If you’ve lived in Bondi for a while, you know what’s going to happen soon. The opening of Sculpture by the Sea usually marks the beginning of that time of the year. The time of the year I dread and love at the same time. Yes, it’s going to be nice and hot soon. Soon we won’t have to squeeze ourselves into damp wetsuits and freeze our toes off in rather cool water. I’ve already seen some maniacs in just boardies. I’m not quite yet in Bikini mode but summer is definitely around the corner and if you believe weather forecasts, we are in for a hot one. Daylight savings has also kicked in which means not only one but two potential surfs for the common office slave – one before work and one after. Yay.
Not so yay about summer – and most surfers will agree with me – are crowds. You can tell already. As soon as the morning sun got that little bit warmer in spring, the crowd doubled and it’s likely to double again. Some surfers surely wish back back for winter already. Not only are there more people but more flags will go up soon which pretty much halves the area you are allowed to surf in. Oh and not to forget about swimmers. As a surfer you are not meant to surf in between flags and the lifeguards make sure it stays that way. You can be sure as a surfer to get booted out of the swimmer zone within seconds of the flags going up. That does not necessarily mean it’s the same the other way round. Well, I guess it’s almost impossible to keep up to 50,000 swimmers away from the surfing areas. So not only will you have to deal with double the surfers, half the playground but also do you need to throw some swimmers in the mix for your summer surf session. That is if there is a summer surf session….on top of crowds and less space to surf, we can also expect weeks of flatness or only small surf.
Still looking forward to summer? Well, ok conditions maybe a bit more challenging but there are ways around it to still make the most out of your summer surfing sessions despite the summer madness. My first port of call is not to surf Bondi. Especially, not on the weekend. There is no point. Nada. You only get frustrated. Get up early, go for a drive. There are hundreds of beaches just North or South of Sydney. Roadies are fun.
Summer surfs are also heaps more fun if you have the right equipment. Not once have I looked back at getting a longboard. Bruce (my mal) is my best friend during summer. Bruce gets on the smallest of waves and catches them from waaaay out the back. Now I only like surfing Bruce when it’s clean and fairly small. For the summer days, when it’s a bit bigger but fairly weak wind swell, my fish which is a quad fin has been invaluable. It gets you over any flat sections and gives you a bit more push in fat, weak waves. I got a cheapie (ok freebie, it was a present) or get a second hand one so you don’t mind if it gets dinged during inevitable crashes in summer crowds. They go something like this: Lots of surfers. Smallish day. Lots of beginners. Bigger set comes through. Beginners panic. Beginners let go of boards. Boards sent flying towards you and you may have to use your own board as a shield if you want to avoid to get scalped. I’ve chosen board over myself once and ended up with four stitches in my head. Ok, it was a brand new board…A little bit older and wiser, I prefer the ding in my board than my head.
If you are worried about dings in general and/or not a big fan of a fish or a mal but still want to have fun in the sun you could get a softie and surf between the flags. You won’t get booted out of the flag area if you are riding a soft board. With a softie you can surf where others can’t e.g. Tama flags are up all day and it’s a no go zone for surfers unless you have a softie. And therefore, it’s less crowded. Also, let me tell you there is nothing more annoying if the best bank is off limits because it’s between the flags. I’ve only tried a softie once in Tama and it was heaps of fun, so I’ve got myself one this year. It’s called Turtle and I can’t wait to have a go. I’ll make sure to report my adventures with Turtle.
No, not a softie type of person either? Oh well then. How about getting out for a body bash or a bay swim? Sometimes you forget how much fun it is just to play in the water without any sort of board at all. For those really, really flat days with no swell at all, I actually got myself snorkel gear. Not quite surfing but still fun…
There are always ways around the summer madness. If you do find yourself sitting amongst the crazy summer crowds in the surf after all, just remember: keep smiling….you won’t make it any better if you are grumpy bum grumbling at other surfers and tourists…not for yourself nor the other people in the water…believe me I’ve tried, it does not work…