Surf Competition Checklist

OK, so this weekend, I’m attempting my second go at a surfing competition. My first try-several months ago- was fun. I didn’t place, but I did catch a good wave in that one, so I was happy, and I got to watch my friends surf, which was really the best part of the day.
Since competing is new to me still, I decided to compile a checklist of things to take with me to make things a bit easier. Plus, having a checklist helps me avoid the “what did I forget?” feeling that I get when trying to wing it. Of course, don’t forget to take your surfboard…..

Large Zippered Canvas Tote– I found this is the best way to schlep my junk to the beach. The zipper on top is the key. Otherwise, all the crap dumps out onto the sand and gets lost. Don’t invest a lot of money in one- go to Goodwill and find one. Honestly, they give these out like candy at a lot of trade shows and expos and end up at thrift stores- you’re going to be hauling it to the beach, so it’s going to get nasty, salty and sandy and eventually replaced anyway. Plus, if you win something, you’ll have room to carry it back without having to carry it back in your hand.

Waterproof Watch– This is handy for keeping an eye on the time left in your heat. They’re giving us 15 minutes to get at least 2 waves, and for me, that’s going to be tricky, so I’ll need to remember to not screw around looking for dolphins. Again, don’t spend a lot of money on one with all the tides and crap. I’ve had high end ones and low end watches and they last about the same time. I know someone will swear they’ve had one twenty years, but, I haven’t found that magical brand yet.

Printed Heat Schedule– OK, I know the heat schedule NEVER goes off on time from talking to people who do contests a lot, but mostly the order doesn’t change. At least you’ll have an inkling of when you’ll be coming up. Print out the schedule the night before and put the schedule in one of those plastic sheet protector sleeves and seal up the open edge with tape so you don’t smear the ink with your wet, sandy hands. Bonus points for printing out the tide table for the day and putting it on the flip side of the page before sealing it up. It’s old fashioned, but beats risking taking your expensive iPhone to the beach.

2 Leashes– I’m only surfing a longboard, so I’m taking two longboard leashes, one to use, and one as a backup. Not that we get crazy heavy waves around here, but you never know when the velcro strap on the tail decides it’s the day to tear through. If you’re surfing other types of boards, take back up leashes for those boards as well.

Leash String/ Loop– I’m taking an extra little nylon leash string/loop just in case that decides to break. I’ll be keeping it in my boardshorts pocket just in case.

Fin Change Out Kit– This may involve having a small screwdriver, a fin key, single fin nuts and bolts, fin screws (here’s a handy thing to make), and additional fin changing tools (see my tool kit). I’m not expecting to bust out a fin doing a wild air, but I can certainly see myself busting a fin while in the parking lot on the asphalt.

Extra Fins– For me, I’m riding a single fin longboard, so I’m taking an extra single fin for the reason stated above in case I need it. Obviously, if you’re riding a thruster, quad, etc. take a spare set with you. It’s worth the money to at least have a cheap back up set. If I have to change out a fin because I broke it, the punching bag stays home for use after the event.

Wax and Scraper– Yeah, this is a no-brainer, but after having done a bit of research, I learned it’s good to also keep some Tropical Wax in your stash, since it’s good for a wide range of conditions, according to some.

2 Towels– If you’re not bringing a chair, one’s to sit on, one’s to use to wrap around yourself after getting out of the water, since even’s if it’s a nice day, the wind can still give you chills which can zap your energy. Speaking of which…..

NEW Bottle of Sunscreen– Go ahead and splurge. Chances are, you’ve been trying to keep using that same nasty bottle you’ve kept in your hot car all season. The effectiveness of sunscreen declines when you leave it in a hot car- just like if you left medications in there. Really, if you get a burn and have to surf again later in the afternoon, you’re going to hurt. Bad. Not to mention the chills that come along with a burn, zapping any energy you had to compete. Use it.

Crunchy Granola Bars– Yeah, they’re not for everybody, but they’re one of the best things to pack on a hot day if you get the munchies. Energy bars and Clif bars may be good, but become a mushy mess come high noon. Stick with the little cardboard brick variety as a just in case.

Water– While you’re at it, bring some water, preferably cold if you can manage it, but at least a bottle or two even if you don’t have a cooler. Some of these events have water, some don’t, or may run out. You don’t want to miss a heat because you made a 7-11 run and can’t find a parking space when you get back. I avoid sports drinks when surfing or when I’ve raced in paddleboard events- being in the salt water combined with the artificial flavoring just makes me nauseous. I’d stick to water unless you really want to clear a barrier between you and your competitors with undigested granola bar leavins in the water.

Gallon Ziploc Bags– Just handy to have to sort your stuff, like your tool kits, fins, etc. They’re clear, and it keeps sand off stuff and things from landing in the bottom of the tote.

First Aid Kit– Just something smart to have with you. Here’s a little pocket example project I made I’m probably taking. You may just help out someone else too.

Of course, there’s a lot of other personal items you could add, but that’s a bare bones list I could see covering 80% of the problems a competitor may face during an amateur event, and something I’m hoping to use as a sanity checklist for some of these fun competitions in the future.
As I was writing this, it made me think of a story. When I was a teenager, I competed at a figure skating meet in Miami, Ohio. During my routine, I went to perform a maneuver that I had performed a thousand times flawlessly before. Somehow, I ended up on my lycra skirted ass. I got right back up, and finished my routine as if nothing had happened. For the rest of my routine the crowd was applauding wildly as if I had done something so admirable, and I felt wonderful.
Afterwards, I found out that the 6 year old that skated right before me had fallen too, but stomped off the ice in a fit of tears. Comparatively, at 17, I was Miss Super Brave for not succumbing to a fit. Umm…..embarrassing. I only hope I can keep from having a fit if I fall off my board tomorrow during the contest.
Because there’s no stomping off in the ocean.

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