The Frustration of “It’s Flat”

When people hear that I surf, they get this envious look in their eyes. They have this idea that I spend my days bikini clad, frolicking on the beach and surfing the perfect waves. As much as I wish that was true, and god I wish it was true, the reality is that it’s NOT! First off, because I am not independently wealthy I have to work, and I work a lot. Secondly, as with any sport that is dependent on nature, surfing is one that is unbelievably rewarding when there are waves. However,  it is also incredibly frustrating when it is flat. Why? “It’s just surfing, there are other things that you can do,” non-surfers will comment. But what the non-surfers don’t understand is that it’s not just surfing, it’s my life. As a surfer, we are true and complete addicts. And when it’s flat, our entire essence suffers and unfortuantly so do our partners, friends and even our whole community. There are some serious side effects that happen when it’s flat.

The phrase “it’s flat” has to be the worst thing you can say to a surfer, other than “look out, shark!” Every day, our world revolves around the surf report, webcams and the tides. Hell, in the morning I look at the surf webcam before I even turn on the coffee pot. What is even more ridiculous is that it is usually still dark out but I do it anyway. I peer into the screen looking for any hint of a wave. Why? Because the second I see it, I am gone out the door jonesing for my early morning wave fix. If I get it then the whole day is great. If it’s flat . . . well, then I do other things and I still have a good day. But it’s just not the same.

Every surfer can handle a few days of no waves. We are productive in other ways. flatIn my case, I work, clean my house and get all my crap done so that when the waves come back I can just surf. The issue is that after a few days, what do we do if there are still no waves? This is when frustration really starts to kick in, so after checking the waves for the hundredth time, we usually give up and head to the bar. We sit around and drink, smoke, etc. and talk about past swells and all the great waves that we have ridden. We bitch about the surf report and pretty much everything else. The best “it’s flat” bitch out was last season when my girlfriend rolled into the local pub. It had been more than a week since we had swell so her frustration level was on overload. She was on a rant as she ordered a beer, complaining because some tourists had stopped her and asked her a question.

“Excuse me, can you tell me where the waves are?”

Unfortuantly, she cracked and responded with, “I don’t know, obviously not fuckin’ here . . . maybe try Hawaii!” and stalked away. I howled when she told this story. We have all had that question from tourists and I still laugh, because seriously, if there were waves, I would be surfing and if there were waves it would be obvious. Another hilarious question that I’ve been asked is, “Do you know of a secret spot that is less crowded?” This is a good one because if I had a secret spot that was less crowded, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell anyone. That would break surf code. If you have a special place that you surf with a few cool local people, you don’t tell anyone about it because you don’t want it to get crowded. Duh!

My surf sisters and I try not to turn into raving bitches when there are no waves. But who am I kidding? We get bitchy. We all do, even the boys. It is incredible what happens to the surfers in town when it’s flat, and god help us, flat for more than a week. Everyone who is in a relationship/friendship with a surfer should be aware of the following side effects of a flat ocean.

  1. Irritability due to lack of exercise and time in Mother Oceanflat
  2. Increased consumption of alcohol
  3. Staying up late (no reason to go to bed early, no dawn patrol)
  4. A sense of forlornness and the constant checking of the waves/surf report followed by disappointment.


So to combat the lack of wave frustration I have come up with some things to do when the waves suck…..

  1. Have sex – this is my personal favourite! You can have midday, late night and early morning sex knowing that you don’t have to get up early to go surfing.
  2. Sleep! Yup, goes with the sex. But even without sex, there is nothing like a lazy mid-afternoon siesta.
  3. Get day drunk! This is also one of my personal favourites! Nothing like a few late afternoon margaritas that lead into sunset. If there are waves, this doesn’t happen because there is always a sunset surf session. So take advantage of enjoying the beach, just for the beach. Especially with a margarita and a beach chair at El Break Cafe.
  4. Play backgammon or chess! This is a great way to pass the time while waiting for the wind to die down and the waves to pick up! Great place to hang out and play is Sayulita Public House. You can always watch whatever sports game is going on! Added bonus!
  5. Go to an early morning yoga class at Parasio Yoga (because you can, you’re not surfing)
  6. Best one yet! Love the land….go for a hike with Mexi Treks.
  7. Go for a paddle board – I personally find that this doesn’t help with the frustration at all but for others, it does.

With winter approaching and many of us landlocked for the past several months, there have been many phone calls about the upcoming season and the discussion of El Nino. It seems everyone is currently debating what might happen with the weather. Will Whistler Mountain get lots of snow? That would be great! But my bigger question is whether we will finally get a season of waves in Mexico. Will this season be a repeat of the epic snow/waves year of 2009/2010? As my ski buddies pray to Ullr, the snow god, I pray to Mother Ocean for swell, endless swell; swell that just keeps coming so that every day I will paddle until my arms fall off, catching wave after epic wave.

What a winter it would be if everyone could be happy all season long. The town would be filled with faces beaming with surf stoke and all the surfers would be content and jazzed because we would all have had our wave fix. Will it be a winter where there is no such thing as “it’s flat”? As I put that wish out to the universe, I also know that Mother Nature will do as she chooses, so all I can really do is be grateful and stoked when there is swell. If it’s flat, well, when that happens I will try to be present and enjoy all the other awesome things in my life. Hopefully there will also be lots of #1 on the list, if and when it’s flat!

My Conclusion

We all experience a time in our lives when we are denied our greatest pleasure or our passion. We hope for it, pray for it, but sometimes it just doesn’t show up when we want it to. Mother Nature and the universe sometimes have other plans (which is usually perfect in every way). During these times we can feel disappointed and frustrated. These are the moments to be present and practice patience. A wise person once said the reward for patience is more patience. It is when you are present that you can have different experiences, try new activities and, god knows, everyone should have more sex! This all leads to more inspiration. When it is time, your greatest pleasure will arrive, just as Mother Nature will always bring another swell. Then you will be even more grateful and you will have experienced some cool new things. So for all those surfers out there that dread when it’s flat, maybe next time just smile and try a new experience. You never know what might happen when you’re not on the waves!


Marjie Martini

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