sun, were skunked on the waves, but still stoked on the trip.)

Deryl didn’t get to go at all.

The Aussies have to shit out in the bushes each morning. They wake up before surfers start filing into the dirt lot atop the small cliff to do their business. Stumbling off to a nearby ravine where (hopefully) no one will notice, the routine is initiated. With each step their metabolism gets going a touch more, building the pressure in their bowels so when the secret spot is identified they waste no time with expulsion. As is such with our body’s rhythm, timing isn’t always perfect and a sleepy stumble can turn into an brisk walk. 

With the relief of the day’s dirty deed done, a sense of optimism for the day swells inside. Rising from the ravine, eyes toward the sea, the boys are ready for their next mission: get a few waves before the crowds arrive. And the beauty of sleeping on-site is that these dudes almost always do!

But shitting in the dirt isn’t the only sacrifice these boys make for waves.

One morning as I was checking the surf and trying to glean some local knowledge about the break from them, a cat snuck into their van, chewed through a bag, and took a few chunks out of Luke’s sandwich. Upon discovery, the cat was chased out of the van and the damage was assessed, “Ahh shit mate!”

Luke: “Think it’s bad?”

John: “Nah, just cut that bit off.”

That cat struck again a few mornings later. This time it was to my surprise. The sound of my driver door closing surprised the cat – who having snuck into my car while I was checking the surf, really should have known I would be coming back. She jumped up from the floor of the passenger side banking off the headrest of the passenger seat and flinging headfirst into the windshield. The pure shock of unexpected wildlife in my car topped with flying fur and the sound of claws on plastic took my adrenaline from zero to sixty in about a tenth of second. This was not the adrenaline rush I had set out to achieve today.

Clearly freaking out and making a desperate attempt at escape, she was bolting for any sign of sunlight. Unfazed by the head-first launch into the windshield and surely fueled by her own adrenaline spike, she sprung up from passenger seat with a slamming and claw-scraping attempt at the passenger window. No luck there.

Landing back on the passenger seat she tried again for the windshield with the same paws-first prayer dive and the same rejection back to the seat. At this point I had also freaked out and miraculously made the split-second decision to get the fuck out of the car at all costs. A bite from a feral cat surely would have put a damper on my search for dream waves and I wanted no part of it.

She almost beat me out of the car as I opened the driver door as was gone into the shrubs nearby, at least as relieved as I was.

Come to think of it… a cat had pissed in my car about a week earlier when I left the trunk open as I was unloading my things. What is it with these Moroccan cats?

The cat fiasco would have normally left a big impression on me. Any time I get that level of an adrenaline spike, the event is imprinted in my mind (cheers to Huberman Podcast for recently explaining to me the science behind this). But by sheer luck, the waves I found just after created a flood of excitement that made me almost entirely forget the cat incident.

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The Sound of Surf

We listen to the ocean differently.


While some may listen to waves breaking on the beach as a calming mechanism to lull their brain activity… for a surfer it’s more likely to stoke the imagination.

A 3 second sound bite could lead to hours of day dreaming.

‘I wonder what that wave is like. Maybe it’s a perfect right hander stretching for miles. It sounds soft… must be a longboard wave… or maybe it’s just high tide. Yea, I bet this wave barrels at low tide.’

More often than not, the waves we dream up are better than the ones we actually get. But there are those special occasions where the ocean surprises us, or, more accurately, we surprise ourselves. The ones where we come out of the water physically tired but mentally energized. These are the occasions that imprint our memories and fuel our future dreams.


We often hear what we’re going to ride before we see it, which plays in to an important part of our surf imagination.

Waking up before sunrise in anticipation of a new swell, the only sense I have about whether the forecast was right is what I can hear. Woah, sounds like it’s crankin’!

My imagination starts spinning up vivid images of perfect waves or massive bangers. Did Surfline underestimate this one?

Better grab my step up!


Surfers have the reputation of being out of tune with their surroundings. Spacey, air headed, or absent-minded might be a few adjectives a landlocked muggle would apply when asked about surfers. And in small slices of the day (when we’re dreaming of perfect waves), this description might be apt.

But in the water, certainly, we are attuned – in tune with our surroundings. In fact the heightened awareness and need to focus solely on what we are doing in that exact moment is one of the key factors that contribute to the surfer’s high (and subsequent addiction).

A surfer in the line up who is out of tune is like a guitarist playing off key. Everything else is flowing in sync, each small part coming together for an altogether smooth rhythm, except one piece throwing it off. It only takes one surfer out of sync in a lineup to cause dissonance. 

