Greg GordonSurf CR

7 Things a Surfer Needs to Surf at Their Best

Surf CR logoHave you ever been watching the waves and see one girl or guy just shredding it? Or styling out on a longboard? They seem to be in the flow, focusing solely on what’s coming down the line and how perform the next maneuver flawlessly. The key for them is preparation and mindset. Now I am not the best surfer out there, or even close, but after 35 years of experience I’ve found these seven things crucial to help me surf my best.


Boards can be short and light for doing tricks, or long and heavy for bigger surf with thicker cloth, but they need to be constructed and maintained well. The board can’t have dings that could potentially cut my feet, or dents that could eventually buckle. Also, I surf best when I have the right board for the conditions. Too many times I’ve pulled up with a shortboard when I needed a longboard or vice versa. A great tip would be whenever possible bring two boards, or if you are traveling, stay at a beach town that has shops with quality board rentals.


I cannot preach on which wax is best, but for me I use Sticky Bumps. I prefer the paper box for less plastic and the tackiness is good. There is merit for having the correct wax for the air and water temperature, but the key is to make sure you have enough so that your feet don’t slip off. That is the last thing you want to worry about when dropping in to some bombs.

Skin Protection

Sunscreen, Rashguard or Wetsuit—You want to choose some form of skin protection. Every surfer has different tolerances to water temperatures. Some are in baggies or bikinis all year, while other put on the 4/3 wetsuit when the water temp drops below 70 degrees (21 C). The key is to having the right skin protection for your comfort. With sunscreen, those with zinc oxide are better for the planet, but might not stick to your face or will burn your eyes. With a rashguard, be sure it fits comfortably and I prefer those with a wide side panel so the stitching does not rub inside my armpit, causing a mean rash. And with a wetsuit, I don’t want it too loose where water is flushing through it on every duck dive, or too tight where I’m walking like a penguin.


The days I surf without drinking enough fluids are not my best surfing days. And coffee does not count. It is amazing how much I sweat while paddling and riding waves. I know that the more water I had drank before hitting the surf, the less chance I have of cramping up or getting dizzy from overheating. The best part is I don’t have to worry about having to go pee if I drank too much (unless I’m in a wave pool which doesn’t count as surfing, that is sorfing).


This one may be controversial as there are many surfers who don’t like wearing leashes. I have seen a few longboarders that don’t use them, but I feel unless you are on par with Joel Tudor or at least CJ Nelson, then you should. It is a matter of safety, not for yourself, but for other surfers and swimmers. I’ve seen little kids mowed down in the shore break from errant longboards. The other advantage is you can catch more waves if you spend less time swimming in to retrieve your board, and it is one less thing to worry about when trying to complete a risky maneuver that could leave your board on the rocks or dry reef. The leash you use should not be too old, where the Velcro may not stick as well or the cord is dry rotted from the sun. And on every surf trip bring a back-up leash as it is always better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

A Clear Mind

When paddling out, I try to leave my problems back on the shore. When I duck dive I can feel the negatively charged ions being brushed off my body in the white water and replaced by positive ones. I can gaze at a pelican or dolphin or even a leaf and lose myself in wonder. Or I stare intently at the horizon with a singular focus of finding that next set wave to catch. Those are my moments of zen, when I surf my best. When I’m pissed off at the world and the ocean for not being ideal, my surfing suffers.

A Surf Buddy

Surfing with a friend always makes the session better. Yes, they can cut you off, but you can cut them off too, and it is alright. My friends will encourage me to push the limits of my ability and to convince me to paddle out when I may not be that enthusiastic about it. They also can help for safety reasons—lost boards, killer rips, random sharks and crocodiles—and the chance it happens to me drops by 50%. Post surf a buddy can brag about your best barrels and joke about your best wipeouts.
These seven things will help any surfer surf better. Some people may say you need waves, too, but I disagree. I’ve had great sessions surfing knee high slop. It was just a great feeling being out in the water and with the right board I was catching everything and hooting for every thigh high set that my friends caught. I had everything else listed above and was surfing my best. And these days I’m surfing for close friends who want to surf but are struggling with physical ailments that are keeping them on land. That gives me a lot more appreciation for each time I paddle out.

Send me a note and I will tell you three of my favorite places to hide money. You can find the tide charts on our website for the whole year, Safe travels!