Roadmap to Surfing Success

    Last updated on 10 May 2023, 9:48pm9 min read
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    Hey everyone! Welcome again to 2023. I think it's going to be an awesome year, full of growth for all of us. One of the best ways to move forward is to look at how we got here and the lessons we learned in the past. I can't believe it, but I've done over 50 posts on SubKit since I started in 2021! Below I've made a roadmap to some of the more crucial posts I've made in the past 18 months. Not every post is in this map, and you're more than welcome to go through all the others at your leisure. First I've listed posts that help you navigate your SubKit. Second are my top 5 favorite posts I've done. These have a little something for all levels and highlight my philosophical work as applied to the surfing context. While I write every post with all levels of surfer in mind, some contain tips that are more relevant to beginners and others to advanced surfers. I have thus grouped the remaining posts into constituent parts of surfing progress. The third section features posts that have a lot of info about paddling, etiquette, and navigating lineups. To me these are skills that we must constantly negotiate and reevaluate in our surfing practices. Fourth are posts that have content more relevant to beginners. These features a lot of tips about basic aspects of surfing. Advanced surfers or those looking to become coaches could benefit from orienting themselves to these basics too, but can also skip them and go to the next section. The fifth section features intermediate and advanced tips. Beginners will benefit from reading these posts to look at what surfing has in store for them. The sixth and last section is a compendium of my travel posts or "Dispatches from the Field." Those give a perfect glimpse into some of the areas I've done trips and feature students surfing in those locations. I close with the usual "Last Lines" of a regular newsletter, and a reminder to check the "Sessions" section of your SubKit to see about any Master Classes or Community Zooms that I may create in the future. 

    I. Nuts and Bolts of Using and Managing Your SubKit 

    1. There is a page where all the posts live. You will only have full access to posts at your subscription level. You can always upgrade if you'd like to read more posts. 

    2. How to upgrade, downgrade, and get referral credits. You know you can get this content practically for free by referring people right? Yep, it's true. 

    3. Make sure you get the emails. This post walks you through how to train your inbox to continuing receiving this killer content. 

    4. Does Conatus Offer Surf Lessons In New York? (July 22): Difference between what I do and what a “surf school” does.  

    II. My 5 Favorite Posts 

    1. Coastal Engineering and Slabs! (Nov 22) : Explanation of coastal engineering. Why there are dredge and jetty projects and how they affect the surf. RIP “the sticks” at 60th St. The use of the word “Slab” in the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and alternately in surfing culture. Tip Video: ultra late take off. 

    2. Healing the Cartesian Wound (May 22) : Water temperature thoughts. Self-fashioning and the mind-body relationship. Brief explanation of Cartesian dualism. Why it’s important to think of surfing as a social activity. Intro to Daniel Dennett’s philosophy. Tip video: basic midlength surfing.  

     3. Sym-Bolic, Dia-bolic, Para-Bolic (Feb 22): Greek grammar primer. Intricacies of rails in surfboard design. Tip Video: how to surf the inside. 

    4. Teleological and Non-Teleological Surfing (Feb 22) : Definition of ‘teleology’ and what that has to do with skill acquisition in surfing. How to make and reorient your surfing goals. Symbolic nature of language in the thought of Jacques Lacan. Tip videos: hitting the end section + duckdiving a shortboard.   

    5. From the Danger the Saving the Power (Aug 21): Priority in pro surfing contests vs recreational surfing environments. A quick primer on Heidegger’s conception of ‘technology’. Helpful tips for positioning in a more dangerous part of the wave. Tip video: how to ride the board on the green face in the prone position.  

    III. Paddling, Etiquette, and Lineup Management

    1. Compress Yourself Into Summer (Aug 21): Correct paddling techniques.  

    2. Good Riddance to Summer (Sept 21): Timing the sets.  

    3. La Niña Pura Vida (Jan 22): Definition of El Niño and La Niña as global weather patterns. Explanation of the Costa Rican saying “Pura Vida.” Tip Video: perfecting your paddle out. A bit of Hawaiian history.  

    4. Post Elsa Updates (Aug 21): Necessity of surfing crappy waves to improve. 

    5. Surfing and Its Discontents (Oct 21): SUPs and SUP foils. Issue of “wave hogging.” Managing anxiety in the water. Tip video: paddling etiquette.  

    6. Variables of Successful Surfing (Nov 21): How to define ability levels. What it means to keep pushing your level and how to push past plateaus. Is it ever ok to burn anyone? 

    7. Reciprocity (Nov 21): When and when not to be aggressive in the lineup. Dealing with the negatives in surfing. Intro to Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents. Tip video: easy kick out. 

    8. Crowd Control (June 22): How to surf in crowds. 

    9. Crowds?! What Crowds?! (Sept 22): How to avoid surfing in crowds.

    10. Get In Rotation (June 22): What it means to “get in rotation” in a surfing lineup and how that can improve your surfing. 

    11. Early December Run to Remember (Dec 22): Students surfing in Long Beach, NY. On injuries. Tip video: how to shop for better waves. 

    12. Happy Holidays + More On Wave Shopping (Dec 22): Can’t say enough about how important this technique is for improving your surfing practice. Tip video: how to identify and surf a “rip bowl.” 

    IV. Popping Up and Other Basics 

    1. Light at the End of the Tunnel (Aug 21): Breathing into your strokes.  

    2. November Starts Off With A Bang (Nov 22): More documentation of a super great fall in NY — students, friends, MG. Tip Video: belly riding — I really mean it YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO BELLY RIDE ON THE GREEN FACE. 

    3. Foam and Space (Apr 22): An argument for higher volume boards. Tip video: longboard pop up dry land variety. Images of my childhood surfing journal! 