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The Impact of Plastic Pollution on Surf Breaks and Marine Ecosystems

Source: Weston Fuller

The growing plastic pollution has become a major environmental problem. It poses many threats to our environment, particularly to our oceans. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), about 14 million tons of plastic waste are going into our oceans yearly—that’s like the weight of 56,000 commercial airplanes! Even though we might not see the direct impact of this problem in our daily lives, the effect is far-reaching and concerning, affecting both recreational and ecological aspects of the ocean.  

This article explores how plastic pollution affects surf breaks and marine ecosystems, examining the link between human actions and the health of our oceans. By understanding these connections, we can highlight the urgency of adopting sustainable practices to protect these vital natural spaces.

Types and Sources of Plastic Pollution

Before understanding the impact of plastic pollution on surf breaks and marine ecosystems, we must first find out the types of plastic that pollute these areas and where they usually come from. 

There are various types of plastic that are manufactured, used, and discarded daily, with many ending up in the ocean and coastal areas. Here are some of the most common plastics polluting these regions.

  1. Single-Use Plastic Bags: Lightweight and commonly used for carrying groceries, these bags are typically made of polyethylene. Due to their lightweightness, they are easily carried by the wind and water, leading to their accumulation in coastal areas. 
  2. Disposable Plastic Bottles (PET): These bottles, commonly used for beverages, are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). Despite being recyclable, many end up in oceans due to inadequate recycling practices and improper disposal of consumers, particularly beachgoers or people in coastal communities. 
  3. Styrofoam Food Containers: Made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), styrofoam is widely used for takeout food packaging. Its lightweight and buoyant nature makes it easily transportable by wind and water, leading to its prevalence in coastal areas. They can also be sourced from nearby beach restaurants and food stalls. 
  4. Plastic Straws: Often made of polypropylene, plastic straws are single-use items that contribute significantly to plastic pollution. Because of their small size and lightweight design, they are prone to be easily blown by wind due to improper disposal by consumers, particularly beachgoers and people in coastal communities
  5. Plastic Packaging Materials: Plastic packaging materials, including blister packs, food wrappers, and sachets, contribute to coastal and ocean pollution. These items are typically made from various plastics, including polyethylene and polypropylene. Improper disposal leads to their entry into water bodies, breaking down into microplastics that flow to the ocean unnoticeably.
  6. Fishing Nets: Abandoned or lost fishing nets, also known as ghost nets. These are some of the major contributors to marine plastic pollution. Composed of durable materials like nylon or polyethylene, these nets usually come from small fishing boats and large fishing vessels when their fishing nets are cut off and taken by currents during fishing activities.

Impact of Plastic Pollution on Surf Breaks and Surf Conditions

Disruption of Wave Patterns and Quality

Plastic pollution significantly affects the dynamics of surf breaks, leading to disruptions in wave patterns and compromising the overall quality of the surfing experience. Floating debris, including plastic bags, bottles, and fragments, can alter the natural flow of waves, causing irregular breaks and reducing the consistency surfers rely on.

Plastics in the water can interfere with the formation and trajectory of waves, making it challenging for surfers to predict and ride waves effectively. This disruption not only diminishes the enjoyment of the sport but also poses a threat to the unique characteristics that make each surf break special.

Hazards to Surfers

The proliferation of plastic waste in surf breaks introduces serious hazards to surfers, ranging from entanglement to potential injuries. Discarded fishing nets, often composed of durable materials, pose a particular risk. These “ghost nets” can entwine surfers and their equipment, leading to drownings and injuries. Additionally, smaller plastic fragments and sharp edges can cause lacerations, posing an unseen danger to those navigating the waves. The risk of injury is a concern for surfers and marine life, as they may inadvertently ingest or become entangled in plastic debris. 

In addition to potential harm from discarded items like fishing nets, plastic pollution can become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Microscopic organisms can thrive on the surfaces of plastic debris, carrying the risk of infection and the spread of diseases. Surfers navigating through polluted waters may unknowingly expose themselves to these health hazards. 

Addressing plastic pollution is a matter of environmental preservation and a crucial step in ensuring the safety of those who enjoy the ocean’s waves. Efforts to mitigate plastic pollution must prioritize the conservation of surf breaks as safe and enjoyable spaces for surfers while maintaining the ecological integrity of these unique environments.

Impact of Plastic Pollution on Marine Ecosystems and Wildlife 

Ecological Consequences (Effects on Coral Reefs and Water Quality)

Coral reefs are also affected by plastic pollution. Microplastics, microscopic fragments resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic items, infiltrate coral habitats, causing physical harm and hindering their ability to thrive. For example, when a sheet of plastic waste entangled and covers the top of a coral reef, it will block out the sun from reaching the corals. This will prevent corals from photosynthesizing, which will eventually suffocate, starve, and kill them. According to recent research, 92% of all surveyed coral reefs in the study are covered in plastic.

