What is the perfect wave? Does such a thing even exist? If so, is it possible to get surfers to agree on what that wave is or what it might look like? Ask 10 surfers to describe their idea of the perfect wave and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. The regular foots might throw out spots like Rincon in mid-October or J-Bay on a long-period southwest swell. Goofy footers would probably counter with a mile-long ride at Chicama, uncrowded Pavones, or an overhead day at Desert Point. The old, leathery longboarder is likely to recall a long noseride at Malibu, only to be drowned out by the shouts of neon-clad groms insisting that an onshore day at Lowers makes for the best airs.

Even if surfers may not agree on what the perfect wave is, they can certainly find commonality in the pursuit of such perfection. And as all surfers know, this pursuit is never-ending. Check the weather. Check the charts. The beach cam. The buoys. The weather again. When they finally make it to the beach, it’s always just a little too windy, too bumpy. Not enough size or swell. The wrong tide. Too crowded. It always seems to be almost perfect. This begs another question: would surfers even know perfection if they saw it? Does the pursuit of perfection actually cloud surfers’ ability to recognize when they have indeed surfed the “perfect wave?”

For surfing’s sake, I hope the answer is “no.” Chasing surf that is better, bigger, cleaner – finding a wave that is “perfect” according to no one else’s standards but your own. In the end, it is not the wave that is perfect, but the ongoing pursuit of perfection itself.


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