    4. Recovery & Tracking: Tools for Striving (Jan 23): My fitness journey from skinny fat to shredded and shredding. How to recover from exercise and track your input/output. Tip video: millisecond pop up (this one has been getting a lot of great feedback). 

    5. 2022 We See You (Jan 22): Tip video: explosive pop up. More notes on paddling technique.  

    6. Blast Off: Summer 2021 Comin in Hot (Aug 21): Definition of wedges, nuggets, spinners, bowls and how to identify them. High chest take offs. 

    7. Meme-orial Day Weekend (May 22): Definition of “memes” and an intro to some popular surfing memes. Tip: how to avoid nose diving or pearling. 

    8. Windswell Continues + Watching Elsa (Aug 21): Backside take off to straighten off + more forecasting tips. 

    9. Barrel Season Never Ends (Nov 21): Reports from large NJ. Tip video: How to turtle roll. Clear vs confused ideas in Spinoza. 

    10. Different Ways to Be Under the Lip (Mar 22): Definition of a “lip” in surfing. Tip video: under the lip takeoff. Notes on the desire for certainty.  

    11. No Place Like Home (May 22): Why I love surfing Rockaway. Tip video: basic longboarding skills.  

    12. Summer is Not Quite Dead (Sept 22): Forecasting tips for the east coast. Tip video: how to end the ride with control. A particularly awesome Nietzsche quote.  

    V. Intermediate and Advanced Maneuvers

    1. Unnamed Swells and Muffookies (Oct 22): Videos of pumping Rockaway surf. Muffookie recipe (you don’t want to skip this). Tip video: how to stay with the power source. 

    2. Cool Stuff (Aug 22): Some family photography history. Em Joseph’s film photos. Tip video: how to pump and cutback on a mid length.  

    3. Pig Doggin’ (Nov 22): Explanation of why I sometime use the word ‘subkittens’ to greet you. Goth music. How and why you need to learn the “pig dog” plus an explanation of pig dog variations and classic mistakes. 

    4. Movement Towards Greater Movement (Sept 21): Definition of ‘critique’ and intro to Sloterdijk’s thought — “political kinetics.” Thoughts on movement and fluidity. Tip video: frontside wrapping turn. Importance of the back hand to drive your turns.  

    5. Rest, Visualize, Practice (Aug 21): Fade take off.

    6. Shifty Shifty Season (Dec 22): The start of my fitness tracker experimentation. Tip video: how to pump (on a shortboard).  

    7. Fiona: Post Mortem Report (Sept 22): Team day trip to Rhode Island. How to surf a midlength backside. 

    8. Elsa Thoughts (Aug 21): End section grab rail turn. Forecasting for a larger swell event.

    9. So So Sam (Sept 21): Backside cutback.  

    10. Henri Was a Hard One (Aug 21): How to bottom turn. 

    11. Unlocking Levels (Aug 21): How to link turns on a midlength + getting the back foot over the tail. 

    12. Layback Larry Thoughts (Sept 21): Epic footage from our trip to RI to surf Hurricane Larry. How to surf backside closeout tubes. 

    13. The Low that Would Not Quit (Oct 21): Lots of really great surfing footage from an awesome run of surf in NY. Tip video: the pencil dive exit strategy. A good example of how trips are announced via SubKit. 

    14. We Surf to Get Tubed (Oct 21): Definition of a “nosegaurd.” Phenomenology of tube riding. Introduction to J.T. Ismael’s “How Physics Makes Us Free.”

    15. Hips N Trips (Oct 21): Hip movement in advanced surfing. Importance of lower body to advance your surfing.  

    16. Always Striving Never Arriving (Nov 22): Footage of Hurricane Nicole Swell in NY and NJ. Tip video: frontside roundhouse cutbacks. 

    Dispatches From the Field 

    1. Nicaragua Nov 2021. 

    2. CA Parts 1, 2 & 3 Dec 2022. 

    3. Costa Rica Parts 12, & 3 Jan 2022.  

    4. Costa Rica Parts 1 (another video about belly riding), 2, & 3 (tips on how to walk over rocks at a surf spot) March 2022.   

    5. SW Chile Parts 1 (thoughts on naming or “exploiting” surf spots), 2, & April/May 2022.  

    6. Mexico Parts 12, 34, & 5 July 22.  

    7. Costa Rica Surgical Strike Oct 22. 

    8. CA Surgical Strike Dec 22.  

    9. Costa Rica Jan 23. 

    Last Lines 


    As promised on Instagram, here's a full edit of our surf in NJ on Thursday, January 26th. I'm very impressed that Farmata pushed her levels again in these uber challenging conditions. She didn't get a ton of waves, but sometimes just making it out the back is a win! 

    I will be hosting an info session next Friday, February 10th, at 1p EST. There is already a Zoom link created. You just have to RSVP! That link should work, and in the future can always scroll down to the bottom of the main page to see if any sessions or master classes are offered. 

    I am used the colder, flatter days this winter to fine tune my packages and offerings. I am developing a series of online courses aimed both to jumpstart, support, and deepen ocean and surfing know how. I'm also working out an online for a coaches training program so that I'm not the only one who teaches in this style. Basically, I have a lot of awesome stuff I'm working on! 

    For now the only trips planned are the two Costa Rica trips, one in March and the other in April, and I'll be working out my trip schedule for 2023 soon. All trips are annouced to weekly subscribers first. 

    Book club announcements will be via SubKit email. We are currently reading old surfing magazines and some of my personal essays on the philosophy of surfing. Book club meets 1x a week and starts with a forecasting session. An Everything Conatus Digital plan is required to participate. This week we're discussing an essay I wrote titled Gender & Surfing. It pairs well with Matt Warshaw's article "Sexism Sucks" from the February 1993 issue of SURFER magazine we read for last week. 

    More waves more joy,



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