Additionally, plastic pollution degrades water quality as toxins leach from plastics into the surrounding marine environment. This contamination not only endangers the health of coral reefs but also jeopardizes the entire web of life dependent on these vibrant ecosystems.

Entanglement and Ingestion (Effects on Marine Wildlife)

Marine wildlife faces dire consequences from plastic pollution, with entanglement and ingestion prevalent issues. Discarded fishing nets, known as ghost nets, create deadly traps for marine animals, leading to entanglement that can result in injuries, deformities, or even death. Moreover, marine species often mistake plastic debris for food, leading to ingestion. The indigestible nature of plastics can obstruct digestive systems, cause malnutrition, and introduce harmful chemicals into the animals’ bodies. This disrupts individual life cycles and has cascading effects on entire marine food webs.

Disruption of Nesting Sites

Plastic pollution also threatens marine species that rely on specific nesting sites. Coastal areas are often prime locations for nesting sea turtles, seabirds, and other marine creatures. Unfortunately, plastic debris on these nesting grounds can obstruct access to nesting sites or entangle nesting animals, hindering their ability to lay eggs or care for their young. The disruption of these critical reproductive habitats jeopardizes the survival of numerous marine species, contributing to population declines and ecological imbalances.

Mitigation Strategies

Addressing the impact of plastic pollution on surf breaks and marine ecosystems requires concerted efforts and proactive measures. Here are key strategies aimed at mitigating the plastic problem:

  1. Public Awareness: Public awareness is the first line of defense against plastic pollution. Educating communities, surfers and the general public about the environmental consequences of single-use plastics fosters a collective commitment to change. Awareness campaigns, workshops, and educational programs can highlight the importance of reducing plastic consumption, emphasizing the long-term benefits for the health of our oceans and surf breaks.
  2. Alternatives to Common Items: Encouraging alternatives to common single-use plastic items is a practical step towards reducing plastic waste. Simple switches, such as reusable bags, bottles, and containers, significantly minimize plastic pollution. Promoting the availability and accessibility of eco-friendly alternatives empowers individuals to make environmentally conscious choices, creating a positive ripple effect within communities.
  3. Proper Waste Management: Establishing and enforcing robust waste management practices is crucial for preventing plastic from reaching surf breaks and coastal areas. Communities, businesses, and local governments are vital in implementing effective waste collection, recycling, and disposal systems. Adequate infrastructure for recycling facilities and waste bins, along with clear guidelines on proper disposal, ensures that plastic waste is appropriately managed and does not find its way into the ocean.

Sustainable Surfboard Brands

Surfing is all about balance and nature, and it’s closely linked to keeping our oceans and coastlines healthy. As people get more worried about the environment, surfers start to care about using gear that’s good for the planet. In this article, let’s discuss the importance of sustainable surfboards, and check out some brands that are leading the way in making surfboards that are good for the environment.

Why Sustainable Surfboards Matter

Before delving into specific brands, it’s crucial to understand the environmental impact of traditional surfboard manufacturing. Conventional surfboards are often crafted using materials like polyurethane foam and fiberglass, which have significant ecological footprints. The production process involves harmful chemicals, energy-intensive procedures, and the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to a study at the University of California Berkeley in 2009, a single surfboard generates about 375 pounds of carbon during manufacturing. Imagine the significant carbon emissions on a large scale and continuous conventional surfboard manufacturing. Aside from that, the disposal of old or damaged boards further contributes to the burden on landfills.

Sustainable surfboards aim to address these issues by adopting alternative materials and manufacturing methods that are kinder to the planet. As surfers increasingly recognize the environmental impact of traditional boards, there has been a growing shift towards more sustainable options. Eco-friendly surfboards often incorporate materials such as recycled foam, bio-resins, and sustainably sourced wood. By opting for these alternative materials, surfboard manufacturers are reducing carbon emissions and minimizing reliance on non-renewable resources.

Let’s ride the eco-wave and explore some notable brands that have made significant strides in this direction. From recycled materials to innovative manufacturing processes, these brands are leading the way in the sustainable surfboard movement. They embody a commitment to delivering exceptional performance and shouldering environmental responsibility.

1. Firewire Surfboards

firewiresurfboards - surf economics
Source: Instagram/firewiresurfboards

Firewire is known for its high-performance surfboards and stands out as a leader in sustainability within the surfing industry. Their dedication to eco-friendly practices is clear in using alternative materials like recycled EPS foam and Entropy Bio Resin. By integrating these materials into their construction, Firewire not only lessens environmental impact but also upholds the performance standards valued by surf enthusiasts.

Firewire’s TimberTek technology uses sustainably sourced Paulownia wood for the board’s exterior. This elevates the board’s aesthetic appeal and diminishes reliance on conventional materials that come with significant ecological costs.

