We are all on the surfing learning curve: yes—you, me—Steph, Carissa, Mick, Italo, and even Kelly. When the term “learning curve” is thrown around, we usually think of kooks practising snap-tos on the beach or groms on foamies skimming across ankle-deep water. Becoming a better surfer is not just about achieving surf techniques and goals; it’s a life-long practice. In the words of Einstein, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

The learning curve itself is shaped like a wave. With rapid progress, our confidence soars and as the crest gets higher, the drop steepens. Often, we fall. Life has limited resources and complex problems that undermine our confidence. But, we shake off these setbacks … to start again.

Whether it’s practicing manoeuvres, a wiggly enthusiast, a soul-arched hipster, a slab hunter, or a steadfast purist, riding waves takes years to perfect. We crave that feeling when muscle memory meets surf ability, agility, and style. And peak to a new level. Our adrenaline spikes, and feel-good chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine) flood through us. Rewarded with euphoria, we push again. Is surfing more than smashing goals, brine therapy, exercising, socialising, or a natural drug? Yes, it’s what we do, but it’s also who we are.

Regardless of this, the wave doesn’t care how we ride it. There is no negotiation. Whether it’s endangered, in cold water, or crowded, we carry the same entrance fee. To glide along its glassy wall, we must take the drop. If we don’t, another empty liquid canvas disappears, along with our surf-expression.

Thanks for catching this Waves issue. We hope you enjoy the ride—whatever your style.

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