Beyond surfing Mavericks and other big waves, you’ve gained a reputation for coaching and guiding young surfers. Can you go into your experience a bit more?
You asked about experiences. I enjoy working with people. One of the stories that did not make it into the book is about one of the early Soquel High Surf Team members. I would rather tell this because it is meaningful to me. John Hunter and I worked together coaching the team. John handled conditioning and stretching. I did philosophy and strategy and we both oversaw the in the water surfing. I asked each kid "Where do you want to surf and why?" One kid stated he wanted to surf over there and pointed to a lessor spot and explained he was not very good and was more comfortable over there.
Everyone else wanted to surf the main break, a more demanding wave. I listened and said that was fine and I would be sure to watch. I did and spoke with him later and gave some tips tips. I would see him and many others during the year and continued to give tidbits of information. He was progressing. Early in the next season, John and I took the team to surf another break in town that was firing, head high and barreling. We were all excited. I had responsibilities, as a coach. I asked the kids where and why? The one kid that had said the lessor spot the year before looked me in the eye and said "there" as he pointed to the barreling waves.
I said "good to go". I watched as he pulled into a barrel and got a great ride. I asked him later about the session. He said he was relaxed and comfortable because the year earlier I had accept and supported his decision about the lessor spot. That support and encouragement kept his interest alive and growing. He has continued surfing, improving, and has traveled to a number of surfing locations in other countries meeting so many people sharing good times, finding adventure and eating great food.
Your memoir Making Mavericks is all finished. You have spoken about the difficulties of writing a book about your life. But since writing is as much discovery as it is expression, what did you discover about you and your life through the writing process?
So much of the book was about experiences I have already lived and examined. I like to think, to look at things and change perspectives. I hope it gives me better understanding. Thinking has led me to try new approaches to common things, like writing papers for developing better communication skills and confidence. I ask the kids I work with to write papers, many papers. I want them to learn to think and communicate better, to be able to represent themselves well. I select topics that they have let me know mean something to them. Writing is such a great way to see the short comings of the thinking process. It is easy to have an idea, a thought, and then think it is complete. The only way to evaluate an idea is to put it down for examination. The gaps become apparent. Correct them, it is a process. If you are to take on a task it is important to make sure it will work. Look at it first before you expose it to the world, validate yourself and your thinking, be legit. Be successful. I had to learn all of this for myself. I had many ideas and wanted people to hear those ideas. To listen. I wanted to help those people achieve what they wanted to accomplish. If the gaps were to large, people could not connect the dots. It has taken me a long time to have patience enough to write so people will listen. Like many, my brain moves so much faster than my process to keep up and validate. But I try.