2. Haydenshapes Surfboards

Haydenshapes surfboard - surf economics
Source: Haydenshapes

Haydenshapes was founded by the renowned shaper Hayden Cox, who combines cutting-edge technology with sustainability. Their commitment to reducing environmental impact without compromising performance is evident in their innovative FutureFlex technology. These boards boast parabolic carbon fiber frames, enhancing strength and flexibility while minimizing the need for excessive materials.

Furthermore, Haydenshapes strongly emphasizes using recycled EPS foam and bio-resin in their manufacturing processes. This fusion of innovation and sustainability has rightfully positioned them at the forefront of eco-conscious surfboard design.

3. Lost Surfboards by Mayhem

Lost Surfboards by Mayhem - surf economics
Source: Facebook/Lost Surfboards

Lost Surfboards has a well-respected name in the surfing community; it has fully embraced sustainability without compromising the performance surfers crave. Their commitment to environmental responsibility is shown in using alternative materials like expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and bio-resin.

What sets Lost Surfboards apart is their C4 Technology, which cleverly incorporates recycled EPS foam and sustainably sourced cork. This reflects a smart fusion of performance-driven design and eco-conscious choices and caters to surfers looking for top-quality boards while being mindful of their gear’s environmental impact.

4. Timber Surf Co.

Timber Surf Co. boards - surf economics
Source: Timber Surf Co.

Timber Surf Co. makes waves in the sustainable surfboard scene by seamlessly integrating craftsmanship with eco-conscious practices. They stand out for their innovative use of locally sourced, reclaimed wood in crafting surfboards. By using the wood that would otherwise go to waste, the brand significantly minimizes the need for new materials, resulting in a reduced ecological footprint. This imparts a unique aesthetic appeal to their boards and underscores their commitment to sustainability.

In addition to focusing on reclaimed wood, Timber Surf Co. uses eco-friendly resins to construct their boards. These resins are carefully formulated to reduce environmental impact, offering surfers a choice beyond mere aesthetics. This dual commitment to using reclaimed wood and eco-friendly resins highlights Timber Surf Co.’s dedication to providing environmentally conscious options for surfers who value performance and sustainability.

5. Sustainable Surf

sustainable surf, the eco board project - surf economics

Sustainable Surf is an environmental non-profit organization of the global surfing community. Although not a conventional surfboard brand, Sustainable Surf has played a crucial role in driving sustainability efforts within the surfing industry. The ECOBOARD Project, spearheaded by Sustainable Surf, collaborates with various surfboard manufacturers to certify boards that meet stringent sustainability criteria.

The ECOBOARD label is a valuable indicator for surfers looking for eco-friendly options when selecting a new board. This label signifies the use of alternative materials, a reduced carbon footprint, and a minimal environmental impact. Beyond individual boards, this initiative catalyzes change, urging more brands to embrace sustainable practices and become part of the broader eco-friendly surf movement.

Making Waves Together: A Collective Call for Sustainability

These brands represent just a fraction of the growing movement towards sustainable surfboards. As consumers, surfers can influence change by choosing products that align with their values. The transition to sustainable surfboards not only minimizes the ecological footprint of surfing but also sets a precedent for responsible manufacturing practices across the broader sports industry.

It’s important to note that while these brands are leading the charge, the industry as a whole is evolving. Inspired by consumer demand and environmental awareness, Surfboard manufacturers are exploring innovative materials and processes to reduce their impact further. As surfers, our choices today contribute to the future health of our oceans, ensuring that the waves we love will be there for generations to come.

Sustainable Surfing Events and Competitions

Surfing events and competitions are going green in today’s environmentally aware world by maximizing sustainability. As the love for riding waves brings surfers together worldwide, organizers are taking steps to lessen the environmental impact. 

This article delves into the importance of sustainable surfing events and competitions and explores some of the most prominent competitions prioritizing sustainability and environmental conservation. 

Why Do Sustainable Surfing Events and Competitions Matter?

Sustainable surfing events and competitions hold a special place in sports and environmental conservation. These gatherings are not just about showcasing the skills of surfers; they serve as powerful platforms for several important reasons:

