Yep. That’s right. Big time.

What guy would say that out loud, especially one that owns a surf-inspired clothing brand? Here’s the thing. I don’t care, because it’s true.

The first time I went surfing I was young. I was down in Encinitas with a friend of mine. He owned a little cafe on the 101 that served these killer açaí bowls (before they were a thing). He had an apartment by the beach, an extra wetsuit and a long board. Wanna go surfing? Hell yeah bro.

Smokers lungs

I still remember the board weighing a ton. Back then I still smoked cigarettes and could barely make it down the hill without stopping several times.

When we got to Swami’s we put our wetsuits on, went over a few basics and paddled out. I remember wishing I hadn’t worn a wetsuit. It was hot af and after I got 50 yards out I was sweating to death. The water was warm and it was late September.

I got out behind the break and turned around to face the shore. A couple waves went under me and I rode a couple back to shore laying flat on the board. I don’t think I really understood the concept of standing up. If you watch surfers from the shore, it looks easy but what you don’t realize is that they’ve been doing it for years. A lot of them even grew up near the beach and started really young. That’s probably the best way to do it, learn to surf while you’re a kid.

Complete disaster

A new set came in, and I started paddling. I caught this pretty big wave and started to stand up. The next thing I knew I was upside down underwater and felt like I was going to die. I couldn’t figure out which way was up. Eventually I surfaced, but I had swallowed salt water and had some jammed up my nose. I think the leash broke and the board was nowhere to be found.

The worst part was, between my cigarette lungs and holding my breath, I couldn’t breathe. I wanted out of the water. What a loser.

So what?

Here’s the thing. Fast forward and I’m not that much better. I haven’t put in the 10,000 hours it takes to become good – that’s according to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Most people that I know who surf well are out there all the time – as much as possible. It’s not that I don’t want to be, it’s that I don’t have a lot of spare time to surf. But I love being around it – and I do paddle out when I can – mostly out in Pacifica where it’s pretty mellow. I also have a soft top Catch Surf 8′ log that I love – mostly because I won’t get a concussion if shit goes haywire (which it always does). I think in the surf world it’s considered a “beginner board”.

So does that mean I’m not a real surfer? Who cares. What does that even mean. Should I stay away from surf shops and the line up, and maybe even the beach because I haven’t achieved a certain caliber of surf? Never gonna happen.

“It’s great to suck at something”. There’s even a short story about it by here.

— END —

Leave Your Shore is a series of short stories, company news and inspiration written by the founder of Over Winter, Ryan Mathews. If you have comments or just want to say hey, you can use the form below or email We’d love to hear from you.

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