Welcome to the Jungle … a woman’s guide for dealing with the surf lineup


It’s a jungle out there.  But forewarned is forearmed.  Women surfers generally have less upper body strength than men.  We also tend to be more sharing, caring and nurturing.   These are not attributes which are likely to get us lots of waves in crowded lineups.  So I think we have to be a bit smarter, a bit more intuitive, and a bit more observant of what and who is around us.  Here are some of the characters you will meet in the lineup, and my advice for dealing with them …..

  • The grumpy local

The grumpy local moved to Costa Rica more than 20 years ago (a fact which makes up roughly 40 percent of his dialogue).  When you turn up at the beach and wind down your car window to exchange cheery banter, he will give you a look that could curdle milk and he’ll snarl “you girls betta make sure you stay on the shoulder”.  The way to deal with the grumpy local is to kill him with kindness.  Cheer his waves and congratulate his style. He will be so freaked out by your kindness that he will be rendered speechless and will leave the spot early with his penis retracted to inside his body.

  • The mumbler

Advanced stage grumpiness can lead to the ‘grumpy local’ becoming ‘the mumbler’.  You have no idea what ill will he’s spouting, but don’t worry because he’s not talking to you.  The way to handle this character is to befriend his girlfriend, who he’s left flailing in the impact zone.  This friendship will piss him off no end.  One day his girlfriend will tell you that she does pelvic floor exercises everyday and imagines gripping a small, thin pencil.  You strongly suspect it’s not the only time she has to grip a small, thin pencil.

  • the menacing stare giver

Initially you will be baffled by the menacing stare giver because you’ve never had any interaction with him that could explain the intense glares.  And then it hits you!  It’s the same look your mum gives your dad when he has incorrectly loaded the cutlery basket of the dishwasher.  The menacing stare giver has obviously mistaken you for some dishwasher rookie he used to work in a kitchen with.  The way to deal with this misunderstanding is to say very clearly to him “I AGREE, NO POTS ON THE TOP RACK, AND SHARP KNIVES FACING DOWN”.  After this dishwasher stacking confusion has been cleared up, he will give you a very wide berth.

  • The hot ripper

The hot ripper will treat you and your mediocre surfing talent as if you are irrelevant or invisible.  But don’t let it affect your jaunty stride or take it personally.  My theory is that he’s on the 5:2 diet, and it’s day 3 and he saw you earlier in the carpark greedily stuffing your face with jaffa cakes.  Day 3 is the most miserable and he’s only operating at 17 percent brain capacity, but he has to stick to the 5:2 because he needs to improve his 10 pack abs in order to get sponsorship from a sugary drink company.  You can try cheering him up by singing the most cheerful song on the planet … Tight Fit’s ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’.  Except I can only remember the first line and the bit that goes “O WIM BO WEH, O WIM BO WEH”.  After that I just make it up.

  • The late starter

The late starter is always a fun person to surf with.  He or she knows they are never going to win a surf contest or be in a Roxy dvd so they don’t have the albatross of ego around their neck.  They notice the diving pelicans, and the way the mist rises, and the crabs at the bottom, and the way the green jungle meets the blue ocean.   The sort of person who doesn’t mind if you play Adele on their car stereo.   She is resolutely cheerful and resourceful.  If, for example, she runs out of wax and loses her wax comb, it’s no problem because she’ll just use a table fork.  No sunscreen?  She’ll just plaster diaper rash cream all over her face.  Her surf motto seems to be “If it’s shit, it’s shit and there’s no point getting depressed about it.  Let’s go for a mahoosive brunch and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows”.

  • The hot babe

If you resemble an average looking middle-aged woman, the hot babe will make you look like a troll which has just emerged from a swamp.  She is a Latin version of a young Raquel Welch.  Her thonged butt resembles two ripe peaches, and her springy tits are like just-out-the-oven hot buns.  You will be a trifle miffed to discover that she also has a University degree in neuroscience, and works for Medicins Sans Frontiers.  However it is a very good tactic to sit close to the hot babe because all the male surfers around her become useless simpering idiots, and you will be able to catch lots of waves.  Ha!