  1. Raising Environmental Awareness: Surfing events attract diverse audiences, from professional athletes to casual beachgoers. By incorporating sustainability into these events, organizers can educate more people about the critical need for environmental conservation. This awareness can lead to lasting changes in behavior and attitudes towards our planet.
  1. Leading by Example: Sustainable surfing events set an example for other sports and recreational activities. They demonstrate that it’s possible to enjoy outdoor pursuits while minimizing the negative impact on the environment. This leadership can encourage other sporting communities to follow suit and adopt eco-friendly practices.
  1. Supporting Local Communities: Many sustainable surfing events actively engage with local communities. They create opportunities for residents to participate in beach clean-ups, conservation efforts, and educational programs. This strengthens community bonds and ensures the local environment benefits from the event.
  1. Showcasing Innovation: Sustainable surfing events often showcase cutting-edge environmental technologies and practices. This exposure can spur innovation within the surfing industry and beyond, leading to the development of more sustainable materials, equipment, and practices.
  1. Preserving Natural Beauty: Surfing is intrinsically tied to the beauty of coastal landscapes. Sustainable events are dedicated to preserving these picturesque locations by reducing waste, protecting wildlife habitats, and promoting responsible tourism. This ensures that surfers and future generations can continue to enjoy these pristine environments.
  1. Global Impact: Major surfing competitions have a global reach, attracting athletes and spectators worldwide. When these events prioritize sustainability, they send a powerful message to a global audience, emphasizing the importance of protecting our oceans, beaches, and coastal regions on a large scale.

Examples of Sustainable Surfing Events and Competitions

1. Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

kelly slater in vans triple crown of surfing
Source: Sporting News
  • Location: Oahu, Hawaii
  • Date: November – December
  • Number of Competitors: Varies by event

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is an annual series of three top-notch surf competitions: the Hawaiian Pro, the World Cup of Surfing, and the Billabong Pipe Masters. These events take place on the famous North Shore of Oahu. While known for its incredible talent, the Triple Crown also has a solid commitment to environmental responsibility. They collaborate with local organizations like Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to keep the beaches clean and educate spectators about marine conservation. With waste-reduction efforts, recycling stations, and encouraging spectators to be eco-conscious, the Triple Crown sets a prime example for sustainable surf events globally.

2. Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Source: Rip Curl
  • Location: Victoria, Australia
  • Date: March – April
  • Number of Competitors: Approximately 36 Men and 18 Women

Set against Australia’s breathtaking Great Ocean Road, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is an iconic event in the world of professional surfing. This competition is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, dependable waves, and the legendary Bells Beach Bowl. What makes this event special is its dedication to sustainability. They prioritize waste reduction by composting and recycling. Moreover, it’s a plastic-free zone, so no single-use plastics are permitted on-site. The Rip Curl Pro goes the extra mile by supporting local environmental initiatives and actively involving the community in safeguarding this awe-inspiring coastal environment.

3. The Eco Pro Tofino

The Eco Pro Tofino
Source: Surf the Greats
  • Location: Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
  • Date: September
  • Number of Competitors: Approximately 64 Men and 32 Women

The Eco Pro in Tofino stands out as a one-of-a-kind event, blending professional surfing with a strong commitment to the environment. Powered by renewable energy sources, it takes significant steps to shrink its carbon footprint. Waste reduction is a key focus, and they actively involve the local community in environmental educational programs. This means that event visitors get to witness top-notch surfing and gain insights into the vital task of preserving the delicate ecosystems of Canada’s West Coast. In doing so, the Eco Pro Tofino sets a shining example for eco-conscious surf events across the globe.

4. The Ballito Pro

The Ballito Pro
Source: The Ballito Pro
  • Location: Ballito, South Africa
  • Date: June – July
  • Number of Competitors: Approximately 96 Men and 48 Women

Number of Competitors: Approximately 96 Men and 48 Women

The Ballito Pro stands as Africa’s most significant professional surfing event, drawing in top talent from worldwide. Amidst the showcase of the planet’s finest surfers, this competition strongly emphasizes protecting the environment. Their initiatives involve:

  • Reducing single-use plastics by offering water refill stations.
  • Arranging beach clean-ups that engage competitors and local volunteers.
  • Backing local conservation projects.

It is a brilliant example of how surfing competitions can be crucial in safeguarding South Africa’s pristine coastline.

5. The Margaret River Pro

Margaret River Pro
Source: Margaret River
  • Location: Margaret River, Western Australia
  • Date: May – June
  • Number of Competitors: Approximately 36 Men and 18 Women

As a prominent fixture on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour, the Margaret River Pro is well-known for its mighty waves and demanding conditions. What sets it apart is its unwavering commitment to protecting the local environment. The organizers join forces with environmental organizations to boost awareness about conservation efforts in the region. Furthermore, they take active steps to lessen the event’s environmental impact, including strategies to minimize waste and backing local sustainability projects. The Margaret River Pro is a shining example of the worldwide dedication of the surfing community to environmental stewardship.

How Climate Change Will Negatively Impact Surfing by 2050

Sea levels prediction at Cottesloe Beach, Perth Western Australia
Source: go_greener_oz/flcikr

Surfing communities around the world are facing significant threats from climate change. As global temperature rises and weather patterns become more unpredictable, the very essence of surfing is at risk. 

This article will explore how climate change will negatively impact surfing by 2050, highlighting the key challenges and potential consequences for surfers and coastal communities.

