Know Thy Lineup

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Know Thy Lineup

An ancient Chinese general once said, “Know thy enemy.” In surfing, this translates to “know thy lineup” The lineup is out beyond the whitewater. It’s where you go when your skills progress and you are ready to drop in on a wave. Well, before you get there, here are five characters you’re likely to meet in the Costa Rican lineup, or any lineup, for that matter …

1) The Wave Hog

The wave hog is easily identified by the size of his board. He rides nothing under a 10′ 6”. Don’t be fooled by his cheery wave and beatific smile. The wave hog wants your waves and he will use the size of his beast to take them. The wave hog never sits on the shoulder, he catches waves and then heads straight back to the peak. Try not to get in a conversation with him, unless you like conspiracy theories and whole-world-going-to-pot type stories.

2) The Grommet

The grommet is the only person catching more waves than the wave hog. The grommet is between the ages of 12 and 16 and rides boards no bigger than 4′ 9”.  Grommets are skinny with spindly arms, but somehow manage to paddle ten times the speed of everyone else. They have no fear, take off on anything, and make it all look ridiculously easy. They can surf for hours without getting hungry, tired, sunburnt, or chafed. Usually grommets travel in packs and swarm like ants.

3) The Hippy Surf Mama

The hippy surf mama does sun salutations on the beach before hitting the waves. She’s a good surfer and looks stylish on her custom-made Malibu board and in her Yves Saint Laurent boardshorts.  Her husband is an oil exec. But while they’re at their second home in Costa Rica, it’s all barefoot living, daily yoga, and raw food cleanses. The hippy surf mama can’t stay in the surf too long because she needs to pick up her kids at the local Montessori nursery in her giant SUV.  She also needs to talk to her publisher about her new book Earth Mother in the Tropics.

4) The Kook

The kook is the most dangerous person in the lineup and should be avoided at all costs. The kook has never taken a surf lesson because he is in his  gap year and “can’t afford it”.  However, every night you will see the kook in the bar ordering his fifth pitcher of cocktail or tenth bottle of beer. Kooks are not deterred by their lack of ability and are oblivious to the danger they’re causing. The kook has never been known to actually stand up on the board, even lying down and paddling on it is impossible. Instead, the kook prefers to the let the board trail behind his body, flapping around uselessly. Maintain a wide circumference around this character.

5) The Dropout

The dropout used to be a physician or architect in North America or Europe, but burned out because of stress. Then, came to Costa Rica for a vacation and never left. Now, he works in a surf shop or sells beads at the organic market. The dropout is an excellent surfer, due to the amount of spare time he’s had to perfect the skill. The dropout is hoping to get signed by one of the major surf companies and he will only get out of the water to update his Facebook athlete page.


  1. Niqui says:

    Oh my god! Hilarious!!!! You left out us cool hardworking surfchicks tho!!! We are wel worth a chat! 😉

  2. Nadja says:

    Funny one Helen! I have a picture in my mind of each one.

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