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Good vs Fun

Surfing is subjective. The evaluation of everything from equipment, to style, to conditions, and to perception of performance is totally up to the individual.

Words by: Tim Homa

One of the more personalized viewpoints in surfing is how one classifies the waves during a session. More specifically, were the waves fun or were they good?

Have you ever walked up to the beach and asked someone coming off the beach how the waves were, only to lay eyes on the waves and think “man that guy was spot on” or “whoa, what was that guy talking about?”

How about scrolling through Instagram and you come across a photo of waves and think “holy crap those look good.” Then you read the caption that said, “fun waves today.” Is there no consistency to be had?

The amount of determining factors that go into such a label are endless and differ depending on the surfer.

Does size matter? Does your equipment factor in? Perhaps, how you perform will determine which way you lean.

No matter the pieces that go into the decision, the diversity of factors and conversations justifying the claim are hilarious.

For some surfers, every session is fun. Others may have specific metrics to claim a session was good vs fun. And there are a small number of surfers who aren’t allowed to admit a session was fun or good for fear of not being core.

In order to shed some light on this important topic, we decided to dive deep into our own minds, as well as, reach out to some friends to try and determine proper criteria.

For Tim, it is always fun to go surfing. Personal performance and wave size can definitely influence whether the session was good vs fun. Fun waves are anything under chest high. Additionally, high wave count and minimal paddle effort round out his fun criteria. He has definitely claimed waves under chest high to be good though.

Good waves for Tim are when the waves are shoulder high or bigger. It's more about the ocean rewarding your effort, but also humbling you. A solid beating coupled with a few long waves and multiple turns are all part of the good recipe.

Our resident hipster, Nick, will communicate a good wave claim with a stern voice and direct message of “it’s good dude.” Hearing this from Nick is a directive to get your things and go surf. As for his criteria, consistent, clean, chest high waves with bigger sets will equate a good day.

Fun waves for Nick are all about the company surrounding him and the feeling of being at home in the water. A few hours of waist high waves on fun equipment with just your friends and enough waves for everyone qualify a fun claim for Nick.

Ryan, our resident amphibian (we call him the Newt), relies more on feeling than size and conditions when determining good vs fun. Fun waves for Ryan are waves that require minimal effort. They are mindless, you just do. Size doesn’t matter. It’s the feeling of paddling back to the line up immediately to catch another wave with a stupid smile on his face that makes a session fun.

When he imagines good waves, they fall anywhere from waist high to overhead. Barreling or long rights fit the bill. The main difference for him is good waves require a bit more concentration and possibly some elements of fear. Not necessarily fear for his life, but knowing that a wipeout is probably going to hurt. When the waves are good it only takes one to make the session.

We reached out to a few friends to chime in on the conversation:

James Merrill of Opolis Optics (@opolis_optics) keeps things simple when it comes to classifying good waves vs fun waves. Size and conditions are key factors in his decision.

Fun waves for James are in the waist high range and tap into the stoke of surfing. Solid rights and lefts in that range will have him laying down a fun claim.

Good waves are peaky and overhead with no wind. Finding the ocean throwing out perfect overhead A-frames gets James stoked.

Be sure to check out his new lineup of Stoked Plastic Sunglasses made from recycled ocean plastic. Yes, you read that last part right. Made from recycled ocean plastic.

Jack Ventura of Faro Boardbags (@faro_boardbags) speaks in code to describe the surf. Lucky for us, he gave us some insight into what phrases mean good waves and which mean fun waves. If you run into Jack checking the waves, pay attention to below.

The more obvious statements Jack makes to say the waves are good are, “it's pumping,” or “it’s good. Get here now.” But, if Jack is feeling mysterious, he may throw out some phrases like “looks like there's some shoulders to be had,” or “ehh looks alright, might go out for a few.” Just know if you hear that from Jack, the waves are good.

As for describing fun waves, Jack might allude to proper equipment being a factor, “happy I have the longboard.” A tone of uncertainty may also hint that the waves are fun. “I don’t know, I’ll probably go out, catch one and come in.” And for his obvious response to the waves being fun, “yeah, she's aight,” sending a weird smile back out to the ocean.

While it might be hard to decipher how the waves are from Jack, one thing that's certain is you need to check out his badass line of sustainable, handmade board bags and other goods crafted for the mindful and adventurous.

Scott Roberts of Swell Luck Designs (@swell_luck_designs) likes to keep things easy. Every wave is a good wave to Scott. Living on the East Coast and specifically in Virginia Beach, there isn’t much time to decipher if the waves are fun or good if you are looking to surf.

“If your definition of a good wave is a perfect wave then you’ll be looking forever and often end sessions disappointed,” Scott said. Making the best of the conditions at hand can result in both fun and good waves.

Give Scott a follow and check out some of his insane artwork.

We couldn’t conclude this without reaching out to a surfboard shaper, so we reached out to Nick Halleran of Make and Ride Surf Exchange (@marsurfexchange). No shock to us that the board shaper said proper equipment can make a difference between a fun or good session.

For Nick, determining a good wave is less about size and more about discernible features. “A well groomed face, with a well defined peak, manageable down-the-line speed and lined up sections from features on the ocean floor, and consistent organized sets defined by the source of the swell.” If a wave has those features, it's a good wave. Riding the proper board for the size is the glue to a proper good session.

Fun waves for Nick are less technically identifiable and require you to take advantage of what is presented to you. He says, “fun is about matching your equipment, style, attitude, and a little bit of luck with whatever the ocean throws at you that day.”

Those days when you paddle out in seemingly awful conditions and discover a fun bowly peak impossible to see from the beach, but offers speed and rippable sections that sync with your style and board choice spell fun for Nick.

Make sure to reach out to Nick to help build your quiver so that you can be prepared for every session.

There we have it. Did we settle anything? Probably not, but at least we’ve got some explanations in writing to help confuse you.

Time to go out and surf.


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