What is Climate Change and How It Will Affect Surfing in the Future

Climate change is the long-term alteration of Earth’s climate patterns, including shifts in temperature, weather events, and precipitation, primarily driven by human activities such as burning fuels, deforestation, and pollution from industrial processes. These activities emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the planet’s average temperature to rise—an effect commonly called global warming. 

The ongoing changes in Earth’s natural climate patterns can have several adverse effects on the ocean, ultimately impacting surfing for the next 25 years in the following ways:

Rising Sea Levels

The rising sea levels are one of the fastest and most visible impacts of climate change on surfing. As global temperatures rise, polar ice caps melt, causing ocean waters to expand. This phenomenon threatens coastal communities and surf breaks worldwide.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea levels will rise around 12 to 13 inches by 2050. This means many famous surf spots could be submerged or altered beyond recognition by 2050. Coastal erosion and changing ocean dynamics can lead to the loss of essential sandbars and reefs that create ideal surf conditions. The rising sea levels will likely drown low-tide surf spots like Stockton Avenue, Pitas Point, and Sandspit, California. 

Read more: Coastal Erosion and their Impacts on Surf Spots and Surfing Communities.

Changing Wave Patterns

Climate change alters ocean currents and wave patterns, making it harder for surfers to predict when and where the best waves will roll in. Researchers have observed shifts in wave heights, directions, and frequency due to changing climate dynamics.

Due to these changes, the number of rideable waves at some popular surf destinations in the following decades may decrease. Unpredictable weather patterns, frequent storms, and rising sea levels will contribute to this challenging scenario.

Increasing Storm Intensity

Climate change is also intensifying tropical storms and hurricanes. These extreme weather events significantly threaten coastal communities and can result in dangerous surf conditions. As storms grow more powerful, they produce larger and more chaotic waves, which can be extremely hazardous for surfers. Surfers will likely face increased risks, so staying updated on weather forecasts and exercising caution when heading out to catch waves during stormy periods is imperative.

Pollution and Water Quality

Climate change can exacerbate pollution and negatively affect water quality in surf zones. Warmer ocean temperatures can promote harmful algal blooms and create favorable conditions for bacteria like Vibrio, which can cause illnesses in surfers.

Moreover, the increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall and flooding, can wash pollutants from urban areas into the ocean. This can lead to beach closures and health risks for surfers.

Loss of Biodiversity

Surfing is about riding waves and immersing oneself in the rich marine ecosystems that thrive along the coasts. Climate change threatens these ecosystems through ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and habitat destruction. As these ecosystems decline, surfers may lose the chance to witness the diverse marine life often present during surfing adventures.

What Can We Do? Promoting Eco Surfing

While the negative impacts of climate change on surfing are concerning, surfers and coastal communities have the power to take proactive steps to mitigate these effects and promote eco-friendly surfing practices. Here are some actions that can make a difference:

1. Reduce Carbon Footprint: Surfers can reduce their carbon footprint by choosing eco-friendly transportation options, such as carpooling or using electric vehicles to reach surf spots. Additionally, supporting sustainable surfboard manufacturing processes and investing in boards made from recycled or sustainable materials can help lower the sport’s environmental impact.

2. Support Coastal Conservation: Get involved in local coastal conservation efforts. Participate in beach cleanups, support organizations dedicated to preserving coastal ecosystems, and participate in initiatives protecting shorelines and natural habitats. By actively contributing to coastal conservation, surfers can help maintain the health of their beloved surf spots.

3. Embrace Sustainable Surfing Gear: Use eco-friendly surf gear and apparel. Many companies are now producing wetsuits and surf accessories made from sustainable materials. Supporting these products encourages the industry to adopt more sustainable practices.

4. Responsible Travel and Tourism: Be mindful of your environmental impact when traveling to surf destinations. Choose accommodations that prioritize sustainability and responsible tourism. Respect local regulations and cultures, and support businesses committed to protecting the environment.

5. Educate and Advocate: Surfers can play a big part in raising awareness about climate change and its impact on their sport. Engage in conversations with fellow surfers, friends, and communities to educate them about the importance of climate action. Advocate for policies that reduce carbon emissions, and coastal pollution and protect coastal areas.

6. Support Research and Initiatives: Support scientific research on climate change and its impact on the oceans. Back initiatives and organizations that work to mitigate climate change and protect coastal environments. By contributing to research and efforts to combat climate change, surfers can actively participate in preserving their favorite surf destinations.

Shifting Shores: Coastal Erosion and their Impacts on Surf Spots and Surfing Communities

Coastal erosion is the gradual wearing off of land and sediment removal along coastlines. It is a process driven by natural factors or human activities, which act as powerful forces reshaping the coastal landscape. Over time, the relentless action of these elements causes the coastline to recede, leading to the loss of sandy beaches, cliffs, and other coastal features. 

