“best waves”

all surfers have had them.  many of them, in fact.

starting with that first wave that sent us speeding toward shore.

at each stage of our lives, we have one (or more) rides that stands out as a highwater mark.

some of them are incremental improvements on what had come before. others stand in such stark contrast that they leave no question as to their superiority.

a beginner friend of mine recently shared that she had caught what she thought was the best wave of her life that day.  then she quickly qualified it by pointing out that it wasn’t that great of a wave, really, but was just good “for her.”

I call bullshit.

“best waves” aren’t about the external performance or even the wave itself.

they are about the internal feeling that results from the experience — the sense of elation; the sheer stoke.

new “best waves” happen most frequently early in our surfing careers.

enjoy them.

though our skill set might improve, new “bests” become more rare as time goes on. there is no need to discount or qualify their quality.

stoke is not like dollars in a savings account. there is no interest paid. you don’t get more stoke later on by being harder on yourself now.

you’re future self gains nothing by quashing the excitement available here, today.

so, when you catch that next “best wave” — revel in that moment.

the ability to truly savor an experience may be the most important thing surfing can help us practice.

-matthew josef

memory snippets from one life spent searching california shores


frozen fingers fumbling with car keys

sunburnt lips

the smell of eucalyptus

putting on a wet wetsuit

long period forerunners

hiking boots

parking meters

roof racks

swell hype

dawn patrol with warm offshores

post-surf shower



beach bonfires

sharing stories from the last swell

scoring with just one friend out

driving from spot to spot until the wind comes onshore

vivid sunsets






morning sickness

june gloom

surfing on the major winter holidays

changing on the side of the highway

the nod


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