  • The partier

The partier is the most impressive person in the lineup.  They inhabit two very different worlds and should be studied by Sir David Attenborough.  They go to every single party and dance and take drugs until sunrise, then they pack in a 6 hour surf session.  They always have exciting weekend plans, which makes me feel a bit bad because all I’ve got planned is buying some worming tablets for the cat, sewing that button back onto my comfy cardigan, and sorting out that situation in the Tupperware drawer where there’s a serious case of some mismatched lids.  Don’t try to compete with the partier, it is futile, they are made of different stuff.

  • The Hipster

The hipster is a ceramic artist from Oregon on his Eat, Pray, Love year in Central America.  He has the Dalai Lama’s top three sayings tattooed on his forearm, in Sanskrit.  He’s not really a threat in the lineup because, bless, he’s not very good.  But if he’s taking too many waves tell him there’s a sale on hemp seed artisanal bread at the organic market.  He will be gone quicker than you can say ‘craft beer’.  He professes to be a daring cook, but really all his dishes just taste like farts (a possibly autobiographical experience).  If the artisanal bread line doesn’t work, tell him there’s a beach bonfire being built.  He will go and bore everyone to tears with his ironic version of The Sound of Music’s ‘The Lonely Goatherd’, on the ukelele.

  • The lothario

With his eyes like the ocean, carefully tousled hair, and oh-so-cool lifestyle, the Argentinian lothario has enjoyed remarkable success with women over the years.  In fact he once boasted of this on facebook, quoting a figure of his conquests.  But the tide is turning on this master of manipulation.    Last season’s Bradley Cooper is suddenly this season’s Hugh Hefner.  Seemingly with every day that passes he becomes more sleazy, and more soulless. He used to be a good surfer but since he started using the Viagra it’s messed up his timing.  Also his Grecian 2000 hair dye (colour: caramel whisper) keeps running in his eyes.  When you see him in the surf with his latest girlfriend always say “hello, this must be your daughter”.  It’s a great conversation opener.

  • The yoga aficionado

She posts photos of the Instagram perfect beach with #myhappyplace. It contrasts with my own happy place which is touching the stationary packs in Office Depot.   But her happy place only extends to the south end of the beach, because the north end doesn’t have 4G for posting selfies.  She leaves her happy place in a panic if the iphone battery goes lower than 20 percent.  Then she’ll go to the organic market with the other yummy mummys, where they say things like “I do wish Tarquin would play in the sand like the other children, but all he wants to do is meditate and eat macrobiotic carrot sticks”.

  • The alpha male

Scientists have discovered that the alpha male has a sharing-resistant gene.  So even in an environment where sharing just works out better for everyone, his genes kick in and he is a taker.  He is always yelling “POO – TAAH” which translated from Spanish means “you are gorgeous goddess full of light and laughter, but right now I’m working on landing my airs because I am not well endowed so if I can’t surf good I will never get laid.”  The way to deal with the alpha male is to look for inferior waves and then start twitching furiously and acting like you really want to catch it.  Like a kid in kindergarten the alpha male will desperately want the same toy and he will do everything possible to snake you.  This then leaves you and your mates to pick off the good waves.


  • The obsessive

She used to spend all her spare cash on clothes and handbags, but now she spends it on boards and fins.  He’s just remodeled a camper van for surf trips down to Baja.  The obsessive used to party and take drugs, but now goes to bed at 8.30pm so they can be the first in the water at dawn.  Magicseaweed is their home page, and they always have a fin key on their keyring.  The good thing about being an obsessive is that you can spot and attract other obsessives from a mile away, birds of a feather and all that.  Strong friendships are forged as you wake each other up at 5am, travel on chicken buses for 17 hours, sleep in dirty hotels and even get shipwrecked.   When you’re getting changed in the carpark and you randomly sing “ONCE UPON A TIME I WAS FALLING IN LOVE” … she automatically responds with “NOW I’M ONLY FALLING APART”.  You’ll always have memories in common … Madonna (True Blue), 10,000 Maniacs, peach schnapps, Point Break, sun-in hair spray, Body Shop bronzer, a shared gold boob tube, parental disapproval, and Kelly Slater.  Because that’s the way it was, and that’s the way it always will be.


(NB: this is a sort of ‘parte dos’ to an earlier blog post A who’s who of the surfing lineup Check it out for further tips)

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