In this article, we will learn about coastal erosions, how they can affect surf spots and surfing communities, and the proactive measures that we can implement to tackle this problem.

Coastal Erosion from Natural Factors 

Coastal Erosion Infographic by NST - Surf Economics
Coastal erosion processes
Source: NST Geography Trips

Coastlines are naturally shaped over time, notwithstanding man made structures that line the coast. This process can change the ocean floor underneath a surf break and significantly change how the waves there break. 

Wind and currents drive waves that consistently exert force, gradually eroding the shoreline. Some events like hurricanes generate powerful storm surges with immense wave energy, accelerating a normally slow and invisible process. Changing tides also contribute to erosion by moving substantial amounts of water and sediment along the coast. Moreover, natural processes like longshore drift, where waves move sediment along the shoreline, can lead to the redistribution and loss of beach material.

These natural forces, combined with the geological characteristics of the coastline, influence the extent and rate of erosion in coastal areas, particularly in surf spots, where waves are more consistent and robust.

Coastal Erosion from Human Activities 

Human activities are one significant factor that accelerates coastal erosion and worsens its impact. Building coastal structures like harbors, piers, and jetties disrupts natural sediment flow and alters coastal dynamics, leading to erosion in nearby areas. For example, a harbor’s construction can trap sediment, causing downstream deficits and increased erosion. Beachfront development and sand extraction from beaches deplete sediment sources, leaving coastlines more vulnerable to erosion. Additionally, deforestation and changes to rivers and streams impact sediment supply to the coast, further contributing to erosion.

Human activities driven by economic development and coastal management goals can unintentionally disrupt the natural movement of sediment, thereby increasing the risk of coastal erosion. This problem is common in surf spots, where there are developments to attract more tourists.

Impact of Coastal Erosion on Surf Spots 

Surfers Point Erosion - Surf Economics
Eroded Shoreline on Surfer’s Point, California
Source: Paul Jenkin/Surfrider Foundation

Coastal erosion significantly affects surf spots, changing their features and putting their long-term existence at risk. Here’s everything you need to know.

First, the loss of sand and sediment due to erosion can significantly impact the quality and quantity of waves. As the shoreline retreats, the sand for wave formation diminishes, resulting in flatter and weaker waves. Coastal erosion can also destroy natural features, such as rock formations and sandbars, which often contribute to forming quality waves by shaping the wave’s energy and creating desirable breaks. The loss of these natural coastal features affects the beach profile, potentially making it unsuitable for surfing altogether.

Lastly, coastal erosion can alter wave characteristics. As the coastline erodes, wave energy disperses differently, leading to wave direction, size, and shape shifts. These changes can transform once consistent surf breaks into unpredictable and less desirable conditions for surfing. This erosion-induced alteration of wave patterns can challenge surfers’ ability to ride the waves effectively.

Impact of Coastal Erosion on Surfing Communities

Beach erosion in Long Island - Surf Economics
Beach erosion and damage on Long Island’s South Shore
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Coastal erosion affects surf spots and directly impacts the communities that depend on surfing as a crucial aspect of their lifestyle and local economy. Let’s delve into how these effects can happen.

Impact on Surfing Communities’ Economy

Coastal erosion can have significant economic implications for local communities. Surfing attracts tourists who contribute to the local economy through spending on accommodations, food, and other services. However, when erosion diminishes the quality of waves or erodes sandy beaches, it can deter tourists from visiting, leading to a decline in tourism revenue. 

Impact on Surfers’ Way of Life

Coastal erosion results in the loss of recreational opportunities for community members. Surfing is a sport and a way of life for many coastal communities. It brings people together, promotes physical activity, and fosters a sense of community pride. When surf spots are affected by erosion, it limits the ability of residents to engage in their beloved sport, leading to a loss of recreational enjoyment and potential negative impacts on the community’s well-being.

Impact on Infrastructures

Lastly, coastal erosion poses a serious threat to the vital infrastructure that sustains surfing communities, including businesses like surf shops, surf camps, restaurants, and resorts. As the coastline recedes, these structures face increased vulnerability to storm damage and rising sea levels. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coastal erosion in the US incurs an annual damage cost of approximately 500 million USD. This situation is particularly concerning for surfing communities, given their proximity to the coast, as it heightens the risk of property loss, job displacement, and business disruptions, potentially necessitating costly measures to mitigate the impact.

Examples of Proactive Measures to Address Coastal Erosion

There are proactive measures that can protect coastal communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems from the harmful impacts of coastal erosion. Implementing these measures ensures long-term sustainability in coastal areas. Here are some examples of proactive steps taken to address coastal erosion.

