Paddling out on a quiet morning with waves crashing behind your last refreshing duck dive, you take a deep breath while settling into the lineup when suddenly you hear comments — “Dude. Did you see that last air I stuck? It was totally bigger than yours!” — piercing the otherwise chill atmosphere.
Like walking through a bar or concert, you can’t help but overhear casual convos while surfing. The chatter can range from trash-talking the last person who caught a wave to uncovering relationship drama, like why someone’s clothes were tossed on the lawn in trash bags.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of the sport during the pandemic, even more surfers are crowding Southern California’s breaks, which means there’s plenty of bravado and hot goss swirling around. Yes, you’ll hear your fair share of “dude,” “bro” and other surfer-speak that would make Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” proud. But you’ll also notice a crankiness in certain old-school circles and witness moments that are so quintessentially California that they sound written for the screen.
This surfer has collected juicy nuggets overheard in the lineup from San Clemente to Malibu to offer a taste of what it’s like waiting to take off. Get your waterproof popcorn box ready.
Surfer 1: “Oh, my God, I got so worked by that last wave, did you see that?!”
Surfer 2: “If you don’t shut up and paddle, you’re going to get worked even worse!” (El Porto, Manhattan Beach)
Surfer 1: “Taking off on a wave is like surfer bowling out here. How do you not decapitate someone?”
Surfer 2: “You just gotta go — everyone usually knows what they’re doing, but maybe there are some groms with missing limbs.” (Lower Trestles, San Clemente)
Surfer 1 to Surfer 2: “I heard he was a d—, but he is actually really nice and has really good energy. He wasn’t a wave hog like people say he is.”
Immediately after, another surfer joins in…
Surfer 3: “I wanted that wave. You were in my f—ing way. I get whatever the f— I want out here. Don’t get in my f—ing way.”
Surfer 1: “You shouldn’t have f—ing pulled my leash when I was taking off. You keep getting all the waves. It’s my turn.”
Surfer 3: “You want to fight?! Go to the beach. I’ll take you out any day, and I’ll pull your leash every time you get in my way.” (Second Point, Malibu)
“This is the first time I’ve been out since I almost drowned in Newport on my birthday. But I had to surf 56th Street on my 56th birthday.” (Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu)
Surfer 1: “Hey! How many soft tops are in the water right now? Let’s count them.”
Surfer 2: “I don’t have enough fingers for that.” (El Porto, Manhattan Beach)
“Malibu is one of the most dangerous surf spots — it’s Peahi, Pipeline and then Malibu.” (Second Point, Malibu)
“The longer you resist the electric bike, the stronger your lower body will be. Don’t forget that.” (Upper Trestles, San Clemente)
“I think he’s checking you out. You should go talk to him so you can get more waves.” (Upper Trestles, San Clemente)
Surfer 1: “Did you see?! I got so much air on my last wave. I think it was bigger than yours.”
Surfer 2: “This isn’t a pissing contest, bro.”
Surfer 1: “It is now. Sack up and keep up with yo’ man bustin’ fat airs.” (Upper Trestles, San Clemente)
“I need a different quiver for out here. The high tide is making these drop-ins pretty interesting. Oh, and did you see all the air I caught on that last wave? Oh, brah. It was bitchin’, dude.” (33rd Street, Newport Beach)
“She rides so good, she’s so tiny, but she’s fast, did you see me drop in? Want to try her out?” (Northside of Huntington Pier, Huntington Beach)
“That’s our mansion on the hill. You think I’m kidding, I’m not. Like, really. That’s ours.” (Second Point, Malibu)
“Are they doing those concerts in the park again? I’ll just hang out with those drunk O.C. moms and get free booze.” (Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point)
“I don’t know why we keep getting skunked on these surf reports. Everyone I know hates Surfline. It’s all about Wavecast.com — the guy updates it three times a week, and it’s way more accurate than Surfline, or should I say ‘Surflie.’”(Northside of Huntington Pier, Huntington Beach)
“I have a troll Instagram account and saw she was out with him again. Did she get lip injections?” (Third Point, Malibu)
“Did you hear all that screaming outside his house last night? She’s got a set of lungs. I wouldn’t be surprised if all his stuff ends up on the front lawn again.” (Lower Trestles, San Clemente)
All the commentary aside, if you want to surf, as the briny-haired like to say, “send it.” The ocean is for everyone, no matter your skill level, board or trash-talking abilities.
As one surfer said at Salt Creek Beach, “you’re bound to see people out here in the water — no matter what, you can’t hide. So don’t piss anyone off.”