  1. Beach Nourishment: Beach nourishment involves the addition of sand or sediment to eroded beaches, replenishing the coastal system and providing a buffer against future erosion. For instance, large-scale beach nourishment projects have been implemented in Miami Beach, Florida, to restore eroded shorelines, protect coastal infrastructure, and maintain tourism.
  2. Dune Restoration: Dunes are like natural shields against erosion. They soak up the power of waves and keep inland areas safe from strong surges during storms. Restoring dunes means planting plants and reshaping the sand. In the Outer Banks, North Carolina, they effectively stabilized the dunes and prevented further erosion by planting native vegetation and adding fences.
  3. Breakwaters and Seawalls: These structures aim to reduce erosion and disperse wave energy along vulnerable coastlines. Breakwaters are submerged barriers built offshore, while seawalls are constructed along shorelines. The Netherlands’ Delta Works project is a remarkable example, featuring an extensive system of seawalls, storm surge barriers, and artificial islands, effectively protecting low-lying areas from erosion and flooding.
  4. Managed Retreat: In some cases, it may be necessary to relocate human settlements and infrastructure away from eroding coastlines. This approach, known as managed retreat, allows natural coastal processes to occur without significant human interference. For instance, in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, a community severely affected by erosion and rising sea levels, authorities have offered residents the opportunity to relocate to more stable inland areas.
  5. Vegetation Restoration: Planting and restoring coastal vegetation like mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrasses benefits coastal areas and nearby surf spots. These habitats stabilize the soil, absorb the power of waves, and trap sediment, which lowers the erosion rate. A great example is the restoration of mangroves in Thailand’s coastal areas after the 2004 tsunami. It showed how improving coastal ecosystems can help prevent erosion and safeguard communities.
  6. Integrated Coastal Zone Management: A comprehensive and collaborative approach, integrated coastal zone management aims to balance ecological, economic, and social interests in coastal areas. It involves careful planning, zoning, and regulation to address erosion issues holistically. The European Union’s ICZM Directive has been instrumental in promoting sustainable coastal development and erosion management along Europe’s coastlines.

By implementing effective strategies like these in areas most needed, we can achieve two crucial goals: safeguarding coastal regions for the long run and providing vital support to surfing communities by protecting their surf spots. These efforts can help maintain the quality and quantity of waves, preserve natural coastal features, and boost the well-being of surfers and their local economy. This collective action paves the way for a resilient future for the environment and the people who call these coastal regions home.

Top 5 Surf Spots in El Salvador

El Salvador is one of most amazing and “must-visit” surfing destinations in Central America. It offers various surf breaks with clean and consistent waves all-year round. This article will list down the top five surf spots in El Salvador.

El Tunco

Source: Surf City El Salvador

El Tunco is El Salvador’s most popular surf spot and a true year-round paradise for surfers. Its black sand beach is only a 45-minute drive from the country’s capital, San Salvador, making it quite accessible to tourists. If you’re lucky, you may also witness surfing competitions since El Tunco hosts several surf events throughout the year.

There are many surf schools in El Tunco that offer training and board rentals, making it ideal for first-time wave riders. El Tunco’s waves can be challenging for advanced and pro surfers, especially during April to August, when swells can reach double overhead to 20 feet high!

Punta Roca

Source: Sunzal Surf Company

Punta Roca offers one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world. So if you’re a regular-footer, this might be the best spot for you. It is located on San Blas beach and is only about a 35-minute drive from San Salvador, making it quite accessible yet it still remains uncrowded. Small swells can be enjoyed in Punta Roca year-round, but the best time to surf is around November, when waves can be clean and consistent.

El Sunzal

Source: Surf City El Salvador

El Sunzal is one of El Salvador’s finest surfing spots, and since hosting the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games, it has become extremely popular among international surfers. It is only about a 45-minute drive from San Salvador, making it easily accessible to travelers. El Sunzal has the most consistent long-stretched waves, reaching up to 200 meters in length, making it perfect for surfers of all skill levels, particularly longboarders.

La Bocana

Source: Sunzal Surf Company

La Bocana is one of the few surf spots in El Salvador known for consistently providing left hand breaking waves. It is located around 25 miles from San Salvador and is well-known as a tourist destination in La Libertad, so it can be pretty convenient and welcoming in the area. However, La Bocana is no place for beginner surfers, its big waves break heavily over a bed of cobblestone bottom, making it only suitable for intermediate to pro surfers.

Las Flores

Source: Las Flores Resort

Las Flores is El Salvador’s hidden gem and one of the top surfing spots in Central America. This uncrowded beach is located in San Miguel City, around 100 miles from San Salvador. Although Las Flores is a little farther away than other well-known surf spots in La Libertad like El Tunco and El Sunzal, it may give you some world-class waves breaking on a sandy bottom. The swells in Las Flores can be quite big, producing gnarly waves, especially from May to August.